Despite looking like an iterative update over the Galaxy S10, the new S20+ brings a lot of new features with itself. Read our review to find out if it’s the phone for you.
outh Korean tech giant, Samsung, has been one of the busiest phone makers in the country this year. We’ve already seen the company invade previously untouched price segments with new phones that offer almost flagship-like specs, without forcing buyers to break the bank for them.
This shift in a strategy seen after the launch of the Lite variants of the Galaxy S10 and Note 10 is an interesting case study on the evolution of the smartphone market in the country. However, it’s a discussion best left for another day.
For now, we’re back to the premium flagship game, with Samsung launching three new Galaxy S series phones in India last month. With the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+ and the Galaxy S20 Ultra, Samsung claims it has attempted to make a generational jump by not only making a serious change in the naming scheme of the new devices but also by introducing features that are disruptive, rather than simply iterative in nature — all of this while borrowing heavily from the DNA of previous generation Galaxy S series devices.
While this claim may hold some truth for the Galaxy S20 Ultra which comes with the all-new 100x Space Zoom feature and the revolutionary 108-megapixel lens, does it also apply to the Galaxy S20+, which to be honest, looks very much like an iterative update over the Galaxy S10+ from last year.
We’ve had the device with us for a few days now, during which we’ve tested it extensively to find out the answer to this — and a couple of other pressing questions. Read our review for an in-depth look into Samsung’s Galaxy S20+.ADVERTISEMENT
Samsung Galaxy S20+ review: Design and display
The Galaxy S series of phones from Samsung are crafted to be much more than simple slabs of metal and glass. As premium flagships from Samsung, they are meant to represent the company’s latest innovations in design, and it’s something the Galaxy S20+ also attempts to do. However, we’re not sure if it manages to succeed at this.
The Galaxy S20+ does away with the curved display that had become a regular fixture on the Galaxy S series devices over the past few years. But apart from this, the phone appears to follow a similar design language as the Samsung flagships from last year.
While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing — like the Galaxy S10 series of phones were one of the better-looking devices from 2019 — the fact that Samsung doesn’t do much to differentiate the S20+ from its predecessors ends up making the Galaxy S20+ come across a little stale in the design department.
And even in areas where Samsung has tried to create a difference between the two devices, the attempts appear to have not worked in favour of the phone. Case in point, the move away from the more visually appealing curved display found on the S10+ to a flat panel which is covered by 2.5D curved glass. Although this makes the Galaxy S20+ more practical in terms of its usage, it does at the same time take away from the aesthetics of the device.
However, all of this is only if you’re comparing it to the Galaxy S10, or the S10+ from last year. For those who aren’t upgrading from last year’s Galaxy S series flagships, the Galaxy S20+ still offers a lot and would generally come across as a beautifully crafted piece of technology that has an air of understated class to it.
From its curved Gorilla Glass 6 covered back, to the not so curved display, the Galaxy S20+ looks and feels like a truly premium device, one that was crafted to impress at first sight.
Talking about the device’s display, the Galaxy S20+ brings with itself a panel that may not flaunt the curves seen on the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+, yet, for all intents and purposes, is superior to the one found on the Galaxy S10 series of phones.
This is essentially because the panel used here supports up to 120Hz refresh rates, and as such feels more responsive than what was dished out with last year’s S series phones. It also helps the phone emerge in a much favourable light when compared to other flagships in the market right now.
However, it would be prudent to know, that Samsung’s Galaxy S20+ only supports 120Hz refresh rate at FullHD+ resolution. For WQHD+ the phone throttles the refresh rate to 60Hz. While the difference isn’t necessarily discernible, it would have preferred to have the ability to play supported games in WQHD+ and at 120Hz. Luckily though, this only appears to be a software bottleneck to prolong the phone’s battery life as reports in the past few weeks have suggested that Samsung is already working on an OTA update to enable 120Hz refresh while running WQHD+ resolution on the phone.
Apart from this, the 6.7-inch Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O Display on the Galaxy S20+ is as good as you can get on a Samsung phone currently. It features deep blacks and is great when it comes to reproducing colours accurately. The centrally placed punch-hole too isn’t much of an eyesore and manages to merge well with whatever’s running on the phone.
Viewing angles too are quite good, and overall, the display doesn’t disappoint and feels apt for a smartphone that comes with a rather premium price tag.
Samsung Galaxy S20+ review: Specifications, features and battery
Under the hood, the Indian variant of the Galaxy S20+ comes with the fastest processor from Samsung’s in-house Exynos line-up of chipsets — the 990 SoC. This new chipset features a dual-core neural processing unit (NPU) and an improved digital signal processor over its predecessor. As per the company, its tri-cluster CPU delivers up to 20 per cent enhanced performance over its predecessor. Samsung has further paired the chipset with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for keeping the phone ticking along smoothly.
But does it so? Well, the answer is a little complicated. Let us explain.
As we found during our time with the device, the Galaxy S20+ is quite a powerful beast, one that can tame the most demanding games, and handle resource-intensive applications without showing signs of stress.
