Galaxy S20 FE test; our full review on Samsung’s affordable smartphone

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition is the latest addition to Samsung’s lineup. Do not take it for a “light” Galaxy S20, as it is primarily a more affordable version of the smartphone, but not necessarily on the cheap. A top-of-the-line phone that does not speak its name, despite obvious concessions to the base model.

The Galaxy S20 range welcomes a new arrival. After the classic S20, the S20 + and the S20 Ultra, the Fan Edition is arriving in stores. A smartphone that wants to be cheaper and which makes some small technical concessions. But beware, this is not a Galaxy S20 on the cheap! In reality Samsung is looking to fill a new segment, without necessarily cutting back too much on performance or design.

The Fan Edition is not just a cheaper smartphone, as it also seeks to offer a few interesting little things. The possibility of choosing between an Exynos and Qualcomm processor, first of all. It’s a first ! In addition, the manufacturer wants to target a younger target with bright colors (or not) six in number, and which contrast with the grays present in the range so far.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

But what is the Fan Edition really worth? Does he manage to hold out against other smartphones in the same price segment? This is what we will see.

A high-end technical sheet

With the Fan Edition, Samsung adjusts the shot somewhat compared to the classic S20. The goal is obviously to lower the price, but also to offer more choices to the user. On the technical sheet, we notice several interesting things: the presence of a 6.5 inch screen, first of all, an unprecedented size for the range. The Fan Edition is therefore placed between the S20 (6.2 inches) and the S20 + (6.7 inches) in terms of size.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
Screen 6.5 “Super AMOLED 120 Hz
SoC Exynos 990 or Snapdragon 865
Internal memory 128/256 GB
+ microSDXC
RAM 6 or 8 GB
Main photo sensor 12 MP (f / 1.8)
8 MP (f / 2.0) telephoto
12 MP (f / 2.2) ultra wide angle
Secondary photo sensor 1 selfie sensor
Connectivity Bluetooth, WiFi, 4G, 5G
Fingerprint sensor Under the screen
Drums 4500 mAh

Another little thing to note is the choice left to the user regarding the processor. While Samsung required Europeans to have a Galaxy running Exynos, this Fan Edition also offers a version with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor. In reality, the Exynos model is equipped with 4G while the model Qualcomm embarks on 5G. This is what Samsung will focus its models on so as not to lose the consumer who does not know anything about it. Nevertheless, the fact of giving him the choice is to be welcomed and is something unprecedented at Samsung.

Another change is in the camera. Here the module has three sensors: two of 12 megapixels and one of 8 megapixels. We say goodbye to the 64 megapixel sensor of the S20. Finally, note a battery of 4500 mAh, larger than the S20 (4000 mAh) but as much as the S20 +. What can really change the situation?

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

A smartphone that looks high end on paper. No, it’s definitely not an S20 Light. In reality, it looks more like a classic S20 that has had a couple of little things cut off. Does that make it a cheap smartphone? Not really.

Read also – Samsung Galaxy S20 review: the smallest of siblings is not to be taken lightly

Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition has been available since Friday, October 2 at a price logically lower than the S20, which starts at 909 euros for its cheapest model.

Two models are therefore offered depending on the configurations in France:

  • 4G / 6 GB RAM + 128 GB version: 659 euros
  • 5G / 6 GB RAM + 128 GB version: 759 euros

There are also models with 512 GB of memory but it is not yet sold by Samsung at the time of this writing.

A pop design … but not on all models

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition takes up the main design lines of the S20 range, but with some concessions. We therefore find the sleek cover with the rectangular photo module located on the upper left. This one sticks out much more than on other S20 models, unfortunately causing the terminal to be unstable when lying on its back. Difficult to use it without getting annoyed when it is lying on a table.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

The hood, precisely, innovates a little with “pop” colors. Samsung offers six colors, and it is possible to opt for a scarlet, lavender, orange or even white shell. Colors that give a second youth to this somewhat dull basic design, it must be admitted (which does not prevent it from being chic). For our test copy, Samsung provided us with a model with a navy blue color, which is the most sober of all.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

Here, therefore, we have an imitation aluminum plastic shell which always brings a very chic aspect to the product, even luxury. A finish that has the merit not to attract fingerprints too much, unlike the smooth shells of certain colors which are synonymous with hell for the most manic. This round design is held by a discreet aluminum frame and the most beautiful effect. On the right side, we find the usual ignition and volume buttons, perfectly integrated into this frame.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

On its lower edge, the FE has a speaker and a USB Type-C port. On the upper part, we find the cover for the SIM card. Note that the smartphone does not have a Jack port, Samsung having abandoned the thing on its high-end products. It will therefore be necessary to equip yourself with a Bluetooth headset or one having a corresponding port, since the manufacturer does not provide compatible headphones in the box, as is the case with other models. You will have to fend for yourself.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

