The S20 FE has a 6.5-inch, 120Hz, 2,400-by-1,080 screen and a very large 4,500mah battery. It has a 32MP front camera, along with three rear cameras: a f/2.2 12MP ultrawide, f/1.8 12MP main and f/2.4 8MP 3x telephoto. It runs a Snapdragon 865 processor, with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and a MicroSD card slot. It supports wireless charging and wireless reverse charging. It’s waterproof. The phone will come in unlocked and carrier-sold sub-6GHz 5G models for $699, and a millimeter-wave model for Verizon, for $749.
A real 3x zoom camera is a good reason to step up from the Galaxy A71.
It’s a noticeable upgrade from the Samsung Galaxy A71. You get a faster processor, the 120Hz screen for smooth scrolling, wireless charging, IP68 water resistance and a real 3x zoom camera. On the other hand, the phone will be bigger and bulkier than the more expensive S20, which some people like to buy because it fits easily in one hand.
Preparing to Fight the iPhone 12
Let me recap Samsung’s rather intense lineup. At T-Mobile, for example, it has:
That’s a lot of phones, but there are two gaps in that lineup: there’s nothing between $250 and $504, and nothing between $600 and $999. The first gap is where the iPhone SE rules; the second one is where the iPhone 11 dominates the US market.
According to stats from research firm M Science, the S20 lineup didn’t do anywhere near the unit numbers that the S10 did at launch. Some of that was the pandemic, to be sure. But an internal Samsung poll also revealed that plenty of potential users just thought the $1,000-and-up S20 line was too expensive. And the A-series doesn’t have the “flagship” cachet that the S-series does.
Enter the S20 “fan edition,” which could have been named the S20 Lite, but Samsung apparently didn’t want to devalue the product by actually calling it low-cost. It offers a bump up from the A-series at a price that matches the iPhone 11, and thus probably the base iPhone 12.
From left: the Galaxy S20 FE, the S20, the S20+ and the S20 Ultra.
It’s Going to Be a Busy October
The S20 Fan Edition goes on pre-orders today; if you pre-order, you’ll get a $70 accessories credit at the Samsung store. It hits shelves Oct. 2.
October is going to be a busy month for phones in this price range. I’m expecting the OnePlus 8T to hit at either $599 or $699, along with the base iPhone 12 at $699 or $749. If Samsung wants to continue to win, it has to have something at this price point.
Yet the FE’s success will be clouded by how confusing Samsung and carrier price promotions tend to be around Samsung’s flagship phones. Samsung’s phones are often two-for-one, or zero dollars down, or promoted with heavy trade-in values which hide the cost of the phones.
While it’s obvious looking at the list prices where the FE fits, it looks like carriers are going to do their usual confusing deals with this phone. AT&T will offer the S20 FE for free on a 30-month payment plan as long as you trade in another phone worth at least $60 and are on one of the carrier’s latest unlimited plans, for instance. That makes the S20 FE “cheaper” than the A71, which AT&T offers for $300 on a 30-month payment plan.
That’s a great deal, but it comes with caveats, we have no idea how long it will last, and we don’t yet have pricing details from the other carriers.
We’ll have a review of the S20 FE soon.