The Galaxy S20 FE arrives at a critical time for Samsung as more and more shoppers are second guessing the need for a $1,000 flagship. For $699, the Galaxy S20 FE distills the best features of the pricier Galaxy S20 while making sensible trade—offs.
This new lower-priced flagship also arrives just in time for whatever Apple has planned for its entry-level iPhone 12 models. With the addition of 5G, the iPhone 12 is expected to cost either the same as the iPhone 11 or $50 more, so it should be in the same ballpark as the Galaxy S20 FE.
- Samsung Galaxy S20 FE price, release date, specs and colors
- Everything to know about the new iPhone 12
Based on the specs and features of the Galaxy S20 FE and all of the leaks around the iPhone 12, Samsung should have some key advantages over Apple’s value-priced flagships and has the potential to be one of the best phones of the year.
Larger display with 120Hz
The regular iPhone 12 will reportedly come in two sizes: 5.4 inches and 6.1 inches. The 5.4-inch model may be called the iPhone 12 mini. So those who prefer a bigger display may gravitate towards the 6.5-inch Galaxy S20 FE. More important, Samsung’s handset offers a 120Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling and gameplay, a feature that (at best) will be reserved for the pricier iPhone 12 Pro series.
More cameras with optical zoom
All the iPhone 12 rumors point to Apple offering two rear cameras on the regular iPhone 12 models. And only the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro will get a telephoto lens. The Galaxy S20 FE packs an 8MP telephoto lens to complement its 12MP main camera and 12MP ultra-wide shooter. And you get a true 3x optical zoom and 30x digital zoom. The Galaxy S20 FE could be one of the best camera phones for the money.
The Galaxy S20 FE features a 4,500 mAh battery, which is bigger than the more expensive Galaxy S20 (4,000 mAh) and the same size as the Galaxy S20 Plus. An iPhone 12 leak says that the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 will pack a 2,227 mAh battery and the 6.1-inch model will house a 2,815 mAh.
Apple may be able to even the score with its more efficient 5nm A14 Bionic chip. But at least on paper Samsung has an advantage. Based on the specs, though, the Galaxy S20 FE could land on our best phone battery life list.
The Galaxy S20 FE comes with a fairly robust 128GB of storage for $699, but you can augment that with the phone’s microSD card slot. The handset supports up to 1TB cards, so you don’t have to rely solely on the cloud to preserve your photos, videos and other files.
The iPhone 12 is expected to stick with the same 12MP front-facing camera as the iPhone 11. Meanwhile, Samsung outfitted the Galaxy S20 FE with a 32MP selfie shooter. Megapixels does not determine overall image quality, but users could see sharper results with Samsung’s phone.
The iPhone 12 should have some advantages over the Galaxy S20 FE when it launches based on leaks, such as a faster A14 Bionic processor. Apple should also match the Galaxy S20 FE when it comes to 5G connectivity, and both regular iPhone 12s should feature OLED displays. We also expect the iPhone 12 to have a more premium design, forgoing the plastic on the S2O FE.
But overall the Galaxy S20 FE should prove to be a strong rival to Apple's new phones and is anything but a "lite" phone.
- Next: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20 — What's different?
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Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.