No visible fingerprint sensor, neither on the edges nor on the back cover. This is actually found under the screen. A system which has already proven its worth in the past and which still convinces us today. It reacts with the finger and the eye and pairs with the still very effective facial recognition (but forget the mask!). A sensor used not only to unlock the S20 but also to protect its sensitive data, we’ll get to that.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

The screen part calls out on this Fan Edition. Indeed, Samsung has chosen abandon the screen slightly curved at the sides. We have a flat slab here, which is not too annoying. But the striking thing is its edges, very visible in use. We will come back to this later, but the first contact is a bit rough when you are used to borderless smartphones. Finally, the front camera is, like on the other S20s, materialized by a punch located at the top of the display. Love it or hate it, but the thing still has the merit of making the top edge of the facade disappear.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
On the left the S20 FE, on the right the S20 +

In the end, the design of the Galaxy S20 FE is very successful. It’s especially bold when it comes to the flashy colors (which we didn’t have on hand), although it looks a bit rough compared to a regular S20 and S20 +. It’s 8.4mm thick (compared to 7.9mm for the S20), which is a bit thick and gives it a slightly “unbalanced” look that serves it up. It also weighs 190 grams on the scale. A bit heavy for a phone, but it’s still acceptable.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
On the left the S20 FE, on the right the S20 +

In the hand, the smartphone is very pleasant to use, the aluminum cover being soft to the fingers. Samsung once again shows that it can do it in terms of design, in spite of some small quickly forgettable pitfalls. But what about the rest of the terminal? Does he hold his rank?

A screen that would have deserved more care

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition offers a new format in the Galaxy range. We said it is indeed equipped a 6.5-inch slab, and is therefore placed between the S20 (6.2 inches) and the S20 + (6.7 inches) in terms of size. The S20 Ultra is 6.9 inches. Samsung is therefore seeking to attract as many people as possible in this segment.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

Samsung obliges, the Fan Edition has a Super AMOLED panel with a definition of 2600 x 1080 pixels (which cannot be changed like on the S20 +). Its refresh rate can be adjusted either in 60 Hz or in 120 Hz, in the options. This is an absolute 120Hz, and not adaptive like on the Fold 2 or Note 20 Ultra. This is a bit of a shame, given that this feature, in addition to being useful, is becoming more and more popular everywhere, as on the new Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro. By activating the 120 Hz refresh rate, the user can enjoy greater visual comfort, whether in games or even in menus. On the other hand, this mode is more energy intensive, as we will see in the autonomy part.

One of the most striking things about this Fan Edition, we said, are the very visible 2mm display edges. Samsung has chosen a flat screen with wide unsightly edges. The screen / front ratio here is 84%. For comparison, this ratio is 90% on the other Galaxy S20s. This is not a big deal in itself, but a bit of a shame, the smartphone losing a bit of its design presence.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

We ran a probe over the screen to really see what the slab is worth. If the results obtained remain fairly correct, we are far from the quality to which we had accustomed Samsung. We would have liked more care in the calibration. The average delta E rises to 4, for example, which is correct but not incredible in terms of color compliance. For example, the displayed reds tend to orange-pink. The same goes for the yellows which turn fluorescent. All of this can be seen with the naked eye, but is still acceptable. We have seen much worse.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
The settings allow you to adjust certain aspects of the screen

The temperature is 7100 K, which is higher than the 6500K of the video standard. On a blank page, the display is therefore slightly bluish. But Samsung offers in the options to adjust this temperature if you wish (tests were done in default mode). The brightness exceeds 500 cd / m², which is acceptable for a smartphone of this caliber. So there is good visibility of the screen even in direct sunlight. Finally, Super AMOLED requires, the contrast is infinite. The blacks are deep and the whites are brilliant. This means that when you watch a very dark video, you will always have good readability of the image.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

Ultimately, the panel of the S20 FE is correct, but would have deserved more care in its calibration. A bit of a shame when you consider Samsung’s expertise in this area. However, we must put it into perspective, we are all the same in front of a good display. Just not at the level of the rest of the range which addresses perfection on this specific point.

When it comes to audio, Samsung offers two speakers: one located on the bottom edge of the screen, the other directly under the screen. This means that even with the palm resting on the edge the speaker sits on, the sound is not muffled and remains clear. The latter is also good, even if there is a slightly unpleasant distortion when pushed all the way. Also, since one of the speakers is below the display, the sound is natural, as it seems to come directly from the picture.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

A Snapdragon 865 that outperforms the Exynos

For the Galaxy S, Samsung has accustomed us to a very specific pattern: the American versions are equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor while the European and Asian versions offer a Samsung Exynos processor. A strategy that has always annoyed the most demanding users, the Exynos being less powerful than its counterpart. But everything ended up changing: this Fan Edition finally breaks the codes by leaving us the choice!

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

Thus, Samsung offers two versions for the FE. A 4G model with an Exynos 990 processor and a 5G model with a Snapdragon 865. This is the 5G version that we are testing today, so with a Snapdragon processor. It should be noted that it is supported by 6 GB of RAM and that our model has a storage of 128 GB.

