At launch, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus was the most impressive ‘middle child’ handset we’d ever tested – and most likely the best pound-for-pound S20 phone, period. It’s a powerhouse that packs the best perks of its siblings, and strikes the perfect balance between them.
That is, it’s got a bigger display and more battery life than the Samsung Galaxy S20, but it’s not quite as large and pricey as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. If you want affordability, or the best of the best, go with one of the other two; however, we predict that for most folks the S20 Plus will hit the sweet spot.
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You might not want to go with any of them though, as the Samsung Galaxy S22, Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra have all now been released. They’re upgrades in some ways and – curiously – downgrades in others, at least in the case of the standard and Plus model, so it might not be as clear cut as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus being the best ‘Plus’ option.
We’ve given all three Samsung Galaxy S21 phones the full review treatment too including the S20 Plus’s replacement, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus.
Rumors are already gathering about the Samsung Galaxy S22 as well meaning this phone could feel even older soon, although there’s no confirmation of a release date just yet.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is in many ways higher end than the standard Samsung Galaxy S21, but you might want to look at the Galaxy S21 Plus instead, and for the true top Samsung flagship the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the only choice.
In any case, leaving the ultra-premium S20 Ultra aside, the Galaxy S20 Plus was also 2020’s first big 5G phone – and one that operates on both the mmWave and sub-6 frequencies. Crucially, the standard S20 only works on sub-6, which means some US carriers don’t even sell that phone. In turn, that means the S20 Plus is their most affordable S20 model.
Add to the mix some truly stellar cameras featuring amped-up zoom and top-tier specs, and the S20 Plus earns its place as the best of the S20 trio. The phone isn’t perfect – there are plenty of nitpicks that we’ll get into below – but it’s a great all-around choice with the best of 2020’s top features, though you’ll have to pay to get them.
Yes, the S20 Plus has gotten a price bump over the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, presumably due to the added 5G compatibility. It pushes the phone to new heights of flagship prices, which is frustrating – especially given the limited availability of the cheaper 4G model, and notably the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus actually has a lower launch price.
But if the S20 Plus pushes up the price ceiling, at least it does so as one of the best phones on the market.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus price and availability
- Initial release date: March 6, 2020 in the US and Australia, March 13 in the UK
- 128GB + 12GB of RAM + 5G: $1,199 / £999 / AU$1,649
- 512GB + 12GB of RAM + 5G: $1,299 / £1,099 / AU$1,899
- 128GB + 8GB of RAM + 4G only: AU$1,499 (not available in US)
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus was launched in the US, UK and Australia in March 2020. There are two variants of the phone; one with 5G, and another with only 4G.
The 5G version of the phone launched at $1,199 / £999 / AU$1,449 with 128GB of storage. That goes up to $1,349 / £1,099 / AU$1,699 for the 512GB model.
The 4G-only variant is available in Australia (it’s not sold in the US or UK) for AU$1,299 with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. All the 5G versions of the phone come with 12GB of RAM.
We reviewed the 5G version of the phone, and this review will mostly focus on that device as it’s the more commonly available handset.
In other words, Samsung pitched this Plus model as more of an intermediate step than simply a larger version – which is a bit of a stretch. There aren’t that many more extras in the S20 Plus than there were in the S10 Plus that warrant the relative price jump… aside from 5G connectivity.
Whichever model you’re considering, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is increasingly tricky to track down now with third-party retailers keen to focus on the S21 range.
The S20 Plus comes in a plethora of cool, muted colors: Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black, and Aura Blue. UK consumers can also get the phone in a Cloud White color, but only through the carrier O2.
- See the best Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus deals
- Larger than the standard S20, smaller than the S20 Ultra
- Rectangular camera block on an otherwise-sleek glass shell
- Bixby button is gone, but so is 3.5mm headphone jack
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus doesn’t look much different to its predecessor, but this is the sleekest device in a long line of flagships – and that isn’t a bad look.
