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Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+ Review - The practical picks

OPPO
Huawei
In our first impressions, we lauded the S20 and the S20+ for its beautiful 120Hz display, smaller punch hole, 25W adaptive fast charging, and promising cameras.
Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+ Review - the practical picks
Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+

To recall, the S20 and S20+ both have the 2.7GHz 7nm Exynos 990 octa-core processor, Mali-G77 MP11 GPU, 8GB/12GB LPDDR5 RAM, and 128GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot.

Let's take a closer look!

Note: We received the S20 and S20+ with the 25W Adaptive fast charger and the USB Type-C to Type-C cable without the retail box.

Related: Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra First Impressions

Multimedia Experience

Samsung Galaxy S20+ and S20
Samsung Galaxy S20+ and S20

Both phones feature a Gorilla Glass 6 protected Dynamic AMOLED 120Hz display with a resolution of 3040 x 1440. The S20 has a 6.2-inch display with a ppi of 563 while the S20+ has a 6.7-inch display with 525 ppi. The displays are near identical to the Galaxy S20 Ultra except for the different sizes.

Good display, as expected!

Out of the box, it is one of the brightest, sharpest and most vibrant displays you will ever get to see. Unlike the OPPO Find X2 Pro with better up to 2K 120Hz, Samsung's 120Hz option drops the resolution to 1080p.

But, the extra frames make the smartphone experience feel smoother and crisper.

DisplayMate even called is visually indistinguishable from perfect. that you can read more about at this link. In fact, the only display that DisplayMate says is better is the OPPO Find X2's display.

The display supports up 10-points of simultaneous touches. Our taps and gestures register instantaneously and accurately. This makes this phone ideal for multi-touch supported apps and games.

Above the display is a razer thin slit for the earpiece and at the bottom of the phone is the speaker grill. The two speakers produce great stereo experience wherein even if we cover up either of the two sets of speaker grills, the sound produced is powerful and loud enough to still be heard.


There is a slight difference in sound quality between our S20 and S20+ review units. At maximum volume, the S20's sound is slightly louder while the S20+ had a slightly more refined and reserved sound. This is a minor difference and a nitpick. 

Both produce a sound that is noticeably fuller with a wider range than most smartphones. Even at max volume, the sound from the two phones is clear with well separated with almost no distortion or tinginess.

The review units we received did not include the AKG branded USB-C to in-ear earphones that are included in the retail box. 

Microphone recording with the S20 and S20+ is good. It has great noise cancellation that gives our callers little to complain about voice quality.


Cameras

Rear cameras
Rear cameras

The Samsung Galaxy S20 has a 12MP f/1.8 main camera, 12MP f/2.2 120-degree ultra-wide-angle camera, 64MP f/2.0 telephoto camera while the S20+ has the same set-up but with an additional Time of Flight camera.

Flagship-grade camera hardware!

One UI 2.1 updates the visuals of the camera app to be even simpler and cleaner. Upon opening the camera app for the first time, only Single Take, Photo and Video modes are displayed. Beside those modes is the 'More' button that will display the other Modes. You can then select the different camera modes you want to show up on the main page of the camera app.

Included camera modes are Pro, Panorama, Food, Night, Live Focus, Live Focus Video, Pro Video, Super Slow-Mo, Slow Motion, and Hyperlapse.

The Pro mode allows for control of ISO (50-1600), Shutter Speed (1/12000-30 secs), White balance and exposure compensation (+-2 stops).


A new mode called "Single Take" that is available on all S20 models is the highlight new feature. Once you press the shutter button, the S20 and S20+ will take photos and videos with all cameras. It will then pick the best from all the photos and videos and put them all in one album.

In our experience, it is best used when you want to capture a precious split-second once in a lifetime moment.

Because of the ability to shoot both photos and videos at the same time, you can capture the moment in both forms and pick which you like better.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight 0.5x Ultra-wide rear camera
Daylight 0.5x Ultra-wide rear camera
Daylight 1x rear camera
Daylight 1x rear camera
Daylight 2x rear camera
Daylight 2x rear camera
Daylight 10x rear camera
Daylight 10x rear camera
Daylight 20x rear camera
Daylight 20x rear camera
Daylight 30x rear camera
Daylight 30x rear camera

In daylight, the main 64MP camera produces impressive images with eye-catching sharpness, color, and contrast. The ultra-wide camera, on the other hand, produces slightly softer images and with a slightly warmer white balance.

