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Samsung Galaxy S20: review | NewForTech

The Samsung Galaxy S20 isn’t the most advanced S20 – that honor goes to the Galaxy S20 Ultra. However, it’s still powerful with an attractive design. New features like 5G, the 120Hz display, and upgraded rear cameras make it outstanding.

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Pros: Fantastic display, strong camera, lots of power, 5G-ready.
Cons: High price, especially for 5G, erratic fingerprint scanner, limited 5G network support.

Samsung shook things up with the Galaxy S20, skipping past the S11. This jump makes sense due to the impressive upgrades, perfect for a first 5G phone. Unlike the larger S20 Plus and Ultra, the S20 is cheaper and more manageable. Don’t mistake it for a budget option though – it retains flagship features, except for the even more affordable S20 FE.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 isn’t the latest flagship anymore. The Samsung Galaxy S21 series is out and reviewed, offering top-tier options.

Rumors swirl about the Samsung Galaxy S22, making the S20 feel older. No release date yet.

Consider the Samsung Galaxy S21 with its lower launch price. But the S20 is cheaper now and has its own merits.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 features a 6.2-inch 120Hz screen, 5G (where available), powerful cameras, and a large battery.

It’s the choice for 2020 tech without the bulk or expense. The Ultra offers more but this is best for most.

Under the hood, find a Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 (depending on region) with 8GB or 12GB RAM.

Camera upgrades enhance the rear array. Better telephoto lens, 3x optical, and 30x digital zoom.

The 4,000mAh battery lasts a day. No headphone jack due to the larger battery.

The Galaxy S20 lacks Ultra’s features but is more affordable, pocketable, and satisfying.

Samsung Galaxy S20
(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy S20: Release Date and Price

  • Begins at $999 / £899 / AU$1,499 with 128GB storage.
  • 4G model priced at £799 / AU$1,349 / AED 3,199.
  • Substituted by the newer Galaxy S21.

Prepare for higher costs with the Galaxy S20 compared to the S10 due to 5G, better cameras, and a larger 6.2-inch 120Hz display.

In the US, UK, and Australia, the Galaxy S20 5G launched at $999 / £899 / AU$1,499 for 128GB storage, and 12GB RAM. Extra storage up to 1TB with microSD, 256GB, or 512GB requires S20 Ultra.

In some markets like the UK, Australia, and UAE, the 4G version costs £799 / AU$1,349 / AED 3,199 for 8GB RAM and 128GB storage.

In the US, you’ll get 5G unless importing. Specs are similar for the 4G version.

Adding 5G means paying more than S10’s base model. In the US, it matches S10 Plus’ launch price, $100 more than the base S10, matching iPhone 11 Pro’s $999.

Prices drop over time. Galaxy S21’s launch price is lower than S20’s.

S20’s availability is trickier due to Galaxy S21’s focus. Refurbished options might be best.

Considering the cost, S20 is no longer worth the full price, but slightly less than S21 could be worthwhile.

Design, Display, and camera

Design, Display, and camera
(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S20 offers a relatively small 6.2-inch screen with a 3040 x 1440 resolution and a smooth 120Hz refresh rate. While its design is familiar like the S10, it features a different camera bump.

The S20’s 6.2-inch display is slightly larger than the S10’s 6.1-inch screen. It maintains the WQHD+ resolution (3040 x 1440) seen in recent Samsung Galaxy S models, yet a default resolution of Full HD+ (2220 x 1080) saves battery. The noteworthy upgrade is the 120Hz refresh-rate display, enhancing scrolling and animations for a smoother experience, particularly for mobile gaming.

Design, Display, and camera
(Image credit: Future)

Although not the first smartphone to feature a 120Hz refresh rate (similar tech seen in the Asus ROG Phone 2 and Razer Phone 2), the Galaxy S20 brings it to a mainstream device. However, the 120Hz refresh rate isn’t compatible with WQHD+, requiring a choice between higher resolution or faster loading visuals.

Touch sensitivity improves to 240Hz from 120Hz, enhancing gaming responsiveness. The phone’s aspect ratio of 20:9 results in a slightly narrower form despite the increased screen size, providing a balanced feel.

Design, Display, and camera
(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S20 features glass on the front and back, encasing an aluminum frame. The screen’s curved edges are less pronounced than the S10, reducing accidental touches.

Notably, the S20 series lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack. The rear glass offers a premium feel but the raised camera bump makes the phone wobble on flat surfaces.

The phone comes in five colors, but availability varies by region. The display embeds a fingerprint scanner that’s faster and more reliable than previous iterations, yet occasional retries may be necessary.

