Samsung has long been making great phones and Galaxy S20+ 5G is a great example. It meets all the expectations we can have of a modern flagship. But is it all worth 1109 euro?
The Galaxy S series has been with us for years. And with each subsequent version we observe either evolution or revolution. This year, the biggest change was the naming - Samsung referred to 2020 and named the new family of flagships S20. The number of members of this family this year includes, apart from the relatively compact Galaxy S20 model and its larger version Galaxy S20+, also the giant smartphone S20 Ultra with the top specification. No S20e or Lite model has been announced yet. But maybe they will appear in the future....
Let's return to those models that have already appeared on the market. And especially to one of them which appeared in the editorial office last week.
Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G is the middle model of the new trio, which provides top specifications and provides a large working area (6.7 inches), supports 5G networks, has a large battery and a ToF sensor and a camera with 3x optical zoom. Do these advantages justify the high price of the device? Or maybe it's better to choose a model that the 5G network does not support? The S20+ version is available, without 5G support - and it is worth noting that the difference in price is significant (and in the number of gigabytes of RAM). The 4G 8/128 GB version costs 999 euro, while the 5G 12/128 GB version costs 1109 euro. Surely 5G is a forward-looking technology, but is it worth investing in it right now?
Table of Contents
- Packaging and accessories. Construction and screen
- System and applications
- Sound. Photos and video
- Communication. Voice calls. Performance (benchmarks)
- Battery. Summary. Pros and cons
Packaging and accessories
In the elegant, black box, on which the inscription indicates from a distance what model we are dealing with, we found the most necessary accessories. There is a charger here (PDO: 5V-3A, 9V-2.77A; PPS: 5.9V-3A, 11V-2.25A), supporting Super Fast Charging 25W, USB-C cable and in-ear AKG headphones with replaceable rubber bands , pin to open the SIM/microSD card tray and some papers.
Construction and screen
The smartphone has the stately dimensions (73.7 x 161.9 x 7.8 mm) and weight (186 g), but draws attention to the high quality and relatively slim housing. The design is not very original - we have here two glass panels connected by an aluminum frame. The frame is quite small, because the glass panels overlap the edges of the device - which looks cool, but raises concerns about the durability of the phone in the event of a fall. The whole is quite long and you will probably not be able to conveniently operate the screen with one hand.
The colour of the housing is not typical - it's Cloud Blue, a pale shade of blue, which in addition gives an interesting iridescent effect in light - certainly stands out from the crowd, although this is obviously not the only colour option. Generally, S20+ 5G is a handy and comfortable device, properly rounded, with a large screen, filling almost the entire surface of the front panel. What's more, it is a dust and waterproof device - in accordance with the IP68 standard.
The screen in S20+ 5G is a real gem. It's Dynamic AMOLED, with deep, saturated colours, with a 6.7-inch WQHD display (3200 x 1440 pixels), which gives 525 ppi. I have no objections to colours, viewing angles, brightness - the screen is simply a jewel in the crown. In addition, it supports HDR10+. People who use polarized glasses will have no problems with either vertical or horizontal image orientation.
What's more, following one of the latest cellular trends, Samsung provides here two refresh rate options - next to the standard 60 Hz (i.e. the screen refreshes 60 times in a second) the entire S20 series also offers 120 Hz refresh. It is worth noting that the screen resolution is then reduced to FHD+ (2400 x 1080 pixels) or HD+ (1600 x 720 pixels). What are the benefits of this? First of all, it allows you to use the full potential of games adapted to the 120 Hz screen and improves the smoothness of the animation when navigating the interface, especially during fast scrolling. Although you need to be aware that this translates into significantly higher energy consumption. I will add that the default value is 60 Hz and there is no tool here to automate the frequency selection process, for example after detecting games that support the 120 Hz screen.
Within the screen there is, firstly, a hole with a selfies camera, which also supports face recognition, and secondly, an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner (3D Sonic Sensor). With both of these biometric security solutions, I prefer face recognition (or at least as long as there is sufficient lighting). Of course, the reader placed under the screen has many followers, but for me it is less intuitive and slower than a traditional capacitive scanner - you need to accurately hit the scanned area with your finger and press your finger long enough. Without looking, there is no option to unlock the screen, and the correctness of the readings here is about 75%. And what is happening around it? The display is surrounded by narrow frames, and the whole is covered by a rounded layer of reinforced glass. In the almost invisible gap above the screen there is a conversation speaker, which is part of the stereo system.
The back panel of the device has a pastel, light blue colour, and its surface is smooth and shiny (although, to tell the truth, due to the appearance and lack of fingerprints I would love to see a matte version here). Within the housing there is a black, rectangular module, slightly protruding above the housing, which houses a quad camera (including ToF sensor), a diode and an additional microphone. The manufacturer's logo appeared in the lower part, and almost invisible markings and certifications were printed.
