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The Samsung Galaxy S20+ (Check on Amazon) doesn’t differ much from the Galaxy S20 Ultra (Check on Amazon), but its lower price and more compact and slim body make it a better choice compared to its bigger sibling.
The design is almost the same as before, including the hole-punch notch that is now smaller and centered with the display. A subtle change, that renders the device more symmetrical and beautiful. What makes a big difference is the reduction of the screen’s curvature on the sides, which fixes the problem of accidental touches. In the rear, the design has also changed, and now features the same rectangular camera module that we saw on the A51 (Check on Amazon) and A71 (Check on Amazon).
If there’s something Samsung excels at, is the screen, and the new Dynamic AMOLED display is better than ever. The brightness has gone up and color reproduction is near perfect. The whites have a slightly yellowish shade but that can be fixed via the settings. Oh, we forgot, it can now go up to a 120Hz refresh rate… The audio is also great with dual stereo speakers that sound powerful.
The S20+ comes in two versions and two variants. The SoC is either a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (USA) or a Samsung Exynos 990 (rest of the world). You can also choose between 4G (8/128GB) or 5G (12/128GB – 12/512GB) connectivity.
The camera module is where we find the biggest evolution in the S20 series. The S20+ doesn’t have the insane 108MP primary sensor of the Ultra (nor its periscope zoom), but Samsung finally updated the 12MP main camera that was being used since the Galaxy S7. The ultra-wide is also better and the telephoto lens can reach a zoom of up to 30x. By far the biggest innovation (and maybe the least useful for most) is the camcorder that can now record in 8K.
Samsung Galaxy S20+ – Design
The Galaxy S20+ doesn’t stray away from the previous design. However a couple of subtle changes render this device very different from its siblings.
The front is truly impressive; if you thought that the Galaxy S10 (Check on Amazon) had no bezels, think again, because Samsung managed to shave them even more. This is the first phone that really deserves the term “all-screen”.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy S10 review: finally complete
In addition, compared to the other two S20s, the S20+ feels much more comfortable to hold: it’s rather tall (161.9mm) but also the thinnest of the three (yes even thinner than the compact S20) and more lightweight (186 grams) than the gargantuan S20 Ultra (220 grams). It still has a slippery back though, so better buy a cover.
The single selfie camera sits in a smaller hole punch notch, similar to the one we find in the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 series.
The ultrasonic fingerprint reader is the same as before, which is not that great. It is incoherent, to say the least, and that is a huge problem when it’s your main unlock method. At least is way more secure than face unlock.
What you won’t find this time around is the traditional headphone jack. Thankfully Samsung includes a pair of good AKG USB-C headphones in the box, similar to the ones we find with the Galaxy Note 10 (Check on Amazon). There is no 3.5mm to USB-C adapter though, thus if you want to connect your favorite 3.5mm headphones, you will have to buy one separately.
The left edge has no buttons; Samsung has finally eliminated the dedicated Bixby button (you can still activate it via the power button, but you can also disable it altogether). On the right edge, we find the power button and volume rocker positioned at the right height. On the bottom, there is a USB-C port and on top, we can access the hybrid dual SIM/microSD tray (you can use two nano SIMs or a nano-SIM and a microSD card).
In the rear, the camera layout is radically different. The four sensors are now grouped in a rectangular module, placed on the upper left corner, that protrudes slightly. We find that this module is slightly more refined and less intrusive than the square one on the back of the Pixel 4 (Check on Amazon).
All three S20s are also IP68 certified.
Samsung Galaxy S20+ – Display and audio
The screen is amazing. The new 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED panel has a resolution of 3,200×1,440 pixels (QHD+). It is also brighter and this makes a huge difference when you use this phone outdoors.
The highlight here is the panel’s 120Hz refresh rate, which is great both for Android animations as well as games that run at 120fps. UI navigation is smoother and the phone seems to be more responsive to your touches. It also features a 240Hz touch sensor, that doesn’t seem to make as much difference – maybe gamers will be able to tell the difference.
However, by default, the screen’s refresh rate is set at 60Hz, and it is only possible to use 120Hz with the resolution dialed down to Full HD+ (2,400×1,080 pixels) in order to save battery life.
We like this trade off, since the reduction in resolution has no adverse effects on clarity, while the difference between 60 and 120Hz is immediately noticeable. Therefore, we recommend that you activate the 120Hz mode, even if it consumes more battery (around 25% more).
This display also features a record braking maximum brightness of over 1,000 nits, which is great for readability in bright environments. The minimum brightness, on the other hand, is extremely low, which helps at night. The color space is greatly expanded and offers a wider range than other OLED smartphones such as the Pixel 4 or the iPhone 11 (Check on Amazon). The contrast is good but not outstanding (both the Pixel 4 and iPhone 11 still have the advantage here).
Read more: Apple iPhone 11 review: redefining limits
Audio quality is on par with the screen’s performance, complementing the overall experience. Stereo sound is powerful enough to ensure clear listening even in noisy environments and Dolby Atmos works at it should. The included AKG headphones are the same as before: they are really comfortable and deliver good sound quality.
