The 'fan edition' phone for non-Samsung fans
Galaxy S20 FE 5G is a go-to choice for newcomers to the brand
This review hurts me personally because I paid a lot of money and got myself a Samsung Galaxy S20+ around mid-year. Now, the newly-released S20 FE 5G is cheaper, faster and has all the same Samsung features with a set of slightly inferior cameras at around half the price.
I have owned or tried Samsung, Oppo, Apple, Sony, Motorola, Lenovo, HTC and OnePlus phones over the past decade and I can still say that in 2020 Samsung produces the most social-media-ready photos and videos with the least effort. Yes, the FE produces less-detailed shots compared to its big brothers (the Note20 Ultra & S20 Ultra, I mean) but what you see on social media is far less than what the FE can comfortably produce with ease.
At about half the price, the FE can do 95% of what the S20+ does with all the bells and whistles, gimmicks and shooting modes intact. Samsung's AI helps to pick and adjust how you take your photos instantly. You can also zoom 3x optically as well and the phone's night mode can pick up light from low-light environments, however, the lenses cannot handle dim surroundings (like a room with one candle lit) like the top Huawei phones do. The other good thing is that you can switch to pro mode to stop all AI assistance and do your own tinkering to adjust the camera the way you prefer. It's pretty overwhelming what you can mess around with, mind you.
This is also one of the first 5G-ready phones at a reasonable price.
The phone comes with a Super AMOLED display which is a slight downgrade compared to the other more expensive S20 siblings that have Dynamic AMOLED displays. In short, Super AMOLED is a Dynamic AMOLED display without HDR10+ capability. What is HDR10+, you ask? It's something that makes the pictures become true-to-life and brighter. Is this screen bad? No, far from it. The clarity and colour it can display is top-notch and can be very responsive when you enable 120Hz refresh rate. This higher refresh rate makes animations, screen transitions and overall scrolling feel smoother than typical 60Hz screens. While picture sharpness may not be as good as its elder siblings, it is noticeably better than screens of other branded phones. You can rely on Samsung to produce superb screens -- which they have been doing for many years -- that will make Apple users green with envy.
The hole-punch front camera cut-out is tolerable and is smaller than many other phones. However, since I have been using a few phones with no holes or notches, I wish Samsung could get rid of it and go with something like an under-display camera or a pop-up to get rid of this "black mole" at the top of the screen.
This phone comes with a set of surround speakers with Dolby Atmos to boost depth and bass of the sound but I would like it to be a little louder at max volume.
It's quite refreshing to get to use a matte-back plastic phone again since it does not attract fingerprint smudges like glass ones. Over time, this will get scratched but it will not shatter and splinter your fingers when you eventually drop it.
Since plastic transfers heat less than glass, you won't feel the burn from heavy use like taking long 4K videos, shooting hundreds of photos or gaming for hours. However, the internals of the phone do heat up and the temperature can easily climb to more than 47C, which will slow (and sometimes halt) the phone if pushed too hard.
Gaming on this phone is OK. It can run ROV, Freefire, LOL: Wild Rift, and PUBG at the highest settings with a 120Hz screen refresh rate for hours. However, with a game that is really demanding like Genshin Impact, it struggles and heats up after playing for more than 10 minutes. Moreover, to get the best gaming experience, I needed to disable Samsung's built-in services called "Game Optimizing" and "Game Booster", which was ironic.
OneUI has matured and stabilised to the point that I prefer it over stock Android. It is smooth, looks classy (to me), and never crashed on me in the one-month review of this phone.
The phone's 4,500mAh battery is well suited for 2020 and comes with ample 256GB of internal storage which can be expanded. Also, IP68 water-resistant is such a nice thing to have to ensure your phone does not die if you accidentally drop it in the toilet.
The phone is loaded with features and gimmicks. For instance, Wireless DEX enables you to connect the phone to TVs and monitors to emulate something close to Windows; Photo AR to add silly but funny augmented reality effects to your photos and videos in real-time; and wireless charging and reverse wireless charging for other gadgets.
The fingerprint sensor is faster than Samsung's ultrasonic sensor but a little less secure. For 2020, the year of Covid-19, having a fingerprint sensor makes much more sense than having a face unlock (because masks render face unlocking useless).
If you want a nice looking phone with a superb screen that has 5G, can take good photos and videos with ease, has good battery life, is packed with fun and useful gimmicks at around 20,000 baht, this is the one to get.
Screen: 120Hz 6.5-inch Super AMOLED Full HD+ (1080 x 2400)
Processor: Snapdragon 865
Storage: 128GB (+ max of 1TB microSD expandable)
Connections: 5G, dual SIM, USB Type-C, WI-FI 5GHz, NFC
Camera: 32MP (front), 12MP ultrawide + 12MP wide + 8MP telephoto (rear) with OIS
Colour variation: blue, pink, mint, red, orange, white
OS: Android 10 with OneUI 2.5 on top
Price: 21,510 baht