If you’ve got your eye on a new Galaxy S20, chances are the Ultra is just too much phone for you. It’s huge, powerful, and, most importantly, crazy-expensive, so most people are going to be choosing between the classics: S20 and S20+. But just because they don’t have Ultra branding, doesn’t mean you’re getting a subpar handset:
No matter which S20 you buy, you’re getting a gorgeous phone, with extremely slim bezels, a stunning screen, and a striking camera array. Samsung isn’t straying too far from its tried-and-true formula, but the S20 definitely has a character all its own.
However, while anyone will be able to pick the S20 out of a lineup of S10’s, there isn’t too much of a size difference between the new phone and the old ones:
S20: 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9 mm
S20+: 161.9 x 73.7 x 7.8 mm
S10: 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm
S10+: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm
Samsung has taken a page from Google’s and Apple’s book for the S20’s rear camera array, opting for a big rectangular camera bump rather than the S10’s horizontal array. With a trio of cameras inside, it’s a good deal deeper than the one on both the Pixel 4 and iPhone 11 (but not as gigantic as the Ultra).
While the rear camera will get all of the attention, the front camera has changed too. Samsung has corrected the S10’s biggest blunder—the off-center selfie cam—by centering the hole and reducing the size beyond even what the Note 10 brings. Consequently, the Plus model loses its second front lens, and we’re that much further away from 3D facial unlock (which requires an IR camera, flood illuminator, and a dot projector). It’s a small price to pay for sweet sweet symmetry. However, you can look all you want, but you won’t find a headphone jack anywhere—it’s gone for good.
The Galaxy S20 lineup all have 1440p displays with centered camera holes.
Samsung likes to go bigger whenever it launches a new Galaxy S phone, and the S20 follows suit. Where the S10 and S10+ were relatively small at 6.1 and 6.4 inches (and the S10e was downright tiny at 5.8 inches), respectively, the S20 clocks in at 6.2 inches and the S20+ at a whopping 6.7 inches.
The Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display is basically the same save one big, new feature: 120Hz high-refresh support, a feature Samsung fans have been clamoring for after the Pixel 4, OnePlus 6T, and other phones gained it last year. That means the display is twice as fast as the S10’s 60Hz screen, so scrolling and animation will simply fly.
There’s just one problem: You can’t use it at full resolution. Samsung has limited 120Hz refresh to 1080p, so you’ll need to make a choice between the clearest or the fastest version of the screen.
Samsung introduced the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor with the S10, and it’s sticking with it for the S20. However, there are a couple of changes. For one, the sensor is larger, so your finger should be able to find it quicker, and it’s also been moved higher on the phone so you shouldn’t need to adjust your grip. We’d much rather see 3D facial recognition on such large phones, but until Samsung can come up with a bezel- or notch-less solution, this is as good as it’s going to get.
The latest Galaxy S always runs the newest Qualcomm processor. This year, it’s the Snapdragon 865, which should bring a nice speed and graphics boost over last year’s 855.
Far more intriguing is the RAM. Samsung has switched to LPDDR5 RAM for the S20, which is reportedly 1.3 times faster than the S10 5G’s LPDDR4X. You’re also getting a lot more of it: Samsung has bumped the base RAM to 12GB in all models this year, a 50-percent increase over last year’s 8GB. (If you wanted 12GB of RAM in the S10+, you needed to upgrade to the 1TB Performance Edition ceramic model for $1,600.)
As far as storage goes, both phones offer 128GB of internal storage with support for a 1TB MicroSD card. The S20+ also has a 512GB option.
The S20 isn’t Samsung’s first 5G phone—the S10 5G and Note 10+ 5G both arrived last year—but it’s the first Galaxy phone that’s exclusively 5G. That’s because Qualcomm is requiring the Snapdragon 865 processor to be paired with the X55 5G modem.
However, you’re not getting an equal 5G experience on both phones. While the S20+ supports both the sub-6GHz spectrum and mmWave, the S20 supports only sub-6GHz. That means Verizon customers are going to be out of luck with the S20, because the carrier is building out its mmWave network first. However, Verizon will be selling its own model of S20 that does support mmWave at some point, we just don’t know when or how much it’ll cost. T-Mobile subscribers, on the other hand, will be able to use the company’s 5G network on either phone.
Sorry audiophiles, there’s no headphone jack on any model of S20.
With lots of pixels, 120Hz refresh, and a 5G modem, the S20 is going to need lots of battery capacity. The S20 has a 4,000mAh battery, while the S20+ gets a 4,500mah one, a nice boost from the 3,400mAh and 4,100mAh batteries in the S10 and S10+.
The phones are also equipped with Wireless PowerShare (for charging your Galaxy Buds+ or a buddy’s phone), 10W Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, and a 25W charger in the box.
Now for the most important section: the camera. While the S20 has a completely new camera architecture as compared to the S10, Samsung isn’t offering much in the way of upgrades between the two models:
Camera 1: 12MP wide, f/1.8
Camera 2: 12MP ultra wide, f/2.2
Camera 3: 64MP telephoto, f/2.0
Camera 4 (S10+): Time-of-flight (depth)
Camera 1: 12MP wide, f/1.5
Camera 2: 12MP ultra wide, f/2.2
Camera 3: 1264MP telephoto, f/2.4
While you’re getting the same basic capabilities as the S10, Samsung has significantly upped the camera’s abilities. The new telephoto lens is cable of 3X lossless zoom and 30X Space Zoom, while the sensor is 1.6X bigger than the one in the S10, which will allow for greater detail and better low-light photos, as well as 8K video recording.
The Galaxy S20 has a camera bump that’s bigger and bulkier than the S10.
Around the front, both phones have a single 10MP camera, a bit of a downgrade from the S10+, which features a dual selfie cam.
The Galaxy S20 comes in a variety of colors, but the one you like might—ahem—color your decision:
Galaxy S20: Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cloud Pink
Galaxy S20+: Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black
With 5G and bigger screens, the Galaxy S20 is more expensive than ever, and you’re looking at a grand just to get in the door.
S20 (128GB): $1,000
S20+ (128GB/512GB): $1,200/$1,350
That’s a lot of money (though still cheaper than the iPhone 11 Pro), but Samsung is already offering deals, bundles and trade-in discounts.
This story, “Samsung Galaxy S20 v S20+: How do the non-Ultra phones stack up?” was originally published by
Michael Simon covers all things mobile for PCWorld and Macworld. You can usually find him with his nose buried in a screen. The best way to yell at him is on Twitter.
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