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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Samsung Galaxy A42: Which to Pick?

author Luis Silva (July 2021 Updated: August 2021 - 6 min. reading time)

The Galaxy S20 FE isn't that affordable, but considering its features, it is by far the one you should pick.

It gives you better performance (+73%), a better display, better cameras, and water-resistance. But the Galaxy A42 will deliver better battery life.

What else stands out?

With the Galaxy S20 FE, you'll also get a higher refresh rate, Always-On display, better outdoor brightness, optical image stabilization, a telephoto lens (+63 mm), faster-charging speeds (25w vs. 15w), wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, and more RAM (6GB vs. 4GB). But the Galaxy A42 also features a headphone jack.

How much will the additional specs cost me?

If you're considering a new and unlocked smartphone, you're going to shell out an extra amount of about $381.

Is the Galaxy S20 FE still worth buying in 2021?

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is clearly worth buying in 2021, even if there are better phones out there. You can go for the Apple iPhone 12, but this one does hold a good performance, good battery life, tons of storage, optical zoom, and fast wireless charging.

Is it worth getting the Galaxy A42 in 2021?

Just because the Galaxy A42 was released last year doesn't mean I won't recommend it. You'll love it for its good performance, good battery life, and tons of storage. But keep an eye on the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite too.

Just keep reading if you want to know everything about them, how they differ from their competition, and how the industry is scoring their specs.

Check prices on Amazon Check prices on Amazon
Click here or scroll down to check prices on eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FESamsung Galaxy A42

CONTENTS

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Introduction

Samsung launched its Galaxy A42 in November 2020, while Samsung's Galaxy S20 FE arrived at stores one month sooner.

We are looking at how the Galaxy S20 FE and the Galaxy A42 compare to each other to help you decide which might be the right one for you.

The weight of each section

For additional information regarding our smartphone comparisons, check this FAQ.

to check who their rivals are.

Price*
vs.
Device Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42
Release Date 2020, October 2020, November 0y.
OS Updates 3 years 3 years 0y.
Security Updates 4 years 4 years 0y.

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Which One Has The Best Performance?

Performance-wise, Geekbench 5 scores the Galaxy S20 FE 73% ahead in the multi-core ranking. If you forget this number, you'll remember it every single day since day one.

The Galaxy S20 FE is also a top performer if you consider its rivals. About 54% above.

We can classify the Galaxy S20 FE as high-end and the Galaxy A42 as an upper mid-range.

The 4G variant of the S20 FE comes with the Exynos 990 and the Mali-G77.

There's a performance decrease of about 15% on the Exynos 990 for the Galaxy S20 FE.

Performance*
vs.
Features Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42
SoC Snapdragon 865 Snapdragon 750
Graphics Adreno 650 Adreno 619
Geekbench 5 Score 3296
1910
-1386
OS Android 10 and OneUI Android 10 One UI
Tek-Score
7.5
5.2
-2.3

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE front transparent png Samsung Galaxy A42 front transparent png

The Galaxy S20 FE has the best screen, and it should be noticeable.

The Galaxy A42 sets itself apart from most smartphones in its class: It is 37% below the average pixel density.

Considering the Galaxy S20 FE, 92% of its rivals have an AMOLED screen, and 76% have an Always-On display. On the contrary, only 22% of them feature Gorilla Glass 6 or Victus.

For the Galaxy A42, 81% of its rivals have an AMOLED screen. Although, only 15% of them feature Gorilla Glass 6 or Victus.

Display Density (DPIs)*
vs.
Features Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42
Size 6.5
6.6
0.1
Screen Type AMOLED AMOLED
Resolution (px) 1080x2400
720x1600
-1440000
Refresh Rate 120hz 60hz -60
Dots per Inch 404.89
265.84
-139.05
Always-On-Display Yes No
Notch Hole Teardrop
Peak Brightness 823 nits
570 nits
-253
HDR HDR10+ -
Sub Tek-Score
9.1
1.4
-7.6
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3 -
Tek-Score
4.4
0.5
-3.9

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE back transparent png Samsung Galaxy A42 back transparent png

Considering their score, I think that the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE has a more dependable camera.

