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Samsung Galaxy S20+ Review: Android Flagship To Buy This Season
Samsung is consistently improving and diversifying its flagship product line-up. The company's 2020 smartphone portfolio brings the ultra-premium Galaxy Z Flip for technology enthusiasts and the yearly Galaxy upgrades with top-of-the-line specifications and some new features.
- Premium Aesthetics, IP68 Certified
- Best-in-class Display
- Impressive Camera Performance
- Samsung OneUI Is Visually Pleasing
- High-Quality Haptics
- Excellent Audio Performance
- Heats up When Subjected To Stress
- Occasional Software Hiccups, Underwhelming Battery Life
- Minor Inconsistencies in camera’s Software Algorithm
These include the gigantic Galaxy S20+ Ultra with jaw-dropping camera hardware, the Galaxy S20 for consumers who still prefer flagships without compromising on ergonomics and the Galaxy S20+, which I believe is going to be the flagship Galaxy device for most of the users.
The Galaxy S20+ lacks the insane 108MP camera (100x zoom) of the Galaxy S20+ Ultra; however, it is capable to record 8K videos, offers 30x digital zoom and flaunts the best screen on a handset in the market, after the S20+ Ultra. We used the smartphone to find out if these crazy numbers translate to corresponding real-life performance.
Design- Sizeable Yet Ergonomic But Slippery
With a 6.7-inch panel, the Galaxy S20+ is a big smartphone; however, it still fits in one hand without any major handling issues provided that you have a case strapped on it. The one in the box looks downright cheap and spoils the premium look and feel of the handset. Samsung should start bundling some quality cases with its premium devices.
Using the S20+ without a case can be disastrous as the phone is very slippery and is also a fingerprint magnet. The front is almost occupied by the display with extremely narrow bezels on all four sides and just a minuscule camera hole. The glass back panel with a rectangle camera module looks minimal. The phone is sleek at 7.8mm weighs 186g. It's not too heavy and the fact that the edges don't nudge into your palm makes the S20+ comfortable to use. Overall, the Galaxy S20+ is easily the most ergonomic big size smartphone I have used till date, but with a case.
Better Placement Of Physical Buttons
Samsung has improved the positioning of the physical buttons, which adds value to the ergonomics of the Galaxy S20+. The power button is now placed on the right side at a very accurate spot for your thumb to land naturally. There's no unwanted Bixby button and you can just double press the power button to invoke Samsung's assistant.
The power key can also be remapped to activate the camera and to open specific applications. The volume rockers are placed just next to the power button but feel slightly off the position due to the phone's tall 21:9 form factor. The Type-C port is placed at the bottom along with a microphone and the bottom-firing speaker.
There's no 3.5mm headphone jack on the new Galaxy devices. The hybrid SIM card tray is placed on the top along with a secondary microphone. The Galaxy S20+ is IP68 certified for protection against water and dust. The smartphone can survive up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
Best Display On A Smartphone
When you combine Samsung's gorgeous AMOLED panels with a higher refresh rate, the result is a screen that creates best-in-class visual experience on a smartphone. The Galaxy S20+ flaunts a 6.7-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED panel with 120Hz refresh rate and an incredible 240Hz touch response rate. You also get support for HDR 10+ and an impressive 525 PPI density.
All of this combines to offer super immersive visuals, fluid screen interactions and excellent viewing angles. There's no better 6.7-inch display in the market than the one on the Galaxy S20+. The vivid AMOLED panel makes video playback and gameplay a sheer delight.
QHD+ Resolution With 60Hz & FHD+ Resolution With 120Hz
However, the AMOLED panel has one limitation. You cannot run the display at its max QHD+ resolution with a higher refresh rate. The QHD+ resolution only works with the conventional 60Hz for now but Samsung might address the restriction with a software update. For now, I would advise you to keep the resolution FHD with 120Hz for day-to-day operations and bump the resolution to QHD+ while streaming videos with video enhancer set to ‘On'.
The Galaxy S20+ sports a quad-lens camera featuring a 12MP wide-angle lens with Dual Pixel PDAF and OIS support. The 1/1.76" sensor has an f/1.8 aperture and a pixel size of 1.8-micron pixels. It is accompanied by a 64 MP telephoto lens with PDAF support.
The 1/1.72" sensor with an f/2.0 aperture offers 3x hybrid optical zoom and has a pixel size of 0.8µm. The third lens in the configuration is a 12MP ultrawide angle lens with narrow f/2.2 aperture. This 13mm ultrawide lens offers support for super steady videos. The last lens in the camera array is a 0.3 MP, TOF 3D depth sensor with an f/1.0 aperture.
The Galaxy S20+ takes incredibly detailed pictures in daylight. The images show balanced colors, natural depth and have an impressive dynamic range. The HDR mode works well to preserve details while shooting subjects against the light. The images shot on the Galaxy S20+ are not overly sharp but have some level of artificial softening on facial details resulting in slightly less natural-looking shots.
This usually creates a painting effect wherein the fine textures are easily lost. The primary sensor's autofocus works well and mostly delivers crisp shots provided that the subject is not moving rapidly. I would recommend using the Pro mode to address the aforementioned issues. The manual mode is quite versatile and offers great control on the camera sensors to derive a required output.
0.5x, 1x, 3x, 10x, 15x and 30x Images
The wide-angle shots show minimal barrel distortion. You can also capture crisp 3x shots, thanks to the 64MP telephoto lens, which also allows you to capture super crisp high-resolution images. The 10x digital zoom shots are fairly usable and you can also post the 15x shots on social media with some correct post-processing efforts. The 30x shots are barely usable though but it's good to have such long-distance zoom benefits on a smartphone.
