Technophile

Galaxy S20+ review: A refined all-rounder with a great camera

Mala Bhargava | Updated on March 02, 2020 Published on March 02, 2020

Galaxy S20+

On first impressions, Samsung’s 2020 flagship isn’t dramatically innovative or pretty, but improves photography on top of a good smartphone experience

The in-between phone of the S20 series, the S20+, actually has identical capabilities to the smaller S20, but is for those who want a bit more screen space without paying for the top-of-the-line S20 Ultra. It may well end up being the best selling of the three.

You can be forgiven for being a little underwhelmed when you first have the S20+ (or any from this series). Samsung hasn’t made any interesting design changes and now that everyone is used to fascinating design with its folding and flipping phones, the regular series looks just too regular. That said, it does feel ‘premium’.

The S20+ comes in Cosmic Grey, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black. We received a Cosmic Grey, a sedate soft colour if you like things sober, but dull if you don’t. Overall, the traditional Samsung look has changed a bit because there’s now a big rectangular camera portion, the logo, and a smooth glossy reflective expanse all around these. The gloss means your finger smudges will show, and I’ll vouch for the fact that they really do so on the merest touch, and this means you’ll want to use the provided case immediately.

This 6.7-inch device is by no means small or light. It’s ‘holdability’ is not bad without the case, but you have little option but to use that. Anyone who has a quarrel with large phones should look at the S20, which is lighter, smaller and feels very nice in the hand, plus comes in two more sweet colours — a baby pink and a baby blue. But this version is for those who plan on doing a lot more than calling and WhatsApping on their phones.

With nothing much more to say about the design, one can turn to the front, which as always features what’s best about Samsung phones: The brilliant display. A very tiny punch hole for the front camera has been placed in the centre and closer towards the top so that it’s actually not very noticeable at all. I recommend stopping a moment to take in the beautiful live wallpaper Samsung has on by default: Bunches of flowers that change colours and look really lovely. I tried a bit of self hypnosis staring at it, but gave up in time.

Lush display, as ever

The display is a 1440 x 3200 pixels one with a screen to non-screen ration of 20:9 and a ~525 ppi density. Now, notably, it’s a screen that can switch from 60Hz to 120Hz to make things smoother when needed. You can also change the resolution from Display settings. The average user won’t bother, but if you have a specific need relating to graphics and games, you can choose to tinker with these options. The 120Hz won’t work with the highest resolution setting — a fact that there have been some grumbles over. Again, the average user won’t notice. There is talk of allowing the high refresh rate and resolution with a software update.

The dual speakers on the phone this time around are nice and loud and have nice full-blooded sound. In other words, they sound great and certainly good enough to even listen to music directly. An AKG tuned pair of Type-C earphones is included.

In the US and some other parts of the world, the processor the S20+ uses is the Snapdragon 865. Here in India, it’s Samsung’s own 2GHz octa-core Exynos 990 paired on this device with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. A microSD slot can let users expand storage to 1TB. Android 10 and Samsung’s OneUI ensure that the software experience is all smooth and organised. For a richly feature filled interface, Samsung now does a rather good job of making it intuitive and easy to use.

The battery on board is a 4,500mAh and there’s support for fast charging and wireless charging. The fast charging isn’t along the lines of many of the Chinese phones now, such as the Realme X50 Pro that charges fully in about 30 minutes. In my short time with the phone so far, the battery lasts pretty well through the day.

Spotlight on cameras

The big rectangle on the back of the phone tells you straight off that this is a smartphone on which the cameras are a highlight, and indeed that’s what they are. On the rear there’s a 12MP primary camera with an f/1.8 aperture; a second 64MP telephoto lens with an f/2.0 aperture and a 12MP camera with an f/2.2 aperture.

Photo shot on the S20+

The primary camera gives you crisp detailed images with the good dynamic range that Samsung’s cameras are known for. The colours are wonderful — specially viewed on the phone’s own screen. There are lots of additional features to up the photography game. There’s a scene optimiser which you can turn off if you want less interference with your photos but often one can’t tell the difference one way or the other. There’s a specific Single Take mode which is rather fun as it takes a short video and breaks it up into shots from different angles and gives you the option to use whatever you find interesting. Despite the filters etc you still have a separate Food mode which puts the obligatory yellow-orange tinge on everything. The Night mode is nice though not revolutionary or special.

One lens takes care of the background blurring which, though it’s said is not as good as Google’s or the iPhone’s, worked quite well when there was a proper separation between object and background. There are definitely times when the blur intrudes on to the object where you don’t want it to be. There’s a blurring (Live Focus) for video as well.

Photo shot on the S20+

The big thing is the 30x Zoom telephoto lens. It’s lossless up to 3X and then software takes over. The closer you zoom in, the more you need to be absolutely still or use a tripod, but it’s both fun and sometimes useful to use. I often used it to read signs and so on that are too far away. Many wonder what they can use the telephoto lens for; however, because beyond a point, which one reaches quite soon, noise enters the image. There’s also a regular wide-angle lens. The front has a 10MP camera, with an f/2.2 aperture. Overall, the camera is really enjoyable.

Cheaper phones with the equivalent Snapdragon 865 and replete with powerful specs are beginning to make their way into the country. They’re powerful and fast and beat the more expensive S20+ on many fronts. But the refinement, the software experience and the superiors camera make the S20+ very compelling.

Samsung Galaxy S20+ review
  • Price: ₹73,999
  • Pros: Powerful full-featured camera set, lovely screen, no-lag performance
  • Cons: Slightly underwhelming design, expensive, competes with previous S10 line

Published on March 02, 2020

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