Modern technology gives us many things.

Samsung Galaxy S20 review – stunning smartphone experience with a pro-level camera

0
100%
  • VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy S20 is a home run. The device has delivered not only greats specs and a true flagship experience but also intelligent and helpful features. It is the most well-rounded, well-designed and feature-packed smartphone you can buy right now.

Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 range of flagship phones are a solid leap ahead of the previous S10. They have the tentpole features that customers look for when upgrading or switching from another brand – the display, the camera, the battery, the performance and 5G.

The model number hasn’t gone up by just one – Samsung skipped 11 through to 19 – so they owed us a huge upgrade.

And that’s exactly what we got.

Plus I don’t think Samsung were too keen on releasing a phone with 11 in the title less than six months after the iPhone 11 hit the market.

The S20 (6.2-inch screen), the S20 Plus (6.7-inch) and the S20 Ultra (6.9-inch) all have the same basic design and shape with the different screen sizes designed different customers.

Not everyone wants a massive phone which is why users have a choice of these three sizes.

For us, it was go big or go home, so we were S20 Ultra all the way – and that is what we’ve been using for a couple of week and what will be the focus of this review.

But even the S20 Ultra at 6.9-inches was still easy to hold and use with one hand.

DESIGN
The Samsung Galaxy S20 design has had a slight tweak over the S10 with the biggest changes in the Infinity O AMOLED display – it now has a smaller hole for the front camera.

The display has also less of a drop off on the edge so the curve isn’t as pronounced but you still get the edgeless look with the virtually undetectable bezels.

The other most noticeable change is on the back of the phone where a larger camera array is located in the top left corner.

The S20 Ultra has the biggest lens cluster – and with good reason because it has three lenses and a periscope-style lens that offers up to 10x optical zoom. More about the cameras later.

But there is a slight downside with the camera array protruding noticeably – we’re talking two or three millimetres from the rear panel.

But overall, the Samsung S20 looks sleek and modern in any screen size.

DISPLAY

The Infinity O AMOLED display looks, as you’d expect, super sharp and super bright and super colourful. Nothing new there.

But what is new is the 120Hz refresh rate which can be activated in the settings.

What this does is add some smoothness to animations and scrolling and watching videos.

There is less juddering when scrolling and when watching fast paced action like sports on the screen you will notice the improvement.

The downside is because the screen has to refresh twice as much (regular refresh rate is 60H) it will tax your battery a little more.

It won’t drastically impact the device’s excellent battery life too much but you will notice a slight difference.

PERFORMANCE

The S20 is a powerhouse with 7nm 64-bit Octa-core processor with 12GB RAM on the S20 and S20 Plus and up to a whopping 16GB RAM on the S20 Ultra – that’s laptop level RAM so you should get a good idea of the power of the device.

Whether you’re at work or play, the S20 delivers remarkable all-round performance.

CAMERA

Without a doubt this is the standout feature of the Samsung Galaxy S20. This will be the main selling point. And with good reason – it’s amazing.

The S20 has a triple camera system made up of a 64-megapixel telephoto, 12-megapixel ultra-wide and a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera

The S20 Plus has quad lens system with the same lenses but adds a DepthVision lens.

100x zoom on the Samsung S20 Ultra

But it’s the S20 Ultra that has really moved the goalposts.

There is an incredible 108-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 48-megapixel telephoto camera and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera along with the DepthVision lens.

100x zoom on the Samsung S20 Ultra showing Harbour Bridge climbers

The cameras have a new Space Zoom feature which uses the onboard 3x optical zoom of the S20 and S20 Plus and combines that with up to 30x Super Resolution Zoom that is powered by AI.

But that goes to an all-new level with the S20 Ultra which offers a remarkable 10x optical zoom thanks to the inclusion of a new periscope lens system but with a Space Zoom of up to a jaw-dropping 100x zoom.

For our review, using the 100x zoom was like a party trick for everyone we showed it to.

