There’s no doubt that 2020 as been a strange year. In the smartphone world, it’s been the year where flagship phones have been ok and mid-range phones have been out of this world. Devices like those powered by the Snapdragon 765 are driving prices down, with only the slightest compromise on performance.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE – or Fan Edition – may well be a response to that trend. Samsung says that it takes what fans want and packs them into a phone, resulting in a device that’s very much flagship level, but at a price that’s a much cheaper than those £/$/€1000 models launched earlier in the year.
It feels like a phone launched to turn to those in the mid-range and say: “for a little more cash you could have a lot more phone.”
So what exactly do you get? First and foremost is the 6.5-inch display. It’s Samsung, it’s AMOLED and it has a punch hole. Samsung’s reputation for displays is very good and here there’s no messing with Quad HD resolutions, Samsung is sticking to 2400 x 1080 pixels.
But it’s also offering a 120Hz panel with a 240Hz touch sampling rate and we’re expecting great things from it, as more games move to support faster refresh rates. The latest to be announced was Call of Duty Mobile.
Then there’s the core power. Opt for the 5G version and you get Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 globally. For many, like those in Europe, this means access to Qualcomm hardware on a Samsung phone – something that’s often not available in all regions.
If you choose the 4G version, which is a cheaper model, there’s a surprise inside – it’s powered by Exynos 990. Since this phone is supposed to be about giving fans what they want, if you believe the outcries of social media, most will be going for the Qualcomm version. (The 4G version won’t be available in the US, Samsung tells us.)
There’s 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage, with microSD, and a 4500mAh battery to round out the specs. It’s solid, flagship-grade hardware.
Turning to the camera and Samsung is avoiding the sort of junk sensors you get on mid-range devices. There’s a solid 12-megapixel main camera and this is a sensor with massive 1.8µm pixels, f/1.8 and optical image stabilisation. We saw this camera on the Galaxy S20 and it’s impressive.
It’s joined by a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera and an 8-megapixel 3x optical zoom. It also offers image stabilisation and Samsung says it will support Samsung’s 30X Space Zoom feature too. The front camera is 32-megapixels.
All of which sounds like great spec for the price and we have high hopes for it. But there are some other details that stand out: you get stereo speakers supporting Dolby Atmos, there’s IP68 water protection and 25W wired charging – but that charger is not included in the box.
So where’s the compromise? On the build side of the device, the rear is glasstic rather than glass and the fingerprint scanner moves to optical rather than the more accurate ultrasonic. Those are probably things we can live with.
On the whole, for £699 for the 5G version or £599 for the 4G version, there’s probably just about enough here to warrant the additional cost over those cheaper mid-range devices. But Samsung is also going to be selling it in, wait for it, blue, red, lavender, mint, white and orange colours. All you have to do is decide which is the right colour for you when it goes on sale on 2 October.