When looking at the different zooms, we can safely say that up to the 10x zoom, images are beautiful with good sharpness, high detail, good contrast, and vibrant color. While the 20x begins to show softness even in daylight. 

At the maximum 30x, we would say that even in daylight, the image is soft.
Indoor 0.5x ultra-wide rear camera
Indoor 0.5x ultra-wide rear camera

Indoor 1x rear camera
Indoor 1x rear camera
Indoor 4x rear camera
Indoor 4x rear camera
Indoor 20x rear camera
Indoor 10x rear camera
Indoor 20x rear camera
Indoor 20x rear camera

In indoors, the story is the same wherein the ultra-wide camera, the main camera, and the 4x optical telephoto camera perform well. The images from these cameras have strong contrast, vibrant color, and sharp details. When placed side by side, the ultra-wide image is slightly softer but this time, the white balance between the ultra-wide and the main camera is consistent.

The 10x zoom has begun to noticeably soften but the colors and the contrast remain the same as the other cameras.

The 20x zoom is even softer with a lot of noise reduction.
0.5x ultra-wide close-up
0.5x ultra-wide close-up
1x close-up
1x close-up
4x close-up
4x close-up
Natural bokeh when close-up

In close-up situations, the ultra-wide camera is so wide that even up close, the subject looks like it is still distant from the camera. The minimum focusing distance is not near enough to be macro-level. When viewing the in-focus parts, the sharpness and detail are good. The color is vibrant and the contrast is strong.

The main camera and 4x telephoto camera produce stunning close-up shots with strikingly sharp images with plenty of detail. The colors are vibrant and the contrast is strong. What is even more surprising is the beautiful natural bokeh or out of focus areas you can get when shooting up close with the main camera and the telephoto camera.
livefocus portrait mode
Live Focus portrait mode

The S20+ adds a Time of Flight sensor to its rear camera set-up and it is supposed to improve depth-based features like the Live Focus mode.

Surprisingly, the Live Focus mode on the S20 and S20+ phones are nearly identical with almost no noticeable difference unless you are looking for them. 

It is the best edge detection yet from a Samsung flagship with perfect detection of the subject's head, and shoulders. It only struggled with a few single hair fibers where Peter's hair parted.
Low light 0.5x ultra-wide rear camera
Low light 0.5x ultra-wide rear camera 
Low light 1x rear camera
Low light 1x rear camera


Low light 4x rear camera
Low light 4x rear camera
Low light 20x rear camera
Low light 20x rear camera
Low light 40x rear camera
Low light 40x rear camera

In low light, the Samsung Galaxy S20 and S20+'s ultra-wide, main and 4x telephoto cameras produced results decent result. As expected from a flagship. Colors are accurate while contrast is strong. 

It is worth pointing out that the 4x telephoto camera has noticeably more fine-grain than the main and ultra-wide camera but maintained a very sharp image.

But we do not recommend using the digital superzooms from 20x up to 30x in low light. As you can see, the images from the digital superzoom are soft.
Ultra-wide Night mode
Ultra-wide Night mode
Standard wide camera Night mode
Standard wide camera Night mode
4x Telephoto Night mode
4x Telephoto Night mode
10x Telephoto Night mode
10x Telephoto Night mode

Night mode is available for the Ultra-wide, standard, 2x, 4x, and 10x cameras. Overall, Samsung's Night Mode has significantly improved the image quality of the low light shots for the ultra-wide, standard, 2x, 4x and 10x zoom.

With the exception of the 10x zoom, the shots from the other cameras are noticeably sharper, clearer and more vibrant than just shooting on auto.

The Night Mode on the 10x zoom is okay but it could use some improvements that can come in a future update.
Front-facing camera
Front-facing camera

In front of the Galaxy S20 and S20+ is a 10MP f/2.2 front-facing camera placed on the punch hole. Front-facing camera modes include Photo, Video, Live Focus, Live Focus Video, Single Take and Night Mode.

