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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE First Impressions: 4G-Only Galaxy S20 With Flagship Hardware
Samsung has added another variant to its flagship Galaxy S20-series of smartphones in India. The new Galaxy S20 Fan Edition is a slightly less expensive and toned-down variant of the premium Galaxy S20-series handsets. Priced at Rs. 49,999, the Galaxy S20 FE tries to offer the same flagship-grade user-experience at a considerably low price-point.
The Galaxy S20 FE flaunts a 120Hz refresh rate AMOLED screen and is powered by the same 7nm Exynos 990 processor that powers the Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra and even the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. However, it lacks the 5G modem which makes it a 4G-only device. Launched in five vibrant color options, the Galaxy S20 FE will be made available in India in the lone 8GB RAM + 128GB storage configuration. You can pre-book the new smartphone starting October 9, 2020, on Samsung.com and across leading retail stores. Before you do that, let's find out more about the new handset in the following first impressions.
Design- Polycarbonate Body With Exciting New Colors
The Galaxy S20 FE ditches the premium metal-glass body and goes for a more affordable polycarbonate shell. But that doesn't make it a bad or cheap looking device. In fact, it looks and feels really nice in hands, especially the Mint color variant which is one of the nicest looking color shades we have seen on a smartphone in recent times. You can choose to buy the handset in five color options- Cloud Navy, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud Red, and Cloud White. The matte finish back panel feels amazing to touch.
The vertically stacked triple-lens camera setup with dark green color housing adds a premium touch to the minimal looking back panel. The phone isn't heavy nor does it feel feather-light in hands. The weight distribution is just about right for good ergonomics. The phone has a Type-C port and a speaker unit at the bottom and a hybrid SIM card tray along with a microphone at the top. Similar to the premium Galaxy S20 devices, the Galaxy S20 FE also comes equipped with IP68 rating for protection against water and dust and also supports wireless charging. There's no headphone jack on the Galaxy S20 FE.
Display- 6.5-inch Full HD+ 120Hz Refresh Rate AMOLED Display
Samsung has made the most number of compromises on the display part to keep the price low. The Galaxy S20 FE flaunts a 6.5-inch flat screen and the resolution is now reduced to 1080p (1080 x 2,400 pixels) instead of the QHD+ that's offered on the Galaxy S20, S20+ and the S20 Ultra. The display also lacks the latest Corning Gorilla Glass protection and only ships with the dated Gorilla Glass 3. Other smartphones in the price bracket- OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 10 5G, Vivo X50 Pro and even some devices selling at much lower cost offer the latest Gorilla Glass layer for protection against scratches.
Thankfully, Samsung has retained the higher refresh rate display. The Galaxy S20 FE's screen has 120Hz refresh rate of the Galaxy S20-series devices which makes up for the loss to some extent. The screen is vivid and super responsive. Overall, despite the dip in native resolution, it is one of the best display on a smartphone at this price-point.
Camera Specifications And Performance Overview
There's no fancy camera setup on the Galaxy S20 FE to offer you a far-field zoom or mind-boggling 64MP/108MP high-resolution pictures and 8K video recording. The smartphone has a modest 12MP f/1.8 primary sensor aided by another 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle sensor and an 8MP f/2.4 3x telephoto lens. For selfies, the Galaxy S20 FE has a 32MP front-facing camera.
These cameras perform really well in daylight. The images and videos show crisp details, vivid colors, and excellent dynamic range, something you expect from a flagship Samsung device. I really like a good telephoto lens that allows for detailed zoom shots with lossless images and the Galaxy S20 FE does that with grace provided that you are shooting in favorable lighting. We will talk more about the camera performance in our detailed review of the handset but so far the Galaxy S20 FE seems to be a capable camera device.
Hardware And Software
Samsung hasn't made any compromises on the underlying hardware. Similar to the Galaxy S20-series devices, the Galaxy S20 FE is also powered by the Exynos 990 SoC and has ample RAM-ROM to ensure smooth day-to-day performance. You can buy the handset in two variants- 6GB RAM and 128GB ROM and 8GB RAM and 256GB ROM. You get faster UFS 3.1 storage that can be expanded up to 1TB via microSD card slot. What you don't get is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset which can be seen on the OnePlus 8 Pro selling at Rs. 54,990.
As far as the software is concerned, the Galaxy S20 FE runs on the One UI 2.5 based on Android 10. We will stress test the handset in the coming days to evaluate its performance with heavy games and multitasking.
Battery And Connectivity
The Galaxy S20 FE is powered by a modest 4,500 mAh battery cell, which is the same battery cell you get to see on the premium Galaxy S20+. It can only last a full day if you are not a heavy user and the phone's screen is set to run at 60Hz refresh rate. Bumping the refresh rate to 120Hz takes a toll on battery life and you would need a refuel at the end of the day.
The Galaxy S20 FE supports 25W fast-charging support but the company only offers a 15W charger in the box which is a letdown considering the high price of the handset. Also, the company does not offer a case in the box which again comes as a disappointment. Moving on, the Galaxy S20 FE also supports 15W wireless charging, a feature borrowed from its premium siblings.
No 5G Connectivity
Samsung decided to launch the 4G only version of the Galaxy S20 FE, which in my opinion is the biggest disappointment considering the fact that this handset costs Rs. 49,999. Now we understand 5G is not yet available in India, however, the Galaxy S20 FE users will feel left out once the telcos start offering 5G services in India.
We can also not ignore the fact that the competition- OnePlus 8-series, Xiaomi Mi 10 5G, Vivo X50 Pro, Realme X50 Pro are 5G-enabled handsets in the same price bracket. Samsung should have introduced the Galaxy S20 FE with the 5G modem in the Indian market.
Should You Buy The Galaxy S20 FE?
The Galaxy S20 FE seems like a good alternative to the Galaxy S20 and the Galaxy S20+. It offers a flagship-level user-experience at a considerably lower price-point. But the low price point comes at the cost of 5G connectivity, better display protection, premium metal body and high-resolution camera hardware. We will test the Galaxy S20 FE in the coming week to test its potential as an alternative to the premium Galaxy S20 flagship smartphone in our comprehensive review.