As phone makers fumble around trying to find the best enclosure for more and more lenses, the rectangular block on the back of the S20 Plus isn’t the worst. It’s a bit more refined and less obtrusive than the square bump on the Pixel 4’s rear – although you may not think it much of an upgrade over the horizontal strip housing the cameras on the S10 Plus. The single center-aligned punch-hole for the front-facing camera looks cleaner, and obstructs less of the display, than the lozenge-shaped cutout housing two lenses on the S10 Plus. Less noticeable unless the two phones are side-by-side is that the new Plus model has no top lip or bottom chin – its bezel is evenly sparse.
What’s likewise less obvious is how minimal the design has become: with no rear fingerprint sensor (this was dropped from all of last year’s S10 phones), no Bixby button and, sadly for some, no 3.5mm headphone jack, the S20 Plus is pretty lean.
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Heck, it’s even thinner by a hair than the standard S20. The downside? Pump up the volume on the dual top-and-bottom speakers and the whole rear cover will vibrate. They put out respectable audio, though we still haven’t found sound projection and stereo balance that tops what the Google Pixel 4 is capable of.
- 6.7-inch AMOLED display, WQHD+ (3200 x 1440) resolution
- 120Hz refresh rate, but only at FHD+ resolution or lower
- In-screen fingerprint sensor is lackluster
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus’ 6.7-inch AMOLED display is sharp and vibrant, with WQHD+ resolution (3200 x 1440). The display is a shade taller than the S10 Plus’ QHD+ (3040 x 1440) screen, which is likely due to it having less bezel at the top and bottom. But you likely won’t notice a difference given how similar they are – at least until you get to the refresh rate.
Yes, the S20 phones join several other late-2019 and 2020 models in adding the option to refresh the screen more frequently. Most phones operate at 60Hz (meaning the screen refreshes 60 times per second), but on the S20 Plus and its siblings you can opt to up this to 120Hz.
While that’s a faster refresh rate than the 90Hz on the Google Pixel 4, OnePlus 7T Pro or Razer Phone 2, you likely won’t see a difference unless you put those phones side by side with the S20 Plus while it’s bumped up to 120Hz. And yes, the ASUS ROG Phone 2 also offers 120Hz, making Samsung’s flagship line the first non-gaming phones to get the cutting-edge screen tech.
So what does this mean in day-to-day use? Technically, it should enable smoother action in games that support 120Hz, although we found the effect to be more noticeable in online games like PUBG rather than action/adventure titles like Alto’s Odyssey (see this Android Authority list for other games that harness 120Hz screens). But you’ll most appreciate 120Hz in the silky-smooth animations flowing through the Android interface – yes, most of the fun is to be had flipping between apps and through menus, although you’ll get the same effect when gliding through Instagram or Twitter.
Granted, you can’t go full-throttle on both refresh rate and display resolution: if you want 1440p visuals you’ll need to set the screen to 60Hz, and if you want to bump that up to 120Hz then you’ll need to settle for 1080p (or 2400 x 1080). And you have to toggle both settings individually, which makes it too onerous for tinkering: you’ll likely set it to one combo or the other and leave it.
As for the display’s general properties, expect much the same as from the S10 Plus, with a very clear and detailed picture when watching content up to 1440p resolution. Despite technically having a higher-resolution screen than the one on the iPhone 11 Pro Max, both that phone and the S20 Plus showed roughly the same picture when demoing, say, a 1440p video on YouTube – though the Apple phone’s screen does have a slight edge in contrast, showing high-contrast subjects (like a lizard in the sun) in greater clarity.
One last point: you might want to turn on facial recognition since the in-screen fingerprint sensor is poor.
- 12MP main + 12MP ultra-wide + 64MP telephoto (3x optical)
- The latter is vastly improved, zooming up to 30x
- Shoots video in 8K 24fps…if you can find a display to show it on
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus packs a trio of rear cameras, plus a time-of-flight depth sensor. While the main and ultra-wide lenses haven’t changed a great deal from the corresponding lenses on the S10 Plus, Samsung has amped up the telephoto lens to deliver fantastic fidelity far beyond what its predecessor was capable of.
Where the S10 Plus packed a 12MP 2x optical telephoto camera, which extended to a respectable 10x digital zoom, the S20 Plus is rocking a 3x optical lens combined with a 64MP sensor, allowing for an astounding 30x digital zoom. Check it out below, starting with a broad photo of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Brooklyn, New York City – and then zooming in 10, 20, and finally 30 times.
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