Samsung Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus hands-on review


You might also want to read: Galaxy S20 Ultra hands-on

It's a big day for Samsung today: the company officially unveiled three new flagship Galaxy S20 models and while the Galaxy S20 Ultra is the biggest and baddest of them all, it's also the most expensive one and the phones that most people will be buying are the more compact yet still just as powerful Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus.


We have had the chance to use both the S20 and the S20 Plus for a short while and while they are nothing as crazy as a foldable phone, we are impressed with the improvements that Samsung brings: 120-Hertz displays that look incredibly good in person, zoom cameras that allow you to capture photos at places like a football game where a phone has traditionally been useless as a camera, and then much bigger batteries, support for 5G and a beautifully refined design.

But then there are the little details and differences between them, so let's take a look at the phones, but first, here is a quick overview of the...

Galaxy S20 and S20+ Specs:


 

Design and Size


The Galaxy S20 and the S20 Plus look very similar, but there are two ways you can easily tell them apart: first, of course, is the physical size as the S20 is clearly the smaller phone, while the Plus one is bigger; second is while looking at the back, as the S20 Plus has a fourth camera and a slightly wider camera section. You might remember the super compact Galaxy S10e from last year, but that super compact size is no longer available as even the smaller Galaxy S20 is about the size of last year's S10, while the S20 Plus mirrors the size of last year's S10 Plus.

The phones are premium-made with a familiar glass and metal design that looks great when clean, but the glass gets stained with fingerprint smudges very easily.

What we love about these phones are the new colors: you have classic "Cosmic Gray" and "Cosmic Black" versions, but you also have a very jubilant pink model as well as a blue one. These are not just flat pink or blue colors, but they shift slightly to form an interesting gradient when light hits them.

And did we mention there is no headphone jack on the S20 and S20 Plus? You get a pair of USB-C headphones (the AKG-tuned kind) for free in the box, though.


120-Hertz Display: A game-changer



The S20 and the S20 Plus feature beautiful AMOLED screens with incredibly tiny bezels and they are very delicately tapered towards the edges, almost flat.

The screen sizes are 6.2 inches on the S20 and 6.7 inches on the S20 Plus, and both look great with vibrant colors, great viewing angles, these are truly impressive color panels. Both support up to a Quad HD resolution, but by default they are set at Full HD as it is considered the optimal balance between sharpness and battery life.

But the number one killer new feature is this: the 120 Hertz refresh rate. You can enable it in settings only when the phone is running at Full HD resolution and it makes everything appear to move so much faster and smoother. And no, there is no in-between 90-hertz option at all, in case you were wondering.

All About the New Cameras



Samsung says that the primary new feature customers look for in a phone is a better camera and it's no surprise that it has gone all out with a big camera bump and an improved camera system.

While you don't have that new 108-megapixel camera sensor on the S20 or the S20 Plus (it's only reserved for the premium S20 Ultra model), you have the following:

  • 12-megapixel main camera, f/1.8 aperture, OIS
  • 12-megapixel ultra-wide, f/2.2
  • 64-megapixel telephoto, f/2.0, OIS
  • DepthVision (only on S20 Plus)
  • 10-megapixel front camera

The biggest new feature is the Hybrid Optic Zoom that allows you to zoom 3X without a major loss in quality, and up to a 30 times using digital zoom.

Those 108 megapixels on the main camera, you can use them for full resolution photos, but by default the camera would combine 9 individual pixels into one to create 12-megapixel snaps.

New Camera Features



And here is a quick overview of all the new features that you will find in the camera app:

  • Single Take: Single Take is available on all three S20 phones and allows you to just hold the camera shutter while the phone will shoot photos and videos with all of the cameras, and then magically pull out the best shots and moments in one album. How do you use it? Do something fun, jump or scream, be creative, and capture it. You will automatically get a short movie, a few GIF like funny animations, a bunch of stylized photos and a lot more in just one take. Samsung says it uses AI, but it’s a really great way to capture a moment and see it as if it was captured from a crowd of people everyone with their own unique view.

  • Night Mode 2.0: Night Mode has also been improved and it now brings up more light and color in nearly pitch black situations. The improvement is quite big when compared to what is currently available on the Note 10 and Galaxy S10 series.

  • Night Hyperlapse: You will have support for a Night Hyperlapse on both the S20 and the S20 Plus.

  • 8K Video: 8K video is the leading new camera feature that provides a stunning amount of detail. It's not the default option (probably because 8K video also takes up a ton of space), but if you want that detail you can use it, plus in 8K video you are also able to capture 33-megapixel snaps while recording. You can share 8K videos to YouTube or beam them to a compatible 8K Samsung TV, and you also have the option to convert the footage to a lower resolution when you send it to friends.

  • Improved Super Steady: The Super Steady option (you can enable it by tapping on the wavy hand icon in the camera interface) automatically gets rid of noise and jerkiness in your videos and it's great when you are trying to film something sporty or active where you have to walk or even run with the camera. Samsung says it has used both AI and hardware improvements for this. Keep in mind that Super Steady uses the ultra wide camera with a significant crop, and not the main camera, so it might not be the best fit if you are shooting videos in low light.

  • Pro Mode for Video: Just what it sounds like, Pro Mode for video gives you manual control over things like shutter speed and ISO, so you can adjust the brightness of the video much like you can on a DSLR camera.