About the Galaxy S20 FE: DXOMARK tested this camera and gave it a score of 119. And if you take into account the telephoto and wide-angle lenses, the final score goes up to 131 points. If you want to know more about it, click here.

PS: This Dxo score is for the 4G variant, but this variant should be close enough.

Last (but not least), you should know that all of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more and have an ultra-wide-angle lens.

About the Galaxy A42: DXOMARK's gurus should be reviewing this shooter anytime soon, I hope. Given specs and similar cameras, it'll get close to 79* points. Plus, combining with its wide-angle lens, that score goes up to 91**.

Last (but not least), just to let you know, 85% of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K, and all have an ultra-wide-angle lens. Regardless, only 19% of them come with a telephoto lens.

If you prefer, we can grade the Galaxy S20 FE as a high-end while the Galaxy A42 leans towards the mid-range.

*DXOMARK is a world-known reference in the camera benchmarking department. Too bad some cameras don't have a chance to be tested. So what do I do? I try to do my best by giving a similar score based on hardware specs only (OIS, Sensor size, Aperture, Lenses, HDR, and so on). As of now, you can expect a deviation of up to 2 points.

**Consider this as an estimative, at least for phones with no zoom and up to 35 to 40MP. They moved to a better camera test protocol, and there aren't enough reviewed phones to extrapolate a backward-compatible score.

Picture Quality*
vs.
Primary Camera Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42
Megapixels 12
48
36
Aperture 1.8
1.8
0.0
Lens 26mm
26mm
0
Lens Type Wide-Angle Wide-Angle
Flash 1 1 0
HDR Yes Yes
OIS Yes No
Video 2160 2160 0
Score 131
91
-40

*Reference: 100: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Extra Camera(s) Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42 vs.
Megapixels 8
8
0
Aperture 2.4
2.2
-0.2
Lens 76mm (3x zoom)
13mm -63
Lens Type Telephoto lens Ultra-wide-Angle
Megapixels 12 5 -7
Aperture 2.2 2.4 0.2
Lens 13mm -
Lens Type Ultra-wide-Angle Macro
Megapixels - 5
Aperture - 2.4
Lens Type - Depth Sensor
Score 12 12 0
Selfie Camera Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42 vs.
Megapixels 32
20
-12
Aperture 2.2
2.2
0.0
Lens 26mm -
Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42 vs.
Tek-Score
7.7
5.4
-2.4

Who has the best frame?

The Galaxy S20 FE does stand out because of its number of color options and water resistance.

Both also have about the same weight: 190 g. (6.70 oz). But because screen size also matters, I've developed a formula for a kind of "display size to phone weight" ratio. The Galaxy S20 FE got a score of 5.0, and that's another way of saying it has an acceptable score for its screen size. In the meantime, the Galaxy A42 has 5.0, so nothing to state here.

The Galaxy S20 FE is water-resistant in up to 1 to 3 meters. But remember: it's for a maximum period of half an hour, on standby, and freshwater only.

Looks*
vs.
Body Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42
Size 159 x 74 x 8 mm
(5.61 x 2.61 x 0.28 in)
164 x 75 x 8 mm
(5.78 x 2.65 x 0.28 in)
4272
Weight 190 g. (6.70 oz)
193 g. (6.81 oz)
3
Build Front glass Front glass
Colors Cloud Lavender, Cloud Navy, Cloud Mint, Cloud Orange, Cloud Red, and Cloud White Prism Dot Black, Prism Dot Gray, and Prism Dot White
Screen To Body Ratio 86.69%
85.50%
-1.19
Disp.Size To Weight Score 5.0 5.0 0.0
Looks 6.6/10
5.5/10
-1.1
Waterproof IP68 -
Biometrics Under Display Fingerprint Under Display Fingerprint
Tek-Score
6.8
1.5
-5.3

*100% = 4+ colors + front and back glass + S2BR: 86+%.

Which has the best battery?

The Galaxy S20 FE does have a smaller battery, with 4500 mAh, while the Galaxy A42 has 5000 mAh. And according to GSMArena's tests, the latter does have better battery life.

Clearly, the Galaxy A42's battery capacity is well above what you find on their rivals. That's a step-up of 13% against the typical smartphone.

You should know that both of them can also easily defeat most devices. Just check out our top 10 for battery life.

