While the future of Samsung' Galaxy Note series might be in doubt, there are growing amounts of information tidbits bubbling around the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE.
While some of us at Tom's Guide won't be against the end of the Galaxy Note, particularly as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 looks to be the phone that will lead the South Korean company's flagship future, the idea of an 'Fan Edition' of the Note series is somewhat tantalizing.
Samsung has past form in doing this, as it came out with a cheaper version of the Galaxy S20 in the form of the Galaxy S20 FE last year. That's fuelled more speculation about an FE version of the current Note (which hasn't seen one since the Note 7 debacle).
Samsung's plans remain unclear, so there's a good chance that in the latter half of this year, we could still see the debut of the Samsung Galaxy Note 21, potentially the last hurrah of the Note full flagship line. But even if the Note 21 is still in the works, a Galaxy Note 20 FE could arrive, too, helping Samsung broaden out the phablet's user base.
Galaxy Note models tend to be the most expensive non-folding Samsung phones. But an FE version could distill the best elements of the current Galaxy Note 20 lineup into a more affordable package. That could appeal to people who want a quality big-screen phone but don’t want to part with $1,000 or more.
So here's what we've heard so far about the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE and what we think it could look like.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE release date and price
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE simply exists as a rumor and a concept at the moment, with the South Korean tech company remaining rather tight lipped about what’s next for the Note line.
The Galaxy S20 FE was released in October 2020, so we’d not be too surprised to see the FE treatment applied to the Note sooner rather than later. That said, Samsung tends to launch a next-generation of Note devices around August time most years, so it might just reveal the Galaxy Note 21 and the Note 20 FE at the same time. (Sound confusing? Hey, Samsung's the company that rolled out the Galaxy S10 Lite a month before the Galaxy S20 launch in 2020.)
As for price, the Galaxy S20 FE cost $699, $300 less than the Galaxy S20's debut price. That $999 price also happened to be what Samsung charges for the Galaxy Note 20, so conceivably a Note 20 FE might go for $699 to $799.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE design
We’d expect the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE to look a lot like the Galaxy Note 20, a handset that already had a plastic back as opposed to the more elegant materials used in the Note 20 Ultra. That's not necessarily a bad trade-off — the plastic in the S20 FE and newer Galaxy S21 is actually rather pleasant to touch and feels more premium than the “glasstic” moniker would suggest.
However, the Note 20 FE could potentially have a larger display than the Note 20’s 6.7-inch screen. It could opt for a 6.8-inch panel and thus sit between the regular Note 20 and the Ultra version. After all, Note phones are designed to be big screen devices, and the S20 FE was larger than the standard Galaxy S20.
We’d also hazard a guess that Samsung could offer a suite of colors as it did for the Galaxy S20 FE. That's opposed to sticking with the slicker semi-metallic copper hues of the full-fat Note 20 phones.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE display
When it comes to the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE display, we’d expect Samsung to take a page out of the Galaxy S20 FE's book. That means a 1080p panel with a 120Hz refresh rate.
Ideally, we’d like to see a dynamic refresh rate so the display can adapt to the content shown on it, scaling back to 60Hz or lower when the higher refresh rate isn't needed. But that requires an LTPO display, something that you can find on the S21 range and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. This is where our predictions get a little muddy.
In the Note 20 Ultra, the LTPO panel was a premium feature. But as it’s now part of the $799 Galaxy S21, it would appear Samsung can develop an adaptive refresh rate display at scale. Thus an adaptive refresh rate could be included with the display of a Note 20 FE without cranking the price up — at least theoretically.
One Note 20 FE leak appears to mention a 6.5-inch display for the Galaxy Note 20 FE; that’s the same size as the Galaxy S20 FE’s screen. But to our mind, that would seem a little small for a Note-series handset.
We expect the Note 20 FE’s display to have flat edges like the S20 FE, which is no bad thing as that can make the screen easier to grip. And we’d put a safe bet that the display will be a rather color-rich affair with plenty of brightness, as Samsung is a dab hand at screens across all manner of devices.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE specs
The biggest compromises the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE could make might involve the processor powering the phone. Samsung is likely to opt for a Snapdragon 888, given it’s using that chipset in the Galaxy S21 series.
But there are other options as well — last year's Snapdragon 865 could be employed if Samsung wants to use the same chipset found in the other Note 20 models. There's also the Snapdragon 870, a 5G-chip that's essentially a more powerful version of last year's Snapdragon 865 Plus.
Like the S20 FE, the Note 20 FE would likely feature less RAM than its pricier predecessors — probably 6GB or 8GB at best. And storage is probably going to come in one option, likely 128GB to also curtail costs.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE: Cameras
When it comes to cameras, the Note 20 FE could go one of a few ways. It could simply use the S20 FE’s triple camera array, comprising a 12MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 8MP telephoto with 3x zoom setup, which is a minor step down from the Galaxy S20.
Or it could take the Note 20’s camera setup, made up of a 108MP wide camera, a 12MP telephoto camera with a 5x optical zoom, and a 12MP ultrawide camera. There's also the Galaxy S21’s rear camera array, featuring a 12MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide camera, and 64MP telephoto camera with 3x hybrid zoom.
Some combination of those various cameras could also be included, say a 12MP main camera, 12MP ultra wide, and the 12MP telephoto camera. That would differentiate the Note 20 FE from the S20 FE, but keep it from stealing the thunder of the other two premium Galaxy phones.
Whatever cameras the Note 20 FE would include, we would expect the phablet to make use of the improved camera software and image processing introduced in the Galaxy S21 range, which could give it flagship-level phone camera performance.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE: S Pen
As for other features, we can expect the S Pen to be a core part of the Galaxy Note 20 FE, even after Samsung has started expanding stylus support to other devices such as the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The S Pen is still an essential part of the Note experience, so we would think the Note 20 FE version would support all the capabilities found in the standard Note 20's stylus.
A Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE would give people access to an S Pen compatible phone without the need to fork out a wad of cash for some high-end features they might not need or want.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE: Outlook
There’s an argument to be made that introducing a Galaxy Note 20 FE could dilute the Galaxy Note lineup by causing it to shift away from its position as Samsung's premium phone offering. Then again, introducing Plus and Ultra variants also brought in some extra features and different-sized screens that made the standard Galaxy Note seem more basic.
All that said, we don’t even know if a Galaxy Note 20 FE is indeed in the works. Samsung has said it will build out the FE range, so the Note 20 would be a good candidate for such a phone. However, outside of a few leaks and rumors, there's no concrete sign of the Galaxy Note 20 FE; time will tell on this one.