Galaxy S20 Plus vs Galaxy S10 Plus — Is the Upgrade Worth the Extra Cost?
As someone who has been using the Galaxy devices since the days of the Galaxy S7 series, the Galaxy S20 Plus was an obvious choice for me when Samsung announced the series. However, deep down inside, I knew that I did not need the upgrade. As a previous Galaxy S10 Plus user, I was more than happy with my older device, and since I have never experienced a higher refresh rate screen on a mobile phone, I did not think I was missing out on anything.
Still, being an absolute nerd for Samsung devices, I jumped the gun and bought the Galaxy S20 Plus out of a whim. I must say when the package arrived the next day, I did not feel the wave of excitement I normally would whenever I get a new smartphone. However, there I was, unboxing the device and setting it up to see just what this big thing is all about.
The Galaxy S20 Plus Delivers a Lot, Yet Leaves You Wanting for More
It has been over 2 weeks since I first got my hands on the Galaxy S20 Plus and even though I have not removed the factory screen protector, I have put the device through all the paces I normally would before telling whether it is worth the price or not. I could not travel with it due to the quarantine situation going on, but I have taken pictures with it, answered calls, emails, texts, and even spent the entirety of days listening to music and consuming content on this device.
The Galaxy Plus is by no means an iterative upgrade over the Galaxy 10 Plus, but at the same time, it is not a huge departure from the device I loved since day one. To make it simpler, I am going to split my impressions in different aspects.
Note: This opinion is based entirely on how I assess a smartphone when using one; results may vary for different users.
When talking about departures, the display is obviously the biggest departure from the Galaxy S10 Plus, gone is the sluggish 60Hz AMOLED panel and you now have the gorgeous 120Hz panel that also takes the real estate to 6.7" instead of 6.4". Not a huge difference in terms of screen size, but still, thanks to Samsung for trimming the bezels ever so slightly.
The one thing that took some time for me to realise is just how drastic the difference there is when you are looking at the curves on both screens. The Galaxy S20 series across the board has a much flatter screen than the older devices, this should help tempered glass screen protectors have an easier fit.
The brightness, as well as sharpness, have become better, too. However, the star of the show remains the 120Hz display that also comes with a 240Hz touch response, which means that almost all the content that you view on your screen becomes much, much better and responsive, at the same time. Granted, you are limited to only FHD+ when it comes to the display, but on a screen size of 6.7", the difference is barely noticeable. Hence, I would highly suggest that you turn on the faster refresh rate since Samsung has it disabled out of the box.
Overall, the screen on the S20 Plus is a step up that will leave you spoiled. Once you move to the Galaxy S20 series of devices, it will be difficult to settle with any other screen that has a lesser refresh rate.
I can assure you that the Galaxy S10 Plus was no slouch when it came to the camera performance. As a matter of fact, I have taken more pictures with that device than my dedicated DSLR. With the Galaxy S20 Plus, things are even better. However, you have to be a camera nerd to actually tell that there is a difference between both pictures.
On paper, the Galaxy S20 Plus makes a lot of changes; gone is the variable aperture main camera of the Galaxy S10 Plus as the S20 Plus only has a fixed aperture of f/1.8. However, you do have a massive 64-megapixel telephoto sensor and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor as opposed to the 16-megapixel found on the Galaxy S10 Plus.
If we rely on the technical specifications, it may indicate that the cameras on the Galaxy S20+ are not as good as the ones on the Galaxy S10+ based on my experience, you are getting a better dynamic range, as well as overall sharpness. The over-processing remains the same, but at this point, it barely surprises me.
Sadly, I could not take more photos due to the quarantine kicking in but the pictures I have taken so far came out impressive, to say the least. You can check out a few samples below, pictures are edited using Adobe Lightroom.
The pictures come out great, and if you are feeling like there is something missing, you can always fire up Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop to add a personal touch to them. Needless to say, the camera setup on the Galaxy S20 Plus does not disappoint one bit. In some cases, especially when it comes to capturing dynamic range, it is even better than what the Galaxy S10 Plus is capable of delivering.
This is where I feel that Samsung has something to answer for. The battery life on the Galaxy S10 Plus was amazing, one of the best, even. I was hoping that the Galaxy S20 Plus would deliver the same battery life, but if you are looking to use the phone on the suggested 120Hz, I have to tell you that the phone will not be lasting you a long time.
Now the Galaxy S20 Plus does come with a bigger, 4,500 mAh battery as opposed to the 4,100 mAh found on the older device, but the higher refresh rate screen takes most of it away. Shifting down to 60Hz @ 1440p will grant you much better battery life, even better than the S10 Plus, but will take away the whole point of a higher refresh rate screen.
We learned from tests, that the Galaxy S20's 120Hz mode is not as refined from the software point of view and hopefully can be fixed by updates. However, Samsung has not commented on it so far. Until Samsung makes the higher refresh mode as optimal as it should be, we have to go with the S10+ as far as the battery is concerned.
Being an avid music listener, the one thing that I realised I am going to miss is the headphone jack on the Galaxy S20 Plus, and I did, for the first couple of days but then I got used to it and now I am unbothered by it. I have been using my FiiO F9 Pro with this phone and I do not notice any major degradation or any degradation, for that matter.
However, the real difference comes from speakers on the S20 Plus. The first track I played on was Burden in My Hand by Soundgarden and was immediately impressed by the clarity and the loudness of these speakers. You can drive them on the maximum volume without any distortion.
Granted, you are going to miss the headphone jack if you have been on the wired earphones for a long time but you can always use a dongle or go wireless. I will not be taking anything away from Samsung's books as far as the overall audio performance is concerned. I am still just as pleased whenever I listen to the music on the S20 Plus.
Is the Galaxy S20 Plus Really Worth the Money?
After spending more than two weeks with the Galaxy S20 Plus, I can wholeheartedly recommend this device to anyone who is in the market looking for a new phone. However, if you have the Galaxy S10 Plus, upgrading over to the bigger brother is not going to get you a lot more. The camera and screen are a plus, but the overall experience remains the same for a lot of people, including me.
I do not believe that spending top dollar just for a faster screen warrants the upgrade. If you are on an older device like the Galaxy S9 series, then upgrading over to the Galaxy S20 series will make much more sense than it would if you are still using a Galaxy S10 series device.
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