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Home News Samsung Galaxy S20: A buyer's guide for Samsung's 2020 flagships

Samsung Galaxy S20: A buyer’s guide for Samsung’s 2020 flagships

120Hz displays are in, the headphone jack is out.


Every year sees a heap of various Android phones released into the market. Some are good, some are bad. Some are really exciting, whereas others are a bit boring. Among all of the handsets to come out during a given year, one release that’s continually met with a lot of excitement and fanfare is Samsung’s Galaxy S series.

One could argue that Galaxy S phones aren’t always the most interesting, but there’s no denying how much more attention they get compared to much of the competition.

For 2020, Samsung launched a trio of phones with the Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra. These are very technically impressive gadgets with high prices to match, and if you can afford what Samsung is asking for the phones, they’re bound to be some of the best the Android landscape sees all year.

From hands-on coverage, detailed specs, accessory recommendations, and so much more, here’s absolutely everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S20 family.

The new Galaxy

Samsung Galaxy S21


From $800 at Samsung
From $800 at Amazon
From $800 at Best Buy

The next best thing

Samsung may be sunsetting the Galaxy S20 series, but that’s only because something newer and better has arrived. The Galaxy S21 touts a blazing-fast Snapdragon 888 chipset, upgraded cameras, a fresh design, and a lower price.

Jump to:

  • Price and availability
  • Galaxy S21
  • Galaxy S20 FE
  • Reviews
  • Models
  • Specs
  • Software updates
  • Cameras
  • Tips and tricks
  • Upgrade
  • Comparison
  • Colors
  • Accessories

Samsung Galaxy S20 Price and availability


The Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra have starting prices of $1,000, $1,200, and $1,400, respectively. All three phones were made available for purchase on March 6, 2020, but fast forward to 2021, and it seems like Samsung has quietly discontinued the handsets.

Samsung hasn’t come out and officially announced that the S20 is no more, but looking at third-party retailers and Samsung’s online store, all of the phones are out of stock (not including the more recent Galaxy S20 FE).

This is quite a different strategy compared to last year where Samsung was still publicly selling the S10 series at discounted prices, but given the lower costs of the S21 lineup and the more affordable S20 FE, it probably doesn’t make much sense for Samsung to keep the S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra in its product lineup.

The Galaxy S21 has arrived


The Galaxy S20 series continues to pack quite a punch, but as of January 14, 2021, the Galaxy S21 has officially arrived.

Samsung’s once again offering three unique phones, including the S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra. They’re all powered by the new Snapdragon 888 processor, have upgraded cameras, refined designs, and lower prices across the board. Yep, Samsung actually lowered the MSRP year-over-year. It’s not something we see often in the flagship space, but when it does happen, we can’t help but get excited.

Pre-orders for the Galaxy S21 family are available now and regular sales begin on January 29.

Samsung Galaxy S20 The Fan Edition

Following the release of the Galaxy S20 series, Samsung launched a follow-up in the form of the Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition). It has almost all of the same specs as the regular S20, but it swaps out the glass back for a plastic one, has slightly less RAM, and a tweaked camera system. Everything else is basically the same, which is darn impressive when you factor in the FE’s $700 retail price.

While phones like the S20 and S20+ are still great purchases, the S20 FE now makes them a tougher sell. They’re fantastic if you have a ton of cash to spend and want the best Galaxy phone money can buy, but the S20 FE and its considerably lower price, drive a hard bargain. For those $700, you’re still getting a 120Hz AMOLED display, Snapdragon 865 processor, a huge 4,500 mAh battery, and triple rear cameras that take excellent photos.

We came away rather impressed with the Galaxy S20 FE in our full review, going as far to say that it’s “the new flagship killer.” If you’re interested in the S20 experience but are trying to watch your budget, this is absolutely a phone you should consider.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Reviews

Before you dive too deep into this guide, a good place to start is by checking out our full reviews of the S20 lineup.

As you’d probably expect, the S20 Ultra is a really good phone. Its 120Hz AMOLED display is a thing of beauty, Samsung’s build quality is as good as ever, and the upgraded camera system is a lot of fun to shoot with. Samsung went all out with the phone, and the end result is a device that packs in just about every feature imaginable.

We don’t blame you for wanting an S20 Ultra of your own this very second, but keep in mind that it is not a perfect phone. The 120Hz refresh rate is a massive drain on battery life, Samsung’s in-screen fingerprint sensor is a pain to use, and there’s no getting around the $1,400 asking price.

Alternatively, you could just get the Galaxy S20+ . It’s $200 less than the S20 Ultra while being every bit as good. The digital zooming isn’t quite as impressive and the battery is smaller, but it’s also much easier to handle thanks to its smaller size and puts a significantly lesser dent in your wallet.

Then, there’s the baby Galaxy S20. You might be inclined to think that the baseline S20 is the least exciting on the bunch, but it’s actually the one we’d recommend to most people. It has the smallest price tag, is easy to use in one hand, and offers basically all of the same features of the more expensive S20+.

