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Samsung Galaxy S20+ Review

Samsung's new flagship is here.

Pros

  • Great screen with very high refresh rate
  • Good battery life
  • Consistently good camera

Cons

  • Expensive
  • On-screen fingerprint reader needs some getting used to
  • Size is not for everyone

Samsung Galaxy S20+ wall shot The S20+ is pretty much the gold standard of Android phones.

First impression and design

At a time when all the top of the range Android devices seem to get bigger, the Galaxy S20+ is a relatively compact device that manages to squeeze a 6.7” display into a practical, well-designed package.

The overall shape and weight distribution of the S20+ are almost identical to its predecessor, the Galaxy S10.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ bottom Samsung has officially abandoned the audio-jack.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ front camera The front camera is located in the middle top of the screen, this is possibly the smallest pinhole-style camera on any smartphone. It is almost invisible most of the time and will provide only minimum obstruction when watching videos or playing games.

The front camera pinhole cutout settles the pinhole vs notch debate. Despite being positioned in the middle, it is so tiny that it makes practically zero difference to gaming or even video watching.

The S20+ is the first Galaxy generation without an audio jack. This absence is less of a problem now than it used to be as even if you don’t use wireless headphones, a USB to audio adaptor is cheap and easy to find.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ side The Bixby button, used on the S10 series to activate the AI assistant is now gone and the only buttons you'll find are the power button and volume rocker on the right.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy S20+ camera lenses Three cameras plus flash and depth sensor housed in an iPhone 11-style square.

Despite fierce competition from Apple and Google, Samsung is still producing some of the best cameras in the smartphone world.

The S20+ has a triple camera with a 12-megapixel sensor, a telephoto capable of 3x lossless zoom and another 12-megapixel powering the ultra-wide lens.

Compared to last year’s Galaxy S10, an excellent performer overall but slightly behind Apple in low light, the S20+ has larger sensors on both the main and the ultra-wide lens. Larger sensors ensure more light is captured which delivers brighter shots, especially in poor light.

The telephoto lens delivers a 3x lossless zoom that gives this camera a lot of versatility when capturing outdoor scenes. It does work well indoors, but if you’re looking for sharp detail and luminous scenes, it is best to stick to either the main or the wide-angle as they are superior in every way.

The 3x zoom is excellent, but avoid going over this zoom level if you want a super sharp image. The software processing for the digital zoom is not as good as the one we saw on the Google Pixel 4 last year but easily beats the zoom performance observed on the iPhone 11 Pro.

If you’re not that fussed about sharp detail you can manually zoom up to an amazing 30x. While it won’t win you any wildlife photography awards, it is still a welcome tool in your camera toolbox.

Night Mode is one of the most significant improvements over last year's model. The Galaxy S20+ does an excellent job at capturing low-light scenes by maintaining a realistic feel.

Video recording supports 8K at up to 24 frames per second. The resolution and image stabilisation is so good that you can extract 33-megapixel stills from video clips that you’d assume were taken with a standalone camera.

Display

If you’re not the kind of person that reads the technical specs with any interest, you’ll be forgiven to miss that the 6.7-inch OLED display has a 120Hz refresh rate.

The refresh frequency figure is double what we saw last year on the S10 and even higher than the fantastically smooth display seen on the OnePlus 7T.

What does this mean? Two words: smooth scrolling.

The ultra-high refresh rate affects the resolution, so feel free to explore the display settings to find the best combination for your needs.

The display on Samsung devices is by far the most comprehensive you will find on any smartphone. The interface is easy to navigate, check out the screen mode in which you can switch between vivid, natural and dark mode, which makes the interface background dark for improved battery life and less eye strain.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ display The display options are the most comprehensive you'll find anywhere.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ screen pinhole camera close up A detail of the on-screen selfie camera. You'll soon forget it's there.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ screen video We've tested our fair share of great screens this year but S20+ 6.7-inch AMOLED is just glorious.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ full sun Well lit even in full sun, there is little to complain about the S20+ screen. Still worth tweaking the preferences to adjust it so the demand on the battery is not excessive.

When it comes to brightness, this is another outstanding performer. Even in full sun, the S20+ screen is bright and clear although if you tend to use it outside a lot best to lower the refresh rate in the “Motion Smoothness” menu to reduce the strain on the battery.

Performance and Battery life

The Galaxy S20+ comes in a 4G and a 5G version, ensuring compatibility with the fastest connections.

Overall this is a smartphone that is comfortable running the most demanding games and will likely to support with ease the next one or two Android updates.

If we take into account the bright, high frame rate of the screen and the support for 5G capability, we’re not surprised to find that Samsung has beefed up the battery on its flagship with a 4,500mAh, a sizeable jump from the 4,100mAh seen on last years S10.

How does this translate in real-life battery life?

