Galaxy S20 FE 5G vs Galaxy A71 – Who is Samsung’s Fan Edition for?

Chris Davies - Sep 23, 2020, 9:15am CDT
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Galaxy S20 FE 5G vs Galaxy A71 – Who is Samsung’s Fan Edition for?

Samsung says it’s for the fans, the price tag says it’s for Android phone buyers on a budget, and the name says it’s part of the popular Galaxy S20 family. Question is, just where does the Galaxy S20 FE 5G actually shake out, compared to the rest of Samsung’s increasingly-crowded range and phones like the Galaxy A71?

Traditionally, the gulf between Samsung’s S-series flagships and its A-series midrange devices has been fairly wide. In recent years, though, we’ve seen handsets like the Galaxy A71 borrow more and more technology and styling cues from their more expensive S-series cousins.

As a result, the Galaxy A71 actually has a bigger display than the new Galaxy S20 FE: 6.7-inches versus 6.5-inches. Both use a metal frame construction with a polycarbonate back, and have an Infinity-O screen with a punch-hole 32-megapixel selfie camera. Both support 5G, too, though your $599 for the Galaxy A71 and $699 for the Galaxy S20 FE gets you Sub-6 GHz support as standard. Samsung will have a Galaxy S20 FE 5G UW with Verizon mmWave, much in the same way it offers the Galaxy A71 5G UW, which the carrier says will also be priced at $699.99.

Look a little closer, meanwhile, and you can start to see the differences more clearly. The A71 has a bigger display, but its FHD+ panel has a 60Hz refresh rate. The Galaxy S20 FE’s FHD+ screen goes up to 120Hz, for smoother scrolling and gameplay.

Inside, too, there’s a chip difference: a Snapdragon 765 in the Galaxy A71, versus a Snapdragon 865 in the Galaxy S20 FE. Most users might not see a huge difference in everyday performance, but more power is generally better when it comes to running all three OS generations of Android upgrade that Samsung promises for its latest phones.

If you’re a zoom fan, you probably want the Galaxy S20 FE: that has an 8-megapixel 3x telephoto camera, which the A71 lacks. The cheaper phone gets a 64-megapixel main sensor, while the S20 FE has a 12-megapixel main camera with OIS. Both have a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera. We’ve seen Samsung push its software tech from G-series phones down to the A-series recently, too, so just because you’re not on a flagship doesn’t mean you won’t get flagship features.

For charging, both can handle 25W fast wired charging, but only the Galaxy S20 FE has wireless charging support and Wireless Power Share. The A71 isn’t water-resistance rated, either, unlike the Galaxy S20 FE’s IP68 rating.

Clearly, the Galaxy S20 FE shares more in common with the Galaxy S20 than it does the A71. The biggest issue comes when you compare list price with the sort of money people are actually spending on Samsung’s phones, though. It’s not for no reason that even the most enthusiastic of early-adopters are cautioned to wait a few weeks at least when Samsung releases a new device. As we’ve seen most recently with the Note 20, you can potentially save a few hundred dollars just by holding off for less than a month.

As a result, while the A71 may have a $600 list price, it’s not hard to find it for under $500 online right now. A Galaxy S20 with a list price of $1,000 is currently available under $800. At launch, then, spending $699 on the Galaxy S20 FE 5G seems like a poor idea, given a hundred dollars more and you could have its glass-bodied S20 sibling.

Give it a little time, though, and we’re likely to see the same market pressures nudge the Galaxy S20 FE 5G’s price down too. At $600 it would be a lot more compelling, not to mention easier for carriers to bundle for a relatively insignificant amount into a monthly service plan. Overall, then, while Samsung may say this one is for the fans, in reality it’s canny shoppers who might see the most appeal in this “Fan Edition” phone, particularly those who want a more affordable route into Verizon mmWave support.

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