The Google Pixel 5 is the latest smartphone from the folks behind Android. It offers 5G support in a mid-range device and continues the Pixel tradition of having great cameras and innovative features. That’s all inside a phone that costs $699. However, less than two weeks ago, we were introduced to another mid-range smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition). It has a lot of the flagship hardware and features from the earlier Galaxy S20 series of phones. However, Samsung has made a few changes to the Galaxy S20 FE. The final result is that it costs the same as the Pixel 5. So, what are the major differences?
In this article, we will compare and contrast both phones, and offer up our opinion on which one is worthy of your $699. We’ve yet to review both devices in full, but there’s plenty we can glean by looking at the two affordable flagships on paper. Here is our early look at the Google Pixel 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.
Google Pixel 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
|Google Pixel 5||Samsung Galaxy S20 FE|
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
90Hz refresh rate
19.5:9 aspect ratio
>1,000,000:1 contrast ratio
|6.5-inch flat Super AMOLED
Infinity-O cutout, centered
FHD+ (2,400 x 1,080) resolution
120Hz refresh rate
Gorilla Glass 3 cover
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
Titan M Security Module
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Samsung Exynos 990
|GPU||Adreno 620||5G models:
No microSD slot
microSD support up to 1TB
Main: 12.2MP, f/1.7 aperture, 1.4µm pixels, optical + electronic image stabilization
Secondary: 16MP, f/2.2 aperture, 1 micron pixel, ultra-wide (107-degree FoV)
12MP wide-angle Dual-Pixel, OIS ƒ1.8, 1/1.76in, 1.8μm
12MP ultra-wide ƒ2.2, 1/3.06in, 1.12μm
8MP telephoto 3x optical zoom, OIS 30x digital “Space Zoom” ƒ2.4, 1/4.4in, 1.0μm
12W wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
15W wired charging (in-box adapter)
25W wired charging (add’l adapter needed)
15W wireless charging
|Software||Android 11||Android 10|
|Dimensions and weight||144.7 x 70.4 x 8mm
|74.5 x 159.8 x 8.4mm
|Colors||Just Black, Sorta Sage||Cloud Navy, Cloud Red, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud White, Cloud Orange|
The Google Pixel 5 has a 6-inch OLED display with a 2,340 x 1,080 resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE has a much larger 6.5 inch Super AMOLED screen with a 2,400 x 1,080 resolution and a higher 120Hz refresh rate. Both also have punch-hole cutouts for the selfie camera and minimal bezels. The Pixel 5 uses the stronger Gorilla Glass 6 on its display while the Galaxy S20 FE has the older Gorilla Glass 3.
The Pixel 5 uses aluminum for the back of the phone. This is interesting since the phone supports wireless charging. The Pixel 5 adds this feature via a hole in the chassis covered by a material bio-resin. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE uses a plastic material for its back and an aluminum frame. The Pixel 5 has an old-fashioned fingerprint sensor in the back. The Galaxy S20 FE uses a more modern in-display fingerprint reader. Both phones have IP68 water and dust resistance certification, and both lack a headphone jack. Both also have stereo speakers.
The Pixel 5 comes in Just Black and Sorta Sage colors. Samsung has gone all out with lots of color choices for the Galaxy S20 FE. You can choose from Cloud Navy, Cloud Red, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud White, or Cloud Orange.
Google decided not to put in the fastest processor available for the Pixel 5. Instead, you get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip, while the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE has the much faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset. Outside the US there is also a cheaper 4G-only version with Samsung’s in-house Exynos 990. Both chips have proven to be much faster than the Snapdragon 765G in our own testing.
In terms of memory and storage, the Pixel 5 has 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM compared to the 6GB of LPDDR5 RAM in the Galaxy S20 FE. Both phones have 128GB of onboard storage, but the Galaxy S20 FE allows for up to 1TB of storage expansion with its microSD card slot, which the Pixel 5 lacks.
The Pixel 5 has a 4,080mAh battery, compared to the 4,500mAh battery on the Galaxy S20 FE. Google has put in an extreme battery saver mode on the Pixel 5. It claims it will add up to 48 hours of extra battery life for the phone by allowing users to pause some apps they don’t want to use at the moment. We will have to see if those claims are justified when we get our hands on one.
