Samsung Galaxy S20+ review: For the last couple of years, the tables have turned on Samsung. The South Korean giant has usually been the best smartphone maker on the Android side of the fence and its Galaxy S line has represented the apex of the Android but the rise of OnePlus has pushed it behind. This was felt more so in 2019 as the Galaxy S10+ seemed to be an inferior phone to the OnePlus 7 Pro. While there is no OnePlus 8 Pro yet, the sense is that Samsung has turned everything up to 11 with the Samsung Galaxy S20+. The reason for this is that the Galaxy S20+ is perhaps the boldest Galaxy S smartphone that the South Korean company has rolled out in the last 5 years. And all of that makes this phone the best Android smartphone in the world right now, which is a joy to use. It is so good that it may be the best phone all year. Let me explain why?
A larger phone, but a lighter more compact package
With its 6.7-inch display, this is a large phone. The Galaxy S10+ had a big 6.4-inch screen, but the S20+ is slightly bigger while being slightly heavier at 188 grams and 7.8mm slim. But in feel, this phone feels very compact as the screen completely extends to the edges and this time around Samsung has dropped the exaggerated curvature.
Samsung has kept things simple with the build of the phone. You get the standard aluminium frame, Gorilla Glass 6 on the front and back and IP68 water and dust resistance which makes this phone super sturdy.
Compared to the iPhone 11 model, this phone feels fleetingly light and generally a more compact phone. That being said, it also doesn’t feel as solid a phone which is a bummer. Samsung has focused on making this phone lighter and friendlier in the pocket which seemingly has brought the “premium feel” of the phone down by a notch.
It also doesn’t help that this phone attracts smudges like a bright light in summers attracts inserts. You’ll do well to either put on a skin or use the supplied TPU case to keep the phone clean and fend off some Coronavirus germs that the phone is likely to attract.
A display that will blow your mind
The 6.7-inch screen is easily the star of the Galaxy S20+ show like it always is. This time around, Samsung has brought something to the table that will be hard to match. The 6.7-inch dynamic AMOLED screen has been rated as the best smartphone display by the folks at DisplayMate which isn’t surprising because it adds insane levels of brightness, contrast levels while also adding the much haloed 120Hz screen refresh rate and 240Hz touch response.
This phone also gets a Samsung Galaxy Note 10 style centrally positioned hole-punch notch for the front-facing camera. This means that there is no secure Face ID-like solution like on the iPhone, but neither does the notch intrude the content.
This could be the most gorgeous screen I’ve ever seen. It is stunningly vivid, perhaps overly so making sure shows like Star Trek: Picard look stunning to behold. The fast refresh rate also makes sure that everything feels incredibly snappy and responsive. For the first time, I can say that a Samsung Galaxy feels faster than an iPhone, though, it’s more of an illusion because of the animations and difference in screen refresh rate.
Samsung has also cracked a deal with Netflix which makes this screen optimised for all content that’s on Netflix. As a part of that arrangement, this phone also gets some Netflix exclusive content apart from a 4-month subscription for YouTube Premium.
The 120Hz refresh rate is not active by default, and it is gated at 1080p resolution — at the 6.7-inch screen size that resolution doesn’t pull down the experience which was a worry many had.
Top class performance, period
I tested the 8GB RAM, 128GB storage version of the Samsung Galaxy S20+. I can assure you that it was one of the most responsive Android smartphones I had ever tested, right on par with the likes of the OnePlus 7T Pro or even matching what I’ve experienced with that of the iPhone 11.
Of course, it helps that this phone gets the fastest RAM on the market in DDR5 which isn’t there on many other phones. This makes it the fastest Android smartphone on the market outside of the iQOO 3. It will even go faster with the 12GB RAM version.
The Exynos 990 processor is blistering fast. It works great for everything including day-to-day tasks like WhatsApp, YouTube, Email, Music Streaming apart from having features like Samsung Dex run and also high-resolution games like PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile. It also helps that Samsung’s software is cleaner with One UI 2.0 being very responsive and simple to use.
The battery life on this phone is also pretty solid. I clocked upwards of 5 hours of screen-on time and almost always, the phone lasted me over a day with a single charge. The 4,500mAh battery also is pretty big, though it would get charged pretty quickly especially using USB-PD 45-watt chargers like the one provided by AMX India.
Apart from fast charging, this phone also supports wireless charging and reverse charging which is also neat.
Samsung’s smartphones come with Knox which is the best enterprise solution which makes this phone very secure. It also uses the more secure ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, though it isn’t as reliable or accurate as optical in-display scanners that we see on other phones.
One of the stand-out aspects of this phone are its sterling haptics — they feel accurate which make everything from typing to even clicking photos a delightful experience.
Best Android camera phone right now
Samsung has always had good cameras on its phones but off-late they haven’t been pushing the boundaries of smartphone photography. The Galaxy S20+ certainly pushes the boundaries of what one can do with a smartphone. It has a cutting edge quad-camera system that features a 12-megapixel primary camera, a 64-megapixel telephoto camera that can do 30x hybrid zoom, a time of flight sensor and an ultra-wide camera. It also becomes the first smartphone to shoot in 8K which is just wild.
In day-light, its cameras take the sharpest photos of any other smartphone with a lot of natural depth of field and saturated colours. In low-light too this is a fantastic camera phone which photos that are brighter than both the iPhone 11 and Google Pixel 3, though it sacrifices some sharpness for the same. That being said, low-light photography is a huge improvement for a Samsung phone.
Samsung has massively improved the night mode which can be triggered by the extra settings menu. It does take longer than a Pixel, iPhone or Huawei P30 Pro, but the improvements are quite obvious. Likewise, portrait mode photos are very good, with a more natural-looking bokeh and improved edge detection.
Perhaps the biggest leap comes in the form of the zoom capabilities of this phone. It gets a folded lens for the 64-megapixel telephoto camera which allows 3x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom and 30x digital zoom which allows you to reach subjects that you wouldn’t with other phones. The quality of Samsung’s zoom is top class.
Video is also superb on this phone. Not only the quality of the audio in loud situations is great but also the general quality of the video. The best bit is that this phone can shoot great 4K video at 60 frames per second. It can also do 8K video but that’s choppy and is unusable as it takes up too much memory.
Selfie addicts shouldn’t worry as well as this phone has a mean 10-megapixel shooter on the front which takes some superb selfies both in low and bright light.
Right now, outside of the iPhone 11 Pro, this is the most rounded smartphone shooter which also happens to provide way more features than Apple’s star.
Is it the best?
At Rs 73,999, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ is more than 15k cheaper than the iPhone 11 Pro while providing a nicer screen, more flexibility and cameras that are better in some ways. And in terms of features and specs, Samsung has thrown in everything short of the kitchen sink which makes this a prime contender for just, not the best of Android right now, but perhaps, the phone of the year.