The Samsung Galaxy S20 and S20 Ultra hands-on Review

It is Samsung Galaxy S20 time and also its S20 plus time. And now its also S20 Ultra time. See these are Samsungs flagships, they’re the big contenders for the best Android smartphone that you can get. They’re all 5G phones, they all have 120 Hz refresh rate screens, and they all have brand new camera systems. But the camera systems and each of these are a little bit different from each other. And frankly, so are some of the specs, it’s a little bit complicated in the details, but it is super obvious at the top level, which one you are going to want to get.

The ultra or maybe the S20 because its small and you can get it in pink. Or maybe you just want the S20+because it’s kinda the in-between phone. Okay, whatever let’s just get into it. Alright, first things first, why are these called the S20 phones instead of the S11which comes after you know, the S10Samsungs answer is that they’re a new generation especially in the camera system, but I don’t know I just look like phones to me. They look good, I think the camera bump which is rectangular now it looks just fine. I do think they’re way too reflective and they pick up fingerprints and I am a little bit bummed with the headphone jack, but they look like Galaxy phones, which means that they look good and they feel high quality. And Samsung is right, that there really are new interesting camera systems here.

So let’s talk about them. So all three phones have a standard three-lens setup that you’re probably used to by now. There’s a regular wide-angle lens, there’s a telephoto lens and there’s an ultra-wide lens. Plus there’s a time of flight sensor on the ultra. But what’s new this year is that Samsung is going for a high megapixel count. So on the S20 and the S20+its 64 megapixels, and on the ultra, it’s 108 megapixels, and usually, when you see a really high megapixel count, that means that the phone is bad, it means its bad. They couldn’t make a good camera and so they just compensated by throwing a lot of megapixels at the spec sheet and hope you don’t notice.

But Samsung says it’s doing a bunch of image computation levels megapixels that they actually belong on a flagship. Alright, so let’s focus on the Samsung S20 Ultra. It has a folded zoom lens, which means that the light comes to init hits a prism then it goes across the phone to hit the sensor, which is a lot like the periscope lens those Huawei phones. It doesn’t make the phone kind of thick though, I think, but it’s not that big a deal. What that folded lens system gets you as a 4X optical zoom. And then Samsung claims you can get up to 10Xwith lossless and then on top of that you can go all the way up to 100X zoom with some sensor cropping.

But how does all this work? Well, Samsung says that it’s binning it can take nine pixels from the sensor and combine them into one pixel using hardware that’s built right into the chip, which means that they come out as regular 12-megapixel photos by default. Samsung also says that that binning can help with a low light performance on the telephoto and I don’t really know if the optical science adds up there yet, but yeah, well see what happens we actually have to use these things for real. Anyway, as you zoom in on the systems the whole system switches between some combination of binning and then sensor cropping and then adjustment for a handshake and so on so forth. And in our hands-on tests, which were admittedly in a controlled setting, it seemed pretty good.

Now, I don’t know if the results are gonna be as good as Samsung says, but I do know that I love the interface that Samsung made for the zoom, you can tap on little buttons to zoom right into the amount that you want. And when you get zoomed way in, it shows a little thumbnail of the entire scene so you can see exactly what you’re zoomed in on so that you can aim at it exactly right. It’s really neat. Now because this is Samsung, there’s a bunch of new camera stuff because Samsung loves throwing features at the camera. They claim that their night mode is way better now that it uses up to 30 shots to build the final night mode image. It can also shoot at 8K now at 24 frames per second and you can edit that 8K footage right on the device but my favorite feature is this thing called SINGLE TAKE.

See you know, Samsung has that kazillion camera features but you never know which one you should actually pick so what you can do is go into single take just hit the shutter wait 10 seconds and then Samsung just kinda do you know like all of them, it shows you a collage when it’s done. And there’s like a portrait and a wide-angle and maybe a little, you know, gif that it makes a movie and whatever else. And then you could just pick the one you actually wanna save from it. It’s really kinda great. Alright, so that’s the camera system, you got 12 megapixels, and you got 108 whatever. It’s a lot. It’s pretty complicated. And we really do have to test all of it.I’m looking forward to doing that. Another thing that’s complicated, though, is the specs. Like there are a lot of specs, look at all these specs. Yeah, sorry, that is, in fact, a lot of specs.

So here we are, we’re gonna show you them again. But we’re not gonna have time to get into all of them. We’re just gonna hit a few. So the first thing they all have 120 Hz refresh rate displays, and they also can read your touches at 240 hertz. It is just a switch though they didn’t do any of this dynamic stuff. Were it’s trying to change the refresh rate on the fly. It’s just 60 or 120. And when you’re at 120, Samsung says it’s about a 10% hit on your battery life. They started 12 gigabytes of ram and 128 gigabytes of storage, and they have micro SD. They, of course, have a Snapdragon 865. And there is a fingerprint sensor underneath the screen. Of course, they all use Samsungs new interface. It’s called One UI 2.And I still think it’s pretty good. There are some new software features that I really think are kind of neat, though.

They have a new direct share thing that, you know, exclusive to Galaxy phones. Its basically like Wi-Fi direct. They have this free service where you can upload up to five gigabytes of data a day to a cloud service and just share a link out so you don’t have to fuss with getting it under some other cloud service. And they have this thing that they call Bluetooth sharing, where if you don’t want to have a friend pair to the Bluetooth in your car. You can have them pair the Bluetooth on your phone and then a Wi-Fi directs from their phone to your phone and then their audio plays in your car and its just wackadoo it is kinda neat. Anyway, as for the rest of the specs, you can just assume that there’s like a good better best cadence between these three phones.

So for example, the S20 has 5G but only the S20+and the S20 Ultra support millimeter wave. screen sizes are 6.2 inches, 6.7 inch and 6.9-inch battery sizes are 4,000, 4,500, and 5,000the S20 Ultra can get up to 16 gigs of ram if you spring for the 512 gigs of storage option. Also, there’s like 25-watt charging and 45-watt charging depending on which one you get, etc, etc, etc. The bottom line these are spec beasts, that’s what they’re for and they cost a lot too. They start at 999 99 the plus starts at 1199 99.

And the ultra starts at 1399 99. And if you wanna get the 16 gigs of ram and 512 gigs of storage, that is 1600 dollars. Pre-orders start February 21st and they ship on March six. And I know this is a lot, It is a lot of specs.

It is a lot of megapixels and its a lot of money. Even for Samsung, this is a lot like a maximum a lot. So I’m actually really looking forward to reviewing these like a lot.

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