In terms of wired charging, the Pixel 5 supports 18W speeds. The Galaxy S20 FE has 15W wired charging out of the box, but if you buy an optional adapter, that can go up to 25W. Both phones support wireless charging, with the Pixel 5 using 12W and the Galaxy S20 FE supporting 15W. Both phones also support reverse wireless charging of other devices.
The Pixel 5 has the same main 12.2MP camera we have seen in previous Pixel phones for the past two years. However, the secondary camera is a 16MP ultra-wide shooter, ditching the telephoto sensor found on the Pixel 4 series. We expect to see some software improvements for the cameras as well for our full review. For example, the phone’s portrait mode will add Google’s low light Night Sight feature and will add locked, active, and cinematic pan modes for taking better video clips. There’s also an 8MP camera in the front.
The Galaxy S20 FE has three camera sensors in the back: a 12MP standard camera, a 12MP wide-angle camera, and an 8MP telephoto camera. You also get a 32MP front-facing camera. Again, we will need a full review to evaluate the camera hardware and software on the S20 FE.
Because it’s made by Google, the Pixel 5 will come with the new Android 11 OS out of the box. The Galaxy S20 FE will ship with Android 10, and there’s no word on when it might get the Android 11 update. Both phones are also promised to get at least three major Android OS software updates.
- Google Pixel 5 — $699/£599/€629
- Samsung Galaxy S20 FE — $699/£699/€759
- Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (4G only) — £599/€659
Pre-orders for the Pixel 5 are available now for $699 in the US via the Google Store, Google Fi, Verizon, and retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. Pricing is set at £599 in the UK and €629 in other parts of Europe. Shipping is expected to begin in later October. One nice thing about pre-ordering the phone is that you get a bunch of freebies. That includes three months of Google’s game streaming service Stadia Pro (normally worth $30) and three months of YouTube Premium (normally costing $36). You will also get 100GB of Google One cloud storage for three months (normally $6). If you live in the UK, Ireland, France, and Germany, you can get a free set of Bose QC 35 II wireless headphones if you preorder before October 19.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is also priced at $699 in the US and only the 5G version is available. Verizon Wireless is selling its own variant, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G UW which costs $749, and can connect to the carrier’s “ultra-wideband” 5G network. You can get the 5G model in the UK for £699 and the 4G version for £599. In Europe, the 4G model will cost €659 and the 5G version will cost €759.
Google Pixel 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Which should you buy?
On paper, the Galaxy S20 FE beats the Pixel 5 in many categories. Both the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 and the Samsung Exynos 990 are much faster than the Snapdragon 765G. The display on Samsung’s phone is not only larger but supports 120Hz refresh rates. If you want to play lots of graphically intensive games, the Galaxy S20 FE is the easy choice to make.
In terms of its battery, the Galaxy S20 FE looks to be the champ in terms of its size. However, the battery does have to power a larger display compared to the Pixel 5. Google also claims its extreme battery saver mode will extend the phone’s charging life. Again, we will see if those claims are true.
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Google’s camera team always has some tricks up its sleeve. Even though the main camera in the Pixel 5 is the same as in previous Pixel phones, Google has consistently proven that its photography magic lies in its software. The fact that Samsung’s phone includes both an ultra-wide sensor and a telephoto lens would seem to put the S20 FE on top, though it’ll be interesting to see what Google can do with an ultra-wide camera, and whether or not Super Res Zoom can make up for the missing telephoto lens.
The Pixel 5 also has an early advantage of offering Android 11 out of the box. As you’d expect, Google’s track record of offering regular OS and security updates for its Pixel devices is pretty great too. The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE may get three Android OS updates, but it is shipping with the now year-old Android 10 out of the box. We don’t know when Android 11 is coming to the phone. If your biggest concern when buying a phone is getting the latest OS updates, the Pixel 5 the one to get.
It’s a close call between the Pixel 5 and the Galaxy S20 FE and we won’t know for sure until we’ve tested both. Check back soon for more detailed hands-on thoughts.
That’s our early look at the Google Pixel 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. Which one are you considering?