After a benchmark session, the results are unequivocal: the phone is neck and neck with the other S20s, equipped with a less powerful Exynos 990, but with more RAM (12 GB). It even surpasses the Note 20 (Exynos 990 and 8GB RAM) in terms of sheer power. A smartphone that has it under the hood and which is among the most efficient on the market today. With its processor, the Fan Edition asserts with aplomb that this is not a light version of the S20!

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

A user with little knowledge will not see much difference between an Exynos processor and a Snapdragon, both being very powerful. Nevertheless, the latter brings the presence of 5G. Admittedly, it is not yet available in France, but it should be deployed in the coming months. Moving towards this model is therefore a pledge for the future. You won’t have to change your mobile phone again to take advantage of it when your plan is compatible.

The S20 FE does everything without batting an eyelid. It is very user-friendly and we have not observed any slowdown, whether with heavy software or a game. Multitasking is also well managed. Just point out that there is some heat in the processor when it is being put to the test (like when the Call of Duty Mobile game is launched), but nothing really annoying that prevents use. Ultimately, the EF is a great success in terms of performance. Note that we have not tested the performance of the Exynos 990 version, which should logically be slightly below.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

A still effective overlay

With the S20 Fan Edition, Samsung serves us Android 10 with its usual One UI 2.5 overlay. It is still as fluid, well thought out and brings some nice improvements to Android. A real example to follow from Samsung, which has long been singled out on this subject because of its famous TouchWizz, since abandoned.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

As usual, Samsung installs its own suite of in-house apps right on startup, such as Clock, Calendar or Photo Gallery. You have the choice to use them or not. Moreover, the manufacturer adds its eternal Bixby or even AR Zone. We also note the presence of Smart Switch, which allows you to transfer all the content of another Android smartphone (Samsung or not) to this model. Convenient to find all your data and apps when you start it for the first time. In addition to this, the interface is improved by small touches, like with the presence of the side flap. This allows you to have application shortcuts of your choice, or to directly access your favorite contacts. It also gives the possibility of checking the weather forecast at a glance or displaying notes or a compass. Very convenient in use, it can be deactivated if you wish.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

We will note the presence a Samsung Daily component on the leftmost screen. Personality feed, it allows you to view the latest news about news or applications you own, such as Netflix or Spotify. Finally, Samsung integrates a whole security component in its phone to protect your data by encrypting it or by locking certain applications with your fingerprint. For the rest, we are in the great classic. Everything works very well and will satisfy the greatest number of users. If you are a fan of third party launchers, you will still be able to install your favorite. No worries about that.

A bit of a disappointing photo part

The photo part is the Achilles heel of this smartphone. It doesn’t make sparks in this area and is not at the level of the rest of the S20 range. Samsung has indeed cut back on the sensor to lower the price of the terminal. We end up with a module comprising a 12 megapixel sensor (f / 1.8), a 12 megapixel wide-angle sensor (f / 2.2) and an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor (f / 2.0). The front camera is 32 megapixels.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

This FE, in addition to offering poorer sensors on paper, cannot film in 8K as is the case on the S20, which is a detail. We also note a less efficient night mode than on the other models, which is a bit of a shame:

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
From top to bottom: day photo, night photo without night mode, night photo with night mode

The Telefoto sensor has digital zoom x30. If it is fun to spot a detail in the distance, we are clearly in the realm of gadgets, photos (digitally smoothed) being too noisy and unusable to be used as is.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

Here are some sample photos taken with the S20 Fan Edition:

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

As we can see, the photos taken are fine in high light. We are not in front of a photophone that works miracles, but the result remains very acceptable. Only the wide-angle photos clearly leave something to be desired (as in the third). A compromise for the consumer, therefore, who will turn to the other versions of the range if he wants a better quality camera.

The software is classic, with different possible shot formats, but also the addition of panorama mode, filters etc. Samsung obliges, Bixby Vision as well as AR Zone, which allows you to create an interactive 3D Emoji, are in the game. Small gadgets that are fun to use.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition
The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

Good autonomy, but not incredible

Samsung has chosen to include in its S20 Fan Edition a 4500 mAh battery, is larger than on the classic S20 with its 4000 mAh battery. It is true that autonomy was a big weak point of the mobile. For this FE, the improvement is notable. In so-called “normal” use, that is to say a bit of play (cloud and local), a bit of video, social networks and Internet browsing, we took a little over a day with the smartphone (we had between 30 and 35% of battery in the evening). This test was carried out with the refresh rate set to 120 Hz. By setting this rate to 60 Hz in the options, the smartphone gains a few hours of battery life (between 40 and 45% under the same conditions) and can therefore easily hold a day and a half. Of course, battery life also depends a lot on usage. If you use your smartphone a lot, charging will be mandatory in the evening.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

Regarding charging, precisely, the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition is compatible with 25 watt fast charging. During our tests, the phone battery recharged from 2 to 100% in just under an hour and ten minutes, which is very correct.

The Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

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