Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus review

//Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus review

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus review

OUR VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is a nearly-perfect smartphone that connects to more 5G networks and has better cameras than ever, though you’ll be paying for the privilege, as this is the priciest Plus smartphone yet. If you don’t mind ho-hum design, the phone handles anything you throw at it, and should last you years – especially assuming 5G networks stay compatible with the S20 Plus as they build out.

FOR

  • Powerful yet sleek
  • Much-improved zoom
  • More 5G connectivity

AGAINST

  • Ever-higher price
  • Improvements are mostly iterative
  • No more 3.5mm headphone jack

Two-minute review

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is the most impressive ‘middle child’ handset we’ve ever tested – and most likely the best pound-for-pound S20 phone, period. It’s a powerhouse that packs the best perks of its siblings, and strikes the perfect balance between them.

That is, it’s got a bigger display and more battery life than the Samsung Galaxy S20, but it’s not quite as large and pricey as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. If you want affordability, or the best of the best, go with one of the other two; however, we predict that for most folks the S20 Plus will hit the sweet spot.

Leaving the ultra-premium Ultra aside, this is also the year’s first big 5G phone – and one that operates on both the mmWave and sub-6 frequencies. Crucially, the standard S20 only works on sub-6, which means some US carriers won’t even sell that phone, which in turn means the S20 Plus will be their most affordable S20 model.

Add to the mix some truly stellar cameras featuring amped-up zoom and top-tier specs, and the S20 Plus earns its place as the best of the S20 trio. Not that the phone is perfect –- there are plenty of nitpicks that we’ll get into below –- but the phone is a great choice regardless.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus price and availability

  • Initial release date: March 6 in the US and Australia, March 13 in the UK
  • 128GB + 12GB of RAM + 5G: $1,199 / £999 / AU$1,649
  • 512GB + 12GB of RAM + 5G: $1,299 / £1,099 / AU$1,899
  • 128GB + 8GB of RAM + 4G only: AU$1,499 (not available in US)

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is available now in the US and Australia, but those in the UK will have to wait until March 13 for it to be available. There are two variants of the phone; one with 5G, and another with only 4G.

The 5G version of the phone starts at $1,199 / £999 / AU$1,649 with 128GB of storage. That goes up to, and goes up to $1,299 / £1,099 / AU$1,899 for the 512GB model.

The 4G-only variant is available in Australia (it’s not sold in the US or UK) for AU$1,499 with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. All the 5G versions of the phone come with 12GB of RAM.

We reviewed the 5G version of the phone, and this review will mostly focus on that device as it’s the more commonly available handset.

In other words, Samsung is pitching this year’s Plus model as more of an intermediate step than simply a larger version – which is a bit of a stretch. There aren’t that many more extras in the S20 Plus than there were in the S10 Plus that warrant the relative price jump… aside from 5G connectivity.

Since you can’t buy a 4G-only S20 Plus in some regions, you’ll just have to live with the premium price tag. We haven’t heard the pricing and availability of those models, but will include them here when we do.

Design

  • Larger than the standard S20, smaller than the S20 Ultra
  • Rectangular camera block on an otherwise-sleek glass shell
  • Bixby button is gone, but so is 3.5mm headphone jack

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus doesn’t look much different to its predecessor, but this is the sleekest device in a long line of flagships – and that isn’t a bad look.

As phone makers fumble around trying to find the best enclosure for more and more lenses, the rectangular block on the back of the S20 Plus isn’t the worst. It’s a bit more refined and less obtrusive than the square bump on the Pixel 4’s rear – although you may not think it much of an upgrade over the horizontal strip housing the cameras on the S10 Plus.

The single center-aligned punch-hole for the front-facing camera looks cleaner, and obstructs less of the display, than the lozenge-shaped cutout housing two lenses on the S10 Plus. Less noticeable unless the two phones are side-by-side is that the new Plus model has no top lip or bottom chin – its bezel is evenly sparse.

What’s likewise less obvious is how minimal the design has become: with no rear fingerprint sensor (this was dropped from all of last year’s S10 phones), no Bixby button and, sadly for some, no 3.5mm headphone jack, the S20 Plus is pretty lean.

