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

Samsung gives the Galaxy S20 in three fashions.

Angela Lang/CNET

The firm that sells probably the most smartphones on this planet, Samsung, goes first annually in unveiling its new flagship gadgets. This 12 months, Samsung preempted its announcement of the brand new Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra by unveiling a brand new foldable, the Galaxy Z Flip, lower than 48 hours earlier than the event for its new Galaxy S phones. If standing out towards foldables wasn’t powerful sufficient, unveiling its new foldable in a commercial during the Oscars made it even more durable. 

The Galaxy Z Flip will steal many of the headlines at Samsung Unpacked 2020, however that gadget is all about taking up the reborn Motorola Razr. The new Galaxy S20 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 completed eight issues which have raised the bar for flagship telephones:

1. Introduces a 100x zoom digicam.
2. Takes 108-megapixel photographs.
3. Integrates two types of 5G: Sub 6 (customary) 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 photographs and 4 movies with the push of 1 button.

That’s the thin. Now let’s dig into the main points. I went hands-on with the three new Samsung Galaxy S20 telephones earlier than Samsung Unpacked, and I’ll share my first impressions.


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


Why did Samsung skip from S10 to S20?

Last 12 months’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 12 months? 

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 identify to the 12 months, which has some sensible attraction. It additionally would not damage that the quantity is greater than the product variety of most of its rivals, and human brains naturally are inclined to suppose larger numbers are higher.

In phrases of the Galaxy S20 lineup having three gadgets this 12 months, that is technically one lower than 2019 when Samsung had the S10 and S10 Plus but in addition added the smaller S10E (a finances gadget) and the marginally bigger S10 5G. This 12 months, Samsung has built-in 5G throughout your complete product line so it would not want a separate 5G mannequin. And, it has adopted Apple’s lead in giving the least costly gadget within the lineup the usual branding — iPhone 11 for Apple final fall and Galaxy S20 for Samsung this 12 months.

It will likely be vital to look at whether or not the Galaxy S20 turns into the most well-liked mannequin in Samsung’s lineup the way in which the iPhone 11 has change into the favourite amongst Apple consumers. I count on the center mannequin, the S20 Plus, would be the one most individuals purchase. Let’s discuss 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 way in which. The Galaxy S20 fashions are three completely different display 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. We’ll add costs for Australia when we now have them.)

The Galaxy S20 consists of solely the Sub 6 version of 5G, which gives broad protection however no velocity bursts over 1Gbps. The Galaxy S20 Plus and S20 Ultra provide each Sub-6 and mmWave, which incorporates these huge velocity 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 12 months that may embody mmWave.)

Samsung redesigned its digicam system for all three telephones to enhance low-light photographs, 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 doubtlessly enhance the readability of the photographs, 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 are usually not instantly similar 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 appropriate of the lens on the again digicam bump. That sounds fairly revolutionary and I’m wanting 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 this 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’ll 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. It additionally makes photographs extra crisp. Most of right now’s telephones have 60Hz screens, whereas the OnePlus 7 Pro and the Google Pixel 4 have 90Hz. Apple’s iPad Pro gives 120Hz.

Another option to make the most of the 120Hz AMOLED display is that every one three S20 fashions provide 8K video recording at 24 frames per second, so the brand new show makes an ideal viewfinder. Once recorded, these 8K movies will also be solid 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 vehicles in movement, for instance. This is without doubt one of the options I’m most wanting ahead to making an attempt out.

All three telephones come outfitted with 12GB of RAM. The customary Galaxy S20 comes with 128GB of storage, whereas the S20 Plus and the S20 Ultra provide 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 4,000mAh 4,500mAh 5,000mAh
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 fee; waterproof (IP68) 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh fee; waterproof (IP68) 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh fee; 100X zoom; waterproof (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 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 right now’s flagship telephones. But one of the best phone experiences aren’t made on paper, they’re made with gadgets in our arms. 

The most noticeable factor whenever you put any of the three Galaxy S20 gadgets in your hand is that Samsung has gently decreased the curves on the sides of the display 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 and infrequently used the sting options. I used to be by no means a type 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 function. That stated, the marginally much less curved S20 fashions keep that really feel however are additionally a bit 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 nearly at all times meant carrying two phablets. But even for me, the 6.9-inch S20 Ultra feels a bit outsized, cumbersome and troublesome to get into my pocket. 

With the 100x zoom on the S20 Ultra, there is no approach round the truth that the digicam bump has instantly gotten a lot larger. When you run your finger alongside the again of the gadget with no 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 gadget, 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, once I zoomed all the way in which in and took some photographs the photographs had been fairly pixelated and the sides of issues had been fairly jagged. It regarded so much just like the photographs when the 10x digital zoom is maxed out on most different cameras — it simply goes so much farther. But whenever you gear down that 100x zoom to 30x or 50x, you get some glorious high quality photographs and nonetheless have spectacular vary for a phone digicam.

Finally, I’d like to speak about my favourite new function of the Galaxy S20. It would not should do with any of the gaudy specs or {hardware}. It’s a software program function — and that is stunning contemplating software program has by no means been a energy of Samsung gadgets. The new function is named “Single Take” mode and it makes use of the completely different lenses on the S20 fashions together with machine studying that can assist you get one of the best picture or video of a scenario with out having to consider it. 

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


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Single Take was the function I examined probably the most in my hands-on time with the Galaxy S20 Ultra. I had a whole lot of enjoyable with it and I appreciated what I noticed, however it’ll take much more utilization to resolve 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 may make phone images extra enjoyable and more practical on the identical time.

Keep a watch out for CNET’s full overview of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra from Jessica Dolcourt later this month.

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Tarun Banerjee

Professional Web Designer & Developer,Expert in SEO & Digital Market, Founder of Tech Hunt.

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