The Samsung Galaxy S20 flagships bring premium cameras, 8K video
At a special Unpacked 2020 event, Samsung has unveiled its first flagship phones of the year: the Galaxy S20, the Galaxy S20 Plus, and the Galaxy S20 Ultra. As last year, we've got three different handsets at three different price points.
The usual year-on-year improvements in internal specs, rear cameras, and outer stylings are in evidence again, and these phones don't do too much to shake up the mobile market as it stands – they're just faster, larger, sleeker, and more capable than ever before. The biggest upgrades are in the cameras and the addition of 8K video capabilities.
Samsung has dropped the "e" variant from the line up, so the Galaxy S20 is the cheapest of the trio of phones. It's also the smallest, with a 6.2-inch screen and a triple-lens 64 MP + 12 MP + 12 MP camera around the back, capable of 3x "hybrid-optic" zoom (as Samsung calls it) and 30x digital zoom. A 4,000-mAh battery is fitted inside.
Next up is the Galaxy S20 Plus, with a 6.7-inch screen and the same rear camera array as the Galaxy S20, plus an extra time-of-flight or ToF sensor (for judging depth and distance). The battery capacity gets upped to 4,500 mAh, though that difference may be canceled out by the larger screen.
The top-end phone is the Galaxy S20 Ultra, boasting a 6.9-inch display, and a triple-lens 108 MP + 48 MP + 12 MP + ToF camera on the rear, pushing the hybrid-optic zoom up to 10x and the digital zoom up to 100x. Inside, there's a 5,000-mAh battery.
As for that 8K video recording, it's available on every S20 phone. If you want the very best materials and the very best results from your photos and videos though, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is the one to go for here.
The displays on all three of these S20 phones are running at a resolution of 3,200 x 1,440, though that's expected to be downscaled by default to save on battery life (you'll be able to ramp it up in the settings, if you want). They all have the same punch-hole camera notch on the front in the center too, and all max out at a top refresh rate of 120 Hz.
Inside the phones the similarities continue: depending on the region, the Snapdragon 685 or the Exynos 9830 CPUs are running the show, both new for this year and promising more power with less battery drain.
All these phones come with the option of 5G on board, and they all come running the latest Android 10 software (with Samsung's One UI on top). All the phones are fully IP68-protected against water and dust, and all offer wireless charging, as we've now come to expect from Samsung's top-end phones.
As for memory and storage, it depends on which model you're getting and whether you opt for the 4G or 5G connectivity. The 4G Galaxy S20 starts at 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage, while the 5G Galaxy 20 Ultra tops out at 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of internal storage. Every phone has a microSD slot for expanding the storage.
Samsung is making the usual noises about the photo-taking capabilities being better than ever, in daytime or at night, but we'll have to wait until we can test these phones out to get an idea of how the raw specs translate into actual use. On paper though, Samsung seems to have pushed the envelope significantly from last year's models.
In particular, those high megapixel counts enable some useful zooming options, so image crops don't necessarily have to be of a poor quality if you just want to focus in on one part of a picture. Samsung also says the on-board AI will help capture the best shots and the best moments from your life, no matter what the scene.
Pricing for the Galaxy S20 starts at US$999 (in gray, blue or pink), goes up to a starting price of $1,199 for the Galaxy S20 Plus (in black, gray or blue), and $1,399 for the Galaxy S20 Ultra (in black or gray). These aren't cheap phones, but they're the best phones Samsung has made to date, and are likely to end up as some of the best smartphones of 2020 at the end of the year.