I was amazed when I saw the shiny Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G (Fan Edition) in the test. Finally, we covered the scope at launch. What else can you do with Google's best Android phone selection in 2020?
Well it turns out the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is very different from what we usually see in Australia. Instead of a Samsung Exynos chipset/modem, it has a Qualcomm SD865 5G chipset/modem, 120Hz Super AMOLED screen, 4500mAh battery and 6/128GB/microSD up to 1TB – everything included.
But wait, there's more. It's only $999 and comes in six new colors. To put it in perspective, you get the latest powerful flagship Qualcomm SD865 chipset for the price of the mid-range SD765G. There are certainly some compromises in screen resolution, cameras and accessories, but they are hardly noticeable. We will identify them in our review.
Did someone say KFC? If you want to enjoy the Galaxy S experience on a budget, this is it.
Details: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Modell SM-G781B/DS (Dual SIM)
- Australian websiteHere
- User GuideHere(it's a pdf so check out the download)
- Price: $999 for 8/128GB and $1249 for 8/256GB
- Color: Cloud Navy/Lavender/Mint Green/Red/White/Orange
- By: Samsung Online and major CE retailers*
- Elevator Pitch: The no-compromise budget version of the world's best Android smartphone
- Guarantee: 2 years
- Country of Manufacture: Not specified but believed to be South Korea
- Samsung is a South Korean global supplier of smartphones, tablets, TVs, home appliances and more.
- More Samsung news and reviewsHere
* Gray market - no Australian guarantee
We issue the standard warning that you must buy the original model with Australian firmware as it works on all Australian Telco LTE bands and can make emergency calls to 000 (not 911) without a SIM card.
As far as we know, the marketing name is SM-G781B/DS, but the actual model number is SM-G781BZBDXBA.
The last letter A stands for Australia and ZBDXB is part of the color selection and memory selection.
We name and shame big gray market tradersHere.If you're willing to spend that much, get a genuine Australian Made model.
First impressions – beyond
It's hard not to love a 6.5-inch, 20:9 (tall and thin) color phone. The test unit is Cloud Navy, but I've seen other colors as well, all beautiful and clear in the dreary Black Sea.
I don't want to spoil good reviews, but as an expert, I immediately see some trade-offs. The 60/120Hz flat screen offers 2400 x 1080p resolution and wider bezels. It has 6/128GB. The camera has a resolution of 12 MP + 8 + 12 MP and the selfie is 32 MP together. It comes with a basic 15W charger but has a 25W fast charge capability. At least a charger is included - a shame for Apple. Oh, and the buds are gone. The biggest change is the polycarbonate coating on the aluminum frame.
Despite these omissions, which are necessary for the price, this is a Galaxy-class device through and through. Fans will find FE temptingCurrent SD75655G phone.I know I will work hard for it.
A letter to Samsung Australia - where are the full specs, or are you all fruity yet?
screen - beyond
|Typ||Super AMOLED with small O-hole in the middle for camera|
60 or 120 Hz refresh rate - non-adaptive
|PPI/ratio||407/85.96% Resin rubber/20:9|
high dynamic range
400/675 typ./max. (860 max for S20 Ultra 5G)
2.5 sRGB and 4 DCI-P3 – excellent
Five heating and cooling levels
Always Show is customizable
|Digital Rights Management||DRM Info Discovery HDR10+ Bildschirm Widevine L1 HDCP 2.3|
Netflix: SDR, YouTube/Prime: HDR
|gamble||Switch to 60Hz if the game doesn't support 120Hz|
|Protection||Unspecified (possibly GG3) and pre-installed plastic screen protector|
|Optics under glass - test: 9/10|
2D – Test 7/10
As you probably won't be switching from the regular S20, you won't notice the difference between this and the QHD display, and you won't miss the ultrasonic fingerprint reader.
It's a premium, bright display, similar to what Samsung offers for companies like OPPO.
Processor - Beyond
|system on chip||Qualcomm SD865 7nm|
1 2,84 GHz, 2 2,42 GHz, 4 1,8 GHz
|graphic card||Adreno 650 Compute Open CL: 3247|
|game use||SoC runs all modern games at maximum frame rate|
|Storage||6 GB LPDDR4X|
|storage||128GB (100GB free) UFS 3.0 and 256GB options|
Androbench 1541.65/669.79 Mbit/s sequential read/write - very fast
|Micro-SD||up to 1TB|
There are currently no faster Android-based CPUs/GPUs
15 minute test
|Max: 235,446 GIPS, Average: 224,144 - 10% loss for 15 minutes|
The CPU temperature reaches 85°
The trade-off here is 6GB of RAM, but that doesn't affect performance or multitasking.
