Google Pixel 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Google Pixel 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
As battles between $700 phones go, there is none other worth its salt than the ascending Google Pixel 5 and Samsung Galaxy S20 FE phones rivalry. Samsung managed to pull off a rather incredible value for money proposition this time around, while Google found a way to finally lower the price of its Pixel phones to a level that will undoubtedly be more popular with users.

Which corners were cut to get to these amazing prices, and should you ultimately switch to the Pixel 5 or Galaxy S20 FE at prices far below flagship level with commensurate performance? Let's find out!

Google Pixel 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE price and specifications


  • Just Black and Sage Green colors vs Cloud Navy, Red, Lavender, Orange, White, and Mint
  • 90Hz vs 120Hz displays
  • Gorilla Glass 6 vs Gorilla Glass 3 display cover
  • Snapdragon 765 vs Snapdragon 865 processor
  • 4000mAh vs 4500mAh battery
  • 18W vs 15W charging
  • $699 vs $699 ($599 promo price)
  • 12MP main/16MP ultrawide vs 12MP main/ultrawide/8MP telephoto cameras

Google Pixel 5 and Samsung Galaxy S20 FE colors and display



At just 5.70 x 2.77 x 0.33 inches (144.7 x 70.4 x 8.5 mm) and 5.71 oz (162.0 g), the 6" Pixel 5 is the lighter, narrower, and more comfortable to use with one hand phone. The 6.5" display of the Galaxy S20 FE, punch-hole design or not, presupposes the 6.29 x 2.93 x 0.33 inches (159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4 mm) dimensions and above average heft despite the lighter "Glasstic" body material. 

At the price tag, don't expect premium glass materials from the Google Pixel 5 either, as it boasts a recycled aluminum enclosure in Sage Green and Just Black compared to the Galaxy S20 FE rainbow of colors - Navy, Red, Lavender, Orange, White, or Mint - all in a "Cloud" hue.



If there's something we don't like about the phones' visuals, it's the relatively thick bezels on the sides, but that's if we compare with, say, the S20 series, while if we do with the terrible ones on another popular $700 phone - the iPhone 11 - they are downright elegant. The S20 FE and Google Pixel 5 are also IP68-certified to survive at least half an hour in up to five feet of water.

Thankfully, the slow ultrasonic finger scanners of the S20 series, are replaced with a regular optical one on the S20 FE, but the Pixel 5 still has a leg up with a good ol' capacitive scanner on the back that is fastest and more accurate than any under-display option out there.

As for the OLED displays quality, the only compromise Google and Samsung have made is lowering the resolution to 1080p from the 1440p of the S20 series or the Pixel 4 XL, and, again, it's all the better for it, as the battery life is much, much better with no pixel density sacrifice discoverable with a naked eye unless you look at it from very close, even on the 6.5" S20 FE. 

The S20 FE display has a 120Hz refresh rate mode, though, that makes scrolling and interface animations appear smoother and easier on the eyes, while Google counters with a 90Hz "Smooth Display" refresh which is still better than the 60Hz panels of yesteryear.

Google Pixel 5 and Samsung Galaxy S20 FE specs, charging and battery life



As usual, Google makes do with the bare minimum of specs for the Pixel 5's category, downgrading the 5G chipset to Snapdragon 765 to lower the price point, while the Galaxy S20 FE carries the no-compromise flagship Snapdragon 865 chipset. Oh, well, at least the 8GB RAM of the global Galaxy S20 FE models and the Pixel 5 match. Not the US ones, though, as they come with 6GB RAM.

The S20 FE has another significant specs advantage over the Pixel 5, a much larger, 4500mAh battery, against the 4000mAh unit in Google's darling. Both charge fast, though, at 18W for the Pixel 5, and 15W for the Galaxy S20 FE, and the battery size gains of the S20 FE may be offset by the smaller Pixel 5 screen and the integrated 5G modem in the midrange 765 chipset of Google's phone.

Google Pixel 5 and Samsung Galaxy S20 FE cameras



Say what you will about Google's excellent camera algorithms, it rarely has the hardware to match it, and the Pixel 5 would be no exception, with just a 12MP main and 16MP ultrawide cameras. 

