Samsung’s latest and greatest smartphones have arrived, but not without a bit of confusion: the latest Galaxy lineup is considerably different than in years past, and it’s made choosing a phone a bit more complicated as a result. Our buyer’s guide will help you sort through the noise on the Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra.
The three models, broken down
At their core, Galaxy S20 and S20+ are truly the spiritual successors of the Galaxy S10 and S10+, which makes sense on the basis of nomenclature. But given the existence of the all-new S20 Ultra (and the lack of a Galaxy S20e), some may have suspected that Galaxy S20 was more a follow-up to the budget-friendly Galaxy S10e. But that’s not the case: the “entry level” Galaxy S20 is a full-fat sequel to the original S10, and in 2020 Samsung isn’t offering a more economically friendly Galaxy S phone (at least for now).
This means the Galaxy S20 and S20+ are largely similar phones, while the Galaxy S20 Ultra sits in a new, super-premium bracket that could perhaps be analogized with the Galaxy S10 5G of 2019. And they’re priced accordingly: the Galaxy S20 MSRPs for $1000 in the US, the S20+ is $1200, and the S20 Ultra is $1400.
The best for most people: Galaxy S20
The standard Galaxy S20 is, in all likelihood, the best version of Samsung’s newest phone for most people to buy. There are a few reasons for this, but they mostly come down to what the larger, pricier Galaxy S20+ doesn’t offer than what the Galaxy S20 does.
The Galaxy S20+ doesn’t have better cameras than the Galaxy S20, or any truly exciting features to differentiate it, and does little to justify a rather extreme $200 price premium. Samsung will likely say that the cost is owed to the fact that the S20+ offers mmWave 5G connectivity, while the regular S20 doesn’t (it only supports sub-6GHz 5G). However, we contend that mmWave 5G simply does not matter for the vast, vast majority of consumers. Unless you know you live or work specifically in a neighborhood that has well-established mmWave 5G coverage (of which there are just a handful in the US), there is simply no reason to care about mmWave 5G. And there likely won’t be much to care about before you’re ready to upgrade your phone again.
The Galaxy S20 has the same chipset, same cameras (minus a Time of Flight sensor on the rear, which, like mmWave 5G, isn’t really important to anyone), same type of display, same charging speeds, memory and storage (in the US), and fingerprint scanner as the S20+. The S20+ gets you a bigger screen and a larger battery, but at $200 more, we just don’t see the value there.
The best for enthusiasts: Galaxy S20 Ultra
At this point, we don’t see any reason to take a half-measure if you find the standard S20 doesn’t meet your needs: the Galaxy S20 Ultra is the only sensible choice if you want a more powerful, larger version of Samsung’s flagship smartphone. While it does cost $200 more than the S20+, it also comes with a much more compelling reason to…