Compare the Galaxy S20 FE vs Galaxy Note 20 and it’s clear that the $300 premium you’re paying for the latter is mostly just for the S Pen. It’s no secret that the Galaxy Note 20 is basically its own “Lite” variant. Perhaps that’s why we haven’t heard anything about a Galaxy Note 20 Lite so far.
On the other hand, we first got wind of a new Galaxy S20 variant a few months before the FE was announced. We knew from the start that this will take the Galaxy S10 Lite’s place but Samsung doesn’t want this new phone to be associated with a Lite model. It has branded the Galaxy S20 FE as a flagship and yes, it is much more well equipped than the Galaxy S10 Lite ever was. Like we said in our Galaxy S10 Lite review, it was basically a mid-range phone with flagship elements.
The same could not have been said about the Galaxy Note 10 Lite. It used a chipset that was introduced with the Galaxy Note 9 in 2018, and cameras from the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8. The Galaxy S10 Lite, meanwhile, shipped with the Snapdragon 855 in all markets and a 48-megapixel main camera that offered gimbal-like stability.
Again, the S Pen was what people were paying for, as they could get it for cheaper than the $950 Samsung was asking for the Galaxy Note 10. Fans would argue that the Galaxy Note 10 Lite was good for the money because it had a headphone jack, something that was missing from the Galaxy S10 Lite even though both phones have similar battery capacities.
Samsung has already redrawn the lines that separate flagships from the rest of the pack with the Galaxy Note 20. You wouldn’t expect a $1000 flagship to have plastic at the back instead of glass and use the same Gorilla Glass version as the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 (ironically, Samsung’s first “Fan Edition” was born from the ashes of the Galaxy Note 7). This is all true for the Galaxy Note 20. So why shouldn’t it call the Galaxy S20 FE a flagship?
The company says that the Galaxy S20 FE was created as a direct response to the feedback provided by fans. It packaged most of the features that they liked about the Galaxy S20 series in a more affordably priced device. Perhaps that’s why it has a 120Hz refresh rate while the Galaxy Note 20 doesn’t. It also says that new Fan Edition models of its flagship devices will be released every year from now on, so one can assume that it may follow the same strategy for the Galaxy Note series.
Let’s not forget that the Galaxy Note 20 series came out just last month. It’s far too soon for Samsung to release a new variant even as the series is already losing sales momentum in the United States. Perhaps it may launch one around December to capitalize on Christmas and New Year sales? The question remains, though: What else can Samsung cut from the Galaxy Note 20 to offer the S Pen at a lower price?
It can be argued that the company needs to add more to the device in order to create something that can be worthy of the Fan Edition tag. A Galaxy Note 20 FE would need to have a 120Hz refresh rate display while a larger battery would be appreciated as well. Many would be happy if Samsung threw in a headphone jack but the odds of that happening are slim.
But if there is a Galaxy Note 20 FE and it uses the same Exynos 990/Snapdragon 865+ chipsets as the Galaxy Note 20, has a higher refresh rate, a bigger battery and possibly a better selfie camera, it’s just going to be a slap in the face of all those who bought the Galaxy Note 20. The only way to avoid making those customers angry is to cut more from the Galaxy Note 20, even when there’s not much to cut in the first place.
A Galaxy Note 20 FE will obviously have a plastic back but what Samsung could do is replace Gorilla Glass 5 on the front with Gorilla Glass 3. It’s using this for the Galaxy S20 FE already. It could also make cuts to the camera setup as well as reduce base RAM and storage to 6GB and 128GB. That’s just about it, though, because it can’t use an older chipset like last year’s Exynos 9825 because it doesn’t have a 120Hz refresh rate display driver as the Exynos 990. So it’s either the latest silicon or kiss the higher refresh rate goodbye.
This looks like a rock and a hard place kind of problem for Samsung. If it sticks to the same strategy used for the Galaxy S20 FE, it will end up making the Galaxy Note 20 FE better than the Galaxy Note 20 in more ways than one. If it makes significant cuts to the specs then it can’t really call the new device “Fan Edition” because that would then go against the standard Samsung has presumably itself set for future FE phones.
We might end up with a Galaxy Note 20 Lite in that case, if Samsung once again wants to offer the S Pen at a lower price point. Whether or not it goes down that route remains to be seen. Remember, the Galaxy Note 10 Lite was released in February this year, so Samsung still has ample time to decide what it wants to do about this.