No matter which phone you end up picking, you can rest assured you’re getting one of the best Android phones of the year.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Models


Speaking of the different models, let’s take a closer look at what each one is bringing to the table.

At their core, the S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra are very similar. All three phones have 120Hz displays, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 processor, expandable storage, water resistance, and wireless charging. However, similar to what we saw last year with the S10e, S10, and S10+, there are also clear differences between them.

While the S20 isn’t cheap with a starting price of $1000, it is the lesser phone of the trio. It has the fewest cameras, smallest battery, and doesn’t connect to mmWave 5G networks. Then again, it’s the S20 version that’ll put the smallest dent in your wallet and is a good choice if you prefer phones with smaller screen sizes.

In the middle of the bunch is the S20+, offering modest improvements in all of the areas where it differs from the regular S20. If you step all the way up to the S20 Ultra, you’re getting the biggest and baddest S20 experience possible — though it is going to cost you.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Specs


Samsung doesn’t mess around with specs for its Galaxy S phones, and that idea has carried over to the S20 lineup.

Whether we’re talking about the S20, S20+, or S20 Ultra, these are flagship phones through and through. As such, you’ll find flagship specs in just about every regard.

Here’s a quick rundown of what they’re packing.

Operating System Android 10 One UI 2.5 Android 10 One UI 2.5 Android 10 One UI 2.5
Display 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED Quad HD+ 563ppi 120Hz HDR10+ 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED Quad HD+ 525ppi 120Hz HDR10+ 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED Quad HD+ 511ppi 120Hz HDR10+
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Memory 12GB 12GB 12GB 16GB
Storage 128GB 128GB 512GB 128GB 512GB
Expandable Storage Up to 1TB Up to 1TB Up to 1TB
Rear Camera 1 12MP wide 1/1.76″ 1.8um f/1.8 12MP wide 1/1.76″ 1.8um f/1.8 108MP wide 1/1.33″ 8um f/1.8
Rear Camera 2 64MP telephoto 3x Hybrid Optic Zoom 30x Super Resolution Zoom 1/1.72″ 0.8um f/2.0 64MP telephoto 3x Hybrid Optic Zoom 30x Super Resolution Zoom 1/1.72″ 0.8um f/2.0 48MP telephoto 10x Hybrid Optic Zoom 100x Super Resolution Zoom 1/2.0″ 0.8um f/3.5
Rear Camera 3 12MP ultra-wide 1/2.55″ 1.4um f/2.2 12MP ultra-wide 1/2.55″ 1.4um f/2.2 12MP ultra-wide 1/2.55″ 1.4um f/2.2
Rear Camera 4 Time-of-flight sensor Time-of-flight sensor
Front Camera 10MP 1.22um f/2.2 10MP 1.22um f/2.2 40MP 0.7um f/2.2
Battery 4,000 mAh 4,500 mAh 5,000 mAh

Samsung Galaxy S20 Software updates


The Galaxy S20 series is quickly approaching its first birthday, and as with any aging Android phone, that raises concern around software updates. Thankfully, Samsung is committed to delivering three years of update support for the S20 family.

Every version of the Galaxy S20 is currently running Android 10, but it does look like Android 11 will be available in the not-too-distant future. A new version of the One UI 3.0 beta was recently made available for the S20, with this one not allowing testers to roll back to Android 10.

While not confirmed, this is a strong indicator that the final build of One UI 3.0/Android 11 will be ready very soon. We’ll keep an eye out for this and let you know when it’s officially released!

Samsung Galaxy S20 Cameras


Similar to the displays, the Galaxy S20 is also being used as a showcase for Samsung’s improved camera tech. The Galaxy S9 and S10 had fine cameras, but compared to what’s been offered by the rest of the competition, Samsung’s efforts in this department have felt lukewarm.

That changes with the S20 lineup, and it all starts with the S20 and S20+. Both phones still have a 12MP lens for the primary camera, but the big improvement is that the pixels are about 30% larger so that substantially more light can be let into a shot. The telephoto camera has also been upgraded, now featuring a 64MP sensor with 3x lossless zoom. If ultra-wide is more your thing, this year’s sensor brings 40% larger pixels which should help in low-light scenarios.

Those are all worthwhile improvements, but where things get really interesting is when you look at the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

It offers a massive 108MP primary camera, using pixel binning to take pictures that come out as 12MP shots. There’s also a 48MP telephoto camera, and because of the way it’s positioned inside of the 20 Ultra, it’s able to offer 10x lossless zoom and up to 100x digital zoom if you want to go all out.

Above, you’ll see a selection of pictures we’ve taken with the S20 Ultra. We could go on and on about getting into the specifics, but the tl;dr is that photos look really, really good. With the main sensor, specifically, we’re seeing significant improvements with detail and natural bokeh thanks to the huge sensor size. Samsung’s processing still has a tendency to be too heavy-handed with things like HDR and highlights, but overall, we’ve been impressed.

