(Pocket-lint) - Samsung introduced three different models of the Galaxy S20 in 2020. The models reflected an upgrade of the regular S10, the S10+ and the S10 5G, called the Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra. These models have been supplanted by the Galaxy S21 family in 2021 and the Galaxy S22 family in 2022.
Here's a look at how these phones stack up to help you work out which one might be the right one for you.
What's the same?
- Overall look and feel
- 120Hz Infinity-O display
- Core Exynos/Snapdragon hardware and RAM
The Galaxy S20 devices all have a similar overall design with metal core and glass front and back, sporting a central punch hole camera in the display and minimal bezels. All the devices have this Infinity-O display, with curved edges.
Samsung has also put a 120Hz display in all these phones, although naturally, the sizes are all different. That 120Hz display only runs at 1080p however, rather than the full 1440p resolution, which is 60Hz.
On the rear of all the devices is a pronounced camera bump - there's not even an attempt to blend in the cameras, they are designed to stand out on this generation of phones.
They all have the same core hardware too, either the Samsung Exynos 990 or the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, depending on the region you buy it in. This comes with 12GB RAM as standard across all three devices, but the Ultra offers a step-up to 16GB.
And that's about where the similarities end.
Outside of those outlined details, these phones differ in many ways, seeing each slip into a different position. Here's what's different.
Build and dimensions
- Samsung Galaxy S20: 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9mm, 163g
- Samsung Galaxy S20+: 161.9 x 73.7 x 7.8mm, 186g
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 166.9 x 76 x 8.8mm, 220g
A glance over the dimensions shows the range of sizes these phones come in. While the overall build quality and look of the phones is the same, physically there's a big range of size options - some 15mm in height.
That is almost the same as the size difference between the Galaxy S21 models released in 2021, which basically update all the S20 models. Generally, however, these phones are bigger than older models, but with smaller bezels. There's also a healthy difference in weight and this mostly comes down to the battery and the amount of glass used in the build.
- Samsung Galaxy S20: 6.2-inch, 120Hz
- Samsung Galaxy S20+: 6.7-inch, 120Hz
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 6.9-inch, 120Hz
The Galaxy S20 comes in at 6.2-inches as the smallest of the bunch, running up to a massive 6.9-inches on the S20 Ultra - which makes it a big phone. The Galaxy S20+ sits in the middle at 6.7-inches.
These displays are all AMOLED and they all offer a 120Hz refresh rate - although you'll only get that refresh rate at Full HD+ and not the highest Quad HD+ resolution. (Full HD+ is the default most Samsung phones, with Quad HD+ an option you have to turn on.) In reality, the only difference is size, because they are all equally capable.
- Samsung Galaxy S20: 4000mAh
- Samsung Galaxy S20+: 4500mAh
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 5000mAh
The Galaxy S20 has a 4000mAh battery, while the S20+ has a 4500mAh cell and the S20 Ultra has a 5000mAh battery.
The S20 Ultra sounds like it has a huge battery, but we've found the demand on the battery to be quite high, especially when using the camera, so it's worth reading through reviews to get a full picture of the battery life.
The S20 and the S20+ seem to fair better. These aren't the most efficient phones in their segment, but we've found the Galaxy S20+ and S20 to cope a little better with demand than the Ultra.
- S20: 12MP main, 64MP telephoto, 12MP ultra wide
- S20+: 12MP main, 64MP telephoto, 12MP ultra wide, DepthVision
- S20 Ultra: 108MP main, 48MP telephoto, 12MP ultra wide, DepthVision
The big difference in these devices is pushed through the cameras. Firstly, the makeup of the Galaxy S20 and the S20+ are broadly the same - apart from the addition of the time-of-flight sensor in the S20+ - which makes little real difference.
The main cameras are the same - a new 12-megapixel sensor with massive 1.8µm pixels - while both have a 64-megapixel "telephoto" camera. In general, these cameras all perform well, although the telephoto isn't as sharp out at 10x zoom as the Ultra is. Beyond that, quality starts to drop off on both rapidly.
The setup of the Galaxy S20 Ultra camera is almost completely different. The only thing in common on these cameras is the 12-megapixel ultra-wide angle, with the S20 Ultra sporting a 108-megapixel sensor for the main camera. This is paired with a 48-megapixel telephoto, which is a 10x hybrid optic periscope lens. That combination gives 100x zoom, although that's mostly a gimmick, as photos at 100x zoom look poor.
Which is the best camera? The S20 Ultra is the best performer for zoom, certainly. But in normal shooting, the S20 and S20+ main camera will often be sharper and richer than the S20 Ultra's pixel-combined 12-megapixel images. The S20 Ultra, of course, can capture more detail in 108-megapixel mode, but for most, the S20 and S20+ main camera might give better results.
- S20 Ultra: £1199 / $1399.99 (at launch)
- S20+: £999 / $1199.99 (at launch)
- S20: £799 (4G), £899 (5G) / $999 (5G) (at launch)
There's a big difference in the prices of these handsets and that's broadly reflected in the screen size, but the core power for these phones is pretty much the same. The S20 Ultra is obviously a huge price and it might be that the Galaxy S20+ falls better into your price range for the performance and the features that it offers.
The Galaxy S20 comes in at a cheaper price because it comes as a 4G phone. The models and prices will obviously vary across regions and since launch, prices have dropped significantly, meaning these models are cheaper than the Galaxy S21 models that replaced them.
Samsung's line-up of Galaxy S20 devices looks to cover all bases. The core experience of these phones will be similar - similar feel, the same software and with the same core hardware, all perform to a similar level.
All have great displays, with the Galaxy S20+ likely to be the sweet spot in terms of size and balance of features. The camera performance is variable, although the S20 Ultra has a natural advantage when it comes to zoom performance.
Ultimately, the S20 Ultra offers a huge amount, but comes at a high cost. We suspect that for those wanting a larger device, the Galaxy S20+ will be all the phone they want.
It's worth considering, however, that the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE offers similar performance to the Galaxy S20+, but offers better value for money, so might also be worth considering.