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Best Samsung phones 2020: Which Galaxy model should you buy?

best samsung phones galaxy s20
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Picking from the best Samsung phones used to be as simple as waiting for the electronics giant to release a new flagship model and opting for that one. By waiting until the latest Galaxy S phone came out in the spring or picking up a new Galaxy Note in late summer, you were assured of getting state-of-the-art hardware along with all the advanced features Samsung reserved for its high-end handsets.

Samsung still puts a lot of effort into its flagship devices, with the latest Galaxy S and Galaxy Note models routinely finishing near the top of our picks for the best phones. But Samsung has broadened its smartphone efforts, producing a better array of midrange offerings that deserve a second look, thanks to decent features and discounted prices. Samsung has also experimented with folding phones that — while expensive — are pushing the envelope for smartphone design and functionality.

In other words, if you're wondering which Samsung phone to get, you've got more choices than ever before. And finding the best Samsung phones from this crowded field now means finding the device that delivers all the capabilities you need without an over-inflated price.

We can help you find the best Samsung phones. Here's a list of every currently available Samsung phone we've reviewed, ranked from top to bottom.

What are the best Samsung phones?

The Galaxy S20 Plus is our pick for the best Samsung phone you can buy right now. It delivers nearly all of the features you'll find in the Galaxy S20 Ultra, but for a lower price. Even with the trade-offs you'll make to save $200, you're still getting a high quality phone with the S20 Plus.

If you can swing the Galaxy S20 Ultra's $1,399 price, it's certainly a very good phone, though we're still waiting to test a software update that Samsung has rolled out to fix an autofocus feature that came up during the review process. People who balk at paying that much for a phone will be satisfied with the $999 Galaxy S20.

While the Galaxy S20 Plus may be Samsung's best phone — and one of the best Android phones available — Samsung's earlier phones are nothing to sneeze at, especially with Samsung cutting prices on many of its Galaxy S10 models.

If you don't need the latest and greatest the S20 models have to offer — including the four-figure price on both the Galaxy S20 Plus and S20 Ultra — the Galaxy S10 Plus remains a top option. The 6.4-inch Plus boasts great cameras, an immersive display and the longest lasting battery of any Samsung phone.

The Galaxy Note 10 Plus is our choice if you want a big-screen device (though don't sleep on the S20 Ultra and its 6.9-inch display if you can swing the $1,399 asking price). The Note 10 Plus offers an even bigger display than the S10 Plus at 6.8 inches and it's got the S Pen stylus that expands the phone's capabilities.

If you don't want to spend a lot of money, you can turn to the Galaxy A51, Samsung's latest midrange phone. At $399, it won't break the bank, though you'll be making some performance and camera trade-offs you wouldn't have to with Samsung's pricier phones, including last year's S10 models. 

The best Samsung phones you can buy right now

best samsung phones galaxy s20 plus

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

The best Samsung phone available

Screen Size: 6.7 inches | Android Version: 10 with One UI 2 | Processor: Snapdragon 865 (US)/Exynos 990 (WW) | Cameras: 12MP, 64MP, 12MP and time-of-flight sensor (Rear); 10MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 12 GB/128, 512 GB

Impressive cameras
4,500 mAh battery lasts a long time
Ample screen features 120Hz refresh rate
Expensive
120Hz refresh rate only works at lower resolution

The Galaxy S20 Plus is the standout among the trio of smartphones Samsung released this year, not because it offers the most high-end features — the Galaxy S20 Ultra has a more powerful telephoto lens and main camera — but because it manages to strike the right balance between premium features and price. While the the Galaxy S20 Plus isn't equipped with a 108MP main camera like the S20 Ultra, the four cameras that are there produce excellent shots that match up well with what the best camera phones produce. You'll still get excellent pictures — including crystal clear zooms from that 64MP telephoto lens — if you opt for the Galaxy S20 Plus, and you'll save $200 off the more expensive Ultra.

All the other top features packed into the S20 lineup are on hand with the Plus model. That includes 5G connectivity — the S20 supports both mmWave and low band-based networks — and the Snapdragon 865 processor that delivers the best performance we've seen from an Android phone. The Galaxy S20 Plus also enjoys the same 120Hz refresh rate Samsung has given all its new flagships, so you'll get the smoothest scrolling available (albeit only at lower resolutions). A 4,500 mAh battery keeps things powered up, as the Galaxy S20 Plus lasted just over 10.5 hours on our battery test. 

