The complete Samsung Galaxy S20 series is available now and all three handsets are excellent Android phones. But should you go for the Samsung Galaxy S20 or the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra?
Instead of just having a Samsung Galaxy S20 and a larger plus model, this time around we’ve got three ‘flagship’ phones. There’s the regular Galaxy S20, the Galaxy S20 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.
While the names sound similar, there are quite a few differences between the Samsung Galaxy S20 and the S20 Ultra. Here’s what you need to know when picking between the two.
At a glance
- The standard Galaxy S20 has a 6.2-inch display, whereas the buffed-up S20 Ultra boasts a 6.9-inch screen. Both use Samsung’s dynamic AMOLED screen-tech, so they’re HDR10+ certified.
- There are only three cameras on the rear of the S20, but the S20 Ultra has four squeezed onto its back. That additional snapper is a ‘DepthVision’ camera, which judges depth and distance when you take a pic.
- The Ultra has a 5000mAh battery but the S20 has a slightly smaller 4,000mAh battery – both have fast, wireless charging.
Specs and Camera – Are the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s megapixels worth it over the S20?
We’ve long been heralding the arrival of 5G, so it’s not surprising to see that most of Samsung’s latest phones support the new technology. For the S20 Ultra and S20 Plus, you’re getting 5G whether you like it or not – but there is a 4G version of the S20 model.
Both the standard and the Ultra handsets have a 120Hz refresh rate OLED display, this gives everything a far smoother look. These are quality, slightly curved displays and the high refresh rate is the icing on the cake. One thing to note is that you’ll have to sacrifice the QHD+ resolution for that 120Hz goodness.
The Ultra has a hearty 6.9-inch display, while the S20 has a smaller 6.2-inch screen. This makes the latter more pocket friendly. Both new phones use Samsung’s AMOLED screen-tech, so you can expect great colour-contrast on each.
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As with previous Samsung flagships, you’ll get a different chipset depending on where you live. Buyers in Europe will get Samsung’s flagship Exynos 990 chipset, while those in the US will have Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 865. All the phones come with Android 10 and Samsung’s One UI overlay pre-installed.
One of the big hardware upgrades from the new series is the main camera on the Ultra handset – this has been bumped up to a whopping 108-megapixel f/1.8 sensor. The model also has a 12-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide lens and a 48-megapixel f/3.5 telephoto cam crammed onto its rear.
Throw in the fourth ‘DepthVision’ camera on the back of the phone along with the 40-megapixel selfie snapper. In comparison, the S20’s camera specs are a little closer to those of its predecessor. It comes with a 12-megapixel f/1.8 main camera and a 12-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide. But the telephoto on the S20 might be slightly better than that of the Ultra, as it uses a 64MP f/2.0 lens.
The standard S20 also has a 10-megapixel front snapper instead of the 40-megapixel option found on the Ultra and it lacks the additional ‘DepthVision’ option.
So, are the cameras any good?
Well, the Ultra might have better specs on paper but we didn’t find it that much better with actual use. The high megapixel sensor seems to lead to some focussing issues and unless you’re really after those zoom features the pictures aren’t that much better than the S20.
That isn’t to say the results aren’t great, because they are. Both phones take excellent snaps, with bright colours and a real punch of contrast. Video is excellent too, with footage able to be recorded in 8K across both devices.
There are some hefty storage options with the handsets, which is always good to see. Both the S20 and the Ultra models come with 128GB of storage as standard and have MicroSD slots to bump that number up. You can also grab a pricier version of the Ultra that comes with a healthy serving of 512GB, though we’d suggest you stick to the expandable options.
Battery life and charging – The S20 Ultra last longer, but neither are an endurance champion
Samsung has chosen to add in a 4000mAh battery for the S20 but has opted for a beefier 5000mAh battery on the S20 Ultra. We reviewed the Exynos versions of these devices and while you might get different results with the Qualcomm variants, we found neither offers industry leading endurance.
Here’s what we said in our Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review: “If you want the phone to comfortably last you the day, the options are there to make that happen. If you know you’ve got a charger nearby and want to really push that display then that option is available too. This is great, even if it does feel like you have to lose some of the phone’s best attributes in order to get the best battery life.”
And here’s what we said about the battery life of the smaller Samsung Galaxy S20: “The issue is that 120Hz display. I managed 90-120 minutes less screen-on time with this option enabled during my week with the phone than when it was set to 60Hz (about four hours). Keep things at 60Hz and FHD+ and you’ll easily make it through the day without much fuss.”
Like the rest of the tech world, Samsung is embracing the wireless trend. As such, both new phones have speedier wireless charging thanks to the company’s deployment of “Fast Wireless Charging 2.0.”
Look and feel – Which phone is prettier?
There are a few design changes here but nothing radically different when compared to previous entries in the flagship Galaxy S series. On the back of the phones, the cameras now sit in a dark rectangle on the left, while the selfie-cam has been shifted to the centre-front of the handset.
The Ultra is larger than the S20 and noticeably thicker. It also has a much more prominent camera bump on the back and that might put some people off.
For us, the sleeker, slimmer nature of the S20 means it’s the easier phone to handle. Even the Plus model – which is basically the S20 with a larger screen – is far nicer, visually, than the Ultra.
How much do they cost?
The regular S20 will cost £799, but you’ll have to fork out £899 if you want the full 5G version. Similarly, the basic S20 Ultra model will cost £1199, but you can pay £1399 for the all-singing, all-dancing version (which has better storage and RAM.) The S20 Plus will cost £999, as there’s only one price option for that model.
Which phone is better? The Samsung Galaxy S20 or the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is a hard sell to anyone but the most die-hard of Android phone fans. It’s very expensive, has some camera issues and can be quite hard to hold due to its size.
Whereas the Galaxy S20 is just a great phone that ticks all the boxes. It doesn’t feel like it’s sacrificing much when compared to the Ultra model and it’d be our pick for most people.