Samsung Galaxy S20+ Review
During Samsung’s unpacked event, they unveiled their latest flagship phones, the S20 series, comprised of the S20, S20+, and the S20 Ultra. These devices should feature Samsung’s greatest innovation for the year, providing users with everything they could ever want in a smartphone. From general use, productivity, security, and of course, the cameras, the S20 series should be the best that Samsung has to offer.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the middle child, the Galaxy S20+, in the Cosmic Gray colorway. Are the features, cameras, and performance worth the hefty price tag it fetches for? Find out in this review!
Design and Construction
Measuring 6.7 inches, the S20+ is almost as huge as the Note 10+. Despite the size, gripping the device is rather easy, thanks to its curved front and back. As a consequence, the device does register my palm sometimes as input when it comes to contact with the screen. It’s built with an aluminum frame and Corning Gorilla Glass 6 at the front and back, giving the device a luxurious feel. The back also comes with a glossy finish, giving it a mirror effect however, it makes it a dust and oil magnet. It’s not too big of an issue, though, as I think most users will be getting a case to protect their device.
In front sits the Quad HD display and Samsung’s Infinity-O punch-hole design sitting in the top-middle portion of the screen. It comes with a pre-attached glass screen protector out of the box. We hope that Samsung removes this in the future, as it’s easier to scratch, and it’s harder to use a better one.
The left side is void of any design, while situated at the right are the tactile volume rocker and power button. Both buttons have a slim design, which, in addition to the phone’s curved design, makes it stand out and easy to press in. However, I did notice that the power button became evidently wobbly after a few days of use. This makes me worry about the longevity of the buttons’ life cycle.
At the top of the device sits the SIM tray and noise-canceling microphone. Unfortunately, unlike the Galaxy A71, the S20+ does not have a dedicated MicroSD slot, and you’ll need to sacrifice a SIM slot if you need the extra storage.
Underneath there’s another noise-canceling microphone, a USB-C port, and speakers.
Unlike last year’s S10 series that came with a horizontal camera module at the upper-middle, the new S20 series now comes with a vertical, rectangular camera module at the upper-left corner. The S20+, in particular, comes with a primary camera accompanied by a telephoto, ultra-wide, and a depth vision lens. There’s also another noise-canceling microphone at the module to better capture audio when shooting videos.
Aesthetically, the S20+ is unremarkable, which is precisely what I want from premium phones. Its beauty lies in its simplicity. Samsung strayed away from the prism design and stuck with solid matte colors that looks elegant on any tabletop. Functionally, Samsung has nailed what users need too. The device’s curved and thin nature allows users to have a comfortable grip and easy navigation despite its larger screen size. The only real gripe I have is the input misreads, which could hopefully be fixed in future updates.
Display and Multimedia
The aforementioned 6.7-inch display can be configured up to a Wide Quad HD+ resolution of 3,200 x 1,440 at 60Hz, Full HD+ resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 at either 120Hz or 60Hz, and HD+ resolution of 1,600 x 720 at either 120Hz or 60Hz. Users can also set the color settings. The colors can also be configured from natural to vivid. Additionally, the vivid option has a white balance and RGB slider for users who want to configure their device’s display more.
The bezels are extremely thin, measuring 1mm at the sides, 2mm at the top, and 4mm at the chin.
On top of the inherent strengths of sAMOLED displays, the WQHD panel is compatible with the HDR10+ standard, allowing the display to showcase even deeper blacks, more vibrant colors, and more than enough brightness to combat glare and reflections when using under direct sunlight. Details on the 1440p display were crisp and were able to display fine details on animals when watching nature videos. Bumping the resolution down to 1080p, the screen was still capable of displaying high-quality images.
While having a WQHD+ display running at 120Hz would’ve been the best of both worlds, allowing users to choose between smoothness, fidelity, and battery life is an excellent addition to the settings.
Unfortunately for you audio lovers, the S20+ does not have a 3.5mm audio jack, so you’re going to have to get either a USB-C to 3.5mm audio jack DAC or Bluetooth earbuds. It does, however, come with an included AKG headset in the box, although we were not able to test them out. The speakers, on the other hand, sound fantastic. Both the earpiece and bottom-firing speakers work simultaneously while playing media, and they can get loud enough to fill a fairly large room. While a bit recessed, the bass is still present even in louder volumes, and the highs aren’t tinny. Voices and conversations were also clear while listening to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Aside from performance, the cameras have been the Samsung S-series’ strong suit, combining capable hardware with great software. The S20+, in particular, is equipped with four rear cameras, consisting of a 12MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 64MP telephoto, and a depth vision lens. There’s also a rear microphone within the camera module. Selfies are shot using the single 10MP front camera housed in Samsung’s Infinity-O design. Being a flagship, we would’ve wanted to see an additional ultra-wide lens, too, similar to the S10+.