Live Focus Mode Delivers Natural Bokeh
Samsung is constantly improving on the portrait camera performance. The Live focus mode on the Galaxy S20+ delivers crisp images with pleasing bokeh with people. The edge detection is mostly at the point even when there are multiple subjects in the frame and the picture is taken from a distance. You can handle the amount of background blur before and after taking a shot. The live video mode is also implemented very well and delivers a pleasing output.
Excellent Macro Capabilities Despite No Dedicated Macro Lens
You can also capture some excellent macros on the Galaxy S20+ even though the smartphone does not feature any dedicated macro lens. The above shots were taken with the telephoto lens at 3x and show excellent detailing of water drops on stainless steel.
Good Low-Light Camera Performance
I noticed some significant improvements in low-light camera performance. The bigger sensor captures well-lit shots in low-light situations. The dedicated night mode on the Galaxy S20+, which works across the three lenses, is by far the best I have seen on a Galaxy smartphone. The low-light images turn out bright, show well-preserved colors and the noise is handled very well even at ISO2000.
You can even capture low-light ultra-wide angle shots that look dramatic if there's some ambient lighting in the frame and you subject the images to good post-processing. I wish Samsung could have added the Google Pixel's Astrophotography mode on the Galaxy S20+ series. With such capable hardware, the cameras can do a lot if they get the right software algorithm for extreme low-light scenarios.
Impressive Selfie Camera
The Galaxy S20+ is a much better selfie smartphone than all of those OPPO and Vivo's selfie-centric smartphones, provided that you turn off the beautification filters. There's just one 10MP sensor to take pictures and it delivers excellent results almost every time. The selfie camera also captures bokeh shots, low-light selfies, and can even record videos with background blur. The overall image output is much better than even the dedicated selfie smartphones available in the market.
Video Recording Performance
The Galaxy S20+ also works as a pro video recording device. It can record videos in insane 8K and also allows you to fetch 33MP images from the footage. However, unless you don't have an 8K display to stream videos, high-resolution footages do not make a strong case.
The 4K videos at 60fps look excellent. Moreover, the 1080p super steady videos are a sheer delight. The smartphone can also record decently-lit videos in low-light and can capture slow-motion, time-lapse and super-slow-motion videos in 720p at 960fps to a good 34 seconds.
As expected, the Galaxy S20+ delivers a lag-free multitasking and processing performance. The fluid performance is a result of 120Hz refresh rate panel, flagship Exynos 990 SoC, LPDDR5 RAM, faster 128GB on-board storage and impressive high-quality haptic feedback. You can also expand the internal memory to up to 1TB via microSD card, something only Samsung flagship devices let you do.
I haven't faced any major issues on this device despite using it with an almost full 256GB microSD card. The smartphone delivers excellent gaming performance. The Asphalt 9's visuals were simply class apart on the QHD+ AMOLED panel. The in-screen fingerprint scanner is consistent and works well for most of the part. The face unlock is snappy but isn't 100% functional in low-light.
Heating Issues Under Heavy Load
It is worth mentioning that our Galaxy S20+ review unit does have some heating issues. The device gets warm with gameplay, extended video playback and camera usage. The camera app also becomes laggy when the phone heats up. Some fellow reviewers have faced similar heating issues. Thankfully, the phone cools down in a short while.
We also ran some benchmarks to evaluate the Exynos 990 SoC's performance in numbers. The Galaxy S20+ scored 11883 in the PC Mark Work 2.0 performance test. It touched 883 in Geekbench's single-core test, 2503 in the multi-core test and scored 4539 in 3D Mark's slingshot extreme OpenGL ES 3.1 test. The smartphone recorded a score of 5326 in 3D Mark's slingshot extreme-Vulkan test. These scores correspond to the Galaxy S20+ fluid performance.
Samsung OneUI 2.1- Visually Pleasing & Full of Useful Features
Software performance has also improved a lot over time. The OneUI 2.1 is easily one-of-the-most feature-packed and intuitive custom Android skin in the market today. It offers plenty of useful features, vast customizations options and looks visually pleasing.
The Android 10 gestures work seamlessly on the OneUI 2.0. And while the software performance was smooth for most of the part, I did face some minor hiccups, which include screen freeze, mostly while clearing notifications from the notification tray. A software update for the OneUI 2.1 might resolve it.
Battery Life And Audio Performance
I am not quite impressed by the battery life on the Galaxy S20+. The 4,500mAh battery cell cannot last you a full day even with moderate usage. And if you just can't stop streaming videos and playing games on the gorgeous AMOLED panel, the battery life will drop even more. I would recommend enabling the ‘Optimize Settings' under the battery's advanced section as it can help you save the device's battery to a good extent.
Charging the device is pretty quick. The bundled 25W charger can recharge the battery from 1% to 100% in about 63 minutes, which is pretty good if not exceptional. The Galaxy S20+ supports wireless and reverse wireless charging. You can use the handset to recharge wearables and wireless earbuds such as the Galaxy Buds+.
Last but not the least; the Galaxy S20+ offers a solid audio performance. The AKG-tuned stereo speakers produce loud and clear audio. The stereo setup comprises of an earpiece and the bottom-firing speaker. These Dolby- Atmos-enabled speakers deliver a richer audio experience for gameplay and video playback. Moreover, the bundled AKG Type-C earphones also sound immersive.
The Galaxy S20+ is an upgrade to the Galaxy S10+ in every possible way. It is not perfect but still comes across as a complete flagship smartphone for power users. It offers the best-in-class display on a phone and a camera that delivers excellent results. Despite a bigger battery and a large screen, the phone's design is ergonomic.
It is also IP68 certified and covers basics such as microSD card support and stereo speakers. The battery life is decent but could have been good. There are minor software inconsistencies that can be addressed with future software updates. Overall, it is the Galaxy flagship that one should buy this season for an all-round performance.