While the Galaxy S20 phones are some of the most technically impressive phones of the year for including 120HZ refresh rates, triple rear cams, and 5G across the entire lineup, one of the biggest holes in Samsung’s flagship portfolio is a more affordable model to compete against rivals like the standard iPhone 11. But that’s about to change thanks to the Galaxy S20 FE.
Look, I know it’s easy to poke fun at all the different ways phone makers brand more affordable devices with tags like “SE” and “Lite,” and in some respects FE—or “Fan Edition”—is the silliest attempt yet. But just based on its specs alone, the Galaxy S20 FE is the phone I’ve been waiting for Samsung to release to replace the Galaxy S10e.
Starting at $700, not only is the Galaxy S20 FE one of the least expensive phones available in the U.S. to feature a Snapdragon 865 processor (alongside the LG V60), you also get the same core features found on more expensive S20 models, including a 120Hz refresh rate, 5G support, triple rear cameras, and even an in-screen optical fingerprint sensor.
While Samsung did have to make a few concessions to hit that $700 mark, the rest of the S20 FE’s specs are still solid, including a flat 6.5-inch 2400 x 1080 AMOLED display (which puts the S20 FE between the standard S20 and S20+ in terms of size), 6GB of RAM, 128GB of base storage, a microSD card slot, and a 4,500 mAh battery (which is the same size as what you get in a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra). The S20 FE even comes with Qi wireless charging with support for Wireless PowerShare (aka reverse wireless charging), and up to 25-watt wired charging (though you’ll have to pay separately for a faster power adapter, cause you only get a 15-watt charger in the box).
The S20 FE’s camera setup ain’t shabby either, with Samsung including a 32-MP selfie cam in front, along with a 12-MP main camera with the same dual-pixel autofocus found on the S20 and S20+, an 8-MP ultra-wide cam, and a 12-MP telephoto camera with a 3x optical zoom.
The main things you don’t get on the S20 FE compared to its more expensive siblings are a higher resolution main camera (64-MP vs 12-MP) and a glass back (the S20 FE uses a polycarbonate plastic instead). In return, the S20 FE comes in a huge range of colors including navy, red, lavender, mint, white, and orange. Sadly, the S20 FE doesn’t have a headphone jack either, but considering none of Samsung’s 2020's flagships do, that’s not really a knock against the S20 FE.
Also, unlike the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the S20 FE’s 120Hz display doesn’t support a variable refresh rate, so you can choose between 60Hz or 120Hz and that’s it. Though considering the S20 FE’s price, that’s sort of to be expected.
Now normally it can be kind of difficult to get excited about a phone whose main selling point is a discounted price tag, but the S20 FE is exactly the handset Samsung needs right now. Going back to last year, when Apple launched the standard iPhone 11 at $700 (which is $50 less than the iPhone XR’s $750 launch price), Apple has sort of been leading the way when it comes to pumping out “budget flagships” and affordable mid-range phones like the 2020 iPhone SE.
But with the $700 S20 FE, Samsung is finally filling in the gap between the $600 Galaxy A71 and the $1,000 Galaxy S20 with a phone that offers good specs, a sleek (and quite colorful) design, and all the important fancy features found in its more expensive siblings.
So if you were thinking about buying a phone anytime soon, between Apple’s forthcoming iPhones and the Galaxy S20 FE, you might want to sit tight for another few weeks.
Preorders for the Galaxy S20 FE go live today (with anyone who preorders before Oct. 1 eligible for a $70 Samsung credit), with official shipments slated to begin on Oct. 2.