Galaxy S20 5G review: Top-shelf specs, but plenty of room for refinement

Of Samsung’s three new Galaxy S20 5G telephones, the smallest, least expensive Galaxy S20 is my favourite. It’s simply as filled with top-shelf options because the Galaxy S20 Plus and S20 Ultra, from its tack-sharp display to superior digicam abilities. But aside from display and physique measurement, the variations between S20 fashions are virtually negligible. Of course, there are individuals who will need the S20 Plus and even Ultra as an alternative, however for particular, private causes, and never out of a marked benefit in instruments or efficiency. And sure, I do imply the Ultra’s 108-megapixel digicam and 100x zoom. (Wait for it…)


  • Small sufficient to make use of one-handed
  • Excellent digicam
  • Top-notch options and efficiency

Don’t Like

  • Expensive
  • Thick, heavy, unrefined
  • Supports slower 5G solely (besides Verizon)

Honestly, the Galaxy S20’s $999, £799 and AU$1,349 beginning costs are costly sufficient for what the phone provides that purchasing one of many pricier fashions looks like a waste. Unlike final yr, there isn’t a cheaper Galaxy S20E to make the smallest model appear like a value play that justifies the bounce in price as you progress up the road. The S20 Plus begins at $1,199, whereas the unwieldy S20 Ultra will set you again $1,399 for the 128GB model that has disappointing battery life and 95% of the identical specs. (The S20 Plus and Ultra additionally promote in 512GB variants.)

And if you need a “cheaper” high-end Samsung phone? That’s now what the newly discounted Galaxy S10 Plus ($850 at Amazon) and Note 10 Plus are for. 

To me, the S20 pricing is correct on the sting of acceptable. Samsung is overreaching. Maybe I’d be much less hung up on worth if I actually cherished these telephones. But the S20’s legitimately knockout options and specs by no means actually come collectively for me the best way they do on the Galaxy Note 10 and 10 Plus, and that is a disgrace.

I’m an enormous fan of the Cloud Blue colour of my evaluation unit, the best way its 6.2-inch edge-to-edge show makes the phone really feel pocketable, maneuverable and simple to make use of one-handed. I largely love the digicam outcomes, though I want I might get nearer to my topic, and there are some points with autofocus that Samsung is addressing. Processing speeds are nice, battery life does it job, and bonus options comparable to ultrafast wired charging, reverse wi-fi charging and a 120Hz display refresh fee give me the nice and cozy fuzzies.

It’ll really feel too small for some, which is the S20 Plus’ essential profit. You can also’t get a 512GB configuration, and most carriers “only” assist the slower 5G bands referred to as Sub-6. (Verizon is a notable exception. Its quicker mmWave S20 5G will arrive in Q2.) In some nations, together with the UK and Australia, the S20 is the one variant with a less expensive 4G-only possibility.

I’m loving the Galaxy S20 in Cloud Blue.

Angela Lang/CNET

I genuinely take pleasure in utilizing the Galaxy S20 and its digicam. But it isn’t the slam dunk for me I hoped for. If you want a brand new Android phone now, the S20 is my decide. If you are bought on its options however can afford to attend, maintain a watch out for essentially the most aggressive trade-in offers and reductions, particularly round holidays. If you’ll be able to maintain out till summer time or fall, I’m additionally eager about what the Galaxy Note 20 and iPhone 12 will convey. 

For particulars on 8k video, Single Take photograph mode, and the processor, learn my Galaxy S20 Ultra review (these are similar throughout the S20 household).

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Comparing the iPhone 11 Pro Max digicam to the Galaxy…


Galaxy S20 vs. S20 Plus: What’s the distinction?

Size: The bounce from the S20’s 6.2-inch display to the Plus’ 6.7-inch display makes a distinction for me. The Plus completely feels bigger, and when I’ve each telephones in entrance of me, I attain for the Plus to observe movies on Netflix and YouTube. Naturally, the Plus is heavier, too (full specs under).

Battery: 4,000 mAh (S20) versus 4,500 mAh (Plus). Our lab checks are nonetheless working, however each telephones lasted from day to nighttime on a single cost. All-day use of the 120Hz display refresh fee as an alternative of the default 60Hz setting will lower battery life, so you might discover it’s good to high up earlier than going out for the night time.


