A couple of years ago, we had flagship smartphones and flagship killers – a backhanded compliment for smartphones that delivered on many key fronts and yet didn’t cost a bomb. The problem with flagship killers were the number of compromises, especially for users who didn’t want to cut too many corners but still wanted a lighter price tag. 2020 is seeing an even bigger number of these users given that our smartphone usage patterns have been impacted by travel restrictions and WFH (no more showing off your smartphone to your co-workers during a coffee break). It’s why Samsung might have hit a sweet spot with its brand new Galaxy S20 FE.
Let’s get the FE out of the way first. It stands for Fan Edition; Samsung would like us to believe that it’s a product that was conceived after extensive customer feedback from the brand’s fans. A product that delivers on key fronts that matter to users. The display has become one of those ‘no compromise’ frontiers for most users. It’s probably our favourite feature of the S20 FE. Samsung’s flagships have generally boasted of top notch displays, the FE joins this band. It takes a different route though. This one’s not a curved display but a flat display that has its share of fans. Colours are brilliant on this 6.5-inch Super AMOLED (1080 x 2400 pixels / 407 PPI) that gets a boost with a 120Hz refresh rate that’s soon becoming par for the course for intense gamers and Netflix binge watchers alike.
The S20 FE is a sharp looker. There’s no glass back but Samsung has worked hard to lend a premium touch to the plastic back that can pass off for glass or what Samsung calls ‘glasstic’. There’s a choice of funky colours including a frosted Cloud Mint (green) and a vivacious Cloud Red. We tested the more sedate Cloud Navy. The FE borrows quite a few design elements from its pricier cousins like the S20 and Note 20 series. This includes the design of the triple rear cam and the placement of the selfie cam (a tiny punch hole that easy to ignore). Although it doesn’t have a glass rear, the FE offers wireless charging and reverse power share – you can charge other devices like a pair of earbuds. This and the IPS68 rating for water and dust resistance are both features that give it an edge over other Rs 40,000 plus devices like the One Plus 8T.
Camera performance is another strong suit. There’s a triple rear cam that includes a 12MP ultra-wide and a 12MP primary lens (f/1.8 aperture). One of the key differences between the flagship Samsung cameras is the telephoto lens – the FE comes with an 8MP lens. You can still shoot up to 30X zoom on this cam but the results begin to drop once you cross the 10X threshold. Lowlight images are terrific and I also found myself using Samsung’s Single Take feature (that allows you to hold the camera shutter as the phone snaps a bunch of images and videos; it then adds the best shots to a dedicated album) quite a bit.
Samsung has opted to launch the LTE version of the S20 FE version in India (it is available in 5G in certain markets). The device is powered by an Exynos 990 Processor that also powers the S20 flagship phones. There’s only one hardware variant – 6GB/128GB with extendable memory (up to 1TB). There are other devices at this price point with better hardware but the S20 FE blazed through our tests and gaming sessions effortlessly. Battery life is another big win; the 4500 mAh battery comfortably lasted through an entire day. We wish Samsung had bundled a 25W charger in the box instead of the 15W charger.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is a flagship challenger that scores on the stuff that matters – a gorgeous display, solid battery life and a dependable camera. There’s an interesting battle that’s brewing in the Rs 40,000 – 50,000 smartphone space. We can’t wait to see who comes out on top.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE comes in a range of colours – Cloud Navy, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Blue, Cloud Green and Cloud Red. The FE costs Rs 49,999