Samsung has just recently revealed its first new flagship smartphones of the new decade. As you’ve probably expected, these smartphones belong to Samsung’s S-series lineup, which was previously ruled by the Galaxy S10e, S10, and S10+. The new flagship devices are called the Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra.
The naming convention is indeed unusual and the last time Samsung decided to skip numbers, it didn’t go well for them. However, let’s not jump to explosive conclusions. The S20 lineup does seem promising with its amazing specs and cool new features. Let’s see how it compares to flagships from other brands
Design & Display
It might be a new decade but we see the same overall design with the Galaxy S20. It features the familiar glass and metal sandwich that every new phone uses. However, not everything is old-school as Samsung has made certain changes to its previous design philosophy. The most noteworthy of which is the display.
The Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra feature a 6.2″, 6.7″ and 6.9″ Dynamic AMOLED displays respectively. The resolution is 1440×3200 on all 3 devices and all 3 have the ability to go up to an amazing 120Hz refresh rate, albeit at a 1080p resolution only. This year, we again see the selfie camera hole-punch in the middle just like on the Galaxy Note 10.
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The biggest change, which most people will appreciate, is that Samsung toned down the edges of the display to the point it’s barely noticeable. Move to the back and you see a massive change in the camera module. It’s, well, huge especially on the Ultra variant with all those extra cameras. The camera bump is also quite annoying if you intend to use the device lying down.
As far as the button situation is concerned, the Bixby button is now gone and both the Power button and volume rockers are on the right side.
This is the part where every smartphone manufacturer seems to be putting its best efforts. Every time we get to see an amazing camera performance and think that’s the peak of smartphone photography, it is easily outclassed by another device. The Galaxy S10 and Note 10 had amazing cameras but the S20 takes it even a step further.
The regular S20 comes with a 3 camera layout while the S20+ and S20 Ultra come with 4 shooters. However, the Ultra has completely different sensors from the S20 and S20+. The S20 and S20+ have:
- 12MP standard unit with f/1.8 aperture and 26mm focal length.
- 64MP telephoto with f/2.0 aperture and 3x hybrid zoom. Super Resolution Zoom can go up to 30x.
- 12MP ultrawide with f/2.2 aperture and 13mm focal length.
- 0.3MP 3D TOF camera with f/1.0 aperture (on the S20+ only).
The S20 Ultra meanwhile has:
- 108MP standard unit with f/1.8 aperture and 26mm focal length.
- 48MP telephoto with f/3.6 aperture and 10x hybrid zoom. Super Resolution Zoom can go up to 100x.
- 12MP ultrawide with f/2.2 aperture and 13mm focal length.
- 0.3MP 3D TOF camera with f/1.0 aperture.
The video recording capabilities of all 3 phones include:
- 1080p@240fps (slow motion)
- 720p@960fps (super slow motion)
While the 8K recording mode does sound groundbreaking at the time, the frame rate, however, is just limited to 24fps. Still, it’s impressive to see smartphones start to reach that level. All 3 phones have a single selfie camera in the aforementioned hold-punch. The S20 and the S20+ have a 10MP shooter while the S20 Ultra has a 40MP one. All of them have an f/2.2 aperture and 26mm focal length
In terms of raw performance, all 3 variants of the S20 come with the latest and greatest Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 865 CPU paired with an all-new Adreno 650 GPU. The international variants, however, will use Samsung’s own Exynos 990 CPU with a Mali G77 GPU, which offer similar performance. Both the CPUs and GPUs are brand new and the Galaxy S20 is one of the first devices to use them.
Naturally, this results in the Galaxy S20 getting an edge over every other existing smartphone in terms of performance. All its competitors are still rocking a Snapdragon 855 (or A13 Bionic in iPhones) but they’ll soon catch up. For now, all you need to know is that if you get any of these devices, you’ll have peace of mind that your device can handle any app or game that’s out there better than others.
RAM and storage options are plenty and pretty confusing as they are different for every variant and depend if you go for the 5G enabled device. For the regular S20, you get an 8GB RAM with 128GB storage on the LTE model and 12GB RAM with 128GB storage on the 5G model. On the S20+, you get an 8GB RAM with 128GB storage on the LTE model and 12GB RAM with 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage on the 5G model. The S20 Ultra is only available as a 5G model so you get 12GB RAM with 128GB and 256GB storage and 16GB RAM with 512GB storage.
Lastly, the battery. The Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra have 4000mAh, 4500mAh, and 5000mAh Li-Polymer units that seem adequate owing to the display size, resolution and refresh rate. All 3 devices support Qi Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging as well. Out of the box, you get a 25W fast charger (45W with the S20 Ultra), which isn’t the fastest but it gets the job done rather well.
Software & Security
The Galaxy S20 smartphones all come with the latest Android 10, right from the get-go. On top of that, you get Samsung’s OneUI 2. Personally, I was never a fan of Samsung’s software skins. TouchWiz was horrible and the first generation One UI was a massive improvement. However, it wasn’t better than what the competition had especially when compared to OnePlus’s OxygenOS.
OneUI 2 is an iterative improvement over that and it’s a much welcome change. If Samsung continues to improve its skin, I might just consider buying one for the software experience. As far as security is concerned, we see the return of the in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor that we have come to appreciate. As expected, through software tuning, it’s now faster and even more secure than ever before.
Price & Verdict
While the S20 series seems promising, all of its goodies come at a hefty price. The Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra start at $999, $1,199, and $1,399 respectively. That’s a lot considering you get the “base” phone for $999. Compared to that, last year’s S10e, S10, and S10+ started at $749, $899, and $999 respectively.
While the S20 series is definitely an improvement over the S10 series, I don’t think it’s that significant of a difference to upgrade if you have any S10 device. However, as far as upgrading from an older smartphone is concerned, I’m still not sure if these prices are justified as no other normal phone is this expensive.
If you were to buy any one of these, I’d recommend going for the regular “base” S20 as it’s the least expensive and offers exactly the same performance. The S20 Ultra is straight up off the charts and you should only go for it if $1,399 is petty cash for you.