The Galaxy S20 can be had for less money, and the Galaxy S20 Ultra packs in a couple more premium features. But the Galaxy S20 Plus splits the difference to be the Samsung phone you'll want to get.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus review.

best samsung phones galaxy S20 ultra

(Image credit: Future)

2. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

A very good Samsung phone if you can afford it

Screen Size: 6.9 inches | Android Version: 10 with One UI 2 | Processor: Snapdragon 865 (US)/Exynos 990 (WW) | Cameras: 108MP, 48MP, 12MP and time-of-flight sensor (Rear); 40MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 12, 16 GB/128, 512 GB

Phenomenal cameras
Gorgeous 120Hz display
5G support
Very expensive
120Hz mode is a battery killer

You’ll find cheaper phones made by Samsung, but you won’t find many handsets that deliver more than the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

At $1,399 for the base model with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the Galaxy S20 Ultra doesn’t come cheaply. But you can really see where Samsung packed in all those extra features. The 6.9-inch display can feature a 120Hz refresh rate (at lower resolutions) that really make for noticeably smoother scrolling. Opt to forego that faster refresh rate, and you can enjoy nearly 12 hours of battery life, thanks to the 5,000 mAh battery powering the Galaxy S20 Ultra. And the Snapdragon 865 driving the phone helps Samsung’s ultimate flagship produce the best benchmark scores we’ve seen yet from an Android phone.

The Galaxy S20’s true standout feature is its camera, though, with a 108MP main shooter and 48MP telephoto lens joined by an ultra wide-angle lens and a time-of-flight sensor. These lenses combine to present very crisp, highly detailed shots, even when you zoom in. (The Galaxy S20 Ultra’s beefed-up telephoto lens supports a 10x lossless zoom, after all.) As impressive as that is, we're bothered by some autofocus issues that emerged as we continued to test the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Samsung has issued a fix and we'll be retesting soon to see if the S20 Ultra can take its place among the best camera phones.

You don’t have to spend $1,400 to get a very good Samsung phone, especially with prices dropping on last year’s S10 models. But if you are willing to part with that much cash, you’ll get the one of the most feature-packed Samsung phones ever built.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review.

best samsung phones: Galaxy S20

(Image credit: Future)

3. Samsung Galaxy S20

5G support for less than $1,000

Screen Size: 6.2 inches | Android Version: Android 10 with One UI 2 | Processor: Snapdragon 865 (US)/Exynos 990 (WW) | Cameras: 12MP, 64MP, 12MP (rear); 10MP (front) | RAM/Storage: 12GB/128GB

Improved camera with 3x lossless zoom
Display features 120Hz refresh rate
Compact design
Disappointing battery life
Over-smoothed faces on some photos

The Galaxy S20 Ultra has all the features and the Galaxy S20 Plus has the best balance between capabilities and price, so it's easy to overlook the Samsung Galaxy S20, especially in light of this model's below-average battery life. But at $999, the Galaxy S20 is the least expensive of Samsung's new flagship phones. And until the Galaxy A51 5G and A71 5G come along, the S20 is the cheapest 5G-ready phone you can get from Samsung.

That last point should be of particular interest to Verizon customers, as a version of the phone specially tailored to that carrier's 5G network arrives in early June. The Galaxy S20 5G UW can use Verizon's high-speed mmWave-based network, and it will also work with the more extensive low-band 5G coverage coming to Verizon later this year.

There's more to the S20 than 5G. The three rear lenses take attractive pictures, even without the time-of-flight sensor found on other models. We were particularly impressed with the phone's 64MP telephoto lens and its 3x lossless zoom. You're also getting an excellent display with a super-fast 120Hz refresh rate — the same feature that highlights the more expensive S20 models.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 review.

best samsung phones Galaxy S10 Plus

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4. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

Still a great Samsung phone, with a lower price

Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 (US)/Exynos 9820 (WW) | Cameras: 12 MP, 16 MP and 12MP (Rear); 10 MP and 8 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 8, 12 GB/128 GB, 512 GB, 1TB

Immersive display
Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor
Excellent cameras
Can wireless charge other devices
Pricey
Confusing gesture controls

The Galaxy S10 Plus sets a high bar for all smartphones, let alone devices just from Samsung. The phone's Infinity-O display creates an immersive experience with apps and videos filling up the screen, with no obtrusive bezels or notches. (Those two circular cutouts for the S10 Plus' front cameras can be a little distracting, especially on white backgrounds.) And with a Snapdragon 855 processor, the S10 Plus can keep up with any of the Android phones that came out in 2019.