The S20+’s camera has a wide array of features, including a Space Zoom up to 30x, Pro mode, panorama, Hyperlapse, Live Focus, Food mode, and Single Take.
The main rear camera produces excellent quality photos in especially under good lighting conditions. Colors are true to life, fine details are captured, and the dynamic range is amazing. Take a look at the sample photos from the main rear camera below:
Using the 30X Space Zoom allows users to capture photos from a long distance. Unfortunately, its use is limited as decent lighting is required to capture decent photos. Take a look at the sample 1x and 30x photo below:
The ultra-wide camera sacrifices a little bit of detail for the added field of view. Nevertheless, the colors and dynamic range are still amazing. Take a look at the side by side from the main and ultra-wide camera below:
Using the night mode introduces grain and overexposes light sources. Nonetheless, it does offer visible improvements as it brightens up darker areas. Take a look at the side by side with the night mode turned on and off below:
As for selfies, photos taken using the front camera came out clear with true-to-life skin tones and great detail, similar to the rear camera. Take a look at sample photos below:
As for videos, the S20+ is capable of shooting up to 8K or 4K 60 FPS using the rear camera, and up to 4K 60 FPS using the front. While shooting at 8K allows for more detail to be captured, viewing the video on a lower resolution display does not give users a lot of tangible benefits over 4K. Stabilization was also poor due to the larger resolution. Take a look at the sample 8K video below:
Shooting at 4K 60 FPS, however, was a dream. Videos were of high quality, with amazing details, color, and dynamic range. The video was also more stable compared to shooting at 8K thanks to the higher FPS. Take a look at the sample 4K video below:
Turning on Super Steady mode does limit the resolution to 1080p; however, videos were still incredibly detailed despite the lower resolution. Take a look at the sample 1080p video with Super Steady mode below:
For comparison, here are the file sizes for the 10-second videos taken:
- 1080p w/ Super Steady on – 17.46MB
- 4K 60FPS – 77.56MB
- 8K – 97.07MB
For most cases, shooting at 1080p would be sufficient as the videos were still of high quality, and you get to take advantage of better stability. Like the vanilla S20, we also experienced heating issues while shooting at higher resolutions.
OS, UI, and Apps
The S20+ comes with Samsung’s One UI 2.1 based on Android 10 out of the box. Navigating the UI is easy thanks to its intuitive gestures, and it comes with Samsung Daily, Home panels for users to configure and arrange their most-used apps, and an app drawer as well.
Dragging down the notification bar reveals several easy to access functions including Samsung’s Wireless PowerShare for your Samsung wearables, Link to Windows that grants your Windows-based PC to use and access your phone, Quick Share for easy file transfers, Dolby Atmos toggle, and Samsung Kids Home.
The S20+ also comes with an Edge panel that allows users to instantly launch apps of their choosing, smart select tools for screenshots, and tools, including a compass, tally counter, flashlight, surface level, and ruler.
Connecting the Galaxy S20+ is made easier with Samsung’s desktop software, Dex. Aside from easily transferring files, you can also use and access any application installed in your device, including messages and contacts. While it’s a neat feature to have, transferring files is still easier using Windows File Explorer. With the device being an arm’s length away from the computer, it’s also easier to simply pick up the device and use it instead.
Out of the box, the S20+ comes with Samsung apps including SmartThings (which allows users to connect smart devices in their homes), the Samsung Health app, Samsung Global Goals Galaxy Wearable, AR Zone (a camera feature that allows users to add AR features to their photos), and Bixby (Samsung’s Smart Assistant). It also comes with pre-installed apps from Google and Microsoft.