If you use your phone sporadically for the odd text and phone call, you can expect the S20+ two easily reach almost two days with a single charge. The story is different when you use the screen a lot, especially for games and videos.

5G connectivity also contributes to battery depletion so best to set any auto-downloads like podcasts, to use wi-fi when this is available. This is not going to be a significant issue for most people, thanks to the 15W fast charger and wireless charging support.

Perfect for an overnight charge, wireless charging can also be a practical solution for the office and resting the device on any compatible pad when not in use will ensure that you’re unlikely to ever run out of juice when you most need it.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ fingerprint Samsung is sticking to the on-screen fingerprint technology pioneered last year.

When it comes to interface, Samsung’s new One UI 2 software is by far the most accomplished Android interface anywhere. It integrates nicely with Android 10 and its support of useful features like dark mode.

Google Duo (an equivalent to Apple’s popular FaceTime video chat app) is also perfectly integrated with the Phone app allowing you to video chat in HD with up to 8 people simultaneously.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ health screen The Health preferences are an Android 10 feature that Samsung has integrated beautifully in its own "Samsung One UI".

Samsung Galaxy S20+ Samsung Daily Samsung Daily can be accessed by swiping left from the home screen and replaces "Bixby Home". It is a lot more customizable (and more pleasant to use) then Google Home as you can specify to get updates from apps like Spotify and Netflix and it has a lot more functionality than a simple news aggregator

Samsung Galaxy S20+ edge It’s worth spending a bit of time customising as it will save you time but can also make it easier to use the device with only one hand.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ compass There is a small set of tools accessible through the edge screen, the compass is one of them and it is by far the best designed on-screen compass I've ever seen.

Is the Galaxy S20 Plus good for people with a visual impairment?

Notable features

  • Screen Reader
  • Magnifier Window
  • High Contrast Keyboard
  • Colour Lens
  • Ability to change font size and style

With 6.7-inch AMOLED display, you can be sure you’re getting a quality screen. And with zoom and text adjustments at your disposal it’s much easier to make out the important details.

Samsung phones come with Android standard features, like a Screen Reader and Magnifier Window, whilst packing extras, not necessarily found on other flagships. The S20 Plus has a High Contrast Keyboard, a choice of high contrast themes, an option to change phone font styles, and Colour Lens filters.

Admittedly, some of these features can be found through the Google Play Store. But, by having them already loaded onto your device as standard, the S20 Plus removes the stress of having to find an app that fits your needs.

Is the S20 Plus good for people with a physical disability?

Notable features

  • Universal Switch
  • Assistant Menu
  • Tap, swipe, and button adjustment settings

The handset is the middle child in the S stable. Lighter and smaller than the Ultra, but bigger than the S20. For those who want a bigger screen, but struggle to hold their phone up, this could be your Goldilocks option.

The Plus weighs in at just 186g compared to the Ultra’s hefty 220g. And because the Plus has only a slightly smaller screen than the Ultra, you gain the same excellent viewing experience without having to feel like you’re holding a mini brick in your hand.

Once the device has been booted up, you’ll have the ability to set whether you want calls to be answered automatically and how long it takes to respond to taps on the screen.

The most useful tool is the Assistant Menu. The Assistant provides a host of simple tap options, for things that would otherwise require buttons to be pressed or the screen to be pinched or pulled. The portable interface has options such as Pinch to Zoom as well as triggering the Power Off menu and the notifications bar.

Is the S20+ good for people with hearing loss?

Notable features

  • Hearing Aid compatible
  • Live Caption support
  • Live Transcribe
  • Ability to switch to mono sound

One of the most outstanding features on the Android device is Live Caption. When the option is switched on, the device attempts to live subtitle videos. The phone does this with outstanding accuracy.

Whether you’re watching a favourite TV show, a Twitter video by a trusted football pundit, or simply a boring old advert for washing up liquid, Live Caption should have you covered. The software will misinterpret the occasional word or name but otherwise holds its own.

There’s similar feature for person-to-person chats called Live Transcribe, which does exactly what it says: adds captions to your calls as you chat. It also comes preloaded with the ability to adapt sound based on age range, as well as being able to set the balance between left or right ears. So you can tailor the device to your own unique way of hearing.

Verdict

If you want the very best of what Samsung has to offer this year, we thoroughly recommend the S20+.

Retailing at around £999 SIM free, it’s not cheap but that’s the going price of a premium smartphone these days, and every part of the S20+ screams premium.

It is, by any standard, a pretty expensive piece of equipment but what you get is hands down the best smartphone in the Android world.

And don’t forget, the Galaxy S20+ also has siblings. If you’re after a smaller device, you have the choice of the Galaxy S20 (6.2” screen and smaller battery) and the enormous Galaxy S20 Ultra (6.9” with an incredible 10x Zoom).

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