Communication - beyond
|W-lan||WLAN (QCA6390) 2×2 MU-MIMO|
Signal strength 5 GHz - distance from ASUS AX1100 router
- 2 m: -27 dBm/866 Mbit/s
– 5 m: -55 dBm/866 Mbit/s
– 10 m: -65 dBm/650 Mbit/s
|Global Positioning System||single double|
|Near Field Communication||NFC Paywave and MST Mag Stripe|
|USB-C||type and speed|
|Sensor||LSM6DSO Combo Accelerometer/Gyroscope|
Ambient light sensor STK31610
We're not fans of the accelerometer/gyroscope combo - it's a 5-axis accelerometer and very sensitive, especially with screen rotation. It also removes the separate barometer, step, and proximity detectors.
LTE and 5G – beyond that
|sim cards||Dual SIM (one activation) Hybrid (microSD requires Sim 2)|
|Support||VoLTE – usually depends on the mobile operator|
WiFi Calling - Yes
|Uplink (Mbps)||Flache 32 ms|
Test: 9,7 Mbit/s
|Downlink (Mbps)||Test: 14 Mbit/s|
|LTE frequency band||No instructions. Optus demonstration on site|
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, 26, 28, 32, 38, 49, 41, 66
|5G||Sub-6Ghz n78 for Australia only|
Due to the extreme variability in speed test results, we cannot test 5G with certainty at this time
|4G-Test||-105 dBm in 3-division reception range (average)|
Find the next tower at -107
Find the adjacent tower at -115
good antenna design
It seems to have a nice antenna design. It features Telstra Bluetick for regional use.
Batteries – beyond that
|mAh battery||Nominally 4500 mAh / actual 4370|
|charger||Available in: 5V/3A and 9V/1.67A/15W USB-A to USB-C|
Can use any USB-C PD 3.0 charger and chargers up to 25W
50%C 15W - 1 hour
100% 15W - 2 hours
50% 25W - 30 Minutes
100% 25W - 1 hour fast charge
|together||Supports 15W Qi (5V/3A or 9V/1.67A)|
Tested: up to 9V/1.268A/11.41W, the standard for Qi efficiency
4.5W reverse charge
Tested: up to 5V/0.625A/3.13W, which meets the standard for Qi efficiency
Most 60Hz screens
60Hz 1080p/50%/Airplane mode - 19 hours
120 Hz ditto – 16 hours
Typical use of 4G, WLAN test
60Hz - 16.9 hours
120Hz - 14 hours
Battery discharge at 100% load - 7.5 hours
Tyrannosaurus Rex - 60 Hz, 685 minutes, 3030 frames
T-Rex - 120 Hz, 330.5 minutes and 6561 frames
Minimum leakage current 314mA
Maximum leakage current 918mA
Screen off: mA (about 25 days)
60Hz - 10 hours
120Hz - 8 hours
You have to keep in mind that it has a powerful SoC with a 60/120 Hz AMOLED screen and 5G - all of which contribute to the battery life. 5G was disabled in all of our tests.
A 120Hz screen has about a 25% drop in performance, and the lack of an adaptive switch means it stays at 60Hz until you need it to play games. You need to charge your phone every 24 hours. We recommend purchasing a USB-C PD charger such asBelkin 68W GANWith two USB-C output ports. Or buy the 15W Qi charging pad - you won't regret it.
Sound - beyond
|speaker||Stereo earphones and down-firing speakers|
Dolby Atmos support
|Ampere||Dual Cirrus Logic CD35L41|
|BT-Codec||Codecs are SBC (default), LDAC (Sony), aptX/HD (Qualcomm), FLAC, ACC, etc.|
Anything above 80 dB is excellent
|Media – 73.5|
Rings – 77
Alarm – 80
Handset - 55
Good for hands-free use, adequate volume, some microphone noise cancellation
The soundstage is surprisingly wide, appearing to extend 10-15cm beyond the unit, with a touch of spatial sound. There is excellent left-right separation.
It features Dolby Atmos for music and games, and EQ with Normal, Pop, Classic, Jazz, Rock, and Custom settings. The EQ can tweak the frequency response, but as you'll read next, its native character is excellent.
We also like the Adapt Sound, which lets you choose your age - Off, Under 30, 30-60 and Over 60, which boosts notoriously weaker frequencies. So if you are a typical hearing impaired mid-sixties you will hear a lot more on your Samsung Galaxy S20 series devices.
BT 5.0 powered our reference Sony WH-1000xM4 in SBC, AAC and LDAC modes and delivered good, clear sound with plenty of volume. You will not get any buds with this device.
Sound quality – beyond that
These are bright vocals (boosted bass, boosted mids/trebles) that approximate warmth and sweetness (boosted bass/mids, boosted treble). It's clearly designed for clear vocals, but you can adjust the EQ for more bass and a little less treble, which is perfect for my jazzy tastes.
