This year, everyone is talking about the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. But amidst this hype, the Galaxy S20+ has not received as much attention as it deserves. Priced starting at Dh3,599, it serves as the middle-ground of this year’s Galaxy S20 lineup and maybe it is the phone you should consider buying.
Design and build quality
With the majority of the high-end flagships going for slightly larger and heavier footprints, the Galaxy S20+ feels refreshing. It weighs 186g and comes in at 7.8mm thin, both of which are good design traits. Aside from this, the phone is familiar feeling made of an aluminium frame and glass on both the front and back, protected by Gorilla Glass 6. While some manufacturers sacrifice on IP rating on lower-end flagships, the Galaxy S20+ gets full IP68 resistance which is great. Furthermore, you are looking at you standard power and volume keys, microphones, the Type-C USB port for charging and the speaker grill all in the usual positions.
More on the back of the smartphone, it is nice to see Samsung ship the smartphone with a variety of colour choices. This is a complaint we’ve had with the Galaxy S20 Ultra but with the Galaxy S20+, you get a nice selection. Otherwise, there is a quad-camera unit on the rear left, whose bump is smaller and without the ‘Space Zoom’ branding making for a better aesthetic.
Display and multimedia
On the front of the Galaxy S20+, you find a 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel. It sports a 1,440 x 3,200 pixel QHD+ resolution with HDR10+ support. With the panel reverting to flat edges, you will be less likely to suffer fro accidental touches. Moreover, the flat panel actually helps with gripping the phone better. One change on the panel, compared to last year’s Galaxy S10+ is the Infinity O-dot design. Last year, the front panel have a dual-camera punch but it seems Samsung believes a single punch-hole is the way forward. With actual usage, the single punch-hole does not get in the way too much. Even losing out on the curved edges is not a big factor given content is still fairly immersive.
But aside from the rich and saturated colours of the panel, another big change on the Galaxy S20+ is screen refresh rate. Samsung has gone for a 120Hz panel, which makes everything on screen on look extremely fluid. But there is a catch. Unlike some competition which allows usage at 120Hz and QHD+ resolution, you can only use the 120Hz feature on the Galaxy S20 series at FHD+ resolution. There is a visible drop-off when it comes to multimedia viewing here and perhaps Samsung could have built-in a feature to dynamically change screen resolution depending on what you are viewing on screen. So for example, the screen automatically switching to QHD+ and 60Hz when watching videos. Or, having a middle ground where the device works with a QHD+ resolution at 90Hz.
In this region of the world, the Galaxy S20+ ships in both 4G and 5G configurations. Moreover, the processor on-board is the Exynos 990, which is a 7nm+ octa-core chip clocked at 2.84GHz. For daily use, this should not be any trouble coupled with the smartphone’s 8GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 3.0 storage, which can be further expanded via micro-SD. However, it is no secret that Exynos variants of Samsung’s flagships are under-powered compared to their Qualcomm Snapdragon counterparts. You will not be able to see that when browsing content or using the phone for daily tasks. However, once you start doing specific things on the smartphone, these differences will be more obvious. For example, editing a video with Adobe Rush is not as smooth as another flagship running the Snapdragon 865 processor.
This is not a major deal-breaker though. Almost 95 per cent of everything you throw at the phone will be handled well. And the rest is not that it does not work. It just takes a bit more time than usual. Furthermore, Exynos variants of the Galaxy S20 series do exhibit better battery life, which we will get to in a later section.
It is here that we strongly think the Galaxy S20+ has an advantage over the Galaxy S20 Ultra. And we will tell you why. On the Galaxy S20+, you find a quad-camera setup made up of a 12MP wide sensor, 64MP telephoto lens with 3x hybrid zoom, 12MP ultra-wide lens and a 0.3MP ToF 3D sensor. But the biggest feature we think it has is Dual Pixel PDAF. With this combination, you find can take photos with excellent focus speeds and a fast shutter speed. Furthermore, the sensor’s dynamic range processing is better than the Galaxy S20 Ultra, however still not on par with Samsung’s S10 and Note10 series from last year. In an attempt to address these issues, Samsung has been pushing regular software updates and we have been checking on the phones at regular intervals.
With 3x hybrid zoom, you will not experience the best zoom quality especially at long ranges however up to 5x is more than usable. And that is one region where the Galaxy S20 Ultra takes the cake. As for night mode, Samsung has steadily improved the feature. There is a neat animation that plays when taking a photo and although pictures are great, they do not beat Huawei’s P40 series. On the video front though, the Galaxy S20+ comes with up to 4K 60fps support on the front camera and 8K 24fps on the primary sensor. Stabilisation remains fairly good and so does dynamic range processing. However, we do want the Super Steady video mode to be improved with future software updates to come. And while we’re at it, the front camera has a 10MP sensor, which seems to perform much better than the Galaxy S10+ in the day but especially when using night mode.
Given its lightweight and compact design, Samsung has done well to fit a 4,500mAh battery on the Galaxy S20+. It is bigger than most of its competition which is great. We tested it both at FHD+ resolution at 120Hz as well QHD+ resolution at 60Hz and results were approximately the same. We clocked a screen on time of 7.5 hours on a consistent basis which is above average. Bundled with the smartphone, you also get a 25W charger out of the box. This can help you recharge the Galaxy S20+ in approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes. You can also use 15W fast wireless charging as well as reverse wireless charging at 9W to charge your accessories.
In a nutshell, the Galaxy S20+ brings you the best of both worlds. It has a large screen, compact design and great performance. Its camera too is a great package, however it does fall short when it comes to zoom quality. Priced starting at Dh3,599, you get the Galaxy S20+ in its 4G flavour with the 5G variant retailing for Dh3,799. At this price, it surely brings better value compared to the Galaxy S20 Ultra given all the issues with the latter. However, the smartphone’s closest competition is the Huawei P40 Pro which also does most of what the Galaxy S20+ does, and does it better in quite a few occasions. However, one major reason to pick up the Galaxy S20+ over it is native support for Google Play services and better future proofing.