Because the chipset employs a 7nm octa-core solution — of which cores are for resource-demanding apps, while two Cortex-A76 cores and four Cortex-A55 cores are reserved for basic tasks the phone manages to handle quite well while playing games such as PUBG and Asphalt 9: Legends. It also managed to do quite well at benchmarks.
However, this does appear to come at a price, with the S20+ in its current avatar prone to the occasional heating issues. Long gaming sessions, as well as taking the camera out for clicking back to back pictures can spiral the phone down into a loop where first it heats up a little, and then starts to show signs of battery drain.
While we were able to make peace with the minor heating issues, the resultant battery drain did, however, leave us a little unhappy with the device.
Having said that, the phone is quite lucky to have been equipped with a massive 4500mAh battery and a highly optimised operating system — Samsung’s take on Android 10, the One UI 2. The two come together to nullify the shortcomings of the core hardware, and help provide an overall pleasant user experience that can be tailored to the user’s convenience.ADVERTISEMENT
The Galaxy S20+ on average gave us a day’s worth of usage on a single charge. But this was on days when we didn’t subject it to long gaming sessions or fired up the camera to click too many pictures. In such situations, we saw the phone’s battery draining quite a bit faster.
But once again, the Galaxy S20+’s blushes were saved by Samsung’s inclusion of 25W fast charging technology, which ensured we topped the phone’s battery to the brim in slightly over an hour. As conveniences go, this proved to be quite an important one during the time we used the device.
Samsung Galaxy S20+ review: Camera
Coming to the cameras, we were quite impressed with the results that the Galaxy S20+ managed to achieve in pretty much all lighting conditions that we tried it in. Compared to Samsung’s previous S series flagship, the Galaxy S10, the new smartphone’s primary 12-megapixel wide-angle lens definitely provides a substantial upgrade — especially in low light conditions.
In low light, both the colour accuracy and the level of detail captured have been bumped up a notch. However, it would be unfair to not mention that this was expected after Samsung managed to bring almost equally impressive levels of photography performance with the recently launched Galaxy S10 Lite.
The smartphone came as proof of Samsung finally cracking the low light photography game, by introducing some major improvements to its computational photography code. And with the Galaxy S20+, the company appears to have used the learning from the device to provide a true flagship photography experience with the S20+.
Apart from this, the Galaxy S20+ manages to click some vibrant shots in day time. These not only look rich, and flush with colours, but also impress with their level of captured detail. The phone’s camera app is also quite quick to lock on to objects while focusing on them and its fast shutter speed working in tandem with its next-gen OIS technology ensures that there are very few blurred pictures.
To Samsung’s credit, it has managed to replicate this performance with the device’s 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens too, which also impresses in both low and well-lit situations. This is also true to an extent for the telephoto lens on the device, which because of its F/ 2.0 aperture also manages to provide some impressive results.
The lens also supports OIS and as we found during our review, its ability to optically zoom up to 3x and employ a hybrid solution to zoom up to 30x, does indeed add variety to the camera set-up of the device.
At the front, Samsung has also equipped the phone with a 10-megapixel lens which ticks along clicking impressive selfies with accurate skin tone and enough detail in them. The aggressive post-processing of selfies also appears to have been dealt with, and as a result, the front camera performance is possibly the best we’ve seen on a Samsung phone in the past few years now.
To top all this, the Galaxy S20+ has also been equipped with a number of new features, including a new Night Mode that’s very much at par with what the biggest names in the smartphone camera game — Google, Huawei and Apple — offer with their phones.
There’s also a new feature called Single Take that lets users capture a single shot in a number of ways including videos, Live focus, cropped and Ultra Wide.
Samsung Galaxy S20+ review: Verdict
At a juncture when technologies that power smartphones are improving at a rapid pace, and pretty much all modern-day mobile phones — regardless of their price tag — promise flaw-less performance, there remain very points of differentiation between them.
This becomes a far greater issue when one is looking at smartphones in the premium flagship segment, where really no choice is ever a bad one. Yet, even in this segment a few aspects reign supreme — design camera performance and extra features.
Luckily for the Galaxy S20+, it manages to check all these boxes. As we found during our review of the device, from its design, — which has an air of understated class to it — to its ability to click really impressive pictures, the Galaxy 20+ is quite impressive, and with Samsung’s name slapped on its back, also brings a dash of premium to the table.
Yet, its biggest enemy may end up being the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which we will be reviewing shortly. As it stands, the Galaxy S20+ at Rs 73,999 comes very close to the Galaxy S20 Ultra in terms of the price. Their price tags differ by a margin that’s less than Rs 20,000.
While this may be a significant amount in general, it ceases to be so when one ventures into the premium segment of the smartphone market. As such, if reading this review has tipped you towards buying the Galaxy S20+, then might we suggest waiting till March 24 and getting your hands on the Galaxy S20 Ultra instead — a phone which not only gets a bigger display but also a bigger battery as well as an awe-inducing 108-megapixel Space Zoom totting quad-camera set-up.
Yet, if you find yourself baulking at the price of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, then the Galaxy S20+ can serve as a good option, one that brings the best of both worlds with its promise of flagship features, but not a kidney operation inducing price.