Opinion

Galaxy S20 FE is easily my favorite 2020 Samsung smartphone

No smartphone maker has launched as many flagships as Samsung in 2020. Well, no one did that last year, either, when Samsung released three LTE Galaxy S10 models, a Galaxy S10 5G, two Galaxy Note 10 models, and the Galaxy Z Fold. This year, we saw three Galaxy S20 models, two Galaxy Note 10 models, a Galaxy Z Fold successor, LTE and 5G variants of the Galaxy Z Flip, and the Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition).

The Galaxy Z Flip isn’t an all out flagship, but it’s still called one because of its high price tag. Meanwhile, the opposite is true for the Galaxy S20 FE, a phone Samsung says is a flagship but is sold at a price that is a lot lower than what we expect from the company’s high-end phones. And, for me, that combination makes the S20 FE Samsung’s best phone in 2020, as I’m sure it does for many of our readers.

Is the Galaxy S20 FE perfect? No. Is it amazing? Hell yes!

The Galaxy S20 FE isn’t a perfect phone. In fact, for some consumers, the experience has been disappointing, because of the touchscreen issues that plague some units. Samsung hasn’t been able to fix those issues completely via software updates, and it’s looking more and more likely that there’s a hardware problem that will never truly go away.

But not every Galaxy S20 FE has a faulty touchscreen, which was true for the unit I used earlier this year, so my experience was overly positive. The large-but-not-so-large 120Hz display, snappy performance, all-day battery life, features like IP68 water resistance and stereo speakers, and an all-round excellent camera setup, all for $699? It just felt too good to be true when the phone was my daily driver, and I still haven’t completely come to terms with just how good of a value proposition it is.

What impressed me most was the zoom camera on the Galaxy S20 FE. Or rather, that it’s better than what you get on the costlier Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20+: The S20 FE gives you a proper telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom instead of digital zoom achieved by cropping a high-resolution image. Photo quality is comparable up to 10x magnification, but move past that and the Galaxy S20 FE’s advantage becomes easy to see, as we demonstrated in our review.

The only thing I would have liked to see Samsung do better with the Galaxy S20 FE is software updates. The phone has the exact same feature set as the other Galaxy S20 models and it has the same processor(s), but it hasn’t received Android 11 and One UI 3.0 at the same time as those models. Samsung did start rolling out the update recently, but till now, less than a handful of countries have received it and the rollout could go on until February next year in some markets.

Of course, if it were up to me, I would also make sure the Galaxy S20 FE shipped with a 25W super fast charger in the box, but given the asking price, I can’t really blame Samsung for making a few compromises. I’m just glad our favorite phone maker had the audacity to even make such a device, and I can’t see what the next Fan Edition Galaxy smartphone will be like.

What do you think of the Galaxy S20 FE? Is it your favorite Samsung phone from 2020 as well, or is there another Galaxy device that you found to be the best offering from the Korean giant in this pandemic-stricken year?

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