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Should You Buy The Samsung Galaxy Note FE Edition This December?

It’s still a great flagship, but it’s beset by better competition

We all know about Samsung’s very public troubles with its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones last year. After a high-profile launch, manufacturing defects in its battery led several devices to explode, even after the company recalled and re-issued the new device. But with millions of unused parts of the phone just lying around waiting to be disposed, Samsung had to do something with the components that they’ve already paid millions for. 

Enter the Galaxy Note FE or Fan Edition, which is a Galaxy Note 7 that has a smaller battery and that’s gone through Samsung’s new battery check program. It’s been on sale in the company’s home country since the middle of the year, and finally arrived in our country a few weeks ago. We’ve been using the phone for quite a bit now, and since it’s literally the same phone from last year with a battery swap, we highly recommend you reading our first review of the Note 7 before you go any further. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Review: Just Buy It

How does the Galaxy Note FE hold up a year after? Well, it’s still a pretty great flagship. We fell in love with the phone last year before it was taken off the shelves, and it’s still the same delightful experience a year later. Samsung’s Exynos 8890 processor still holds up pretty well despite being a year old. Samsung’s updated the OS of the Galaxy Note FE to Nougat and put in their Bixby AI effort into it to put it at par with their other flagships. 

The phone feels nice to hold, and we can’t believe how much we’ve missed the physical home button/fingerprint scanner on Samsung flagships. The placement of the scanner on both the S8 and Note 8 is pretty terrible to be honest. 

The biggest change in the FE is the battery. Samsung’s downgraded the 3500mAh of the original to just 3200mAh in the FE. Aside from being physically smaller, the battery has also been subjected to Samsung’s rigorous battery testing. And since the battery is smaller, the Note FE achieves lower overall run times in PCMark battery benchmark as well as with actual use. You’ll struggle to reach the end of the day with the battery if you’re a heavy user, but if you manage your use you’ll have a little left over at the end of the day. 

The biggest question is: should you buy the Galaxy Note FE. If the phone existed in a vacuum, sure – it’s still a great device a year on, and the reduced battery doesn’t hamper its endurance that much. Unfortunately, the Note FE doesn’t exist in a vacuum – since the Galaxy Note 7 was yanked off the shelves, 18:9 displays and dual-cameras have become the rule rather than the exception. With phones like the Huawei Mate 10 sitting roughly at the same price point, it’s difficult to recommend a year-old flagship when faced with this kind of competition.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

7 Comments

  1. If you need a phone with a stylus, why not?

    Note 7 FE has the same stylus-optimized apps as the Note 8 for 17k less.

  2. If you like the Galaxy Note experience without spending a lot, why not? I would still give this a try. Also, not everyone is a fan of the 18:8 ratio.

  3. tbh maganda sana to kung under 30k pero hindi eh. tsaka diba dapat idedespose na nila to? pero nung nalaman ko na irerelease nila ito para di naman sayang eh happy ako dun kasi mura na lang. pero nung nalaman ko yung price… almost same specs sila ng G6/G6+ pero LG na lang ako at mas cheaper pa.

  4. samsung should have priced this below 30k. it’s priced the as the mate 10. Mate 10 will just beat this to a pulp on sales. Anyway, since phones depreciates at a logarithmic rate against time, i wouldn’t be surprised if this phone will have a lower value after 3 or 4 months.

  5. Bought this Nov 27th…and still loving it. Full-packed featured phone. Best phone in the universe. Could have been Note 8 but the fingerprint placement of it is a failure and it is priced 17k higher than the FE. Buy the Note FE guys and you won’t regret it.

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