You'll likewise get quick wireless charging on the Galaxy S20 FE. You won't find many phones as fast at about its price.

The 4G variant of the S20 FE also has lower battery efficiency (about 10% less screen-on-time).

Battery*
vs.
Features Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42
Capacity (mAh) 4500 5000 500
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 85% left
88% left
3
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 71% left
78% left
7
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 74% left
80% left
6
Bat. To Phone Size Score 5.1 4.8 -0.2
Sub Tek-Score
7.7
8.2
0.5
Fast Charging 25w
15w
-10
Wireless Charging 15w
No -15
Reverse Charging 4.5w
No -4.5
Tek-Score
7.4
6.9
-0.5

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

None of them.

The 4G variant of the S20 FE may start at 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

Storage*
vs.
Features Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42
RAM (GB) 6GB
4GB
-2
Internal (GB) 128GB
128GB
0
Micro SD microSDXC (shared slot) microSDXC (shared slot)
Tek-Score
7.5
7.5
0.0

*Internal Storage + 256GB Memory Card (Max: 512GB).

Which is the most connectivity-friendly?

The Galaxy A42 for sure, as it has a headphone jack.

You can find these two in the LTE or (LTE and) 5G variants. You can pick the Galaxy S20 FE with 4G with an Exynos 990 and a Mali-G77 GPU.

Connectivity
vs.
Features Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42
Network 5G (also available in LTE) 5G (also available in LTE)
Bluetooth 5.0
5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack No Yes
Tek-Score
4.6
9.5
4.9

Which is more affordable?

Here are the best prices that we've found:

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Reference: $680

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Samsung Galaxy A42

Reference: $299

Samsung Galaxy A42

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions, but it will mean a lot if you click on one of these buttons before purchasing your next phone (or whatever else you end up buying). You'll be helping to take this to the next level.

Prices on eBay are in $US but Europe-based. You can click to check the prices in your country.

Prices marked with ! are from renewed/refurbished/carrier-locked phones (except eBay prices that, as a last resort, can be from bids or used devices).

How much of a "phone" can your money buy?
That's how much "score" you can get with $100 based on the global score that you'll see in the next section (higher is better).

Have you found better prices elsewhere? The formula is simple: score/price*100.

Value for money Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42 VS
Amazon 0.98 1.57 0.59
eBay 1.91 - -
Best Buy 0.98 1.57 0.59
Walmart - - -

Also, don't forget to check the latest deals from these four stores, and the state of the art on mobile technology, if you don't want to overpay on your next smartphone.


Related articles:


Best smartphone deals


The Best Unbiased Smartphones For All Budgets


Smartphone Specs Statistics: The State Of The Art (Q1 2021)

The 4G variant of the S20 FE should be about 20% cheaper.

So, what about that global score? We'll get there. But first, let's see where its rivals are. They're at 6.1 (for the Galaxy S20 FE) and 5.7 (for the Galaxy A42).

Verdict: What Makes the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Stand Out?

What can the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE give you that the Samsung Galaxy A42 can't:

- Better performance (+73%)

- Better outdoor brightness

- Higher refresh rates

- More DPIs

- An Always-On display

- Better display

- OIS

- A telephoto lens (+63 mm)

- Better cameras

- Water-resistant

- Faster charging speeds (25w vs. 15w)

- Wireless charging

- Reverse wireless charging

- More RAM (6GB vs. 4GB)

What can the Samsung Galaxy A42 give you that the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE can't:

- More affordable

- Better battery life

- A headphone jack

Pros Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42
#1 Performance AMOLED
#2 AMOLED Battery Life
#3 Always-On-Display Fast Charging
#4 Cameras MicroSD Slot
#5 Battery Life 3.5mm Jack
#6 Fast Charging
#7 Wireless Charging
#8 MicroSD Slot
Cons Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42
#1 Weight Screen Resolution
#2 3.5mm Jack Always-On-Display
#3 Price Wireless Charging
#4 Glass Protection Weight
#5 Glass Protection
Relative Score*
vs.
Global Score Galaxy S20 FE Galaxy A42
Gaming Score
7.5
4.7
-2.8
Tek-Score
6.86
5.18
-1.68
Your Score

Scroll the sliders down below to get your own personalized score. Let's suppose you value performance and battery life, and you don't really care about anything else. Then, just set the "Performance" and the "Battery" sliders up to 5 (5+5=10), and then the other sliders down to 0. You'll know what's the best phone for you.