In terms of storage, the Galaxy S20+ comes with 128GB of ultra-fast UFS 3.0. After the system memory and pre-installed apps, users get around 98.2GB to play with. If you need more space to store your photos, videos, and files, you could use add a MicroSD card up to 1TB. However, in doing so, you will be foregoing the second SIM slot.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the Galaxy S20+ is an Exynos 990 chipset, Samsung’s latest 5G capable chipset on the 7nm+ manufacturing process, accompanied by 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM. The CPU is comprised of custom cores clocked at 2.73 GHz, two Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.5 GHz, and four Cortex-A55 cores running at 2.0 GHz. The GPU has also been improved to a Mali-G77 MP11. Take a look at the benchmark results below:
- AnTuTu V8.2.4 – 493,812
- 3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme – 4,942 (OpenGL ES 3.1), 6,312 (Vulkan)
- Geekbench 5.1.0 – 729 (Single-core), 2,675 (Multi-core)
- PCMark (Work 2.0) – 11,938
- AndroBench (MB/s) – Sequential – 1,658.92 (Read), 695.59 (Write)
Random – 192.42 (Read), 204.57 (Write)
To say that the S20+ is capable would be an understatement, as it was able to handle all tasks we threw at it with ease. It ran Call of Duty, Asphalt 9, and Mobile Legends with no noticeable stuttering, despite having social media, chrome, and other apps in the background.
However, that being said, last year’s S10-series were able to accomplish all that as well. Looking at the benchmark figures, while AnTuTu and PCMark did show respectable gains, isolated benchmarks like Geekbench and 3DMark show minimal improvements over the Exynos 9820 powered flagship.
While improvements on performance may seem stagnant, they’re improvements nonetheless. People are paying for a lag-free, hassle-free, and inconvenience-free experience, and that’s what the S20+ delivers.
Connectivity and Battery Life
Despite having a 5G capable chipset, the local variant of the Galaxy S20+ is locked to 4G connectivity. Other than that, the Galaxy S20+ is also capable of dual-band WiFi 6 connection, which I’ve tested to be a lot more reliable than any WiFi 5 based device I own, Bluetooth 5.0, and NFC.
Providing the juice is a 4,500mAh battery that can charge up to 25W when plugged in via USB-C, and up to 15W via wireless charging. Testing for battery life, we ran the device through our standard video loop test, which includes looping a 1080p video with the airplane mode on, at 50% brightness, and left the display at 1080p, 120Hz. Since the device didn’t have a 3.5mm audio jack, we turned the volume down to zero. The S20+ managed to last 14 hours and 24 minutes.
At work, you can leave your powerbanks and chargers at home, as it can easily last you throughout the day despite having the 120Hz feature on. During workdays, I’d typically leave home at 9 AM with a full battery, with both 4G and Bluetooth on. When I arrive home at around 9 PM, I’d usually still have about 30-40% battery. Charging the device with the included 25W charger would take around an hour and 15 minutes while using a regular 10W charger will take just over 2 hours.
The market for premium flagship devices is a small one since not a lot of folks can afford the hefty price tag they fetch for. Factor in the lack of 5G support and minimal performance gains, the Galaxy S20+ may not seem like a worthy upgrade if you’re already rocking last year’s flagship devices.
That being said, if you’re upgrading from a mid-range device, or have been holding on to your aging daily driver, then the S20+ is definitely something to look out for. It has a fast refresh rate display that makes scrolling through feeds an enjoyable experience, highly capable cameras, strong performance, and all the quality of life features that Samsung’s S-series offers.
Samsung Galaxy S20+ specs:
6.7-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2.0 display, 525ppi, 120Hz, HDR10+
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 octa-core 2.8GHz CPU
Samsung Exynos 990 octa-core 2.7GHz CPU
8GB/12GB LPDDR5 RAM
MicroSD up to 1TB
Quad rear cameras: 12MP F1.8 (main) + 12MP F2.2 (ultra-wide), 64MP F2.0 (telephoto) + Depth Vision
– 8K video recording, Space Zoom, Hybrid Optic Zoom 3X, Super-Resolution Zoom up to 30X
10MP F2.2 front camera
5G NSA, Sub6
4G LTE Cat.20, 4×4 MIMO, up to 7CA
Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner (under-display)
IP68 dust and water resistance
Samsung One UI 2.0 (Android 10)
4,500mAh battery w/ 25W fast charging, Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare
161.9 x 73.7 x 7.8 mm
What I liked:
- High refresh rate display
- Long battery life
- Front and rear cameras
- Video capabilities
What I didn’t:
- Minimal performance gains over the previous generation
- Software locked 5G support
- No 3.5mm audio jack
- Low-quality pre-installed screen protector
- Wobbly power button