A bigger display on the S20 Plus makes a distinction.

Angela Lang/CNET

Camera: The S20 Plus has a time-of-flight sensor that is meant to assist with clearer low-light photographs. It would not make a significant distinction in function set.

5G know-how: This one would possibly matter to you. With the exception of an unreleased Verizon mannequin, the Galaxy S20 will support the type of 5G known as Sub-6, which leads to slower peak speeds. Download velocity will nonetheless be quicker than 4G, however not as quick because the (theoretical) peak speeds of the approaching tech referred to as millimeter wave, or mmWave. 

There are professionals and cons to each strategies, however if you happen to care about connecting to the quickest 5G on a provider outdoors of Verizon, then the S20 Plus will get you there. Your real-world outcomes rely solely on the community high quality the place you reside.

One other thing: The S20 Plus has a 512GB possibility.


Despite skinny bezels and an edge-to-edge show, the S20 nonetheless feels moderately cumbersome.

Angela Lang/CNET

Galaxy S20 digicam is almost pretty much as good because the S20 Ultra

Samsung earned oohs and aahs for the S20 Ultra’s 108-megapixel digicam and 100x zoom options. These are distinctive to the Ultra, however I discovered that the instances I benefited from them had been few and much between. These are options which are cool to have, however solely simple to dwell with out.


This avenue scene was taken with the 64-megapixel digicam setting.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


Here’s a deep crop into the picture. The image appears to be like grainy after being processed by our picture device, nevertheless it’s ok to ship casually by social media and in a textual content to associates. 

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


The similar clock face, at 30x zoom. In this case, 4x zoom would have been sufficient to see the whole clock face.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

It would not harm that the S20 and S20 Plus have their very own digicam methods which are barely diminished on paper, however virtually solely as helpful in follow. For instance, you’ll be able to activate a 64-megapixel setting to seize extra element in a scene and crop into it. That’s the true function of this function — take a photograph of one thing within the close to distance, and crop in to retain the element, as an alternative choice to zoom.

I used to be pleased with photographs that I took this manner. It was arduous discovering the candy spot with the 108-megapixel digicam the place a deep crop did not sacrifice extra element than I wished. For me, the aim remains to be happy with 64-megapixel. In different phrases, it is not value paying $400 extra for, whereas additionally sacrificing nimbleness.


This is as shut as I might get to those spring blooms in automated mode earlier than shedding focus.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


Here’s a special try, cropped in from a 64-megapixel shot. The deeper you crop in, the much less element you keep.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Likewise, Samsung gifted the S20 and Plus with 30x zoom, which is about so far as I wished to go earlier than picture high quality took a nosedive. Unless I used to be taking an image of one thing on high of a constructing or an object within the distance, 4x and 10x zoom usually labored for me, or else a crop from a 64-megapixel shot.

The S20 Ultra additionally has a 40-megapixel front-facing digicam, however for me, picture high quality is not particularly higher than the S20’s 10-megapixel selfie shooter. There’s a restrict to how a lot element I actually wish to see of my very own face.

See our Galaxy S20 Ultra versus iPhone 11 Pro camera comparison for extra eye sweet.


Wonderful colours, element, and brightness, shot within the London Underground with automated settings.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


A crisp, colourful low gentle shot of an amusing retailer window, shot with automated settings.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

This evaluation initially posted earlier this week.

Galaxy S20 vs. S20 Plus vs. S20 Ultra specs

Samsung Galaxy S20 Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Display measurement, decision 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Pixel density 563 ppi 525 ppi 511 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 2.72×5.97×0.311 inches 2.9×6.37×0.30 inches 2.99×6.57×0.35 inches
Dimensions (millimeters) 69.1×151.7×7.9 mm 73.7×161.9×7.8mm 76.0×166.9×8.8mm
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 (ultrawide) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), time-of-flight digicam 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 48-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 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 + GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 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 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 (128GB), $1,599 (512GB)
Price (GBP) £799, £899 (5G) £999 (5G) £1,199 (128GB), £1,399 (512GB)
Price (AUD) AU$1349 (4G), AU$1,499 (5G), AU$1,499 (4G), AU$1,649 (128GB), AU$1,899 (512GB) AU$1,999 (128GB), AU$2,249 (512GB)

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