Performance 1.9
Display 1.7
Cameras 1.4
Frame 0.9
Battery 1.9
Storage 2.0
Connectivity 0.4
Total Should be 10 or as close as possible: 9.6

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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About me

Hello!

My name is Luis Silva, and I have a degree in computer management. Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved everything to do with tech. Music, pictures, video editing, I've done it all! This site is a place for me to share some of the knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current trends. This is a wonderful place for tech-geeks and everyone else that just want to learn more about tech and smartphones in general.


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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Related Comparisons


Samsung Galaxy A42 Related Comparisons

×

"Display size to phone weight" ratio explained

This indeed is a "display size to phone weight" ratio, but because every phone ended up somewhere between 0.0272 and 0.0421, I've amplified (adapted) those values so they would fit in a 0-10 scale. As of now, the best smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy A40, with 140g. (4.94 oz) for a 5.9 inch display. It got a score of 9.92. While the worse device is the iPhone 8 Plus, which weighs 202 g. (7.13 oz) and has a 5.5-inch display. It ended up with a score of 0.75.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

"Battery to device size" ratio explained

This score should give you an idea about the energy footprint of the devices you're considering. It reflects not only the hardware and the energy that it requires but also the amount of energy that the battery can deliver.

The major spenders on any device should be the display and the SoC. But everything from a notification led to its modems need to be optimized, or else, the OEM should simply include a bigger battery as a compensation. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible due to size limitations. But in the end, if a particular OEM can do a good job and give you excellent battery life on a small device, so should everyone else. That's why I've added a "battery to device size" ratio. But since the real scale went from 119 (for the Galaxy S10e, Snapdragon variant) and up to 164 (for the iPhone 7 Plus), I've decided to convert them so they would fit in a 0-10 scale, being 0 the worst device, (the iPhone 7 Plus) and 10 the one every OEM should look up to.

As an example, Apple did an excellent job on the iPhone 7. It has a score of 8. Despite having a small capacity, the hardware is well optimized, and it still gives you decent battery life considering its size. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, with those bezels shrinking its display size, clearly could've been the #1 in our top 10 list of best battery devices if Apple simply filled all that empty space with a bigger battery.

As a side note: I haven't included the dept of the devices in this formula because even if a device ended up being 1mm/0.03 inches thicker, it wouldn't matter that much to those who really value battery life.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

Rivals

As of now, these are the rivals that were considered for each of them. They may change every time its prices are updated.

These are the lowest prices found on Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.


 Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 8
    $370
  • ApplerivaliPhone XR
    $344
  • OnePlusrival7
    $388
  • XiaomirivalMi 9T Pro
    $385
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 8
    $419
  • ApplerivaliPhone 8 Plus
    $390
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy M30s
    $300
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10e
    $428
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS
    $410
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10
    $398
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S9
    $305
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10e EX
    $428
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ SD
    $359
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ EX
    $329
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 EX
    $429
  • OnePlusrival7T
    $329
  • OnePlusrival7 Pro
    $429
  • HuaweirivalP30
    $400
  • RealmerivalXT
    $290
  • GooglerivalPixel 4
    $386
  • OnePlusrival6T
    $300
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S9 Plus
    $305
  • XiaomirivalMi 9
    $400
  • XiaomirivalMi 9 Lite
    $317
  • ApplerivaliPhone SE 2
    $380
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Lite
    $299
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A71
    $400
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10 Lite
    $425
  • OnePlusrivalNord
    $410
  • GooglerivalPixel 4a
    $350
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 FE 5G
    $359
  • OpporivalFind X2 Neo
    $398
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy M51
    $396
  • OnePlusrivalNord N10
    $299
  • XiaomirivalMi 10T Lite
    $325
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Lite
    $399
  • XiaomirivalMi 11 Lite
    $349
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A52
    $380
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A42
    $299
  • XiaomirivalRedmi Note 10 Pro Max
    $292
  • XiaomirivalMi 9t Pro
    $385