The S20 Ultra Camera performed well by day…..
…. and by night

I was at the Opera Bar for lunch overlooking Sydney Harbour Bridge and, just for a laugh, I told my friends I could zoom in on the bridge climbers on top of the arch.

They didn’t believe me but then when I showed them the zoomed image showing each climbers silhouette on top of the bridge, they were astonished.

At first I used the 100x zoom just for a laugh to see how far I could push it as you can see from the images on this review.

But at lower zooms – even at up to 50x – the images are still surprisingly sharp.

Shot take with the Samsung S20 Ultra

The 100x zoom images are reasonable quality but at the limit of the camera’s abilities.

It’s good to know you’ve got that sort of power in your pocket but you won’t be using it all the time – unless you want to impress your friends.

The updated camera system has been improved across the board and provides stunning images.

At my lunch at Opera Bar – I was the one who took all the photos and selfies and I shared them to the others I was with who all but one had iPhones and every single person commented on how colourful and sharp the images were.

Shot take with the Samsung S20 Ultra

The S20 can even handle night shots and dark environments with ease and will surprise with just how much light it can find in a shot.

But probably our favourite feature of the camera is Single Take – which can shoot videos and photos from every lens at the same time.

So if you can’t decide on whether to shoot a video or take a picture, with Single Take you can do it all.

When you hit the shutter button it will shoot a 10 second video as well as pictures from every lens on the camera and present you with 10 options including a regular video, a sped-up video, a boomerang video as well as a number of images including a mono image and others with filters applied.

No zoom….
10x optical zoom….
…. 100x zoom

This will solve a lot of problems for users especially when they’re trying to capture precious moments like a child blowing out the candles on a birthday cake or scoring the winning goal in their soccer match.

Single Take will make sure you don’t miss a thing.

The Galaxy S20 also has a strong video game as well. It can shoot 8K video – that’s four times the resolution of 4K – with a phone.

The kind of resolution is awesome if you also happen to have a Samsung 8K TV – you would be able to watch the video in its native resolution.

But even if you don’t own an 8K TV, you can use the 8K video to grab frames which would be 33-megapixel stills.

This is another way, on top of Single Take, for you not to miss a moment.

Overall, the S20 Ultra camera system is unmatched – there is not a better smartphone camera on the market.

5G

The S20 Ultra is only available as a 5G device while the S20 and S20 Plus have both 4G and 5G variants although telcos are offering the 5G version for the 4G price.

Having 5G right now won’t be a massive game changer – the network is still in the early stages of the rollout.

We had a Telstra 5G SIM in our phone and we can only recall seeing 5G reception twice – both times in the Sydney CBD.

But I would still opt for a 5G version because it will futureproof your purchase.

Plus the speed of 5G will also help you upload those 8K videos you can shoot.

BATTERY

Samsung has nailed it when it comes to battery performance. The S20 Ultra has a massive 5,000mAh battery – that’s a huge reserve to power the screen, the 120Hz refresh rate if you opt for that, the camera and all the high quality games you can play and all the content you can stream when you’ve got 5G speeds at your fingertips.

For our review, the phone has two days of use on a full charge and that was using the S20 Ultra as our daily driver.

And even when we had the 120Hz refresh rate on, the impact on the battery was noticeable but didn’t make a huge difference.

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE

There is not a lot we don’t like about the S20.

Using Samsung Pay sometimes didn’t work when we tapped the device on the terminal. There were times I had to get my actual credit card out of my wallet to pay.

This would never happen with Apple Pay – it always worked.

We’ve already mentioned the large bump on the back of the device for the camera array.

It quite pronounced – so much so the device can’t rest flat on a surface.

But with the included silicone cover the camera is level with the outside of the cover.

There have also been issues reported by other reviewers of an auto-focus issue.

We didn’t experience it but Samsung says the issue, if it’s there, will be addressed with a software update.

VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy S20 is a home run. The device has delivered not only greats specs and a true flagship experience but also intelligent and helpful features. It is the most well-rounded, well-designed and feature-packed smartphone you can buy right now.