Samsung Galaxy S20: Design and Display
An automatic mode shot on the Samsung Galaxy S20(Image credit: Future)

The camera setup showcases advancements despite specs. The main 12MP camera’s larger 1.8-micron pixels improve detail and low-light capabilities. The new 64MP telephoto camera offers 3x lossless zoom and up to 30x digital zoom. The 12MP ultra-wide camera features larger pixels for improved performance.

Design and Display
(Image credit: Future)

The S20 supports 8K video recording, but advanced stabilization (Super Steady) works only at 1080p. A 33MP still image can be captured while recording 8K video. The camera app is user-friendly with features like Single Take mode, cycling through various rear cameras to capture a range of photos and videos, eliminating the need to choose between photos or videos.

Samsung Galaxy S20 offers both 4G and 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S20 offers both 4G and 5G versions, with 5G becoming the norm. Mainstream consumers’ best chance to access 5G on a smartphone, as only 1% of 2019’s smartphones were 5G capable. The S20 supports 5G by default, and while 4G variants are available in some markets, the focus is on 5G, providing average download speeds of around 200Mbps – significantly faster than 4G in some regions.

Future-proof connectivity is ensured even if 5G isn’t available yet. Notably, the S20 Plus and Ultra possess mmWave antennas for even faster speeds, although this feature’s range is limited, requiring proximity to a transmitter.

While we couldn’t test the S20’s 5G connection during our evaluation, sub-6 technology should suffice for most users. However, mmWave compatibility in the S20 Plus and Ultra can provide faster speeds, particularly if carriers support it. It’s important to note that Verizon, a mmWave-exclusive carrier in the US, won’t offer the S20.

Performance and software

Performance and software
(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S20’s performance and software are noteworthy. It operates on either the Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 chip, dependent on your region. In the US, you’ll receive the Snapdragon 865, while the rest of the world gets the Exynos 990 version. This review covers the Exynos 990 variant.

Performance has been consistently exceptional in testing. The phone handles games and app loading with ease. The Exynos 990 version achieved a Geekbench 5 multi-core score of 2699, which is higher than the 2019 S10 5G’s 2197 and the OnePlus 7T Pro’s 2584. While not as high as the S20 Plus or Ultra, real-world performance remains impressive.

The 5G model tested boasts 12GB of RAM, whereas the 4G version has 8GB. Despite potentially slower performance on the 4G version, many flagship phones offer 8GB RAM, ensuring strong overall performance.

The Galaxy S20 ships with Android 10 and supports upgrading to Android 11. Samsung’s One UI overlay offers an attractive and user-friendly design. While the device includes numerous Samsung apps, most are removable if you prefer Google’s pre-loaded options.

Storage is capped at 128GB for the Galaxy S20, suitable for the average user. For extensive 4K video shooting, the microSD card slot supports cards up to 1TB. If you need more storage, consider the Galaxy S20 Ultra or Plus models with 256GB and 512GB options.


The Samsung Galaxy S20 boasts a 4,000mAh battery, a significant upgrade from the S10’s 3,400mAh capacity. Despite power-demanding features like 5G and the high-refresh-rate screen, the S20 delivers solid battery life, easily lasting a full day of regular use. With heavy use, such as high brightness and the 120Hz refresh rate, battery drainage might occur quicker.

Fast charging performs well, allowing a zero-to-100% charge in less than an hour with the appropriate charger. The phone supports 15W wireless charging, providing a useful alternative to wired charging.

Similar to the S10 series, the S20 range includes reverse wireless charging, enabling the device to charge other Qi-compatible gadgets. For instance, you can charge Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus on the back of your phone or share your battery with a friend’s compatible device. However, be aware that reverse wireless charging can quickly drain your own battery.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S20? Consider these factors:

Buy it if:

  • You want your first 5G phone: The 5G version of the Samsung S20 is a good choice for those looking for future-proof connectivity, even though 5G networks are still evolving.
  • You want a comfortable flagship: The Galaxy S20 offers flagship performance in a manageable size, making it easy to hold and use.
  • You desire a strong camera without extreme zoom: The Galaxy S20’s camera performs well, especially in auto mode, delivering impressive shots without the need for extreme zoom capabilities.

Don’t buy it if:

  • You’re on a budget: The Galaxy S20, especially the 5G version, can be pricey, making it less suitable for budget-conscious buyers.
  • You’re looking for a significant S10 upgrade: While the S20 offers improvements, it might not be a compelling upgrade for S10 owners, particularly if you’re seeking major advancements.
  • You need a headphone jack: The Galaxy S20 lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack, so if you rely on wired headphones, this might not be the best choice, although there are workarounds.

Evaluate these factors to determine if the Samsung Galaxy S20 aligns with your needs and preferences.

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