Samsung unveils "budget" Galaxy S20 to boost pandemic sales

By Harry Menear
The 5G model of the new budget model of the Samsung Galaxy S20 is a full $300 cheaper than the standard handset...

The pandemic is having an interesting effect on the global smartphone market. While overall sales this year is expected to shrink by 9.5%, with shipments dropping to 1.2bn units, the rapid explosion in demand for mobile devices in developing markets, driven by a huge global spike in e-learning and remote work, has shifted sales away from high-end flagship devices and towards the mid-range and budget segments of the market. 

A new report by IDC indicates that sales of low to mid-range smartphones dominated sales figures in 2020 so far. Low to mid-range smartphones accounted for 60% of sales in the first half of 2020, as "rising unemployment rates and job uncertainty have influenced consumers' buying patterns towards economic and affordable products. Subsequently, the overall portfolio in smartphones is moving toward low-to-mid end devices," said Sangeetika Srivastava, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.

Traditionally premium players have also entered the mid-range space. Apple’s budget release, the iPhone SE has made a huge splash in the mid-tier market since its release at the beginning of the year, and Google’s Pixel 4a has shown a lot of promise since its launch in early August.

Now, Samsung is also responding to the trend - albeit in a different way to some of its competitors. 

On Wednesday, the South Korean electronics giant announced the launch of a new “budget” version of its flagship Galaxy S20 handset. The new Galaxy S20 Fan Edition (FE) is reportedly designed to deliver the premium features of a flagship phone at a more affordable price. 

Samsung has only volunteered pricing information on the S20 FE 5G edition, which will hit the US market with a $699 price tag. While that puts it at the upper end of the mid-tier range, the S20 FE is still a full $300 cheaper than the standard S20, and comes with 5G capabilities - something that’s been relatively absent from lower-priced devices up until now. 

The Galaxy S20 FE is reportedly kitted out with a 32 MP selfie camera with tetra-binning technology - a significant upgrade on the more expensive S20’s 10 MP front facing camera. The camera is also housed in a miniscule 334mm punch-hole display, which Samsung claims is the smallest ever in a Galaxy phone. 

The rear camera features a triple lens array of a 12MP main shooter, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor and an 8MP telephoto lens. 

Its screen is a remarkably premium 6.5in SUper AMOLED with a 120hz refresh rate, and under the hood it’s packing a Snapdragon 865, 6GB of RAM and a 128 GB of internal storage.

The S20 FE is now the fourth device in Samsung’s Galaxy range and, while it definitely represents more of a mid-range option than the company’s $399 Galaxy A51, the solid performance and improved camera options compared to the $999 Galaxy S20 5G might just make it the right mid-range device for this moment in time.  


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