The edges of the phone are well-profiled, thanks to which everything fits perfectly in your hand. They are made of aluminum and are interrupted by antenna strips. On the left there is nothing (I am especially pleased that the manufacturer did not place the Bixby button here), while on the right there are two physical buttons - oblong to adjust the volume and a smaller one to turn on the phone and unlock the screen. On the bottom edge there is an external speaker, which, together with the talk speaker, is a tandem stereo system. There is also a microphone hole and USB-C port - unfortunately, as in other recent Samsung flagships, there is no universal headphone jack.
On the upper edge there is an additional microphone and a tray for SIM cards (2xnano) and a microSD card. This is a hybrid solution - which means that we can mount either two SIM cards or a storage medium instead of one of them.
System and applications
Onboard Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G runs Android 10 with the latest version of the One UI 2.0 interface and security patches from March 1, 2020. The interface is transparent and intuitive, works without any delays or errors. The large work surface allows you to work in split screen mode, gesture control works great, not to mention the richness of functions and settings. You can also use Samsung DeX (Desktop Experience), which is a desktop work environment that allows your smartphone to turn into a PC. The interface itself allows for far-reaching personalization and does not clutter the system with an excess of unnecessary applications (although during both the first configuration and logging in to the Samsung account we are encouraged to install an additional, mainly corporate software). Of course, this overlay is far from pure Android, so each time you will have to wait longer for updates to subsequent versions of the system.
Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G will not disappoint people using the smartphone to listen to music - whether through the speaker or through the headphones. The external speaker, which provides stereo sound in cooperation with the talk speaker, plays clean, loud and provides quite good bass for a smartphone. In addition to stereo sound, Samsung has taken care of people who prefer headphones. The set includes a set of in-ear headphones with remote control, branded by AKG. They end with a USB-C socket - unfortunately the 3.5 mm mini-jack will not be found in the reviewed device. The sound also sounds great with the use of wireless accessories - in this case they were JBL Tune 220 TWS headphones. It is worth adding that the software supports Dolby Atmos technologies.
Photos and video
Samsung Galaxy S20+5G provides three cameras:
- 12 megapixel standard camera (f/1.8, OIS),
- 64 megapixel camera (f/2.0, OIS) with 3x hybrid zoom and 30x digital zoom,
- 12-megapixel camera with wide angle (f/2.2).
There's also a Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensor that you won't find in the smaller Samsung Galaxy S20. The camera's capabilities are one of the most emphasized news in the Galaxy S20 series - so let's see in more detail what Galaxy S20+ 5G can do in this respect.
I like the effects of the camera's work. Even very much. But this is not a flawless camera. Sometimes you can see that the camera likes to slightly improve the colours - the grass is greener and the sky bluer. The effect is not very strong and it can be said that it makes the photos more attractive, but they are not entirely natural. Particularly noteworthy are the details in the pictures, which on the smaller display provide excellent detail, but when we look at the details on the monitor screen, bringing individual areas closer, the elements become too sharp.
The wide angle turned out to be irreplaceable in places where there is no way to properly frame a photo or when recording landscapes. A telephoto lens will not disappoint you either - one of the cameras provides a 3x hybrid zoom and gives excellent results. If this is not enough for you, then the only option remains the S20 Ultra model, which offers a 10x zoom. It is worth noting that the 64-megapixel sensor of this camera is also used to record recordings in 8K quality.
I also positively assess the camera's operation in the night mode - although this mode should be selected manually. Of course, you can stay with the automatic mode and scene recognition function, when the smartphone correctly recognizes the external conditions and starts the night mode, but this is not the same quality - the manually activated mode looks much better. Although this is not the quality provided by the night mode in top smartphones from Huawei, S20+ 5G does not need to have complexes.
The camera interface is simple and intuitive. It provides a number of functions, among which the novelty is "One Shot" - with its help the camera automatically records various photos and clips from each scene. And this is how the camera application looks. Among the modes we will find Pro mode, panorama, food photography mode, night mode, Live Focus, and shooting supports Bixby Vision and features related to augmented reality. The video recording modes are also extended.
At the front, in a single hole located in the central part of the screen, there is a 10-megapixel camera. There are some effects here that can improve your image, various colour filters - the quality of the photos is definitely correct, and the detail and sharpness of the photos ensures the presence of autofocus.
The smartphone allows you to record video in a maximum quality of 8K at 24 frames per second. For now, it's more curiosity, it doesn't have much practical use. At least until TVs with 8K resolution become widespread. But you can also record in UHD (4K, 3840x2160 pixels) or FHD or HD quality, both at 60 and 30 frames per second, you can also switch between lenses during recording. The Super Steady OIS technology ensures the stability of the clips.
