8 ways the Galaxy S20, Plus and Ultra set new standards for high-end phones

Samsung presents the Galaxy S20 in three fashions.

Angela Lang/CNET

The Samsung Galaxy S20 is available in three totally different permutations. There’s the 6.2-inch Galaxy S20, the 6.7-inch S20 Plus and the large 6.9-inch S20 Ultra. All three phones can be obtainable for preorder beginning tomorrow, Feb. 21 at 12:01 a.m. ET. Last week, Samsung unveiled the brand new flagship telephones together with its new foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip, which can compete immediately with the brand new Motorola Razr phone.

The new Galaxy S20 telephones has larger competitors in thoughts — Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Pixel and Huawei’s high-end telephones — the telephones many extra folks will really purchase in 2020. And to Samsung’s credit score, the highest-end mannequin of the brand new Galaxy S20 has performed eight issues which have raised the bar for flagship telephones:

1. Introduces a 100x zoom digicam.
2. Takes 108-megapixel pictures.
3. Integrates two types of 5G: Sub 6 (commonplace) and millimeter-wave (tremendous quick).
4. Adds a 120Hz AMOLED show for higher video and gaming.
5. Offers 8K video recording.
6. Increases battery capability to five,000 mAh.
7. Includes a 25-watt quick charger within the field (and helps a brand new 45-watt charger).
8. Debuts “Single Take” mode to seize 10 pictures and 4 movies with the push of 1 button.


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Hands-on with the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra


Why did Samsung skip from S10 to S20?

Last yr’s flagship Samsung telephones had been the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, preceded by the S9 and S9 Plus in 2018. The 2020 fashions are the S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra. So why has Samsung skipped from S10 to S20 in its branding, and why are there three fashions this yr? 

The 20 in S20 refers to 2020 — Samsung determined to swap from model numbers to years. All of the phone-makers take liberties within the numbers they use to call their merchandise, however this transfer makes Samsung one of many first to tie the product title to the yr, which has some sensible attraction. It additionally does not damage that the quantity is greater than the product variety of most of its rivals, and human brains naturally are likely to assume larger numbers are higher.

In phrases of the Galaxy S20 lineup having three units this yr, that is technically one lower than 2019 when Samsung had the S10 and S10 Plus but in addition added the smaller S10E (a finances machine) and the marginally bigger S10 5G. This yr, Samsung has built-in 5G throughout all the product line so it does not want a separate 5G mannequin. And, it has adopted Apple’s lead in giving the least costly machine within the lineup the usual branding — iPhone 11 for Apple final fall and Galaxy S20 for Samsung this yr.

It can be necessary to look at whether or not the Galaxy S20 turns into the most well-liked mannequin in Samsung’s lineup the best way the iPhone 11 has grow to be the favourite amongst Apple consumers. I anticipate the center mannequin, the S20 Plus, would be the one most individuals purchase. Let’s speak about why.


Samsung’s Galaxy S10, Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy S20.

Angela Lang/CNET

How do the three Samsung S20 fashions differ?

Let’s get the fundamentals out of the best way. The Galaxy S20 fashions are three totally different display screen sizes and costs:

  • Galaxy S20 (6.2-inch), which begins at $1,000 within the US, £799 within the UK and AU$1,349 in Australia
  • Galaxy S20 Plus (6.7-inch), which begins at $1,200 (£999, AU$1,499)
  • Galaxy S20 Ultra (6.9-inch), which begins at $1,400 (£1,199, AU$1,999)

Preorders for all three models start Feb. 21 and arrive in shops on March 6. (March 13 for the UK.)

The Galaxy S20 consists of solely the Sub 6 version of 5G, which presents broad protection however no pace bursts over 1 gigabit per second. The Galaxy S20 Plus and S20 Ultra supply each Sub-6 and mmWave, which incorporates these large pace bursts in choose areas. (There’s one exception right here: Verizon is planning to launch a particular model of the usual Galaxy S20 within the second quarter of the yr that may embrace mmWave.)

