Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G: Which is best?

Should you choose the S20 FE, an excellent all-rounder, or go big with the Note 20 Ultra 5G?

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G
(Image credit: Samsung)

The best Android phones are truly exceptional devices, ranging from budget bangers to incredibly powerful flagships. We reckon that the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is the best Android phone for most people, but for just a little bit more you can get the bigger, more flexible Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra 5G with its amazingly powerful cameras and Samsung’s iconic S Pen stylus. 

One of the reasons we’re looking at these phones instead of the slightly newer Samsung Galaxy S21 range is because they’ve been out for a bit longer – and that means there’s much more chance of getting a really good deal. The difference in specifications between the S20 range and the S21 isn’t as dramatic as you might expect, and that means if the price is right the S20 range can be a really smart buy. But which is smartest – the S20 FE, or its bigger sibling? Let’s discover the key differences.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G: design and display

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Galaxy S20 FE is a very beautiful smartphone, its edge to edge display barely interrupted by the tiny cut-out for the selfie camera. The display is a 6.5” Super AMOLED with a fast 120Hz refresh rate for smooth video and scrolling, delivering a Quad HD+ resolution of 3,200 x 1,440.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is also a good looking thing: it looks like the S20’s slightly older sibling who’s got a good job and drives a nice car. The screen is a 6.9” SuperAMOLED with Quad HD+ resolution of 3,088 x 1,440 pixels, and it supports Samsung’s much-loved S Pen stylus.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G: processor, storage and connectivity

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G

(Image credit: Future)

The hardware specifications here are very similar. The S20 FE has a Snapdragon 865 clocked at up to 2.8GHz and 6GB of RAM. Storage is 128GB or 256GB and you can expand that to 1TB with a microSD card. Its Wi-Fi is 802.11ax with HE80 for speed and there’s Bluetooth 5.0 and a USB Type-C port with USB 3.2 Gen 1. The 4,500mAh battery is good for a claimed 15 hours of internet usage and 19 hours of video playback.

The processor in the Note is a Snapdragon 865 but the clock speed is 2.73GHz and it’s teamed with 12GB of RAM. Storage is 256GB or 512GB and you can extend it to 1TB via microSD. There’s Wi-Fi to 802.11ax, HE80 for faster connections, Bluetooth 5.0 and Ultra-Wideband (which the S20 FE lacks), and the USB Type-C connector is USB 3.2 Gen 1. Like the S20 FE there’s a 4,500mAh battery that’s good for up to 15 hours of internet use and 19 hours of video playback.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G: cameras 

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G camera

(Image credit: Future)

The cameras in the Note are spectacular. The rear camera is a triple-camera with 108MP, 12MP and 12MP, 5x optical and 50x digital zoom and the ability to record 8K video at 24fps. The front camera is 10MP.

It’s clear that Samsung had different audiences in mind for these phones: where the Note puts all its power in the rear camera, the S20 FE focuses – no pun intended – on the front camera. Where the rear camera assembly is 12MP/12MP/8MP, the selfie shooter here is 32MP. The rear cameras deliver 3x optical and 30x Space Zoom.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G: pricing and verdict

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

(Image credit: Future)

The RRP for the Note 20 Ultra 5G is £1,179 and the Galaxy S20 FE has a RRP of £669.

There’s no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is the more powerful device. It has a bigger screen, it has more RAM and more storage, and its rear camera assembly is incredible. But megapixels aside, the difference between the two phones isn’t as dramatic as the difference between their price tags. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE has a very slightly smaller screen but it has the same excellent wireless and 5G connectivity, the same big battery life and a better front-facing camera.

Unless you’re buying a phone specifically for video or photography, the Galaxy S20 FE is the better buy here: it’s a fraction of the price and almost identical where it counts in terms of power and practicality.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (