Samsung Galaxy S20 Review

In a surprising move, South Korean giant Samsung announced the Galaxy S20 lineup instead of the S11 series for this year. There are many reasons why Samsung skipped the 11th digit and instead took a long jump for its 2020 flagship models.  The latest S-lineup flagships bring upgrades in almost all departments.

PRODUCT INFO
Galaxy S20
ManufactureSamsung
Available atView at Amazon

Apart from regular upgrades, there is a dedicated Galaxy S10 variant with 5G connectivity. Other than the 5G variant, there are three models of the S20 series including the standard Galaxy S20, S20 Plus (successor of S10 Plus), and the premium S20 Ultra.

Despite being the standard variant the S20 is bringing tons of goodies which differentiates it from the rest of the market. It is the company’s first flagship with a 120Hz display, top-tier hardware, superb camera setup, and a larger battery than the predecessor.  Not everyone is a fan of large display phones. Fortunately, that’s where Galaxy S20 emerges as a solid option. It brings all the latest goodies from the Korean giant into a compact package.

The camera setup on the S20 is certainly a huge upgrade. Undoubtedly we can claim that with the S20 series Samsung took the camera battle to a new level. One of the downsides of the S10 camera setup was low-light shots. Thanks to more pixels the S20’s camera capabilities drastically improved in the low-light scenarios. If you are looking for the best of the best the S20 Ultra is certainly a better option at a hefty price tag. Without any further delay, let’s kick off with the S20’s package content.

In the box

  • Galaxy S20 handset
  • 25W Fast Adapter
  • Type-C cable
  • SIM ejector
  • Type-C AKG earbuds
  • Easy Guide manual
Inside the Box

Release date and price

Unsurprisingly, the latest Galaxy S20 is expensive compared to its predecessor. However, the increase in price is even heftier where only the 5G variant is available as the US market. The 4G variant is not available in all regions instead it is mostly limited to those regions where 5G connectivity is yet not available.

The S20’s base model with 128GB native storage and 12GB of RAM costs $999 in the US, £899 for the UK market, and AU$1,499 in Australia.  It supports memory expansion via MicroSD card. However, if you are willing for more native storage, you will have to opt for S20 Ultra which is available in 256GB and 512GB models. Fortunately, the UK and Australian customers can grab the 4G variant as well. For UK customers, it costs £799 and AU$1,349 in Australia.  The native storage remains the same, however, it has 8GB of RAM.

Just for the sake of reminder, the S20’s base variant in the US comes at the same price tag of S10 Plus. It is understandable considering the 5G connectivity and extra 4 gigs of RAM. Considering the device is almost six months old and the new Galaxy Note is already out, you can grab the S20 on a discounted price during special deals.

Display, Resolution, and Viewing Experience

This year’s S20 not only brings an upgrade in the display hardware but also it is 0.1-inches taller than the predecessor. The S20 features a stunning 6.2-inches Infinity OLED display with a Quad HD+ screen resolution of 1440 x 3040 pixels.  The display pixels density is 563 pixels-per-inch. In terms of screen resolution, the S20 comes with the same resolution as its predecessor.  By default, the display screen resolution is 1080 x 2220 pixels. It is bright enough to cater to your daily routine tasks and also saves battery juice.

The S10’s display was running at a 60Hz refresh rate that’s where the S20 display takes lead as it comes with a 120Hz refresh rate. This means you can enjoy a better experience of gaming animations and web scrolling. It is certainly a treat for those who love to play HIFI games which supports a 120Hz refresh rate. Back in Q1 2020, the 120Hz display was mostly available on gaming phones only. Both Asus and Razer launched phones with 120Hz display, it’s good to see finally other companies are also adopting the new tech.

Soon after the S20 launch, OnePlus also unveiled its premium OnePlus 8 Pro with a 120Hz display. It’s a good step but it isn’t compatible with the Quad HD+ screen resolution that’s why the users have to rely on Full HD+ resolution to enjoy a better refresh rate. Another important aspect of the S20’s display is its touch sensitivity up-gradation from 120Hz to 240Hz. However, in our testing, we didn’t find out any major differences in touch sensitivity.

Those who are looking for a smaller display phone will have to opt for the S20 as it is only the smallest option in the latest S-series. The S20’s display aspect ratio is 20:9 and the good thing is the selfie camera is back in the center enclosed in an even smaller punch hole.

If you want to enjoy HIFI video content from Netflix and other service providers, you can kick on the HDR10+ for better viewing experience and punchier colors.

Design, Specs & Build Quality

The metal and glass sandwich design isn’t something new for Samsung as we are witnessing both the materials since the Galaxy S6 series. This year once again Samsung sticks to aluminum chassis with glass on the front and rear side. The left and the right edge are once again gently curved but not as curvy as its predecessor.

Upper Edge of the Galaxy S20

The glossy rear is once again strikingly beautiful and looks quite premium. Usually, the rear cameras setup on the Samsung phones are embedded within the body but that’s not the case with the S20. You will have to bear a large hump on the top left corner.

Right Edge of the S20

In terms of color options, the S20 is available in five options including Cloud White, Cosmic Gray, Aura Red, Cloud Blue, and Cloud Pink. Like always not all colors are available in all markets.

Left Edge of the Galaxy S20

 The Aura Red and Cloud White variants are available in limited markets only.  Apart from the facial recognition, it comes with an under-glass ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. It isn’t as fast as the physical scanner that’s why you will have to wait to unlock it.

Audio Output

It’s no surprise to see Samsung also ditching the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack as it is becoming a trend of almost all premium phones. One of the most disappointing aspects of the S20’s design is the lack of the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack. Yes, what you read is right the S20 skips the traditional jack. Instead, the company joined the bandwagon of iPhones and Huawei flagships with Type-C connector. Samsung is offering two variants of buds including Galaxy Buds and Buds Plus.

The Bottom Edge of the Galaxy S20

A new Music share feature is introduced which makes the device a hub to provide audio to other devices. The good thing is Music Share can be used by multiple users at the same time. Last year’s S10 was packed with the AKG tuned headphones, same is the case with the latest S20.  The audio scale, frequency range, and overall clarity of S20 stereo speakers are pretty great. The audio experience with the S20 is certainly good enough to rate it amongst the best in the market.

Camera

The camera capability is certainly a key aspect in the success of any flagship phone that’s why Samsung paid special attention to this aspect. Like always the Galaxy S-lineup cameras are one of the best in the market. In terms of specs, you may find the S20 might have a slightly downgraded setup of cameras as opposed to its predecessor but that’s not the case.

Rear cameras

From the last couple of years, Samsung was using the main lens with a variable aperture which adjusts according to the light condition. In stable lighting conditions, the aperture was set at f/2.4 whereas in the low-light condition the sensor automatically changes the aperture to f/1.5 to capture more light. However this year Samsung opted for the main sensor with a fixed aperture.

Primary lens daylight

The primary rear snapper is a 12MP sensor with an f/1.8 aperture. To capture more light and details the individual pixel size is upgraded to 1.8 microns as opposed to 1.4 microns of the S10’s main sensor. The increase in pixels size helps better capturing of shots in low-light conditions. Our sample shots also confirm the S20’s cameras prowess in all sorts of conditions. The normal sensor captures great details of light, colors are quite accurate without overexposing. Even on a slight zoom, you will witness the sensor captures quite thoroughly.

Live Focus

The Live focus works great in both daylight and lowlight conditions. The good thing is you can add a live focus effect even after capturing the shot, still, it works quite well.  In one of our sample shots, the main snapper captured an outdoor photo around 6 pm without night mode. The detail level seems a bit disturbed due to low-light conditions, and only the specific portion of the image is clear under the outdoor lights. The same shot is captured using night mode, the results are drastically different. The bottom grass, background rooftop, and blue sky are all clear and it seems like the phones use magic powers to remove all darkness.

Telephoto Sensor

The secondary snapper on the rear is a 64MP telephoto sensor with an f/2.0 aperture.  This sensor is significantly better due to higher megapixels and larger aperture. It captures up to 3x lossless zoom shots with compromising the colors and detail level. The sample shots also confirm the telephoto sensor works quite efficiently in capturing a great amount of detail without effecting accuracy and detail.