The Live Focus and Live Focus Video have up to 7 levels of blur and up to 8 levels of face smoothening.


There is no Pro Mode with the front-facing camera.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie

In daylight, the selfie images are sharp with vibrant color and good contrast. If you look closely at the tree on the left side, the different shades of yellow and green are reproduced so well.

Face smoothening level 3 was activated and it has smoothened Neil's face in a somewhat almost natural way. We still prefer no face smoothening though.
Live Focus blur level 5
Live Focus blur level 5

In the second image, the Live Focus was able to isolate the subject and blur the background nicely. If you look closely at Neil's ears and shoulders, edge detection is spot on. It only struggled with Neil's individual hair fibers where his hair parted.

Face Smoothening is turned off and as you can see, there is more detail in Neil's face.
Indoor selfie with face smoothening level 3
Indoor selfie with face smoothening level 3

In indoor situations, the front-facing camera was able to produce highly detailed selfies with vibrant color and good contrast. In this indoor short, there was a warm light source that made Neil's skin tone warmer than normal. This was a difficult test for the auto white balance.

The selfie also has face smoothening at level 3 where it smoothened Neil's face very well. It looks good enough to be almost natural.
Low light selfie
Low light selfie

In low light situations, the front-facing camera is able to produce selfies with minimal noise and decent color reproduction.

The selfies are also noticeably softer than selfies in daylight but overall, the S20 and S20+ can take selfies in very dark situations where lower-priced phones can only see black.
Selfie Night mode
Selfie Night mode

One way to significantly improve your low light selfies is the Selfie Night Mode. The results are significantly different from the auto only low light. The Night Mode selfie is noticeably sharper with more accurate colors and there's barely any noise.

The selfie Night mode is useful!

The rear-facing camera can capture up to 8K at 24fps, up to 4K 60fps without stabilization and up to 40 30fps with stabilization while the front-facing camera can shoot up to 4K 60fps without stabilization and 4K 30fps with stabilization.

Samsung's Super Steady mode is present but will limit resolution to only 1080p.

At 8K 24fps, the footage from the rear camera is super sharp with incredible details, especially during daylight. But because it is at 24fps and it doesn't have any form of stabilization, the footage is shakey with some blurring of fast-moving objects. It is impressive that a smartphone can now capture 8K.

Video footage from both the rear camera and the front-facing camera at 4K is impressively sharp but with minimal grain. We do recommend using the image stabilization because the video can be very shaky.



Video samples



In summary, the Galaxy S20 and S20+'s front and rear cameras can take compelling images in most situations. It does not suffer from the autofocus problems that the S20 Ultra has and we find that the S20 and S20+ to be more reliable and more refined. Our only gripe is that the Super Zooms of 20x and above are almost always not usable.

Performance

Samsung Galaxy S20 AnTuTu and GeekBench scores
Samsung Galaxy S20 AnTuTu and GeekBench scores

Inside the Philippine version of the Galaxy S20 series in the Philippines is 7nm 2.7GHz Exynos 990 octa-core processor with Mali-G77 MP11 GPU. It is paired with either 8GB/12GB LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Sling Shot Extreme and PCMark tests
Samsung Galaxy S20 Sling Shot Extreme and PCMark tests

The Galaxy S20 scored 505,598 in AnTuTu. In GeekBench 5, it scored 873 in single-core tests, and 2747 in multi-core tests. In Slingshot Extreme, the S20 scored 6650 in OpenGL and 6048 in Vulkan while in PCMark 2.0, it scored 10716.
Samsung Galaxy S20+
Samsung Galaxy S20+

In AnTuTu, the Galaxy S20+ scored 522,887 while in GeekBench, it scored 908 in single-core tests and 2742 in multi-core scores.
Galaxy S20+ Slingshot Extreme and PCMark benchmark scores
Galaxy S20+ 3DMark and PCMark benchmark scores

In Slingshot extreme, the Galaxy S20+ scored 6672 in OpenGL and 6109 in Vulcan while in PCMark Work 2.0, it scored 10623.