Samsung redesigned its digicam system for all three telephones to enhance low-light pictures, sharpness and zoom — the three issues folks have requested for probably the most in Samsung’s analysis. The new Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus cameras have 64 megapixels and the S20 Ultra has an eye-popping 108-megapixel digicam. These excessive resolutions will probably enhance the readability of the pictures, however remember the fact that they’re stitching collectively a number of photographs from a number of lenses to get these excessive megapixel numbers. So these megapixels usually are not immediately akin to the megapixel numbers on DSLR and mirrorless cameras, for instance.


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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 100x zoom makes snooping simpler


The different massive improve to the cameras is with the optical zoom, the place Samsung has gone farther than its rivals. The Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus get a 30x zoom and the S20 Ultra will get a 100x “hybrid optic zoom” — which doubles the 50x digital zoom on the Huawei P30 Pro. The S20 Ultra makes use of what Samsung calls a “folded zoom lens” and firm representatives defined that it folds sideways to the proper of the lens on the again digicam bump. That sounds fairly progressive and I’m trying ahead to studying extra about how they pulled this off. Look for my colleague Andy Hoyle’s deep dive on the brand new S20 cameras quickly.

Samsung has additionally expanded battery capability and here is how the three fashions measure up:

  • Galaxy S20: 4,000 mAh
  • Galaxy S20 Plus: 4,500 mAh
  • Galaxy S20 Ultra: 5,000 mAh

Speaking of energy, all Galaxy S20 fashions include a 25-watt quick charger within the field and the S20 Ultra additionally has an non-compulsory 45-watt tremendous quick charger you can purchase individually. By comparability, the iPhone 11 Pro fashions pack an 18-watt quick charger.

All the S20 fashions are seemingly going to wish that additional battery and quick charging to assist energy the brand new 120Hz AMOLED show, which makes video and gaming a lot smoother when there’s movement on the display screen. It additionally makes photographs extra crisp. Most of in the present day’s telephones have 60Hz screens, whereas the OnePlus 7 Pro and the Google Pixel 4 have 90Hz. Apple’s iPad Pro presents 120Hz.

Another technique to reap the benefits of the 120Hz AMOLED display screen is that every one three S20 fashions supply 8K video recording at 24 frames per second, so the brand new show makes a fantastic viewfinder. Once recorded, these 8K movies can be forged to a Samsung 8K QLED or exported to YouTube, which helps 8K video. With the brand new digicam system within the S20, Samsung has additionally launched a brand new “Night Hyperlapse” mode that may make mild streaks out of automobiles in movement, for instance. This is without doubt one of the options I’m most trying ahead to making an attempt out.

All three telephones come geared up with 12GB of RAM. The commonplace Galaxy S20 comes with 128GB of storage, whereas the S20 Plus and the S20 Ultra supply 128GB and 256GB choices.

For the remainder of the specs on the three S20 fashions, see this chart:

Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra specs

Samsung Galaxy S20 Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Display measurement, decision 6.2-inch AMOLED 6.7-inch AMOLED 6.9-inch AMOLED
Pixel density 563ppi 525ppi 511ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 2.72 x 5.97 x 0.311 in 2.9 x 6.37 x 0.30 in 2.99 x 6.57 x 0.35 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 69.1 x 151.7 x 7.9 mm 73.7 x 161.9 x 7.8mm 76.Zero x 166.9 x 8.8mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.75 oz; 163g 6.56 oz; 186g 7.76 oz; 220g
Mobile software program Android 10 Android 10 Android 10
Camera 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight digicam 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 48-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight digicam
Front-facing digicam 10-megapixel 10-megapixel 40-megapixel
Video seize 8K 8K 8K
Processor 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.Zero GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.Zero GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.Zero GHz)
Storage 128GB 128GB, 512GB 128GB, 512GB
RAM 12GB 12GB 12GB, 16GB
Expandable storage Up to 1TB Up to 1TB Up to 1TB
Battery 4,000 mAh 4,500 mAh 5,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen In-screen
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack No No No
Special options 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh price; water-proof (IP68) 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh price; water-proof (IP68) 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh price; 100X zoom; water-proof (IP68)
Price off-contract (USD) $999 $1,199 $1,399
Price (GBP) £799, £899 (5G) £999 (5G) £1,199 (128GB), £1,399 (512GB)
Price (AUD) AU$1,349, AU$1,499 (5G) AU$1,499, AU$1,649 (5G) AU$1,999 (128GB), AU$2,249 (512GB)

