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48 hours with the Samsung Galaxy S20: 7 things you need to know

While you can read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review, we’ve only had the smaller Galaxy S20 in our hands for a few days. A full review is coming this week, but for now here are 7 initial thoughts after switching.

1. This is my favourite size for a phone

I use a lot of phones. Big phones, even bigger phones, flip phones and so on – the Samsung Galaxy S20 is my absolute favourite size out of anything.

It’s got a screen large enough to watch Netflix on the train, yet it’s light enough and compact enough to write messages and navigate Google Maps with one hand. It just feels so right to hold, far more so than the chunky Galaxy S20 Ultra.

2. The camera might just be better than the S20 Ultra

While the Galaxy S20 Ultra has more megapixels than the S20, I am not yet convinced it actually take better pictures as a result. Due to that large sensor, the S20 Ultra struggles to keep the focus point away from the centre and all too often pictures are blurry around the edges. I have not noticed this issue at all with the Galaxy S20, where snaps are consistently sharp all over.

Autofocus is a lot faster here too, and the lack of 100x zooming options is far from a loss considering how poor those images look.

3. Samsung is king when it comes to the OLED

I said it in the Galaxy S20 Ultra review and I’ll say it again here: the screens here are the best around, even if you can’t have both QHD+ and 120Hz running concurrently. From the responsiveness to the accuracy of the colours, the OLED panel is simply stunning. It gets bright when you’re watching HDR content and dark enough when you’re scrolling Instagram at night.

Samsung has also seriously reduced the size of the cutout notch when compared to the outgoing Galaxy S10, making the screen generally a lot more immersive.

4. The best all-round 5G phone yet?

Even though all the major UK networks now have live 5G networks, there hasn’t yet been a 5G phone that feels like it’ll please everyone yet. The Samsung Galaxy S20 might just be that. It’s small, doesn’t cost over a grand and while there is an option lacking 5G, it looks like most of the networks will be pushing the 5G unit. Until the iPhone 12 5G rears its head, the S20 feels like the most mainstream 5G phone yet.

5. The in-display fingerprint sensor is bad, the face unlock much better

I haven’t yet found an in-display fingerprint sensor that comes anywhere close to being as fast or reliable as the more traditional capacitive sensors. The Galaxy S20 does nothing to change this. The optical unit here is plodding and frustratingly unreliable to the point where I use it only for authenticating entry to my banking apps. For general unlocking, the face unlock function is far superior.

6. You’ll get very fast charging with the included 25w plug

Use the 25w charger in the box and your depleted Galaxy S20 can go from 0-100% in roughly an hour. 30 minutes of charging will also get you up to about 60%. Things are far slower if you go wireless though, with a full charge taking about 4 hours on a 7.5w Qi pad.

7. Performance is blinding

This shouldn’t come as a surprise if you glance down the spec sheet, but the Galaxy S20 is seriously nippy. The Exynos 990 (or Snapdragon 865 if you’re in the USA) and 12GB RAM, along with that fast 120Hz screen, combine for a smooth experience in pretty much any task. Benchmarks stats seem on par with other 865 phones and there are some games, Alto’s Odyssey for example, that can actually run at 120Hz.

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