See also: Samsung claims that Exynos 990 is as powerful as Snapdragon 865

Both phones have similar scores in AnTuTu, GeekBench, 3DMark, and PCMark. It is worth noting that both the S20 and S20+ beat 99 percent of users in AnTuTu and that in SlingShot extreme, both the S20 and S20+ will perform better in mobile apps that use OpenGL than those that use Vulkan.

Powerful, but not as good as the Snapdragon S20

In games like Call of Duty Mobile and NBA, the S20 and S20+ didn't have a problem with running both games at maximum graphics settings. Both phones are able to push those games at high frame rates.



After playing for an extended period, thermal throttling sets in and it may affect framerates after a long play session.  

The Galaxy S20 and S20+ connect wirelessly via WiFi, 4G LTE and Bluetooth 5 and connects wired through the USB Type-C. The USB Type-C port supports OTG while the wireless connection via WiFi, 4G LTE and Bluetooth 5 is stable and as fast as you would expect from a flagship Exynos chipset.


Both the Face Unlock and the In-Display Fingerprint scanner set-up process are fast and straight forward. The Face Unlock quickly detects my face and unlocks the phone as soon as the display is active. It is also able to detect my face even if I take off my glasses. It does struggle when you are trying Face Unlock in a dim environment. The display brightens up to be able to compensate for this.

The fingerprint scanner is equally as fast as it instantly detects and registers my fingerprint and unlocks both phones instantaneously. We never once had an instance wherein the fingerprint scanner misread our fingerprint. 
PCMark battery test scores for S20 and S20+

Inside the S20 is a large 4,000mAh battery while in the S20+ is an even larger 4,500mAh battery. Both support up to 45W Super Fast Adaptive fast charging. Fast Wireless Charging and Wireless Power share are present if you need them.

It would have been even better if the 45W charger was included in the box instead of the 25W charger.

But users who bought the 45W charger said that as a safety precaution, the 45W does charger faster during the first 30 minutes but slows down near the end which results in the same charging time.
Samsung Galaxy S20 (Left) and S20+ (Right) battery usage
Samsung Galaxy S20 (Left) and S20+ (Right) battery usage

In our usual PCMark Battery benchmark, the S20's 4,000mAh battery was able to last for a respectable less than 9 hours while the S20+'s 4,500mAh battery was able to last for less than 11 hours.

In our daily usage where we were constantly connected to WiFi and LTE while going about our normal day where we use the phone to call, to text, to e-mail, to web surf, to YouTube/Spotify/Netflix stream, and to use Grab, the S20 was able to last for a little more than 4 hours of screen-on time with only 6 percent battery left.

While under the same load, the S20+ was able to last the same number of on-screen time but still with a 30 percent battery. This means that the S20+ could give users up to 6 hours of on-screen time. It is clear that the larger battery of the S20+ has its perks.

With the Included 25W Fast charger, it takes around 50 minutes to charge the S20 from 0 to 100 percent while it takes around 70 minutes to charge the S20+ from 0 to 100 percent.

Under the hood is OneUI 2.1 based on Android 10. Like the first version of OneUI, it has updated visuals with a more practical and functional layout design. This means that it is a lot easier to navigate and to use the phone with one hand or with both. In One UI 2.1, minor changes were made that refine the already great experience. 

One of the biggest changes in OneUI 2.1 is the new Focus Mode and the screen recorder mode that you can quickly access from the quick toggles when you swipe down from the top of the display.


There is also a new Live Caption option when you choose to select the drop-down menu on the volume button. When turned on, the Galaxy S20 or S20+ will caption or transcribe the words said or heard from the currently playing media. It is able to transcribe 9 out of 10 words at a time. 

There were preinstalled apps like LAZADA but it can be uninstalled later.


