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Samsung Galaxy S20 vs. S20 Plus: Do you go regular or large?

Near the beginning of every new year Samsung sets out its smartphone stall with an Unpacked event that shows off the latest releases in the Galaxy S range. In 2020, Samsung is setting the scene with three tempting smartphones — the Samsung Galaxy S20, the Galaxy S20 Plus, and the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Each one is positively bursting with features and wrapped in a refined package, but what sets these phones apart? Join us as we dig into the spec sheets and explain precisely how the regular S20 differs from the S20 Plus to help you to decide which one is right for you.

Fast charging (25W)

Qi wireless charging

Fast charging (25W)

Qi wireless charging

The Samsung Galaxy S20 is obviously smaller and lighter than the Galaxy S20 Plus, but otherwise, the two share the same design with a glass back and a rounded rectangular camera module at the top left. The screen size is probably the most notable difference between the two, with the S20 sporting a 6.2-inch display and the S20 Plus adding a half-inch on the diagonal. They have the same resolution of 3,200 x 1,440 pixels, which means that the S20 will be sharper, strictly speaking, but you may prefer the extra screen real estate offered by the S20 Plus. Both have a higher refresh rate than previous Samsung phones at 120Hz, which should make scrolling silky smooth and ensure gamers don’t have to contend with screen tearing or lag. They also both have a hole-punch front-facing camera at the top center of the screen. In terms of durability, these phones have an IP68 rating, like all of Samsung’s previous flagships, which means they can survive immersion in up to 1.5 meters of fresh water for up to 30 minutes without damage. This category is really down to the size you prefer, so we’re calling it a tie.

Winner: Tie

Both the S20 and S20 Plus will have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor paired with 12GB of RAM. They will pack the Samsung Exynos 990 chipset in some markets. That’s more than enough raw power to handle the latest games and apps. There’s 128GB of storage as standard and both phones have room for a MicroSD card, but only the S20 Plus is being offered in a 512GB version. The S20 Plus also has an extra 500mAh in the battery tank. Even with a bigger screen, based on the performance of past models, we expect the S20 Plus to outlast its smaller sibling in terms of stamina. There’s support for fast-wired charging for both phones with a 25W charger in the box and there’s fast wireless charging support, too. These phones can also wirelessly charge other devices in a pinch thanks to Samsung’s Wireless PowerShare feature. We’re giving the S20 Plus a narrow win here based on the presumption it will have better battery life.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

On paper, it looks as though the new Galaxy S20 and the S20 Plus will have very similar cameras. The headline appears to be the new 64-megapixel telephoto lens with an f/2.0 aperture, which joins a regular 12-megapixel lens with an f/1.8 aperture and an ultrawide 12-megapixel lens with an f/2.2 aperture. The telephoto lens enables a much more powerful zoom than previous Samsung phones had, offering up to 3x optical zoom and 30x digital zoom. Because the new lenses have larger sensors, they can capture more light for better photos in low light situations. These new cameras are capable of capturing 8K video. Both models also have the same 10-megapixel front-facing camera.

The one difference that jumps out is that only the S20 Plus has a time-of-flight sensor alongside the triple-lens main camera and that will enable much more accurate depth sensing, and should also help with augmented reality applications. It’s another slight win for the larger phone.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

The S20 and S20 Plus will both run Android 10 with Samsung’s new One UI 2.0 over the top, which is supposed to be simpler and easier to use one-handed. The updates for these phones will likely be on the same schedule so there is no separating them here.

Winner: Tie

We’ve already mentioned the size difference, the extra battery capacity of the S20 Plus and the time-of-flight sensor in the camera, but there is one more thing that sets these phones apart. While both the S20 and S20 Plus are described as 5G phones, the S20 only has support for sub-6, whereas the S20 Plus supports both sub-6 and mmWave technologies. In simple terms, sub-6 refers to spectrum under 6 GHz and offers greater range but lower speeds than higher frequency mmWave. Different carriers are employing different technologies to build out their 5G networks, so this could be an important difference. If 5G is something you’re thinking about, then check with your carrier about coverage and the technologies being deployed before you decide on the S20 or S20 Plus.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

When the S10 and S10 Plus were released they started from $900 and $1,000 respectively. The S20 and S20 Plus cost a bit more than that, partly because they offer 5G support. The Galaxy S20 starts at $1,000 and the S20 Plus starts at $1,200, but if you pre-order between February 21 and March 5 you can get a $100 Samsung credit with an S20 or $150 Samsung credit with an S20 Plus.

Both phones will be widely available from retailers and carriers.

As the name implies, the Plus has just a little bit more to offer, but there really isn’t much to separate these two. The S20 Plus has the extra screen size, the bigger battery, that extra sensor in the camera, and support for mmWave, which will be enough to justify the extra $200 outlay for many. The experience is likely to be pretty similar whichever you choose, so unless one of these extras is essential for you to pick the size that suits you best.

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