The Galaxy S20 FE Is Your New Mid-Range 5G Option

Small downgrades you can live with

Key Takeaways

  • Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 FE offers 5G capabilities starting at $699.
  • The S20 is an attractive option for photographers with its large sensor.
  • One expert says most users in the U.S. won’t have access to 5G for a while.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE in 4 colors
Samsung

Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 FE is a solid mid-range option for users who want 5G capabilities and solid specs at a reasonable price.

The new Galaxy starts at $699 and offers new colors options, powerful cameras, and a 6.5-inch, 120Hz display that can make video look smoother. It’s meant to target consumers shopping for a phone that’s better than a cheap Android or iPhone, but are cautious about overspending at a time when the economy is in a downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"If you're an Android user looking to upgrade your old phone, but don't want to break the bank, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE's feature set makes it an excellent option," Chris Hauk, consumer privacy champion at Pixel Privacy, said in an email interview. "If you're an iPhone user, you may want to consider the iPhone SE or the upcoming lowest-priced iPhone 12, since you're already locked into the Apple ecosystem."

A Worthy Upgrade

The S20 is an attractive option for photographers. It boasts a large image sensor and Samsung claims the camera has a 30X zoom "which allows you to zoom in and capture vivid details from afar." The screen is sure to impress as well, with its smooth 120Hz refresh rate on an AMOLED display that will work well for enjoying videos or fluidly scrolling through social media feeds.

Samsung’s being coy about the new S20’s battery life other than to say it lasts "all day," but the new phone does have fast charging capabilities, as well as the wireless charging you’d expect at this price point.

You Get What You Pay For

Don’t expect all top of the line features, though, for less than $700.

"The display is a downgrade from the rest of the Samsung Galaxy S20 lineup, as it uses a flat, FHD+ display in place of the curved QHD+ display in other S20 models," Hauk explained. "The handset also uses a slightly slower Snapdragon 865 and not the Snapdragon 865+ used in other models. However, many users aren't likely to notice a difference."

The S20 FE "compares nicely to the iPhone SE 2," which starts at $399, Hauk said, but the SE has a much smaller 4.7-inch display. "Until Apple unveils its iPhone 12 lineup, we won't know how it compares to the new Apple handsets," Hauk added.

For Android users who want 5G capabilities, the new S20 could be a no-brainer upgrade.

"This phone can do a lot of things that your current phone probably can’t do, and is one of the first to offer 5G connectivity in the US," Andrew Chen, Senior Technology Editor of Slickdeals, said in an email interview. "It’s priced lower than other flagship phones, while offering just about every major feature you’d expect from a flagship device."

Think Before You Leap

While Samsung talks up its new phone’s high-speed 5G network capabilities, one expert says you should read the fine print before taking the plunge. 

"While 5G is rolled out in a lot of places, it's still not super widespread," said cybersecurity analyst Dave Hatter in a phone interview. "If you want to be ahead of the curve and ready for 5G [to] hit your area, that's one thing. I personally wouldn't spend money on a 5G phone if I'm not gonna have access to the network in the near future."

"This phone can do a lot of things that your current phone probably can’t do, and is one of the first to offer 5G connectivity in the US."

Even at the S20’s relatively modest price point, Hatter questions whether most people really need to upgrade their existing phones.

"It’s probably a pretty good deal, but I know there are many much cheaper options in the Android space," he said. "And my guess is, with the possible exception of the 5G, they would be more than sufficient for most people. I can't imagine, what with the economy in the current flux, that a whole lot of people are going to go ahead and plunk this kind of cash down."

If you can’t commit to spending top dollar on a phone costing north of $1,000, the new S20 could be the right choice. Just make sure you really need 5G support before spending your hard-earned money.