First impressions of the Galaxy S20 Ultra

On paper, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is a beast — and even the 2 smaller fashions nonetheless maintain their very own amongst in the present day’s flagship telephones. But the best phone experiences aren’t made on paper, they’re made with units in our palms. 

The most noticeable factor whenever you put any of the three Galaxy S20 units in your hand is that Samsung has gently decreased the curves on the perimeters of the display screen that had been first launched with the Galaxy S7 Edge. That will hearten some customers who complained that they typically mistakenly brushed the curved edges of the display screen and infrequently used the sting options. I used to be by no means a kind of, however I additionally not often used the sting options. Still, the curved edges gave Samsung telephones the phantasm of being even thinner than they already had been, and so the curves had been a strong design characteristic. That mentioned, the marginally much less curved S20 fashions keep that really feel however are additionally just a little simpler to carry.

Speaking of holding the S20 Ultra, I’ve been a long-time fan of phablets. Since the start of 2010, I’ve carried two telephones — a piece phone and a private phone, one Android and one iPhone. And for the previous three to 4 years that has virtually all the time meant carrying two phablets. But even for me, the 6.9-inch S20 Ultra feels just a little outsized, cumbersome and troublesome to get into my pocket. 

With the 100x zoom on the S20 Ultra, there is no means round the truth that the digicam bump has instantly gotten a lot larger. When you run your finger alongside the again of the machine and not using a case on it, brushing that digicam bump is certainly jarring. When you slip the S20 Ultra into any of the Samsung-branded instances for the machine, nonetheless, the bump sits flush with all of them. And since 75% to 80% of smartphone customers put their telephones in instances, it is not one thing that bothers me very a lot. However, my colleague Lynn La had a strong negative reaction to the bump, and others would possibly really feel the identical — particularly if they do not use a case.


The massive digicam bump on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is the trade-off for the 100x zoom.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In phrases of utilizing the 100x zoom, after I zoomed all the best way in and took some pictures the photographs had been fairly pixelated and the perimeters of issues had been fairly jagged. It regarded rather a lot just like the pictures when the 10x digital zoom is maxed out on most different cameras — it simply goes rather a lot farther. But whenever you gear down that 100x zoom to 30x or 50x, you get some wonderful high quality photographs and nonetheless have spectacular vary for a phone digicam.

Finally, I’d like to speak about my favourite new characteristic of the Galaxy S20. It does not should do with any of the gaudy specs or {hardware}. It’s a software program characteristic — and that is shocking contemplating software program has by no means been a energy of Samsung units. The new characteristic known as “Single Take” mode and it makes use of the totally different lenses on the S20 fashions together with machine studying that can assist you get the most effective picture or video of a state of affairs with out having to consider it. 

When there’s instantly one thing attention-grabbing taking place, simply faucet the shutter button in Single Take mode and the phone will seize a wide range of photographs and movies and you may kind out afterward which of them you need to preserve. At max, one faucet of the button in Single Take mode can seize 10 pictures and 4 movies. For instance, the pictures may very well be “AI best moment,” ultrawide, stay focus, AI filter and good crop, whereas the movies may very well be ahead/backward, quick ahead and unique video. 


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Single Take was the characteristic I examined probably the most in my hands-on time with the Galaxy S20 Ultra. I had a number of enjoyable with it and I appreciated what I noticed, however it can take much more utilization to determine if it is one thing I’d use typically and if it will assist me absolutely seize moments I’d have in any other case missed. But I like what Samsung’s making an attempt to do right here, as a result of it might make phone images extra enjoyable and simpler on the identical time.

Keep a watch out for CNET’s full evaluate of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra from Jessica Dolcourt quickly.

Originally printed final week.

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