This story was originally published and last updated .
Samsung began shipping the Galaxy S20 on March 6, but you can still buy a Galaxy S10, the flagship model from 2019, as well. Samsung reduced the prices of the S10 after the S20 went on sale, too, and it's made them appreciably more affordable. And while the S20 will be updated longer and features new stuff like 5G connectivity and additional cameras, it starts at a staggering $1,000. If you're unsure whether a big investment in the S20 is the right call, and if the Galaxy S10 may just be most of the same in a more affordable package, we'll help you decide.
Like the Galaxy Note10 before it, the Galaxy S20 series finally says farewell to the headphone jack. While you can still simply get a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter and Samsung includes a pair of USB-C earbuds in the box, you won't be able to charge and listen to music at the same time when you rely on it without buying a special, more expensive adapter. You could also exclusively stick with Bluetooth headphones, but they'll run out of battery eventually, leaving you with one more device you need to charge regularly. If you don't want to deal with any of this, any Galaxy S10 might be better suited for you with its old-fashioned 3.5mm port.
Front camera cutout position
The Galaxy S20 inherits the new camera cutout position from the Note10, which is right in the middle of the notification bar. If you want a Samsung phone that doesn't put the hole-punch front and center, all Galaxy S10 devices might do you a good service. The S10 and S10e both have a small dot in the top right corner of the display, and only the Galaxy S10+ has a wider cutout to make way for its dual front-facing cameras (which, by the way, aren't available on any of the S20 series).
While the Galaxy S20 will, without doubt, receive system updates for a longer time than the Galaxy S10 series, Samsung has stepped up its software upgrade game and has been rolling out new Android versions much faster than it used to. Both the Galaxy S9 and S10 have already received Android 10 in less than four months after the stable release. In the past, Samsung fans were among those who had to wait for upgrades the longest, as it took eleven months to update the Galaxy S7 to Android 8 Oreo.
With the release of One UI, Samsung has also managed to largely keep feature parity across all current generations of its lineup. The Android 10/One UI 2.0 update gives both the Galaxy S9 and S10 series basically the same software capabilities, so it's reasonable to assume that the Galaxy S10 will inherit some S20 features going forward.
Still, while the Galaxy S20 is likely to get both Android 11 and Android 12, the S10 will likely remain on 11 for the rest of its days when it finally does get it. Samsung historically releases just two major Android OS updates for its smartphones before switching them to security updates only, and while we have absolutely no idea what's going to be in Android 12, you could end up replacing your S10 sooner with a newer phone to get it.
5G is the next big thing, but it hasn't rolled out too widely yet. Since the Galaxy S20's Snapdragon 865 trades an on-chip 4G modem for an external combined 4G+5G one, you can expect some trade-offs in battery life. This won't be an issue with the Galaxy S10 series, as their older processors still have a modem built right into the chip. Of course, there is a 5G version of the Galaxy S10, but it comes with a lot of issues, and it's also the one Samsung has stopped selling altogether.
The Galaxy S20 may provide some excellent digital zoom options, but only the S20 Ultra has a folded periscope lens that also provides 4x optical zoom. There is also no regular telephoto lens on any phone from the latest lineup. In contrast, the Galaxy S10, S10+, and S10 5G all have optical 2x zooms thanks to their F2.4 45˚ telephoto optics.
We don't think this telephoto lens is actually very good (in fact it's pretty bad!), but it does provide better fine grain detail than the sensor crop "hybrid" zoom on the Galaxy S20 and S20+ since it relies on bona fide lens optics to get the job done.
Most people are probably glad the Bixby button has been removed from the Galaxy S20 as many have likely accidentally activated Samsung's unloved voice assistant far too often. But it's possible to reprogram the button to make it open any app you could wish for, and you can customize what it does on long and double presses. While one option always has to default to Bixby, that still gives you a lot of versatility. On the S20, Bixby is just mapped to the power key instead.
If you prefer curved displays, the Galaxy S20 won't be for you — while it does have curved glass on top of the screen, the OLED panel itself is flat. The S10 and S10+ are Samsung's last S phones to feature waterfall displays, at least for now. If you don't want any curved glass on your handset at all, the S10e is also a great option as its front is completely flat.
In the future, Android 11 might also mitigate possible issues with waterfall displays. The software update will introduce an API that can intelligently hinder apps from drawing buttons and other important UI elements on the sides of the screen.
Heart rate sensor (pulse oximeter)
The S20 does away with Samsung's heart rate sensor, a feature that's been with the S series for a long time. Many people use this feature a pulse oximeter with Samsung's Health app, so you may be surprised to find the S20 no longer supports the feature. If you don't have a fitness band or smartwatch with this functionality and absolutely need a phone that can check your pulse, the S10 and S10+ are the way to go.
S10e: The smallest flagship
The S10e measures only 70mm x 142mm or 5.8 inches diagonally, making it one of the most compact premium smartphones out there. It mostly has the internals as its bigger siblings and is available with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. If you want a small phone without compromising on hardware, it's a great option. Oh: and it does away with Samsung's no good, very bad in-display fingerprint scanner, instead using a capacity scanner mounted to the power key. We think it's a better solution.
The cheapest Galaxy S20 starts at $1,000. That's hard to swallow for many, so it's great Samsung has decided to reduce the Galaxy S10's MSRPs by $150 across the board. That gives you competitive prices for devices that still bring almost all the bells and whistles you could ask for to the table, but note that the new MSRPs are still anything but budget-friendly:
Luckily, there are often discounts that make the devices cheaper, like a recent rebate on Amazon where the Galaxy S10 dropped to an all-time low of $550 or Samsung's own currently running sales above. Keep an eye on our deals section, too.