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

Of Samsung’s three new Galaxy S20 5G telephones, the smallest, most cost-effective Galaxy S20 is my favourite. It’s simply as full of top-shelf options because the Galaxy S20 Plus and S20 Ultra, from its tack-sharp display screen to superior digital camera abilities. But aside from display screen 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 very particular, private causes, and never out of a marked benefit in instruments or efficiency. And sure, I do imply the Ultra’s 108-megapixel digital camera and 100x zoom. (Wait for it…)


  • Small sufficient to make use of one-handed.
  • Excellent digital camera.
  • 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 gives that purchasing one of many pricier fashions seems like a waste. Unlike final yr, there is no such thing as a cheaper Galaxy S20E to make the smallest model appear like a value play that justifies the leap 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’d like 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 value 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 ($941 at Amazon) 10 and 10 Plus, and that is a disgrace.

I’m an enormous fan of the Cloud Blue colour of my assessment unit, the best way its 6.2-inch edge-to-edge show makes the phone really feel pocketable, maneuverable and straightforward to make use of one-handed. I largely love the digital camera outcomes (nevertheless, I want I may 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 like ultrafast wired charging, reverse wi-fi charging and a 120Hz display screen refresh price give me the nice and cozy fuzzies.

It’ll really feel too small for some, which is the S20 Plus’ foremost 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 mmWave S20 5G will arrive in Q2.) In some international locations, just like the UK and Australia, the S20 is the one variant with a 4G-only possibility.

I’m loving the Galaxy S20 in Cloud Blue.

Angela Lang/CNET

I genuinely get pleasure from utilizing the Galaxy S20 and its digital camera. But it is not the slam dunk for me I hoped for. If you want a brand new Android phone now, the S20 is my choose. If you are bought on its options however can afford to attend, hold a watch out for essentially the most aggressive trade-in offers and reductions, particularly round holidays. If you possibly can maintain out till summer time or fall, I’m additionally occupied with what the Galaxy Note 20 and iPhone ($699 at Apple) 12 will deliver.

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

Size: The leap from the S20’s 6.2-inch display screen to the Plus’ 6.7-inch display screen 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 exams are nonetheless operating, however each telephones lasted from day to nighttime on a single cost. All-day use of the 120Hz display screen refresh price as an alternative of the default 60Hz setting will lower battery life, so it’s possible you’ll discover it’s worthwhile to high up earlier than going out for the evening.


A bigger display screen 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 characteristic set.

5G know-how: This one may 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 mmWave (millimeter wave). 

There are execs and cons to each strategies, however for those who care about connecting to the quickest 5G on a service exterior of Verizon, then the S20 Plus will get you there. Your real-world outcomes rely completely on the community high quality the place you reside.

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


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

Angela Lang/CNET

Galaxy S20 digital camera is almost nearly as good because the S20 Ultra

Samsung earned oohs and ahhs for the S20 Ultra’s 108-megapixel digital camera 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 can be cool to have, however completely simple to dwell with out.

It would not harm that the S20 and S20 Plus have their very own digital camera methods which can be barely diminished on paper, however virtually completely as helpful in follow. For instance, you possibly can activate a 64-megapixel setting to seize extra element in a scene and crop into it. That’s the true function of this characteristic — 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 images that I took this fashion. It was exhausting discovering the candy spot with the 108-megapixel digital camera 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.

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 digital camera, 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 need to see of my very own face.

Samsung Galaxy S20, Plus, Ultra specs

Galaxy S20 vs. S20 Plus vs. S20 Ultra

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 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 (ultrawide) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), time-of-flight digital camera 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 48-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), time-of-flight digital camera
Front-facing digital camera 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; waterproof (IP68) 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh price; waterproof (IP68) 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh price; 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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