Another great example of the @SamsungMobileUS #GalaxyS20Ultra Space Zoom! I legit can’t see the MetLife building name with my own eyes, at least without really squinting!Ultra wide, 10X, 30X, 100X. Rested on a ledge for stability at higher zoom. 100X pretty impressive! pic.twitter.com/3fyEb2eANt

— Nirave 尼拉夫 (@nirave) February 24, 2020

As for how the S20 Ultra’s 100x zoom works, a perfect example is seen in the above tweet from Nirave.

Zooming in all the way to 100x definitely comes with a drop in overall image quality, but the fact that you’re able to get this close to subjects and still clearly make them out is seriously impressive.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Tips and tricks


The Galaxy S20 is a very capable device, but if you’re new to the Android or smartphone world, understanding all of its various functions can be rather tricky. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be. We’ve spent a lot of quality time with all models of the S20, ensuring we can keep you in the loop on how to get the most out of the phones.

For starters, you’ll want to know how to do all of the basics on the S20 — whether that’s accessing your notifications, enabling dark mode, or customizing the various camera modes. These are all small things on their own, but once you learn to master them all, you’ll be able to have the S20 work for you rather than against you.

There are also some more specific features to play around with, such as changing the Galaxy S20’s refresh rate. The 120Hz mode looks absolutely gorgeous, but because it’s refreshing at twice the speed of 60Hz, it also uses a lot more battery. By switching back and forth between these two modes, you can choose to favor performance or battery life whenever you please.

Another great feature is Live Caption, which uses on-device tech to display captions for any audio or video that’s playing from your Galaxy S20. Not only is it great from an accessibility standpoint, but it can also be really convenient if you’re trying to watch a YouTube video in private and don’t want to rely on YouTube’s generally awful closed captioning.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Should you upgrade?


There’s no denying that the S20 lineup is mighty impressive, but if you already have an older Galaxy phone, do you really need to upgrade? Samsung builds its phones to last, so if you have an S10 or S9, chances are you can probably hold onto it for a little while longer and be just fine.

On the flip side, when you take into consideration all of the upgrades offered by the S20, there’s also an argument to be made as to why you should upgrade. The 120Hz display is a big deal, the camera improvements are nothing to scoff at, and you get ample future-proofing with the Snapdragon 865, minimum of 12GB of RAM, etc.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not you’re happy with your current Galaxy handset and how much you value the upgrades offered by the Galaxy S20.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Comparisons


In that same breath, it’s also worth pitting the Galaxy S20 up against phones from other manufacturers. Samsung is far from the only company making quality smartphones, meaning the S20 needs to make an argument as to why you should buy it over everything else being offered.

Looking at the regular S20, it has some stiff competition coming from the OnePlus 8. While you do give up on some features like wireless charging and water resistance with OnePlus’s phone, you end up with a very similar experience for hundreds of dollars less. Especially in a market that’s incredibly price-conscious right now, that’s a big deal. There’s a similar argument to be made when comparing the Galaxy S20+ and OnePlus 8 Pro, as you still have a sizeable price difference even with the Pro’s added features and improved cameras over the regular OnePlus 8.

And, of course, we have to talk about how the Galaxy S20 Ultra compares against Samsung’s own Note 20 Ultra. Both phones brandish the Ultra name and have two of the highest price tags around, though it’s pretty clear to us which of them is the better buy.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Colors


Samsung has been known to offer some truly great colors for its smartphones, and that’s something we’re seeing yet again with the S20.

There are five available colors this time around, including Cloud Blue, Cloud Pink, Cosmic Grey, Cosmic Black, and a Best Buy exclusive in the form of Aura Blue. There’s nothing as extravagant as the Galaxy Note 10’s Aura Glow, but the colors that are offered all look great.

Cloud Blue and Cloud Pink are have a pleasing pastel feeling that allows them to stand out without being overbearing, with Cosmic Grey and Cosmic Black existing for folks that like to keep things as simple as possible. Aura Blue is also a sight to behold, but it’s not the easiest to get your hands on.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Accessories


The Galaxy S20 is a phenomenal phone on its own, but it’s not something that should be used naked. A screen protector is a must to keep its jaw-dropping display intact, while a case will ensure the phone doesn’t get ruined during a drop/fall.

There are also other types of accessories to consider for your shiny new phone, such as microSD cards, wireless chargers, and more.

The new Galaxy

Samsung Galaxy S21


From $800 at Samsung
From $800 at Amazon
From $800 at Best Buy

The next best thing

Samsung may be sunsetting the Galaxy S20 series, but that’s only because something newer and better has arrived. The Galaxy S21 touts a blazing-fast Snapdragon 888 chipset, upgraded cameras, a fresh design, and a lower price.