While it's not overly loud at 75dB, the sound quality and lost distortion more than make up for it. The top speaker (white wire) and bottom speaker (gold wire) go well together.
|Deep Bass: 20-40Hz||The peaks build solidly to 70 Hz|
|Mid Bass: 40-100Hz||Apartment|
|Treble bass: 100 to 200 Hz||architecture|
|Medium and Low Frequency: 200-400Hz||Apartment|
|Intermediate Frequency: 400-1000Hz||Apartment|
|Bass and Treble: 2-4kHz||flat but pointed|
|Treble: 6-10kHz||Slightly inclined to avoid harshness, then flat|
|Dog Whistle: 10-20kHz||Flat at 15kHz, then weaker at 20kHz|
Building – beyond
|height and weight||159,8 x 74,5 x 8,4 mm x 190 g|
|set up||Glass - unspecified but probably GG3|
Frame - Alloy
Back - Lacquered "Glasstic" acrylic
|intellectual property||IP 68 1,5 m 30 Minuten|
|In the box||15W charger|
USB-A to USB-C cable
While not having headphones or a 25W charger sounds tight, staying within the price tag is key. Glasstic backs will likely last longer than glass if dropped.
Android 10 Beyond
|Android||Google Android 10|
Security patch date: September 1, 2020
|user interface||A user interface 2.5|
|All stock apps, Google Lens and Assistant. Special Google Assistant key.|
|Bloatware||Mainly productivity and utilities|
|Update Policy||Three operating system updates, e.g. to V13|
Security patches Note that security updates in Android 11 are managed by Google
|Security||Fingerprint - 9/10 test|
FaceID – 7/10-Test
|agile||It supports Samsung DeX video output or screen mirroring|
Samsung One UI 2.5 is better than Pure Android in many ways. This is the difference between a normally functioning operating system and one that works properly. It offers extensive customization options for camera, screen, sound, games and more.
Part of that is DeX – the Samsung Desktop Experience, where a USB-C to HDMI cable turns a monitor into a PC like desktop. Unlike most Android devices, screen output is also possible via cable or projection.
But the real bonus is three operating system upgrades!
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Kamera – Beyond
It's the S20 by name, but the SD865 delivers different camera results than what we usually get from Exynos SoCs.
It's hard to tell the difference, but the shots look less colorful. In fact, they're more color accurate than the S20 Exynos SoC, which produces the wonderfully oversaturated shots we all love.
They're sharp and detailed, and it's difficult to get a bad photo in all lighting conditions.
Bins to 8 MP (10 MP output)
|Sensor||Sony IMX555||HI847||S5K3L6||Sony IMX616|
|pixel size um||1.8||1,0||1.12||.8 (1,6)|
|FOV° and crop||79 (67,8)||76 (70,1)||123 (104,3)||70 (59,2)|
|Stabilize||Optical image stabilizer|
|Optical image stabilizer|
|hochfliegend||Digital||3x optical and so-called 30x space zoom|
|special feature||Auto HDR||high dynamic range|
Indoor office light (400 lumens)
Low light (<100 lumens room)
It may be that 32MP is merged into 8MP, but in reality it is 10MP uncropped or 6.5MP cropped.
With the same selfie sensor, the performance of OPPO Find X2 Pro or Realme X3 SuperZoom is well known.
Single-take capture mode records a short 5-15 second video pan around your subject. The phone selects the best still images and video clips from various sensors and processes them for you.
We didn't test bokeh as it masquerades as "Live Focus".
It supports 4K@60fps (main camera) and 1080p@30fps (ultra wide angle). I would rate the quality as good, not what you would expect from the S20 series. This in turn has to do with the end result - less sharpness, detail and colour.
As expected from an SD854 SoC, the gyroscope EIS is excellent.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G (Fan Edition) is a bit confusing unless you put aside the prejudices against the S20 series.
My daily driver is the $1999 Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, so I tend to judge everything by that, not the money!
Our rating system takes money into account and eliminates any bias. You can't compare a $999 device to a $1999 device. Just like you can compare an Apple iPhone to a similar Android phone. It's apples and oranges. FE offers more value for less money.
So if I'm passing judgment on what the S20 FE has and doesn't have - sorry. Priced at $999, it's a unique selling point, outperforming the lower-spec SD756G phone.
It's the cheapest and most complete 5G phone available for $999.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G will send shock waves to all SD765G phones, which will need to drop to around $799 to keep sales going.
So if you haven't tried the Samsung Galaxy S series yet, this is for you.
PASS is marked 4/5. We add points for EXCEED and vice versa for FAIL.
It definitely deserves a 4.9/5 rating
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G (Fan Edition) – the most affordable S20
Easy to use
Great Value - Great value for an SD865 device
Build quality - that's Samsung
Style – a colorful “table”
Battery life: two days or more
Camera – well above average
Display – 120 Hz, schön hell
Android - Three operating system updates
Too weak 15 W charger