Display

  • 7-inch AMOLED display, WQHD+ (3200 x 1440) resolution
  • 120Hz refresh rate, but only at FHD+ resolution or lower
  • In-screen fingerprint sensor is lackluster

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus’ 6.7-inch AMOLED display is sharp and vibrant, with WQHD+ resolution (3200 x 1440). The display is a shade taller than the S10 Plus’ QHD+ (3040 x 1440) screen, which is likely due to it having less bezel at the top and bottom. But you likely won’t notice a difference given how similar they are – at least until you get to the refresh rate.

Yes, the S20 phones join several other late-2019 and 2020 models in adding the option to refresh the screen more frequently. Most phones operate at 60Hz (meaning the screen refreshes 60 times per second), but on the S20 Plus and its siblings you can opt to up this to 120Hz.

While that’s a faster refresh rate than the 90Hz on the Google Pixel 4, OnePlus 7T Pro or Razer Phone 2, you likely won’t see a difference unless you put those phones side by side with the S20 Plus while it’s bumped up to 120Hz. And yes, the ASUS ROG Phone 2 also offers 120Hz, making Samsung’s flagship line the first non-gaming phones to get the cutting-edge screen tech.

Camera

  • 12MP main + 12MP ultra-wide + 64MP telephoto (3x optical)
  • The latter is vastly improved, zooming up to 30x
  • Shoots video in 8K 24fps…if you can find a display to show it on

 

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus packs a trio of rear cameras, plus a time-of-flight depth sensor. While the main and ultra-wide lenses haven’t changed a great deal from the corresponding lenses on the S10 Plus, Samsung has amped up the telephoto lens to deliver fantastic fidelity far beyond what its predecessor was capable of.

Where the S10 Plus packed a 12MP 2x optical telephoto camera, which extended to a respectable 10x digital zoom, the S20 Plus is rocking a 3x optical lens combined with a 64MP sensor, allowing for an astounding 30x digital zoom. Check it out below, starting with a broad photo of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Brooklyn, New York City – and then zooming in 10, 20, and finally 30 times.

5G

  • Connects to both mmWave and sub-6 frequencies
  • This makes it more 5G-accessible than the standard Galaxy S20, which is sub-6 only
  • Our top speed on US carrier Verizon’s mmWave 5G: 1.38Gbps

The Galaxy S20 Plus connects to both mmWave and sub-6 5G networks, making it one of the first mainstream phones to do so. That number might grow as more phones are released in 2020 with the feature, but even so, it’s an attractive option – in theory, anyway.

That’s because we’re still in the early days of 5G, so don’t expect this expanded connectivity to be a major selling point this year as carriers build out their networks. In our New York City testing, we bounced through Verizon’s still-piecemeal mmWave 5G area, which provided impressive speeds when we didn’t accidentally step outside the coverage bubbles.

That said, having both mmWave and sub-6 makes the S20 Plus available on more carriers, especially ones that only have one or the other. Assuming carriers keep building out those networks and, crucially, in ways that maintain compatibility with the S20 Plus, the phone could be future-proofed for years to come, unlike the mmWave-only Samsung Galaxy S10 5G or sub-6-only OnePlus 7 Pro 5G.

Battery life

  • 4,500mAh capacity – in casual use, lasts nearly two days – though 120Hz and 5G could eat that up faster
  • 25W fast charger in the box
  • Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 + Wireless PowerShare to lend charge to other devices

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus packs a 4,500mAh battery, which feels sufficient: in our testing, we found that it held up far beyond a day’s worth of typical use, which for us included binging video, scrolling through Twitter, taking photos, and playing a few games.

That’s not especially remarkable, but it seems that battery life is more or less keeping pace with innovation: you can eke out a bit more life by reducing the display resolution or dropping the refresh rate down to 60Hz; conversely, you can max-out the screen tech that’s on offer, but battery life will suffer accordingly.

The phone includes a standard 25W USB-C Samsung charger in the box, and it also supports Fast Wireless Charging 2.0. And, like the S10 series phones before it, the S20 Plus can share its charge with other devices via Samsung’s Wireless PowerShare feature – this is particularly handy for accessories like your Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, but it works for any device that supports Qi-charging.

2020-03-16T15:22:16+11:00March 16th, 2020|Uncategorised|0 Comments

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