 Samsung Galaxy A42 
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A50
    $265
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A70
    $255
  • ApplerivaliPhone XR
    $344
  • HuaweirivalP30 Lite
    $280
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A40
    $240
  • XiaomirivalMi 9T
    $270
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy M30s
    $300
  • XiaomirivalPocophone F1
    $250
  • ApplerivaliPhone 7 Plus
    $260
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S9
    $305
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ EX
    $329
  • OnePlusrival7T
    $329
  • RealmerivalXT
    $290
  • ApplerivaliPhone 7
    $250
  • OnePlusrival6T
    $300
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S9 Plus
    $305
  • HuaweirivalMate 20
    $285
  • XiaomirivalMi 9 Lite
    $317
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Lite
    $299
  • XiaomirivalMi 9 SE
    $250
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A51
    $280
  • GooglerivalPixel 4a
    $350
  • OnePlusrivalNord N10
    $299
  • XiaomirivalMi 10T Lite
    $325
  • XiaomirivalMi 11 Lite
    $349
  • XiaomirivalRedmi Note 10 Pro
    $255
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A32
    $252
  • XiaomirivalPoco X3 Pro
    $243
  • XiaomirivalRedmi Note 10 Pro Max
    $292
  • XiaomirivalMi 9t
    $270
×

Formula deviation

Since the guys at DxoMark don't review every camera out there, I've come up with a formula based on the ones that they do rate, so I could get an equivalent score for the ones they don't review. After testing it against these cameras, I got the deviation between that and their DxO score.

Device: DxOScore Deviation
Samsung Galaxy A50: 88 -1
Apple iPhone XR: 104 1
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: 108 -7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro: 87 1
Sony Xperia 1: 99 -1
Sony Xperia 5: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: 126 2
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 96 -3
Xiaomi Pocophone F1: 92 -1
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 90 -1
Apple iPhone X: 101 3
Apple iPhone 11: 112 -1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: 107 1
Apple iPhone XS Max: 110 -2
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 124 1
Samsung Galaxy S10: 124 2
Apple iPhone XS: 110 -1
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 120 -2
OnePlus 7 Pro: 122 0
OnePlus 7T Pro: 122 0
Huawei P30 Pro: 125 -1
Google Pixel 4: 117 0
Google Pixel 3: 103 0
Google Pixel 2: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: 127 -2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 132 2
OnePlus 6: 100 0
OnePlus 6T: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: 105 -1
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: 120 0
Xiaomi Mi 9: 115 0
Huawei Mate 30 Pro: 132 0
Huawei P40 Pro: 140 -1
Apple iPhone SE 2: 101 0
OnePlus 8 Pro: 126 0
Xiaomi Mi 8: 105 1
Samsung Galaxy A71: 89 1
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro: 134 0

As you can see, most cameras sit between 1 and -1, while a few of them go up to 2 or -2. That means it's reasonable to assume other similar cameras that they don't review to, in the worst-case scenario, be anywhere from -2 to 2 points from the score that the formula gets.

For example: Given that the Pixel 4 got 117 points and that the Pixel 4 XL share the same year and camera specs, it's reasonable to expect a score of 117 too. But in reality, if they do review that camera, it may end up anywhere between 115 and 119.

Be aware that at DxO, they give a score based on their opinion, not based on any formula. That's why I think there's an odd difference of 6 points between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. In theory, they should have the same camera.

I'm guessing that the Mi 9T Pro got a deviation of 7 points because they tested its Chinese variant (the K20 Pro).

Update: They just changed their protocol to include preview image evaluation and trustability. I'm keeping the old table (for now) for reference purposes, and I'll be adding a new one as soon as they review at least a couple of new mclass-range cameras.

You can expect the same (or a bit bigger) deviation for high-end cameras, but anything with a score below 100-110 should be taken with a grain of salt.

This is valid for all cameras tested with the previous protocol. For those that they dclassn't test, the deviation may be up to twice as much.

×

About GeekBench 5

This is just a quick note to let you know that, if, by any chance, the smartphone you're looking for isn't on the GeekBench site yet, you can check on GsmArena.com, as they also usually test smartphones with that benchmark tool.



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