It again counts on digital trickery for its admittedly very good zooming efforts, while Samsung has equipped the S20 FE with flagship-grade 12MP setup that includes am 8MP 3x telephoto optical zoom camera as well. 

The front camera setup - 32MP vs 8MP - is also in favor of the Galaxy, with the important caveat that Google does wonders in the camera software department and extracts the most out of the basic hardware it equips its Pixels with.

Selfies



So... what about selfies? The Galaxy gives you the choice between a wider and a more close-up look with the front camera, while the Pixel and the OnePlus only give you a single fixed look. In this first case, it is the OnePlus that captures the most detail and the best image, closely trailed by the Pixel, while the Galaxy has slightly strange skin tones which make it our third favorite.


If you have a group of people, though, the close-up look on the OnePlus is a bit of a problem, while with the Galaxy you can get a much wider view.


Finally, in low light, all three phones do a decent job, but we'd give our preference to the Pixel for its balanced, clean look.

Zoom




Since the Galaxy is the only phone out of the three to offer a telephoto camera, it's no coincidence that it's miles ahead of the rest in terms of zoom quality.



A big difference at 5X zoom as well.



The Galaxy S20 FE comes with a 3X zoom lens, which gives crisp and clear detail when zoomed.



At 2X zoom, all phones use digital magnification from the main lens.



And that's how the image looks when captured with the main cameras.

Night




The Pixel has long held the "low-light camera king" title, but in the last couple of years, others have been catching up. The Galaxy S20 FE in this case captures an equally as likable photo, with equally sharp detail and a nice look. The OnePlus is a bit behind the other two with blurrier detail.



While all photos look very similar in this case, notice that noise in the tiles on the Pixel photo. That's weird! The Galaxy captures a much cleaner detail and it has the best balance of color and dynamic range.



You have to be quite picky to see the tiny differences between the Pixel 5 and the Galaxy S20 FE in this low-light shot, but the OnePlus is a tiny bit behind the others with less appealing colors.





All three phones come with Night Mode that you can manually enable. On the Galaxy, the scene optimizer that is enabled by default automatically gives you a slightly longer exposure when needed, but you can then manually fire the Night Mode to get an even longer exposure and a brighter photo. We do like the balanced look on the Galaxy photo, even though the Pixel is more aggressive with its night mode.



Finally, in this night shot, the Pixel has a bit of an unnatural, warmish tonality, while the white balance on the other two phones makes for a better photo.

Main Camera



This one is a difficult shot with the morning sun shining brightly on the sea surface. It's hard to pick a favorite: the Pixel has the best dynamic range, but notice the noise in the walls, it's shocking that a photo captured during the day has so much noise! The detail on the Galaxy is clean, and even though it does slightly worse with the shining sun, it seems like the better image. The OnePlus photo is decent, but colors on it are way too yellow-ish and we'd say it's not quite on the same level as the other two.


With the sun shining through the flower, we notice two recurring differences between the Pixel and the Galaxy S20 FE: exposure! The Pixel captures the darker shot, which looks a bit better, while the image from the Galaxy is a tiny bit overexposed. Colors on the OnePlus look bleak and the image is not quite as good as the other two.


Notice the fall colors in this photo: the Pixel strikes a very nice balance, everything looks pleasant and quite realistic. The Galaxy goes overboard with saturation, but many people would love that look. The OnePlus has the bleakest colors of the three, and it could have used a bit more punch.


With so much greenery at the front, it's easy for a camera to get confused about its white balance. That's what's going on with the Pixel and the OnePlus here, as colors are way too brown/greenish and the whole photo is a bit underexposed, while the Galaxy S20 FE scores this one as a win.


It's hard to pick a winner in this case, the photos really look quite similar. The OnePlus, however, does go overboard with a clarity/vibrance boost, while the other two phones look a bit more realistic.


No big difference between the Pixel and the Galaxy in this case, they are truly tied, but the OnePlus messes up the bright red colors and its photo doesn't look nearly as good. Which one would you pick?

Related phones

Pixel 5
  • Display 6.0 inches 2340 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP (Dual camera) 8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 8GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 4080 mAh
  • OS Android 11
Galaxy S20 FE
  • Display 6.5 inches 2400 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 32 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 6GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, 103.4microSDXC
  • Battery 4500 mAh
  • OS Android 10 Samsung One UI

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