The 30x digital zoom is helpful in some scenarios if you want to capture a long-distance shot. The accuracy is slightly disturbed but it works what it meant to be. If you are amongst those who like to capture ultra-long-range shots the S20 Ultra is a better option in this aspect due to its ability to capture 100x zoom shots.

Telephoto low-light

Ultra-Wide Angle

The third snapper on the rear is a 12MP ultra wide-angle sensor with f/2.2 aperture. This sensor individual pixels size is also upgraded to 1.4 microns instead of 1 micron of S10’s sensor.  That’s why despite being a 12MP sensor it works more efficiently than the predecessor.  Let’s have a look at our sample shots captured using the ultra-wide-angle sensor.  Our sample shots confirm the device prowess in capturing wide-angle shots with a great level of detail. The best aspect is all shots showcases the quality of the pixels isn’t disturbed while capturing wide shots.

There is a Pro mode for those who like to alter settings before capturing a shot. Overall the results are pretty good even on automatic mode.  Despite the fact the S20 lacks the time of flight lens which is available on the Plus and Ultra variants, its cameras setup is still quite capable.

Selfie

On the front-facing side, the S20 is equipped with a 10MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture. Before the latest One UI 2.1, the camera app comes with a toggle option for field of view. By default, the device was set to narrow of field. In the case of wide-angle selfies, the users have to click the toggle for the wide-angle view.

The good thing is Samsung resolved this issue by introducing a new Smart Selfie angle feature for the S20 lineup. It automatically changes the field of view by detecting the faces.  If the camera detects two or more faces it switches to a wide-angle view instantly which is quite beneficial as you don’t have to push toggle again and again.

The front-facing sensor comes with PDAF, however, it lacks the optical image stabilization. The PDAF autofocus works perfectly in both daylight and lowlight conditions. In the case of low-light conditions, the device features screen-flash. The AI mode further enhances the device prowess in optimizing the selfie experience.

Let’s have a look at our sample selfie shots in both outdoor and indoor conditions. All the sample shots indicate the detail level and color accuracy is pretty good.

Video Recording

The S20 not only brings drastic changes in the still photography department but also it brings a significant upgrade in video capturing. The S20 lineup is capable to record videos at 8K resolution. The Super Steady stabilization brings anti-roll correction to capture super-smooth videos.  Unfortunately, the Super steady stabilization works only at Full HD.

The 8K recording is also limited to 24 frames per second. It is important to mention the S20 is amongst the first phones with 8K capturing ability. If we capture at 4K resolution the device has a number of options including better frames per second, higher zooming capability, and many others.  You can opt 20x zoom while capturing at 4K whereas it reduces to 6x at 8K resolution.

The camera app brings a number of new features, however, it is still one of the easiest and robust camera app.  One of the latest and well-admired features of S20 is the new “Single Take mode”.  You can utilize all three sensors simultaneously in a 10 seconds cycle using this mode. It is not limited to normal shots and videos but instead, you can capture a wide range of shots using this mode including portraits, wide-angle shots, hyper-lapse video, and much more.

5G Connectivity

The 5g connectivity is still in its early stage that’s why it isn’t available on a wide range of smartphones. Fortunately, the S20 is amongst the few phones with 5G connectivity. The S20’s 4G dedicated variant is limited to markets where 5G connectivity isn’t available. The S20’s 5G variant download speed is 6x faster than the 4G enabled phone. If the 5G is yet not available in your area, it could be a good feature if you want to retain S20 for the next couple of years.

Hardware Performance and Software

Like always the Samsung’s latest S series flagship is available in two configurations.  For the US and Chinese market, the S20 comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 SoC whereas the other markets variant is running on the Exynos 990. Both the SoCs are amongst the fastest in the market.

Our testing unit is running on the Exynos 990 chipset. As expected the results are pretty great but in it lags behind from its plus and ultra-variants. Overall it is offering solid performance to handle the daily driven tasks and HIFI games. It manages multi-tasking brilliantly and you won’t have to worry about the HIFI gameplay. It’s certainly a treat for PUBG and Fortnite players thanks to its Vivid display and solid hardware under the hood.

In terms of native storage, the S20 comes with 128GB memory which is further expandable using a MicroSD card. It supports memory expansion up to 1TB. If you are looking for more native storage the S20 Plus and S20 Ultra are better options with 256GB and 512GB storage respectively.

