The Galaxy S20 series has been far more controversial than the S10 lineup it succeeds, thanks to a stratospheric price tag and camera system that doesn't quite hit the mark. You can find our review of the S20 Ultra here, but today I'm going to outline my five favorite aspects of this expensive, premium phone. I've had mine for over a month now, and it's been my daily driver since it arrived. As such, I've been able to experience everything the S20 Ultra has to offer, and what it's like to live with over a longer period.
A beautiful display
Samsung has made the best displays in the industry for years now, so placing the S20's screen at the top of the list shouldn't surprise anyone. Like their predecessors, each S20 model has a big, bright, and beautiful screen. As I mentioned in an editorial discussing why I switched to Samsung phones, the display is (literally) a huge part of the experience. It's more than bright enough for outdoor use, and the 1440p resolution makes it sharper than you could possibly need, although this year there are trade-offs to make in that respect. Samsung added a super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate to the S20, and it looks phenomenal. Sadly, it's limited to 1080p, so you're forced to choose between resolution or smoothness. While this is a shame, it's not enough to bump the screen out of the best category. 1080p looks fine and is a small sacrifice to make for an experience this smooth.
Beyond resolution and refresh rates, Samsung has upped the touch polling to 240Hz. The latency between your finger touching the glass and the phone responding is almost non-existent, making everything feel super fast. Some argue that having a 120Hz refresh rate is pointless on a phone, and there isn't a right or wrong opinion on that. But reducing latency is unequivocally worth it — other phones feel sluggish in comparison.
Excellent Battery life
The S20 Ultra has a 5,000mAh battery, and that's reflected by the battery life you'll squeeze out of it. At 120Hz, with all power-saving features switched off, I'm easily getting 6-7 hours of screen time a day. Standby time is good too, with my phone making it to 1am with at least 20% left in the tank. Compared to my old Galaxy S10+, that doesn't sound great, considering that it gave me almost identical stats from a smaller battery and less efficient processor. But the S10 lacked a high refresh panel. The S10+ offered extraordinary battery life that I was always pleased with, so getting the same numbers out of the S20 Ultra is fine by me. Besides, if you need to squeeze more out of it, knocking the display down to 60Hz should keep it going as long as you need it to.
Samsung software is good now
Samsung's software used to be a painful experience, but since it released One UI, things have changed completely. With One UI 2.0, it's fast, fluid, and feature-packed — the software experience found on the Galaxy S20 has everything you could ever want and is the only flavor of Android I want to use. There are far too many things to cover, so I'll just focus on my favorites.
Phones are getting bigger every year, and using them with one hand is no mean feat. Thankfully Samsung includes one-handed mode, which is activated by swiping down on the home button/gesture bar. Everything is pulled down within reach of your thumb, and it's a feature that has become invaluable on my S20 Ultra.
Good Lock is a collection of apps and modules that allow you to customize many aspects of your Galaxy experience, from the lockscreen to the sound panel. Being able to choose which icons appear in your status bar, customize your navbar, or create a custom theme for One UI are just a few of the extensive options available to you. For an in-depth look at everything it has to offer, there's a handy walkthrough here. In short, almost everything in One UI is tweakable through Good Lock, making it easy to tailor the experience to your needs.
Since it includes the latest Snapdragon 865 SoC (in certain markets) and at least 12GB of RAM, the S20 Ultra is no slouch. Even my Exynos model is more than powerful enough to speed through anything I throw at it, from graphics-heavy games to social media and web browsing. One UI isn't the bogged-down mess that TouchWiz was, and doesn't slow things down one bit. 12GB of RAM sounds like overkill, and honestly, it is. The 8GB found in the older S10+ already held more apps then you could need in memory, but there's no such thing as too much RAM. Even if you can't make use of it all now, it means the phone is future-proofed, which is no bad thing.
It's hard to choose a fifth-best thing, so I'll just go with multiple — if you can think of a desirable spec, this phone likely has it. The bells and whistles include an IP68 rating, wireless charging (and reverse), plus super-fast wired charging, The whole S20 range is available with 128GB of storage, SD card expansion, more RAM than you could ever need, big batteries, and 5G options. We somehow still live in a world where flagships launch with only 64GB, but not here. Not only has Samsung ensured that each S20 has more than enough base storage for most people, it's also included an SD card slot to expand it even further.
While 5G is nowhere close to fulfilling its potential, having options is never a bad thing. It's also another good way to future-proof the device; after all, people are hanging onto their devices longer than ever before. So while 5G isn't a big deal now, being ready for it when it arrives in full is a positive.
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