For a second year in a row now, Samsung has released a trio of flagship phones — those being the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy S20 Ultra. But the company isn’t turning its back on the 2019 phones. The
Galaxy S10 line got a nice discount and will be on sale for those that don’t feel like splurging $1k and up for the newest and hottest devices.
So, which Galaxy is best for you? Should you go for the biggest, baddest Galaxy S20 Ultra? Or maybe save some money and settle for a “lesser” model? Let’s take a good look at what Samsung has for sale right now and try and help you decide on the right purchase.
The most expensive option
The Galaxy S20 Ultra sports the fastest, most powerful hardware Samsung can pack in a smartphone right now. But so do the other S20 phones. What does the Ultra have to offer?
It does have the largest display. If you are a poweruser who can never get a screen big enough to enjoy their multimedia, you might think the Ultra is the obvious choice for you. In all fairness, however, you don’t need to go that far for that. The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch screen, the S20+ has a 6.7-incher. The difference is minuscule, as can be seen in our size comparison:
Alright, the actual standout feature of the S20 Ultra is, of course, its zoom. It is the only phone out of the trio that offers actual optical zoom — up to 10x, in fact. With the help of digital cropping and sharpening, it can go up to 100x, which is quite insane. Obviously, if you are really, really serious about smartphone photography, you will probably want to have that tool in your arsenal.
Other than that? Sure, the S20 Ultra has the biggest battery at 5,000 mAh, but it probably won’t provide a significant battery life gain over the other models. Let’s check out the other options.
The poweruser’s choice
The Galaxy S20+ feels like the actual poweruser choice here. It still has a large, 6.7-inch screen, a 4,500 mAh battery, and the same powerful hardware as its bigger sibling. It’s lacking the crazy zoom, but still has a promising camera with the all-new Super Steady OIS (a system that uses physical optical stabilization with software algorithms).
So, you’re not compromising on much. You still get the 120 Hz, big and beautiful screen, you still get the DepthVision sensor for improved AR features, a big battery, the fastest processor in Android land, and 5G. You miss out on the crazy optical stabilization but you save $200. Worth it?
The mainstream device
Then, we have the “smallest” S20. This one is meant for those that prefer a phone that is still somewhat easy to fit in a pocket, yet delivers flagship-grade hardware and camera performance.
Mind you, we are not calling it “compact”, but the Galaxy S20 is your best stab at getting the best and latest Samsung has to offer in a fairly thin, light, ergonomic package. It is comparable to the 2019 Galaxy S10 in terms of size and weight, which means you will be pleasantly surprised when you handle the device despite the daunting 6.2-inch screen diagonal.
It does cut some more corners, though. The smallest Galaxy S20 does not have the rime-of-flight DepthVision camera that’s present on its bigger siblings. You know — if you happen to care about Augmented Reality that much. Otherwise, the camera is the same as the one on the Galaxy S20+. More modest than the S20 Ultra, but still quite promising in its own right.
In other words, if you are looking for a more comfortable form factor, want the most future-proof hardware (processor and 5G), and don’t care that much about crazy camera features — the Galaxy S10 is the rational choice.
There are a couple of advantages to going for a Galaxy S10 phone in 2020. For one, you save some dough — that’s always good, right? Second, they still have this valued feature that manufacturers insist to be obsolete… What was it called…? Ah yes — a headphone jack.
Poweruser on a budget
Galaxy S10+ was the biggest version of the S10 series (not counting the S10 5G, that one was rare as a unicorn). It’s cheaper than the cheapest S20, yet it comes with a bigger screen. Now, on paper, the S20 has a 6.2-inch display, while the S10+ has a 6.4-inch one. You might think “0.2 is not that much of a difference”, but keep in mind that the S20 has a 20:9 aspect ratio while the S10+’s screen is 19:9. So, when compared side by side, you can see the latter has a lot more real estate.
The Galaxy S10+ is still a very viable choice for the powerusers out there. Its Snapdragon 855 processor is nothing to smirk at, its base storage is 128 GB and it can be expanded further with a huge microSD card, up to 512 GB. Its battery is definitely small compared to the S20 models, but it’s still a 4,100 mAh cell. The camera has three lenses — ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto. Mind you, this is a “real” telephoto lens with actual optical zoom, unlike the S20’s hybrid “fake” telephoto.
You do miss out on a 120 Hz display, but we’d say that’s a feature that’s more “nice to have” and less of a necessity. There is no DepthVision camera, but do you insist on having super-accurate Augmented Reality effects?
The perfect middle ground
The Galaxy S10 is still a pretty striking phone. It has a screen that edges on being “big”, with a 6.1-inch diagonal and 19:9 aspect ratio. Still, the handset is so thin and light, it’s a pleasure to carry around and use even with one hand.
It has the same internals as the S10+ — a Snapdragon 855 and a trio of cameras with a real telephoto lens (yes, we will keep drilling on that). Its 3,400 mAh battery can hang in there for a bit but it won’t satisfy an avid poweruser.
In other words, the S10 is a great choice for your casual, yet tech-savvy user that wants a great Samsung phone that doesn’t feel like it has cut too many corners, yet it’s certainly cheaper than an S20. No 120 Hz screen, but you can still connect your wired headphones to an on-board 3.5 mm jack. No DepthVision camera, but a perfectly good camera setup none the less.
The best compact Android you can buy
By today’s standards, the
Galaxy S10e feels tiny. It steers away from the curved screen and it drops the telephoto lens, but it’s still powered by the 2019 top-tier internals that are in its bigger siblings.
By all means, the S10e is the perfect handset to go for if you’d rather have a phone that’ll easily fit in your pocket yet makes minimum compromises. Admittedly, the audience for such a device is small — the general public loves its large displays — but it’s commendable that Samsung decided to satisfy the audience that does want a compact phone.
If your only reason for looking at a Galaxy S10e is because you are on a budget — we’d suggest to stay clear from it. The phone very obviously cuts corners and is not aimed at the poweruser crowd. You might end up regretting not saving up a bit more or not going for a value brand like OnePlus.
But if a compact handset is your jam, if you don’t care too much about smartphone photography as long as the photos it takes are good, and if you don’t consume too much media on your phone, it might just be right up your alley.