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Galaxy S20 vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: The differences explained

galaxy s20 galaxy s20 plus
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Samsung has pulled out all the stops with the just-released Galaxy S20 lineup. And while we came away impressed by all the features included with the Galaxy S20 Ultra, it's the most expensive of Samsung's new phones, with an eye-popping $1,399 starting price. Instead, it's the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus that will be what the majority of Samsung fans will end up buying.

There's a $200 price difference between the $999 Galaxy S20 and $1,199 S20 Plus. Are there $200 worth of differences between the two phones?

For the most part, going through the specs, you'll find similar features between the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus. But there are some key differences too, and they could make or break the decision on which Galaxy S20 model you should get.

Here's a closer look at how the specs and features of the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus compare — what’s the same and what’s different, and how that might impact your choice in phones.

Galaxy S20 vs Galaxy S20 Plus specs

Galaxy S20Galaxy S20 Plus
Display (Resolution, Max. refresh rate)6.2 inches (3200 x 1440, 120Hz)6.7 inches (3200 x 1440, 120Hz)
CPUExynos 990/Snapdragon 865Exynos 990/Snapdragon 865
RAM12GB12GB
Storage128GB128GB
Rear Cameras12MP main, 64MP 3x optical telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide12MP main, 64MP 3x optical telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide, time-of-flight
Front Camera10MP10MP
Dust/Water ResistanceIP68IP68
Battery Size4,000 mAh4,500 mAh
Size5.97 x 2.7 x 0.31 inches6.37 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches
Weight5.7 ounces6.6 ounces

Galaxy S20 vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: Price and availability

As noted above, the Galaxy S20 costs $999. That's $200 less than the $1,199 starting price for the Galaxy S20 Plus. If you opt for the 512GB version of the S20 Plus, add another $150, so you'll wind up paying $1,349. (There's only one Galaxy S20 configuration with 12GB of memory and 128GB of storage — the same specs as the base model S20 Plus.)

You can pre-order the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus starting Feb. 21. The phones arrive in stores on March 6.

Galaxy S20 vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: Design

The Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus look almost exactly the same (a recurring theme in this comparison.) Both have a central punch-hole for the selfie camera at the top of the display, and they look like twins from the back too. The one exception: the S20 Plus has an extra camera in the large rectangular bump in its top left corner, housing a new time-of-flight sensor.

From left to right, the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra

From left to right, the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The phones may look the same, but due to different screen sizes, their dimensions don't match. According to leaked specs, the Galaxy S20 measures 5.97 x 2.7 x 0.31 inches; the S20 Plus is taller and wider at 6.37 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches. The S20 Plus outweighs the S20 (6.6 ounces vs. 5.7 ounces).

We'll have more to say on this as we review the two phones, but the different S20 models should feel very different to use. A pocket or bag that fits the S20 easily will struggle with the taller S20 Plus. This difference won’t be a consideration for everyone, but it could be important to a select few who want their phone to be a particular size for reasons of comfort or convenience.

Galaxy s20 Galaxy S20 Plus

Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Galaxy S20 vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: Display

Samsung has given both the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus 120Hz Quad HD capable displays with a resolution of 3200 x 1440. Note that if you want to use that faster refresh rate, you won't be able to do so at full resolution on either phone. Again, that's a lot of similarities between these two models.

Instead, the big difference here is screen size. The standard S20’s display is 6.2 inches across, which is already quite large. The S20 Plus is 6.7 inches across, which means a better viewing experience but a heftier phone. The bigger screen is going to require more battery power, too.

Neither phone has the curved “Edge” display you've come to associate with Galaxy S phones. Both models hide an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner beneath the bottom portion of the screen. That serves as the main security and unlocking mechanism for the S20 series.

Galaxy S20 vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: Cameras

There is only one key difference between the S20 and S20 Plus’ camera arrays, and whether it matters depends on the kind of photos you like to take.

Both the S20 and S20 Plus feature a 12MP main camera on the back, joined by a 64MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom and a 12MP ultra-wide camera. Up front, both phones feature a 10MP selfie cam.

Galaxy S20 Plus

The Galaxy S20 Plus gets an extra time-of-flight sensor along with its other three rear cameras. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The S20 Plus boasts one additional sensor, though: a time-of-flight (or TOF) sensor on the back of the phone. TOF sensors help the phones they’re attached to measure distances, information which the phone can then use to better implement special photo effects like bokeh blurring, or to make AR apps display things in the environment more accurately.

What this means is that the S20 Plus should produce better photos than the S20, even if it’s only marginal and in specific circumstances. (We'll test out the cameras on both phones to confirm.) So if you’re caught between these two devices, and want the best pictures available — particularly when it comes to portraits — the Galaxy S20 Plus has an early edge over its smaller counterpart.

Galaxy S20 vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: Performance

The Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus both feature Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 chipset for their US versions. Elsewhere, the Exynos 990 powers both phones. 

Both of these processors should be plenty powerful, although the Snapdragon version will likely turn out to be the peppier performer based on benchmarks from previous phones powered by comparable Snapdragon and Exynos chips.

There's no difference in memory or storage either, at least in the base models of the S20 and S20 Plus — you'll get 12GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. The S20 Plus gives you a 512GB storage option, and both phones support a microSD card to boost capacity.

Both the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus feature 5G connectivity. Considering the S20 costs less than $1,000, it's a relatively inexpensive way to get a phone that's ready to use the faster 5G networking standard (assuming you live in an area where 5G service is live).

Galaxy S20 vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: Battery life

A bigger screen requires a bigger battery, so it's no shock that the Galaxy S20 Plus has a 4,500 mAh power pack. The Galaxy S20 gets by with a 4,000 mAh battery.

For what's it's worth, both those batteries are larger than the 3,400 mAh power pack found in the Galaxy S10. The S10 Plus had a 4,100 mAh battery, which is only slightly larger than the one that landed in the Galaxy S20.

The two phones will use the same charging tech, both wired and wireless. A 25W fast charger comes with both phones, and they also bring back last year's Wireless PowerShare feature that lets you charge other Qi-compatible devices with your phone.

Outlook

The good news is that no matter which of the two phones you pick, the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus should both offer plenty of power, amazing displays, and impressive cameras.

Leaping from a 6.2-inch display to a 6.7-inch screen is quite the jump, not just in terms of screen real estate but also the extra height and width required by a larger panel, too. We'll also need to test both phones to see what differences the larger screen and bigger battery mean for the Galaxy S20 Plus' longevity. And a lot of the S20 Plus' appeal will hinge upon just what that time-of-flight sensor brings to the party.

Both new Galaxy phones offer a lot of promise at this point. We're eager to find out just whether the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus can deliver on that.