As OS the Galaxy S20 is pre-installed with Android 10 straight out of the box. Being the latest flagship it will be getting new updates for the next three years. Hopefully, it will be amongst the first phones to receive the Android 11 update.  Samsung’s One UI isn’t amongst the thinnest layer over the stock version of Android OS, however, still it is quite easy to use.

Benchmark Tests

The Geekbench 5 results confirm the S20’s prowess, it achieves 2580 points on a multi-core test. On the other hand, its elder brother S20 Plus takes a significant leap and achieves 3034 points with the same chipset. As expected the Ultra variant is on top of the list with a whopping 3107 score running on the Exynos 990.

In the 3D Mark benchmark, the S20’s results are quite satisfactory. The device overall score is 6421 points on the Sling Shot Extreme test whereas the graphics score is 8168 points.  In the Sling Shot Extreme-Vulkan test, the device scores 3396 points.

3D Mark Benchmark

Just for the sake of reminder, the S20 is still significantly faster than its predecessor. Our Galaxy S10 detailed review confirms the device achieved 2021 points on a multi-core test.  At that time the OnePlus 7T Pro was marginally faster at 2679 points.  The significant increase in power doesn’t bring a whopping change for daily driven tasks. However, it’s certainly a good aspect to have more power under the hood.  To bring more power onboard the 5G variant of S20 comes with 12GB of RAM instead of 8GB like the 4G variant.

Battery Life

Samsung upgraded the S20’s battery setup as well like all departments. Last year’s S10 comes with a 400mAh larger battery than its predecessor. This year Samsung took a big leap by introducing a 4,000mAh battery for the standard S20. The upgrade was quite necessary especially when there is a 5G variant of S20 as well. So, if you have the availability of a 5G network, you don’t have to worry about battery drainage. The S20 has enough power to allow you to get the maximum of the 5G network.

On normal to heavy usage, the device easily lasts one day with more than 20% battery. It’s important to mention our testing unit is a 4G variant, that’s why results may differ for the 5G variant. On normal usage with few calls, Occasional WI-Fi connectivity, checking notifications a few times a day the device can even last more than a day.

If you utilize the S20 to its fullest like using a 120Hz display on high brightness, Wi-Fi connection, capturing 8K videos, and watching video content at higher resolution drains the battery before the end of the day. In terms of fast charging the S20 shipped with 15W fast charger straight out of the box. The S20 Plus comes with a 25W charger whereas the Ultra model gets a super-fast 45W charger.

The 15W fast charger on S20 can recharge the phone from 0 to 100 in less than sixty minutes. It also supports 15W wireless charging but as expected it isn’t as fast as traditional wired charging. The last year’s reverse wireless charging isn’t going anywhere, the S20 also supports reverse charging of Qi-enabled devices.

Conclusion

Samsung already confirms the non-availability of the cheaper variant of S20 (S20 Lite). Those who are looking for a new premium flagship from Samsung the S20 is the only option available right now. Still, the S20’s isn’t the latest best offering from Samsung. That’s why for the high-end buyers, there are two options available Galaxy S20 Plus and S20 Ultra. It brings stylish design, top of the line hardware, 120Hz display, and solid cameras to be your next daily driven phone.

Samsung Galaxy S20

The New flagship King

  • A true powerhouse
  • State of the art display
  • 5G Enabled
  • 120Hz Display
  • Limited 5G support
  • Average battery life

160 Reviews

Display: 6.2-inches, 1440 x 3200 pixels | Chipset: Exynos 990/ Snapdragon 865, 8GB RAM | Rear cameras: 12MP+64MP+12MP | Dimensions: 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9 mm | Battery: 4000mAh

VERDICT:Depending on your usage the Galaxy S20 is still one of the finest options for those who are looking for a premium compact flagship phone. It has all goodies on board to attract Samsung fans with its ravishing display, evolutionary design, hardware prowess, and much needed all-day battery life.

Fahad Mushtaq


Fahad Mushtaq is an avid Android developer with over 5 years experience working on Google Cloud AI and Tensor flow in conjunction with BPM line of products.
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