Samsung Galaxy S20 5G review: A near-perfect phone

The “baby” Galaxy S20 is just a few hairs bigger than last year’s Galaxy S10, and between a power-user’s godsend of a battery, a Lindt Chocolate-smooth 120Hz screen, and the most significant camera upgrade in Galaxy history, the Galaxy S20 is without a doubt the best Android phone for non-Pixel-purists —and especially the best Android phone for women (and men who prefer smaller phones) available today.

If you’re in the market for a new phone. I think the Galaxy S20 will win you over, too.


1 Best in the hand and the pocket

This blue baby might be the smallest of the S20 line, but it’s just a hair bigger than last year’s Galaxy S10 and Note 10. It’s the same width of the Pixel 4, but it’s taller. We have a handy size chart that helps demonstrate how the profile of the phone stacks up, but what it doesn’t show is how the curved sides of the front and back glass help the phone feel so thin in the hand despite it holding a 4,000mAh battery.

Samsung has consolidated buttons this year, putting all the buttons on the right side of the screen and combining the Bixby and power buttons. This is great news on all fronts, mainly because it means that taking a screenshot doesn’t need you to press-and-hold anymore; just single press the power and volume down buttons.


2 About 5G on the Galaxy S20

The smaller S20 is the only of the three models to not support mmWave 5G, only sub-6, which is only in wide use right now on T-Mobile. I don’t mind the lack of mmWave because, as Andrew pointed out in our S20 Ultra review, mmWave covers a ridiculously small area — a few hundred feet per antenna. While sub-6 isn’t as widely used, it covers a greater area where it is supported and is more reliable, as mmWave can be notoriously finicky to find and maintain a connection on (especially indoors).

There is no sub-6 5G around Orlando, so I did not get to test 5G on my S20. I don’t really mind that because, for a large majority of users here in the U.S. and around the world, you won’t see 5G this year anyway. Most networks still count 5G coverage in city-blocks and neighborhoods, and some carriers like my long-time provider AT&T require new, expensive plans to get access to it.

If you are on T-Mobile, you can expect 5G to eat up a little bit more battery, but the phone should still get you through the day. For most of us, the 5G radios will be dormant for the next 12-18 months while carriers keep building out the network.


3 Should you buy it?

Speaking purely from a value standpoint, the Galaxy S20 is the clear winner of the series. For at least $200 less than the other models, you get just as good a camera experience, the same excellent performance, distinct Samsung software, a more pixel-dense screen, and a reasonably-sized phone that will actually fit in a ladies’ hand and in some jean pockets. Oh, and you get actual colors instead of boring black and grey.

Even against the latest from Google and Apple, the Samsung Galaxy S20 holds its own and then some. Its battery runs rings around the Pixel, it has the best screen in the industry, and unlike the iPhone 11, it’s got sub-6 5G for you to take advantage of in one-two years when networks have actually been built out enough to take advantage of it.

Posted on May 5, 2023