Processor, 5G Connectivity and Storage


All three Galaxy S20 phones will come with the new Snapdragon 865 chip in the United States, while most of the rest of the world will get them powered by the Samsung-made Exynos 990 chip instead.

5G connectivity is also available optionally on all three models, but keep in mind that some markets where there is no 5G network yet are likely to get a 4G only version of the phones that will also help Samsung cut the price for those countries.

If you live in a country with a 5G network, the S20 models on sale will support both mmWave technology (extremely limited range, but record beating speeds) and Sub6 bands (wide coverage, slower speeds than mmWave), so it will make the best of all 5G networks.

And in terms of storage, the base version of the S20 and the Plus features 128GB of on-board storage, and both phones also support expandable storage via microSD cards. 

Battery and Charging



The Galaxy S20 and the S20 Plus will both bring huge improvements to battery sizes with a 4,000mAh battery on the S20 and a 4500mAh battery on the Plus model. This easily beats many competitors and holds the promise that both these phones will be able to provide 120Hz displays and 5G networks without sacrificing battery life.

In terms of charging, the phones will ship with a 25-watt Fast Charge wall adapter in the box and for the first time, the charger itself features a USB-C connection, so you get a USB-C to USB-C cable in the box as well. 25 watts is also the maximum charging speeds as Samsung says that only the S20 Ultra will benefit from support for 45-watt fast charging (it will require a separately purchased adapter for that).

The S20 and the Plus will also support wireless charging with faster speeds than what we used to have on the S10 series.

Price and Release Date


You can pre-order the Galaxy S20 and the S20 Plus starting February 20 on T-Mobile and February 21 on Verizon, but it will take two more weeks until the phones actually hit store shelves: the official release date is set for March 6th. Samsung has revealed up to $200 store credit and free Galaxy Buds+ deals to smoothen the price shock, as the Galaxy S20 starts from a grand, and it gets worse from there. 


Stay tuned for more Galaxy S20 series coverage as we are here at Samsung Unpacked 2020 and reporting live!

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Related phones

Galaxy S20
  • Display 6.2 inches
    3200 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera)
    10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, 12GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 4000 mAh
  • OS Android 10
    Samsung One UI
Galaxy S20+
  • Display 6.7 inches
    3200 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Quad camera)
    10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, 12GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 4500 mAh
  • OS Android 10
    Samsung One UI

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16 Comments

22. bill718

Posts: 26; Member since: Jul 28, 2014

Sammy's phones are getting so expensive have to thanks to US government helping to kill Huawei and making it no competition in the android world, the truth is all the phones on the market can do spying if they want it to. Since technology getting more advance it should be getting cheaper instead of more expensive. there is something wrong here ppl.................

23. drazwy

Posts: 378; Member since: Jan 15, 2014

Being able to and actually doing it are two different things.

18. LetThereBeLight

Posts: 117; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

At last a phone from Samsung for the right hand people... buttons in the right place.

24. pimpin83z

Posts: 641; Member since: Feb 08, 2019

With the exception of last years' Note the power button has always beam on the right & volume buttons in the left.

16. vuyonc

Posts: 1094; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

The S20 is kind of the worst designed of the bunch: imagine killing off the S10e, giving its successor a $1000 price tag and QHD+ display and it can't do 120Hz past FHD+. Samsung could've used an FHD+ display to trim the price. Not smart at all :/

15. abhinavjangir0201

Posts: 24; Member since: Aug 25, 2018

Phones are getting better and super expensive

14. abhinavjangir0201

Posts: 24; Member since: Aug 25, 2018

What about 20:9 aspect ratio and 167mm length??? No one is complaining about it?? Last year xperia 1 with almost same aspect ratio and length got lots of hate for the same. Poor xperia 1 and hypocrite us

12. Secure

Posts: 13; Member since: Mar 18, 2019

I don't understand the point not to integrate in S20 and 20+ a new 108MP chip. Xiaomi did it in a cheaper phone. Unfortunately, Huawei Mate or P serie still the better option in term of camera and a lot cheaper as well. S20 Ultra doesn't make any sense at all, it is gigantic, super expensive, old styled brick-phone.

11. rkoforever90

Posts: 502; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

no thanks i will buy a used note 10 plus from ebay for less than half that price

10. chebner

Posts: 251; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

One of the big leaks leading up to the announcement was that the in screen fingerprint sensor would be much improved and much larger over the S10. I can't find any info about this in the official release info. Is there any news you can share about this?

9. adecvat

Posts: 675; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Fake telephoto cam. No optical zoom :D

8. legar123

Posts: 73; Member since: Mar 26, 2019

Ridiculous prices. Looks like I will pass.

6. TadTrickle

Posts: 166; Member since: Apr 08, 2019

Are these high prices a 5g tax, or are prices simply going up. I'm sticking with my new strategy, buy last yrs model at half price on ebay

7. Junito

Posts: 148; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

Well said, I'm not spending that kind of money for a "phone". I'll buy last year's model unlocked. Anytime a phone surpasses a laptop, you know we've gone down the rabbit hole.

5. Cat97

Posts: 2064; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Definitely not a revolution this year. I hate the fact that S20e is missing from the lineup. But there is a bright side to this: more money staying in my pocket this year ! :)

3. rsiders

Posts: 2066; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

Does the pro.mode for video extend to multiple lenses or just the main camera? That's an important detail I need to know before purchasing.

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