Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

The Galaxy S20 FE encapsulates the full core Samsung experience in a shockingly inexpensive flagship with a plastic chassis and a flat display. It has a 120Hz display, three excellent cameras, an all-day battery life, and a 5G connection.

Amazing valueThere are no S Pen capabilities
Three excellent, versatile camerasThere is no 8K video
Amazing 120Hz flat display
Full-day battery life

Samsung Galaxy Note 20

The Galaxy Note 20 is slightly more expensive, but it provides a virtually equivalent experience with a faster processor and S Pen functionality. It, too, is guaranteed to receive at least three years of continuous software upgrades, much like the S20 FE.

S Pen with wireless controlsDisplay is only 60Hz
8K video captureMore expensive
Display is flat and vibrant
Full-day battery life
Three years of guaranteed software updates

In recent years, Samsung has gained a reputation for producing gorgeous hardware designs, generally combining metal and curved glass for its flagship phones. This year, though, we’ve seen a return to plastic in the company’s “cheap flagship” category. As it turns out, when done right, plastic is OK, especially when combined with two of Samsung’s top phones for late 2020: the Galaxy S20 FE and the Galaxy Note 20.

Comparison Between Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy Note 20

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 was the first phone in Samsung history lineup to return to a polycarbonate (plastic) build, and while I was initially concerned about the transition, holding it immediately put me at ease. The Note 20 still feels exceptionally robust and well-made, and the flat display is a breath of fresh air for anyone who has previously experienced inadvertent touches on Samsung’s curved displays.

The Galaxy S20 FE, which was released later, has the same plastic design and flat display, but it comes in a few more interesting colours. Both phones are water and dust resistant to IP68 standards and have features like wireless charging and in-display fingerprint sensors. These two phones are essentially identical in terms of hardware, with the exception of a tiny change in physical size due to the larger display on the Note 20.

Internally, the phones are also comparable. The Note 20 has a little newer Snapdragon 865+ chipset (which clocks slightly quicker and renders graphics faster), as well as more RAM, but both phones have 128GB of storage and only the S20 FE supports microSD expansion. The S20 FE also boasts the sole 120Hz display of the two, whereas the Note 20, like the Note 10, only has a 60Hz refresh rate.

CategoryGalaxy S20 FEGalaxy Note 20
Operating SystemAndroid 10Android 10
Display6.5 inches, 20:9 aspect ratio, 2400×1080 (407 ppi) resolution, Super AMOLED6.7 inches, 20:9 aspect ratio, 2400×1080 (393 ppi) resolution, Super AMOLED Plus
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 865Snapdragon 865+
Expandable StorageYes (Up To 1TB)No
Rear Camera12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8μm (wide),12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.12μm (ultra-wide),8MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.0μm (telephoto)12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8μm (wide),12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4μm (ultra-wide),64MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8μm (telephoto)
Front Camera32MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.8μm10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22μm
Water ResistanceIP68IP68
Dimensions159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4mm161.6 x 75.2 x 8.3mm

The software experience on both phones is, of course, practically similar. Each runs Android 10 with Samsung’s One UI 2.5 software overlay, which includes strong features such as DeX, which allows you to use your phone as a desktop-like experience with an external monitor. The S Pen on the Note 20 is the most noticeable change between the two. This pressure-sensitive stylus lets you take notes or draw on your screen, and it can even control your phone remotely via air motions.

Both phones have the same primary camera, as well as an ultra-wide sensor and a telephoto camera with a range of up to 30x, albeit the S20 FE has a native 3X telephoto lens, whilst the Note 20 employs Samsung’s Hybrid Optic Zoom technology. The photography experience on both phone is very similar, with a plethora of manual controls for fine-tuning your images, but one feature I especially like on the Note 20 is the ability to utilise the S Pen as a remote shutter.

In case it isn’t evident, these phones are nearly identical in every way, from cameras to performance, battery life, and physical features. They trade blows in small features like S Pen support, a high refresh rate, and microSD expandability, but the price is ultimately the deciding factor. The Galaxy S20 FE costs $700 and has already been discounted to $600. In comparison, the Note 20 launched at $1,000, with only the S Pen as a gift.

If you’re a long-time Galaxy Note fan who enjoys using the S Pen, the Note 20 is the clear pick; otherwise, it’s difficult to justify spending the extra money over the S20 FE, which offers nearly every other feature and benefits from some newer hardware upgrades. Because of its incomparable pricing, the Galaxy S20 FE is now our top Android phone overall. I like both devices, but the choice is apparent.


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