If anyone thought that Samsung’s days as the top dog in the world of Android smartphones were numbered then the new Galaxy S20+ provides a fresh look at why the South Korean giant can’t ever be counted out. I have been testing Samsung’s latest flagship phone for more than 2 weeks and it hasn’t just proven to be the most refined Galaxy smartphone I’ve used to-date but also shows an urgency from Samsung to push the boundaries of mobile technology which it hasn’t shown before. The result is a startlingly powerful smartphone that excels at everything one throws at it.
- The display on the Galaxy S20+ will blow you away. It’s an awe-inspiring 6.7-inch AMOLED panel which isn’t just the brightest one yet on a smartphone, but also the most colourfully vivid. As is the case every year, Display Mate has called this the best smartphone panel yet. The one thing that was missing from Samsung’s repertoire last year was an ultra-high refresh rate which has been dutifully added to the S20. The refresh rate can be configured to 120Hz with a touch response time of 240Hz, though the resolution decreases to 1080p, that’s not a biggie as the phone feels supple and immensely fluid, unlike any other Samsung phone.
- The 6.7-inch size of the screen also belies the fact that this is a massive smartphone? Think again as it feels utterly compact measuring just 7.8mm and weighing lesser than the much smaller iPhone 11 Pro. At the same time, niceties like Gorilla Glass 6 is provided on the front and back while it also manages IP68 water and dust resistance in addition to having a solid aluminium chassis on the side that looks gorgeous in the polished metal finish.
- The performance of this phone is blistering. Think about it — I tested the model with 8GB DDR5 RAM, 128GB storage (UFS 3.0), and Samsung’s spanking new Exynos 990 processor. Top this up with a much faster and responsive user interface (thanks OneUI 2.0) and also a 120Hz screen which feels buttery smooth and lightning fast at the same time. As far as Android smartphones go, this is the real deal, hell, it also feels faster than the iPhone 11 which technically still has the faster processor.
- Likewise for gaming — this phone handled games like PUBG and Call Of Duty Mobile with disdain even when on the highest graphics settings. For a change, the phone also didn’t get too warm and as always the frame rate jibber-jabber was isolated to a bare minimum. Gamers will also appreciate the fact that this phone will get access to Microsoft’s xCloud service for game streaming later this year and also will be home to exclusives like Forza Street, thanks to Samsung’s newfound love affair with the legendary company from Redmond, Seattle.
- The cameras on the Galaxy S20+ are very good. These cameras are arguably better than the Google Pixel 3 which is still the benchmark in India for Android smartphones and a notch behind the iPhone 11. Stills in daylight come out sharp, with saturated colours and tons of natural depth while the night time photos show a marked improvement over the Galaxy Note 10+. Thanks to the new 12-megapixel main camera which has a much bigger sensor, a 64-megapixel telephoto camera that does 3x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom and 30x digital zoom and the wide-angle camera, we have the most versatile and effective camera on a Galaxy. It also helps that there is a depth sensor which also allows for some great portrait mode shots, which was a weakness of Samsung’s.
- For video, this phone has the upper hand on every other phone in the market outside of the iPhone 11. It shoots at 8K which is a cool party trick but mostly usable. However, what’s usable is its 4K video which is very good at even 60 frames per second. 8K videos can also be used to produce crisp 33-megapixel stills. And for general warpcore party goers, the audio of the video is superb so all your techno gig memories are going sound clear.
- Samsung provides some really good battery life with this phone — it lasted me regularly upwards of a day on a single charge with its massive 4,500mAh battery. It also does 45-watt fast charging over USB PD apart from supporting wireless charging and reverse-charging. You also get the best in class haptics which makes working on the phone very pleasing. Samsung also throws in goodies like some exclusive content from Netflix, Bixby integration for Spotify and 4 months of free YouTube Premium. You also get preloaded Microsoft apps and support for things like My Phone which allows you to respond to messages and calls from your Windows PC.
- The Galaxy S20+ may be well built but it doesn’t exude the plushness of an iPhone 11 Pro or for that matter, it doesn’t even feel as royal as the OnePlus 7T Pro. What’s more disheartening is that it feels like a major step backwards from the Galaxy Note 10+ which indeed with the benefit of time was perhaps the most well-built smartphone I’ve ever tested.
- The general disdain towards audio disheartens me. Sure, it can reproduce decent audio and even supports Dolby Atmos, but this phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack which is fundamental to great audio. Nor does it have dual firing speakers which make this inferior to the iPhone in terms of speakerphone audio.
- Samsung’s software still isn’t the best. It does come with a lot of features but it also causes tons of duplication. For example, you get as many as three email applications preloaded on the phone — Gmail, Samsung Mail and Microsoft Outlook. The software experience becomes so much nicer once you install a third-party launcher like the Evie Launcher speaks volumes towards how Samsung has hamstrung this phone out of the box.
To buy or not to buy?
If you’re looking for the very best Android smartphone in the world, then Samsung has indeed made it for you. If we were in 2019, I would’ve said that likely this phone will be toppled by Huawei, but considering the US trade war and the ban on the use of the Google play store, this makes the Samsung Galaxy S20+ a formidable phone which likely will remain the Android smartphone of the year for most people.