Why I Love My Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus (But the Price Is Insane)

April 21, 2020 Topic: Technology Blog Brand: Techland Tags: SamsungSamsung Galaxy S20 PlusGalaxy S20Smartphone

Why I Love My Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus (But the Price Is Insane)

After owning the S20 Plus for the better part of a month, here are my long-term impressions.

The Galaxy S20 was one of 2020s most anticipated flagship releases, and for good reason: the Galaxy line has long been a showcase of Samsung’s latest hardware and software innovations. Tempted by Samsung’s generous trade-in offer, I ditched my Note 9 for the S20 Plus-- the “midrange” model between the baseline S20 and prodigiously expensive S20 Ultra-- shortly after its March 6 launch. After owning the S20 Plus for the better part of a month, here are my long-term impressions.

The design is largely the same as past Samsung flagships, sporting a beautiful but smudge-prone glass body construction. The camera bump was quite garish at first, but I haven’t noticed it ever since popping the phone into a case. The edges seem less aggressively rounded than on my Note 9, making for more usable screen real estate. The S20 Plus is fairly light and easy to handle for a 6.7 inch phone, with excellent button placement and tiny bezels. I have no complaints about the in-display fingerprint scanner, which works reasonably fast and reliably recognizes my input.

So far, so good, but the display is where things get truly exciting--after owning the S20, I don’t think I could ever go back to a phone without a 120Hz panel. It’s the kind of feature that you can’t fully appreciate without personally experiencing, but I can’t overstate just how much smoother and more enjoyable scrolling and animations feel at a higher refresh rate. There has always been a jarring contrast between the 144Hz desktop monitor setup that I use for work and the 60Hz phones that I’ve used for everything else, but that gap has been well and truly closed by the S20. As I mentioned before, my only quibble with what is otherwise the best smartphone display on the market is Samsung’s frustrating decision to make users choose between 120Hz at 1080p or 60Hz at 1440p. I get why they did it: 120Hz at 1440p probably takes such a drastic toll on battery life that it isn’t a viable way of using the phone in most scenarios. Still, the better solution is to enable the option and leave the consumer to decide if the trade-off in battery life is worth it.

Speaking of battery life, the S20 Plus easily gets me through a day of browsing, emailing, and mixed content consumption without any worry. I’ve only had to do this a few times after forgetting to charge my phone overnight, but dialing the refresh rate down from 120Hz to 60Hz takes the battery life from good to great.

With the disclaimer that I’m not much of a camera enthusiast, I can only report that I’ve yet to take a photo or video with the S20 that I wasn’t pleased with--the shot stabilization works as it should, the colors are rich, and the details remain crisp all the way up to 30x zoom. I can’t speak to the S20 Plus’ 5G capabilities since they’re not yet supported where I live, but it’s good to know that my phone is future-proofed as 5G coverage becomes more widespread over the coming years.

In short, the S20 Plus is easily the best phone I’ve ever used. But it’s also a huge investment at $1,199, which is why I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going out and buying one for MSRP. A better strategy is to wait for recurrent deals from Samsung or major retailers like Best Buy, whether it’s an aggressive price cut, a good trade-in offer, a buy one get one free sale, the inclusion of freebies, or some combination of these.

Mark Episkopos is a frequent contributor to The National Interest and serves as a research assistant at the Center for the National Interest. Mark is also a PhD student in History at American University.