Samsung S20 Review: Size does not matter

Being the smallest, the Samsung Galaxy S20 is easyto dismiss but you'd be surprised how much we've begun to like the little fellow

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Samsung S20 Review

Samsung launched three phones in its S lineup this year; namely the S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra. While the S20 Ultra got all the attention thanks to its unbelievable spec-sheet, the other two devices remained on the side-lines. That being said the Samsung Galaxy S20 in my opinion is the almost-perfect Android smartphone with two major problems in its way. Before I come to those problems, I would first want to talk about what I love about this phone.

Samsung S20: Body and size

If there’s one thing about the Samsung Galaxy S20 that stands out, from almost every other smartphone in the market, that would be its size. Its is small phone that is only 163gms, fits a 6.2” display and is 7.9mm thick. In today’s day an age where the average flagship smartphone is over 6.5″ and reaches 200gms, the S20 is one nimble device.

The body’s aluminium frame feels solid and has Gorilla Glass 6 on the front as well as the back. Its is IP68 water and dust resistant, which means it can handle being in up to 1.5m of water for 30 minutes.

Samsung S20 Gorilla Glass 6

I really do wish that camera bumps begin to become things of the past but Samsung doesn’t seem to think so. While this isn’t the specced out camera like the Samsung S20 Ultra, it still does have a fair large bump. So is not the comfiest while flat on a table.

The colour options for the Galaxy S20 available to us in the UAE include the Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue and Cloud Pink. All subtle colours which don’t pop like let’s say the Aura Glow of the Samsung Note 10. I’m a bit confused about how I feel about these colours. On one hand the colours aren’t as distinguishable as I expect from smartphones now, but then on the other hand, most people case or skin (like I do) their smartphones.

On the overall the Samsung Galaxy S20 feels great in the hand. I don’t have particularly large hands but stretching to all four corners of the S20 is pretty easy and general one hand usage is a breeze. I would suggest a case to balance out that bump and to get better grip but that really comes down to a personal choice.

Samsung S20: Display

Now there’s just no denying that Samsung makes some of the best smartphone displays out there. This is true of the Samsung S20 line up too. The smallest in the lot comes with a Dynamic AMOLED 6.2″ QHD+ (3200×144) panel with a 20:9 ratio and a 563 ppl density. Titled the Infinity-O display the display has the selfie camera bang in the center and doesn’t really prove a hinderance in daily use.

Samsung S20 display

The display also has HDR10+ and 120Hz refresh rate but that does come with a caveat. The display is only 120Hz at Full HD resolution. At QHD, it remains at the regular 60Hz. This has been a highly criticised feature by a lot of users. Being a battery-nut myself, I didn’t really mind as I usually use my phone in FHD+ mode most of the time. That being said I genuinely do believe that the ideal solution for most brands is to have an auto-refresh-rate setting which would upscale the resolution while watching videos on Netflix or YouTube and such and downscale while performing basic functions. Maybe Samsung send this over through an OTA update soon?

I did change the settings to ‘Natural’ during usage as I’m not exactly a big fan of Samsung’s ‘Vivid’ oversaturated mode but on the overall the display on the S20 is an absolute pleasure to consume content on.

Samsung S20: Power and Daily Use

The Samsung S20 like its elder siblings comes powered (in our region) with the Exynos 990 7nm octa-core processor, supported by 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

All this hardware is run with Samsung’s One UI 2 (Android 10.0). I’ve really come to like the Samsung One UI over most options available from other OEMs. It’s clean, easy to use and relatively customisable.

Every year there are conversations about the Exynos variants of Samsung smartphones vs the Snapdragon versions that reach the USA. This year too those conversations arise but I don’t think a person who buys the S20 needs to worry about that. Those conversations are for those buying the biggest, baddest S20 Ultra with its 12 and 16GB RAM offerings and 512GB of storage and so on.

The Samsung S20 performed very well as a daily driver. Multi-tasking was optimal, apps worked smoothly and I didn’t find myself ever waiting when jumping from one app to another. I’m not much of a gamer but I can safely assume that a gamer does have better options out there and would definitely be looking for a larger device.

Samsung S20: Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S20 comes with a triple camera setup on the back. It comes with a 64MP(f/2.0) telephoto sensor, a 12MP (f/1.8) wide sensor and a 12MP F/2.2) ultra-wide sensor. The camera comes with 3X hybrid zoom and can zoom unto 30x (Space Zoom) digitally. I only mention this because the Ultra touts a 100x zoom, which I’m not sure who needs.

Samsung S20 Camera

The camera shoots clear and crisp images. Samsung’s colour science isn’t my favorite but this is a completely subjective choice.It hasn’t been easy to review the phone while under quarantine (I got it just before) but the phone definitely has a good camera. Colour science aside, dynamic range is good and HDR is great. One thing clearly visible as soon as you start using the phone’s camera is the disparity between lenses. The main camera is far better than the telephoto and wide cameras, specially when cropping in.

The camera can shoot 4K at 60fps but its shooting capabilities go up to 8K at 24fps. While 8K shooting produces extremely large files and there aren’t too many displays to play your content on but at least you get really clear video you can easily crop into without losing quality. Now I haven’t been able to test the video on the device much, but from the samples below things look good. We can’t really judge stabilization from the same though.

The single front camera on the S20 is a 10MP (f/2.2) snapper and sit smack in the center of the Infinity-O display.

To save on bandwidth, camera samples for the Samsung S20 have been placed below. Please do check the descriptions for details on each image.

Battery-life

Now the Samsung S20 comes with the ‘smallest’ battery in the range but is still a formidable 4000mAh battery. The Samsung S20 comes with 25W fast charging and the brick in the box is capable for the same. Wireless charging goes up to 15W is your charger is capable of the same and the phone can also reverse wireless charge at 9W.

The phone lasted me most of the day but that being said considering I’m at home, the phone was constantly around wireless chargers which didn’t make it easy to judge battery-life. I used it mostly on FHD+ at 120Hz and still didn’t find myself struggling with battery. Which also makes me understand why Samsung might have gone down this path.

The Samsung S20 comes with 25W fast charging and the brick in the box is capable for the same. Wireless charging goes up to 15W is your charger is capable of the same and the phone can also reverse wireless charge at 9W.

What’s not to like?

There are two major problems I have with the Samsung S20. The first has to do with the lack of 5G and the second is the price thanks to the lack of 5G.

The Samsung S20 on our side of the world will come without 5G. Now this is highly unfortunate in a time when 5G is on the rise. Yes in the current scenario it might not seem like a priority but you don’t purchase a phone for a few months. Most people get phones for 24 months or more. Not having 5G could be detrimental to a person’s willingness to spend on a small powerful smartphone which might be perfect for them.

Now the second issue I have with the S20 is the price. In the UAE, the Samsung S20 costs Dh3199 ($870.50). Without 5G, I would’ve hoped for a relatively cheaper device. Maybe somewhere around the Dh2600-2700 range.

So should you buy one?

There’s no denying that in the current global scenario, Dh3199 is a lot of money to ask someone to spend on their device. But if you’re in the market for a small smartphone, that slides into your pocket easily, is easy to use with one hand, doesn’t compromise on performance in daily tasks, can shoot some great pictures and videos and 5G doesn’t matter to you the Samsung Galaxy S20 might be the one for you.