Samsung Galaxy S20+ – Cameras
The Galaxy S20+ has four rear cameras: a 12 megapixel main camera (f/1.8), a 64 megapixel telephoto lens (f/2.0), a 12 megapixel wide-angle camera (f/2.2) and a ToF (Time of Flight) sensor for depth detention (mostly used for augmented reality).
Thus, while the S20 Ultra comes with an insane 108-megapixel main camera, Samsung was more conservative with the S20+ and kept the same 12-megapixel camera as before, but the sensor is now much larger capturing more light and details. This will help at night whether on not you use Night mode.
HDR works well in automatic mode. We really noticed a huge leap in overall photo quality, but it’s nothing to write home about compared to what Samsung already offered with its S10 series flagships.
The telephoto lens features a 3x hybrid zoom and up to 30x digital zoom. Although this is less than the S20 Ultra’s 5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom and 100x digital zoom, on paper, the Galaxy S20+ manages to deliver better results where it counts. For example, the Galaxy S20+ captures more detail in 3x zoom photos than the S20 Ultra.
The other advantage of the Galaxy S20+, is when shooting macros where it has less of a problem focusing on subjects up close.
In everyday photos the Galaxy S20+ produces shots very similar to those of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, offering vibrant colors and good detail. However, the Ultra’s 108 megapixel sensor manages to capture even more details.
Compared to the previous Galaxy S10+ (Check on Amazon), the Galaxy S20+ boasts a new Night mode that is a huge improvement. It managed to really surprise us with its clarity and detail in low light photos; weirdly enough its overall performance is a tad incoherent. Despite the improvements, the Night Sight mode on the Pixel 4 manages to consistently deliver better results.
All thing considered the difference between the S20+ and the S10+ isn’t that huge, as a rule of thumb the S20+ can capture more detail while the 3x hybrid zoom is superior to anything else we have seen so far.
The biggest innovation here is the ability to record 8K video. The amount of detail is stunning, but poor video stabilization (unless you use a tripod) and the number of frames (24fps) render this mode more of a gimmick. Still, videos in Full HD are extremely good and with excellent stabilization. This is where Samsung dominates over everyone else.
But the real novelty, for me at least, is Samsung’s new shooting mode called Single Take. It captures a multitude of photos and videos (10 seconds) using all cameras and shooting modes and suggests the best among them. Imagine using it at a friend’s birthday party while he blows the candles!
Last but not least, the 10 megapixel selfie camera offers solid results and it even has a Night mode.
Samsung Galaxy S20+ – Software
The Galaxy S20+ ships with Android 10 and Samsung’s One UI 2.1. The overall experience is pretty much the same, but there are a couple of highlights that I would like to address.
The interface is tailored made to fit big screens, so you don’t have to stretch your thumbs in order to reach the top of the screen, and there is also a new system-wide Dark mode. And let’s not forget about Samsung Dex, which is now more stable and efficient, and usable with both a Windows PC or Mac.
Samsung also partnered with Google to natively integrate Google Duo (Google’s response to Apple Time) for video calls with up to 8 persons in Full HD resolution.
The Galaxy S20+ is one of the fastest phones on the market, behind the S20 Ultra and the iPhone 11. This is thanks to the Snapdragon 865/Exynos 990 and 8/12GB of RAM.
Navigating the interface, launching apps, multitasking, playing video games, everything feels extremely smooth even when you have the display set to 60Hz. At 120Hz the perceived fluidity is unparalleled and makes the whole experience way more pleasant.
So whether you’re editing photos in Photoshop or Lightroom, or parachuting in your millionth round of PUBG, the Galaxy S20+ has the power to keep up with.
The Galaxy S20+ boasts a 4.500mAh battery. With it, the phone manages to offer a reliable battery life, especially when the display is set to the default Full HD+ resolution at 60Hz.
If you decide to increase the refresh rate to 120Hz, the autonomy will go down by about 25%. That said, the phone will still last you a full day, but no more.
The excellent 25W fast charger included in the box manages to charge the device from 0% to 100% in just over 1 hour. You can also charge the device wirelessly with a compatible 15W wireless charger, but it will take a lot more (about 3 hours); still, it is nice to have the option. Wireless reverse charging is also supported and has become a huge extra given the ever-increasing number of wireless peripherals that are Qi-compatible (lie the Galaxy Buds+).
The Samsung Galaxy S20+ 4G costs (Check on Amazon). The 5G variant costs (Check on Amazon). They are both excellent phones with solid performance, amazing screen, great cameras, and unparalleled user experience.
I find that the Galaxy S20+ is the better option compared to the Ultra. However, I also think that the Galaxy S20 (Check on Amazon) is overall the better option for most users. Especially if you opt for the cheaper 4G variant (Check on Amazon)!
Read more: Samsung Galaxy S20 review: just perfect