Pros - Beautiful design, 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED display is one of the best in the market, S20+'s long battery life, good overall performance, versatile cameras, Wireless charging, Night mode is significantly better, stunning 5x zoom images, 
Cons - Exynos 990 is great but trails behind Snapdragon 865, autofocus issues with the rear cameras, 30x zoom is not usable, S20 has just enough battery for a day,

Samsung Galaxy S20 Specs

Display: 6.2-inch 3D curved Gorilla Glass 6 protected Dynamic AMOLED 2x 120Hz screen w/ QHD+ 3040 x 1440 resolution at 563 ppi
CPU: 2.7GHz 7nm Exynos 990 octa-core processor
GPU: Mali-G77 MP11
RAM: 8GB/12GB LPDDR5
ROM: 128GB expandable via microSD card up to 1TB
Back Camera: 12MP f/1.8 w/ Dual Pixel and OIS + 12MP f/2.2 120-degree ultra-wide-angle + 64MP f/2.0 w/ 3x Hybrid Optic Zoom and OIS + dual-tone LED flash
Selfie Camera: 10MP f/2.2
Battery: 4,000mAh w/ 25W fast charging, wireless charging, reverse wireless charging
OS: Android 10.0 w/ One UI 2.0
Connectivity: WiFi 6, 4G LTE Cat 20, Bluetooth 5.0, OTG, NFC, dual-band GPS, dual SIM (hybrid)
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic, pressure, heart rate
Others: Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock, IP68 water and dust resistance, USB-C, UHQ 32-bit/DSD audio support, AKG stereo speakers, Colors: cloud pink, cosmic grey
Dimensions: 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9 mm
Weight: 163 g
Price: PHP 49,990

Samsung Galaxy S20+ Specs

Display: 6.7-inch 3D curved Gorilla Glass 6 protected Dynamic AMOLED 2x 120Hz screen w/ QHD+ 3040 x 1440 resolution at 525 ppi
CPU: 2.7GHz 7nm Exynos 990 octa-core processor
GPU: Mali-G77 MP11
RAM: 8GB/12GB LPDDR5
ROM: 128GB/512GB expandable via microSD card up to 1TB
Back Camera: 12MP f/1.8 w/ Dual Pixel and OIS + 12MP f/2.2 120-degree ultra-wide-angle + 64MP f/2.0 w/ 3x Hybrid Optic Zoom and OIS + ToF + dual-tone LED flash
Selfie Camera: 10MP f/2.2
Battery: 4,500mAh w/ 25W fast charging, wireless charging, reverse wireless charging
OS: Android 10.0 w/ One UI 2.0
Connectivity: WiFi 6, 4G LTE Cat 20, Bluetooth 5.0, OTG, NFC, dual-band GPS, dual SIM (hybrid)
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic, pressure, heart rate
Others: Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock, IP68 water and dust resistance, USB-C, UHQ 32-bit/DSD audio support, AKG stereo speakers, Colors: cosmic gray, cosmic black, cloud blue
Dimensions: 161.9 x 73.7 x 7.8 mm
Weight: 186 g
Price: PHP 55,990

Verdict

Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+ verdict
Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+ verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S20 and S20+ may have been overshadowed by the S20 Ultra, but they shouldn't be because they are the standard of what a flagship Android smartphone should be.

The Exynos 990 will be more than enough for most, but the Snapdragon 865 Galaxy S20 phones are more attractive.

The S20's 4,000mAh battery is just enough for a whole workday while the S20+'s 4,500mAh battery is more than enough. 

120hz Dynamic AMOLED display is one of the best screens on the market. It only loses to the OPPO Find X2's display. You will never go back to 60Hz.

The autofocus issues plaguing the Galaxy S20 Ultra isn't present on our S20 and S20+, in fact, the camera performance in stills and videos of both the front-facing and rear-facing cameras are what you would expect from a Samsung flagship.

The images and videos captured using the phones are great even in low light. The Night Mode has significantly improved. The new 5x zoom is great but the 30x zoom is usable.

We highly recommend the S20 and S20+ as they the most well rounded and most reliable Samsung flagship to date.

If you are picking between the S20 and the S20+, we would have to look at their major differences which are the difference in screen size, larger capacity battery and the addition of a Time of Flight camera. In our testing, the Time of Flight camera may help the Live Focus photo and video but when comparing them side by side, we couldn't notice a big noticeably difference. So your decision will be up to your preference in screen size and battery capacity.

Build/Design - 4.75
Multimedia Experience - 4.75
Cameras - 4.5
Performance - 4.5
Average - 4.75/5

What do you guys think? Do you agree with us?
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