Samsung's Galaxy S20 range: First look

Samsung's new Galaxy S range has specs that put last year's S10 phones seriously in the shade.

No simple S11s here. It's the S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra, if you please, with the latter two devices 5G ready.

Newshub got a close look at the three new phones and found that the South Korean tech giant is sticking to what it does best - offering game-changing camera features.

"It's truly as good as having a Digital SLR in your pocket," said Minna Reinikkala, head of product marketing at Samsung NZ.

The S20 and S20+ have a 64MP camera, while the Ultra - Samsung's premium offering - has a massive 108MP main sensor paired with a 48MP telephoto lens, 20MP ultra-wide camera and time-of-flight camera.

Low light photography is greatly improved for all three models, but the Ultra takes things a step further, with the option to shift dynamically between the 108MP and a 12MP mode thanks to nona-binning technology which combines nine pixels into one at the sensor level.

This S range phone is also the first phone in the world with the ability to shoot video in 8K, with the additional bonus of being able grab a 32MP photo.

Other features Samsung hopes will get fans excited include an up to 30X zoom on the Galaxy S20 and S20+ or super resolution zoom up to 100x on the S20 Ultra, the latter achieved using AI-powered multi-image processing.

A function called 'Single Take' is fun to use. It utilises every single lens in the camera and its AI functions to shoot up to 10 seconds worth of footage from which four short videos and 10 photos are created in different modes such as cropped, live focus and ultra-wide. These takes can be shared immediately.

All three phones have screens boasting a 120Hz refresh rate. That's twice as smooth as the previous generation of phones and will go down particularly well with mobile gamers. Size-wise, the S20 has a 6.2-inch screen, the S20+ a 6.7-inch and the S20 Ultra a 6.9-inch.

The devices also all come with a beefy battery. The Ultra takes the crown with 5000mAH, but the other two don't lag too far behind, with 4500mAH for the S20+ and 4000mAH for the S20. 

Charging is pretty impressive, too, with a 25w fast charger included in the box. By buying a 45w ultra-fast charger, the Ultra is able to get enough charge for a full day's use in just 30 minutes.

The S range comes with a 128GB base storage, which can be expanded up to a terabyte with a micro SD card.

There's been no further improvements to water and dust resistance - the standard IP68 rating applies to all three devices, so if you're a bit cack-handed and like to use your phone in a bath or next to a swimming pool (up to 1.5m), you should be alright, as long as you fish it out within half an hour.

Talking of clumsiness, if one of the new S phones hits a hard floor it might also survive better than previous models. Gorilla Glass 6 is used on the front and back of all three models, while the Ultra even uses it for the camera.

Where I do I find the range a little lacking is in the design - it would have been nice to see more of a design overhaul. Sure, the edges are a little more rounded, the bezels a little thinner but there's nothing outstanding. The huge rectangular rear camera bump is also far from aesthetically pleasing.

More time could have been spent on the colours, too. Sure, most of us use some kind of cover; but it doesn't hurt to get a little more creative. The Ultra comes in cosmic black and cosmic grey, the S20 Plus gets those plus an additional cloud blue, and the S20 has cloud pink instead of black.

Music lovers will be pleased to learn that Samsung has partnered heavily with Spotify for the new range. One-touch launching allows Galaxy users with the latest Android software to immediately share their playlists using their phones' Wi-Fi. Bixby can also set up a Spotify playlist based on the user's routines.

The phones also come with Google Duo which gives full HD video calling. 

The S20 range is available for pre-order in New Zealand from this Thursday, February 13, and on general sale on March 6. Prices start from NZ$1499 for the S20, NZ$1899 for the S20+ and NZ$2199 for the S20 Ultra.

There's no doubt sales will be significant. Existing Samsung fans are unlikely to be disappointed with this year’s offering and there’s plenty to attract new followers to its ranks.

Samsung is likely to be feeling rather smug, although it will have to wait and see what its two main competitors - Huawei and Apple - do with their premium devices, one set for launch in March, the other in September.

Samsung has revealed its S20 range and the Galaxy Z Flip.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. Photo credit: Newshub.

And for those Samsung fans who need a taste of something else entirely? There’s always the foldable phone - the incredibly cute Galaxy Z Flip was also previewed today.

It fits neatly into a pocket, comes in black and purple and has features including hands-free video calling.

It launches in the next few months for NZ$2499.