In terms of connectivity, Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G offers everything your heart desires. There is NFC for cashless payments via Samsung Pay or Google Pay and Bluetooth version 5.0. In addition to WLAN-AC, Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G also supports the latest AX standard. And this is a forward-looking device - of course, it is about 5G network support. From the physical connectors, the smartphone has only a USB-C port - unfortunately, the manufacturer abandoned the headphone jack and apparently does not intend to return to it.
I did not expect any problems in this field and the actually - Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G did not have the slightest problems with neither the range nor the quality of calls. Everything can be heard perfectly, my interlocutors did not notice the problems either - which means that the noise reduction works great and the microphone collects sound very well.
Memory and performance
Galaxy S20 Plus comes in two memory versions - 128 and 512 GB. We received a smaller version, which gives the user 108 GB of actual data space. If this is not enough, the memory can be expanded by up to 1 TB using a microSD card (hybrid socket). This does not mean that you must give up two art SIM – S20+ 5G also supports e-SIM.
We are dealing with the European version of Galaxy S20, which means that we will not find here the top Snapdragon 865 processor, but the company’s Exynos 990 with a maximum clock speed of 2.73 GHz, which is supported by the Mali-G77MP11 graphics and 12 GB of RAM. In practice, S20+ 5G copes with virtually any application, games and all multimedia - and performance exceeds most full-size laptops. I did not notice any major problems with heating - during some benchmarks, the housing became visibly warmer, just like during longer gaming sessions or 8K recording, but these were not temperatures that would translate into a drastic reduction in performance or user comfort.
The smartphone is delivered with a 4500 mAh battery, which is usually enough for a day of intensive work or up to two days more economical use. Of course, the working time depends on whether we set the screen to 60 or 120 Hz, whether we will use AoD and what activities we will use the device for. At the lower frequency I achieved up to 6 hours of work time with the screen on (SoT), while using 120 Hz it was about 4.5 hours. Besides, higher energy consumption is confirmed by the results of battery benchmarks.
- result in PC Mark battery test - 9 hours and 59 minutes (60 Hz), 8 hours and 34 minutes (120 Hz),
- Geekbench (full discharge) result - 5130 points, discharge after 8 hours and 32 minutes (60 Hz), 4360 points, discharge after 7 hours and 16 minutes (120 Hz),
- video streaming time (Chrome, 1 SIM card, active Wi-Fi module, 50% screen brightness) - 9% less battery,
- video playback time from the phone's memory (airplane mode, 50% screen brightness) - 6% less battery,
- half an hour playing Real Racing 3 - 8-9% less battery,
- 9 hours in standby mode - 5% less battery.
The set includes a 25 W charger that will allow you to charge your smartphone from 0 to 100% in about 1.5 hours. What's more, the smartphone can be charged wirelessly (Fast Wireless Charging 2.0), there is the function of charging back (Wireless PowerShare), thanks to which you can charge devices supporting Qi technology, which is useful in many situations.
Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G is undoubtedly one of the best smartphones on the market today. And for the best, you have to pay a lot. Is it really worth it? What are the most serious allegations against Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G? First of all, the fact that the price is not adequate for the components. First of all, we do not get the top processor, which is Snapdragon 865 at the moment - instead there is the company’s Exynos 990 (we wrote about it earlier). What's more, the 5G modem version is much more expensive than the version without this module.
Sales of the latest edition of the S series are weaker than expected. This is obviously due to the coronavirus pandemic, the lack of revolutionary solutions that would encourage users to change their smartphone, the reduction in prices of last year's flagship from the Galaxy S10 family and the high initial price of the Galaxy S20 series. Although Galaxy S20+ is cheaper than Galaxy S20 Ultra it is still a very expensive device. Experience shows that it pays to wait a few weeks before buying - the prices will definitely go down.
The Galaxy S20+ model should be of interest to people who do not save on the best, appreciate the possibility of using the optical zoom and want to be able to use the 5G network as soon as they become popular. Although of course there are many cheaper models supporting 5G, with top specifications and great cameras, not to mention older flagships that will certainly meet the expectations of most users.
Pluses and minuses
- great display
- high performance
- support for 120 Hz refresh rate
- quality of photos and video recordings
- fast charging
- wireless charge back
- personalization options and AoD function
- stereo speakers
- dust- and waterproof (IP68)
- support for 5G networks
- charger supporting fast charging and AKG headphones included
- high price
- fingerprint scanner operation
- no universal headphone jack
- noticeably weaker working times when using 120 Hz refresh rate
- no adapter from USB-C to mini-jack included
- performance and working time of smartphones with Exynos is lower than models with Snapdragon 865 (sold, among others, in China and the USA)
- 8K recording currently has no practical application
- the camera is not the best among flagships