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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20: What's different?

An image split with the Galaxy S20 FE on the left, face down on a green surface, and a Galaxy S20 on the right, held in hand.
(Image credit: Samsung and Future)

Update: The Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22 Plus, and Galaxy S22 Ultra have landed, so we encourage you to check out the newer models to get the latest and greatest. With longer support and a host of new features, we think the S22 series is worth a lot more consideration than the Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S20.

The original story follows.

There's no clear winner in this Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S20 comparison. The phones only have a small number of differences between them, but they're important to know. It's these differences that will inform which of the two is best for you.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE and the regular Galaxy S20 are near-identical phones. The  S20 FE is designed to offer all of the most important features that consumers care about when shopping for the best phone at an affordable price. This includes a big 6.5-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate, a powerful triple camera system along with a 32MP selfie shooter and a 4,500 mAh battery that's bigger than the one in the regular S20.

On the other hand, the Galaxy S20 has a more premium design, double the RAM and a sharper screen. The S20 also features a more compact 6.2-inch chassis if you prefer something more easily pocketable. 

Keep in mind that these phones are both over a year old. Each one has a successor in the form of the Galaxy S21 series and just recently the Galaxy S21 FE. If you want to see those phones compared, we've got a Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs Samsung Galaxy S21 face-off for you to check out, as well as one for Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. Another thing to consider: the Galaxy S22 is likely to launch soon, giving you another flagship phone to consider.

But putting all those other Galaxy phones aside, let's return to the focus of this page: how the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 FE compare.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S20 FESamsung Galaxy S20
Display6.5 inches (2400 x 1800) 120Hz6.2 inches (3200 x 1440)
ColorsMint, Navy, Lavender, Red, Orange, WhiteGray, Blue, Pink, White
ProcessorSnapdragon 865Snapdragon 865
Rear cameras12MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 8MP telephoto (3x zoom)12MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 64MP telephoto
Front camera32MP10MP
Battery 4,500 mAh4,000 mAh
Size6.29 x 2.93 x 0.33 inches5.9 x 3 x 0.31 inches
Weight6.7 ounces5.7 ounces

Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20: Price

On paper the Galaxy S20 FE wins this round easily. The Galaxy S20 FE has a list price of $699, and you can already find it for as low as $599. The regular Galaxy S20 has a list price of $999, which is $300 more.

However, you can often find the Galaxy S20 on sale for $799 or even under $700, so it pays to shop around. Check out our Galaxy S20 deals page for the latest discounts.

Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20: Design and colors

The six colors of the Galaxy S20 FE range (mint green, dark blue, pink, red, orange and white) stood side by side on a table.

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Galaxy S20 FE has aluminum sides but a polycarbonate (plastic) back, so it doesn't look or feel quite as premium as the glass Galaxy S20. In addition, the bezels on the Galaxy S20 FE are slightly larger than they are on the S20.

Still, the Galaxy S20 FE gives you more color options with your choice of six hues. You can take your pick from mint, navy, lavender, red, orange and white. The regular Galaxy S20 has just four options with gray, blue, pink and white.

A light blue Galaxy S20 stood against a stone background

(Image credit: Future)

Because of its larger display, the Galaxy S20 FE has bigger dimensions and more weight to watch. It measures 6.29 x 2.93 x 0.33 inches and weighs 6.7 ounces, compared to 5.9 x 3 x 0.31 inches and 5.7 ounces for the Galaxy S20.

Both the Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S20 are IP68 rated for water and dust resistance.

Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20: Display

Promotional art of the Galaxy S20 FE range

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Galaxy S20 FE features a fairly larger 6.5-inch OLED display with a full HD+ resolution of 2400 x 1800. The regular Galaxy S20 sports a smaller but sharper 6.2-inch screen with 3200 x 1400 pixels.

Both handsets offer smooth scrolling and animations, as the Galaxy S20 FE offers the same 120Hz refresh rate as the Galaxy S20. Overall, we don't think most people will mind the lower resolution.

Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20: Cameras

The back of an orange Galaxy S20 FE, including the camera array.

(Image credit: Samsung)

This is where the Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy 20 comparison gets really interesting. The Galaxy S20 FE features a triple rear camera setup just like the Galaxy S20, but with different lenses. 

The Galaxy S20 FE features a 12MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide camera and a 8MP telephoto lens with a 3x optical zoom. The Space Zoom (digital) goes up to 30x.

The back of a light blue Galaxy S20, with a focus on the rear cameras.

(Image credit: Future)

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S20 packs a 12MP main shooter, a 12MP ultrawide lens and a sharper 64MP telephoto lens that crops in to achieve a 3x optical zoom. Its Space Zoom also goes up to 30x.

Up front, the Galaxy S20 FE has a higher-res selfie camera at 32MP, compared to 10MP for the Galaxy S20. This makes sense, as Samsung is targeting a younger audience with the Galaxy S20 FE.

Both the Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S20 share the same top camera features, such as Night Mode, Super Steady and Single Take.

Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20: Performance

Asphalt 9: Legends being played on a Galaxy S20.

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S20 FE features the same processor as the Galaxy S20 with its Snapdragon 865 chip, but the FE makes do with just 6GB of RAM. The regular Galaxy S20 offer 12GB of RAM, so we would expect its multitasking performance to be stronger.

In Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance, the Galaxy S20 FE scored 2,928 in the multi-core test. That's lower than the Galaxy S20, which notched 3,147. 

Both phones ship with 128GB of storage, and you can add up to 1TB more via the microSD card slot on the Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S20. 

Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20: Battery life and charging

A Galaxy S20 plugged into a fast charger

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S20 FE features a 4,500 mAh battery, which is the same size as the Galaxy S20 Plus. The Galaxy S20 has a smaller 4,000 mAh battery.

On our web surfing battery test, the Galaxy 20 FE lasted 8 hours and 58 minutes over AT&T's network and 9:03 on Verizon. The Galaxy S20 surprisingly lasted a longer 9:31 over T-Mobile's network, but results can vary by carrier. 

Don't expect the S20 FE to charge as fast as its more premium cousin. While the Galaxy S20 FE supports 25W charging, it ships with a 15W charger. The regular Galaxy S20 has a 25W charger in the box.

Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20: Bottom line

The winner of Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy S20 really comes down to what you're looking for in your next phone and what you're willing to pay. If you're on a budget and prefer a larger display, the Galaxy S20 FE seems like a no-brainer. You get nearly the same cameras and performance and more color options for $300 less, plus a bigger battery.

However, the Galaxy S20 remains a great choice, especially if you want a more compact design. Other perks include narrower bezels, more RAM and a sharper quad HD display. The Galaxy S20 is especially compelling if you can find it on sale for less than $700. 

Overall, the Galaxy S20 FE is a great alternative to the regular Galaxy S20. But you may still want to see if the newer Galaxy S21 is still a better option, or hold off and wait and see what Samsung has in store with the S21 FE, rumored to appear in the next month or two.

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.