Samsung announced several new phones during a news conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, including the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra. Pricing starts at $999 and all models will go on sale March 6.
All three phones support new 5G networks in the U.S., and two of them are the first in the U.S. to work on both the slower and faster flavors of 5G that some carriers are rolling out. That gives Samsung about a seven-month lead over Apple with 5G, assuming Apple introduces its new 5G iPhones in September, as expected. While I still think most people probably don't need 5G phones just yet — the networks are still rolling out, after all — these are the first you should consider buying. They're really nice.
They also have a lot of what we've come to expect from Samsung phones: great screens and lots of fun camera tricks. I tried the phones out early and one feature I really liked is called "Single Take." It's available on all three models. You just tap a single button inside the camera and it begins snapping photos and pictures for 10 seconds. After that, the camera's software automatically selects several neat pictures and videos with different effects, like a black-and-white filter or portrait mode with the background blurred behind the subject. It's perfect for when you don't know if you want to take a video or a picture. It just does it all for you.
Here's what you need to know.
The Galaxy S20 has a 6.2-inch screen, making it the smallest of the three phones announced by Samsung. It will cost $999 and features almost all of most the high-end specs you can put in a phone.
That includes a really bright and sharp screen, a camera that can zoom up to 30 times so you can take pictures from really far away, a wide-angle camera for fitting more into pictures, the option to record video at 8K resolution, the latest and fastest processor from Qualcomm and more. I like the size of the Galaxy S20 the best, since it didn't feel too big in my hands. And it has pretty much all of the features found in the larger Galaxy S20+ except one thing.
Unlike the Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra, it only supports the slower kind of 5G right now that's rolled out nationwide by T-Mobile and is being deployed by AT&T. It won't support millimeter wave (mmWave), the version of 5G that provides the fastest possible speeds.
The $1,199.99 Galaxy S20+ is the one I think most people should buy. It's pretty big with a 6.7-inch screen, but it supports both flavors of 5G networks that carriers are rolling out. That means you'll get the really fast mmWave speeds when you're near a tower, but will otherwise get the just slightly faster than 4G speeds when that's available, too. (The exception is Verizon, which isn't rolling out the slower 5G.)
5G isn't really that important yet, since it's still rolling out and only available in limited areas around the country. But if you're going to keep a phone for three or four years years, then you should buy the one that supports the most networks.
Aside from the bigger screen and added 5G support, it's pretty similar to the Galaxy S20. It has the same cameras and, like the S20, has an in-screen fingerprint reader, a really sharp screen with a new 120 Hz refresh rate, which just means things like scrolling through lots of pictures and websites is much smoother, and plenty of memory for running lots of apps at the same time.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra is overkill. It's for people who want everything Samsung is capable of stuffing into a phone. It has a huge 6.9-inch screen — which is really nice to look at but a bit hard to hold — and a 108 megapixel camera that can zoom up to 100 times thanks to Samsung's fancy mix of hardware and software tricks. It worked OK during a quick test, but some of the stuff in my picture was still kind of blurry.
Next to that is a new time-of-flight sensor that can be used for augmented reality, 3D image scanning and more. We first saw this on last year's Galaxy Note 10+. The Galaxy S20 Ultra also has a huge battery, and supports both the slower and faster 5G networks being rolled out in the U.S.
It felt a little big and heavy to me, but it seems like something Samsung's die-hard fans will love, especially since it has things the iPhone doesn't, like 5G and that smooth 120 Hz display. But they'll pay for the most high-end phone from Samsung: the Galaxy S20 Ultra starts at $1,399.99.
All three phones will be available to order beginning Feb. 21 and will arrive in stores March 6.