The Samsung Galaxy S20 series wasn't the best kept secret. Now that the phones have been officially unveiled and we've spent some time with them, it's time to check if Samsung managed to raise the flagship flagship gadgets 360 early on at Samsung's Unpacked event in San Francisco and we got a quick look at the new phones before we started.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 and the Galaxy S20 + are direct successors of the corresponding Galaxy S10 phones. This year we have a new family member called Galaxy S20 Ultra, which is launching some new camera tricks for a Samsung phone for the first time. All three models will support 5G, but this may vary in different markets as countries that do not yet have 5G (e.g. India) may receive LTE versions of these phones. The price of the Samsung Galaxy S20 starts at $ 999 (about 71,300 rupees), while the Galaxy S20 + 5G starts at $ 1,199 (about 85,500 rupees) and the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G starts at $ 1,399 (about 99,800 rupees) costs the USA. Pricing and availability for India have not yet been announced.
One of the big questions that kept everyone busy at the event was why Samsung didn't refer to these models as the S11 series and instead went straight to S20. According to the company, the S20 series represents a huge leap in performance and functionality compared to its predecessors. Since Samsung is also celebrating 10 years of the Galaxy brand, it decided to continue with the S20.
Back to the cell phones: The Galaxy S20 series will be available in three colors, although the exact colors that are coming onto the market in India have not yet been determined. According to Samsung, the design of the new series is more ergonomic compared to previous models and the bezels around the displays are narrower. We found this to be true for the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 +, which were easy to use on their own and didn't feel too heavy. The Galaxy S20 Ultra is a different story because it feels fairly heavy at 220g and chunky at 8.8mm thick.
We can't help but compare the back of the phones with the latest Samsung A-series offerings that have similar rectangular camera modules. We would have preferred a different texture or pattern for the glass backs too. We haven't found any of the colors that really stand out, except for the Cloud Blue option. This shouldn't really bother most people who are likely to put their phone in a suitcase on the first day. Samsung also showed off some of the new cases that will be available for all phones in the Galaxy S20 series.
The displays are still Samsung's strength, and this time Samsung chose 120 Hz panels. These are still AMOLED panels with built-in ultrasonic fingerprint sensors and a QHD + resolution for all three models. You get a centered hole for the front camera above the models. This time the Galaxy S20 + and even the Ultra model only have one selfie camera, not two like the Samsung Galaxy S10 + (review).
The displays of all three phones looked razor-sharp, and the brightness was more than adequate in the short amount of time we spent with them. The refresh rate of 120 Hz makes a big difference because menus and lists feel smooth when scrolling. However, there is a major limitation here: 120 Hz only work with the Full HD + resolution and not with the native QHD +. In the latter case, the refresh rate is automatically limited to 60 Hz. 90 Hz at QHD + would have been nice, like OnePlus implemented with the 7T Pro (review), but it seems like you have to choose between resolution and refresh rate because you can't have both.
The other big update is the cameras. Samsung finally offers better zoom functions – 3x optical and 30x digital for the Galaxy S20 and the Galaxy S20 +; The Galaxy S20 Ultra offers 10x optical and up to 100x digital zoom. There are new links with which you can quickly jump to intermediate zoom levels, e.g. B. 2x, 4x, 10x, 30x and 100x. At high zoom levels, we always had problems with single image recordings, since even slight hand movements are greatly enhanced. Fortunately, the Galaxy S20 series offers you a reduced view of your subject in a pop-up window in the viewfinder, so that you can better frame your picture.
We were unable to test the cameras of the new Samsung Galaxy S20 series outdoors or reproduce the photos we took indoors with the sample units. However, after the short amount of time we spent with them, the new cameras seem promising.
In particular, the Galaxy S20 Ultra uses the so-called "nona binning" for its primary 108 megapixel sensor, which essentially combines data from nine pixels into one, so that you get a 12 megapixel photo. All three phones can also record 8K video, even with no time limit per clip. 8K video is recorded at 24 frames per second, but these phones also support 4K recording at 60 frames per second, as well as all of the other video modes and features like Super Slow Mo and tracking autofocus that we saw in last year's models have seen.
All three phones ran on OneUI 2.1, based on Android 10. The surface felt snappy, as we would expect from flagships. The interface was similar to what we saw recently on the Galaxy S10 Lite (test) and the Galaxy A51 (test). Samsung has listed two types of 7nm processors for its Galaxy S20 series, an Exynos 990 and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, although the company has not specifically mentioned this.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 series is expected to be available in the U.S. from March 6, which means India's launch won't be too far from that date. If the past few years are an indication of this, Samsung won't wait long for the Galaxy S20 to be launched in India to gain an edge over the competition that just announced its products at MWC 2020.
Of the three phones, the Galaxy S20 is the most compact and handy, and many potential buyers will find this as attractive as we do. However, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is by far the most interesting of the three models, even if it is the most unwieldy and will be significantly more expensive. We are excited to test the new 108 megapixel sensor from Samsung and also the hybrid zoom systems of all three phones.
In the meantime, let us know which Galaxy S20 device you found most interesting in the comments.
Disclosure: Samsung sponsored the flights and the correspondent's hotel for the trip to San Francisco.