Samsung Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus hands-on review
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.
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.
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.
- 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
New Camera Features
- 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.