A surprising 'new' Samsung phone is creeping around the world

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
A Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Image credit: Future)

If I told you that a certain Samsung phone was getting a re-release, which would you think I was talking about? The compact Galaxy S10e? The intial Galaxy Fold? A Galaxy Note phone? Well you'd be wrong, wrong, and wrong again - the correct answer is, surprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.

This mid-range 2020 smartphone saw a re-release of its 5G version in South Korea earlier in 2022, and we thought that was a brief aberration, but it turns out that Samsung is really re-launching this phone for the global market. We say that because Samsung Mexico has started selling this device now too.

This handset, which Samsung is dubbing the Galaxy S20 FE 2022, is based on the 5G version of the original phone - there was also a 4G option for that, but apparently Samsung is leaving the 4G one in the past. The new handset is identical to the older one, except in two key ways: it comes with newer software and has a 256GB storage option.

In Mexico, the new Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (2022) isn't cheaper than the launch price of its 2020 predecessor, which is quite a surprise, though it does cost less than the newer Galaxy S21 FE - so it's possible Samsung is using the older Fan Edition phone as a more affordable alternative to the newer one.

We've asked Samsung why it's re-releasing this nearly two-year-old phone, and if more regions could see it, but the company didn't respond immediately. We'll update this article when we hear back.

Analysis: a growing trend

This isn't actually the first time we've seen a company re-release an older smartphone - even Samsung isn't a stranger to the habit, as it launched the S20 FE in some regions in 2021.

The biggest culprit for this business practice is Xiaomi, which has re-released many of its budget Redmi devices including the Redmi Note 8 - these newer versions don't always bring upgrades, though the Note 8 did use a newer chipset and have more recent software.

So what's the reason for brands re-releasing their old phones instead of just releasing new ones? Well, the companies haven't commented, but we'd wager it's based on name recognition - if a particular model has proven popular, the company would rather use the same name on a newer phone, rather than launch a device that might not prove as successful.

For an extreme version of this, the Huawei P30 Pro saw a 'New Edition' over a year after it initially debuted. This didn't have different specs but, crucially, came with Google Apps, which Huawei phones since the P30 series had ceased to use due to political issues.

Plus, companies can use leftover parts or keep their factories making them, instead of tweaking the production like they'd have to for a new phone.

So re-releasing phones is nothing new, though we're a little surprised that the S20 FE is getting the treatment since it's not quite as famed as some of the brand's other mobiles. But it's coming - possibly, depending on where you live - and we'll let you know when it launches in more regions.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.