MORE: Note 10 vs. Galaxy S10: How Samsung's Phones Compare

With an ultrawide and telephoto lens joining the S10 Plus' main rear camera, you can expect excellent photos, though other camera phones outshine the S10 Plus when the lights are low. Still, with a Scene Optimizer feature that adjusts camera settings based on what you're photographing, you'll get a great-looking shot more often than not.

The S10 Plus' high price last year may have scared off some shoppers, but the arrival of the Galaxy S20 lineup has dropped the S10 Plus to $849. You won't get the new features Samsung added to the S20 models, but at less than $900, the S10 Plus is as affordable and compelling as it's ever been.

See our full Galaxy S10 Plus review.

 

best samsung phones Galaxy Note 10 Plus S Pen

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5. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

Best big-screen phone

Screen Size: 6.8 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 (US)/Exynos 9825 (WW) | Cameras: 12 MP, 16 MP, 12MP and time-of-flight sensor (Rear); 10 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 12 GB/256 GB, 512 GB

Gorgeous 6.8-inch display
Long battery life
Strong performance
S Pen supports Air Actions gestures
DeX mode now easier to use
Air gestures can be finicky
Aura Glow model smudges easily
Cameras don't surpass leading flagships

With the Galaxy S10 Plus offering a 6.4-inch display, is there still room left for Samsung's line of Galaxy Note phablets? The Galaxy Note 10 Plus makes the case that there is, thanks to its outstanding 6.8-inch AMOLED panel — one of the best displays we've ever seen on a smartphone. The S Pen learns some new tricks, too, with Air Actions that allow you to turn the Note 10's stylus into a magic wand. Gestures don't always work consistently, but the S Pen remains a feature that sets the Galaxy Note apart from other phablets.

We wish the cameras were a little better on the Note 10 Plus. It's the same triple lens setup you'll find on the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, along with the addition of a time-of-flight sensor. The Note 10 Plus produces good photos, but nothing that surpasses the best camera phones available right now. Still, with a Snapdragon 855 processor, 12GB of RAM and faster UFS 3.0 storage, this is one of the best-performing Android phones. We also appreciate the Note 10's above-average battery life and how quickly it charges with the included 25-watt charger.

See our full Galaxy Note 10 Plus review.

best samsung phones Galaxy S10e

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6. Samsung Galaxy S10e

A great small-screen phone

Screen Size: 5.8 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 (US)/Exynos 9820 (WW) | Cameras: 12 MP and 16 MP (Rear);10 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 6, 8 GB/128, 256 GB

Compact design
Same top processor as more expensive models
Supports Wireless PowerShare
Great price
Average battery life
Other S10 models have more cameras

With a price that's $150 less than the Galaxy S10, the more compact Galaxy S10e requires some trade-offs, though not as many as you might expect. You still get the standout features of Samsung's Galaxy S10 lineup — a still-powerful Snapdragon 855 chipset, an AMOLED screen and the ability to wirelessly charge other devices through Samsung's cool Wireless PowerShare feature. The biggest sacrifices you have to make are settling for two rear cameras instead of three and giving up the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor underneath the display of the pricier Galaxy S10 models. (On the the S10e, the fingerprint reader is on the phone's power button.)

In addition to its high value, the Galaxy S10e will also appeal to people who've felt left out as phone-screen sizes surge beyond 6 inches. With a 5.8-inch display, the Galaxy S10e fits comfortably in your hand. And thanks to the Infinity-O display, which places the front camera cutout within the display, you still enjoy plenty of screen real estate.

If the Galaxy S10e was a bargain last year, it's even more of a value now that Samsung has dropped the starting price to $599 — the same amount Apple now charges for its older iPhone XR.

See our full Galaxy S10e review.

 

best samsung phones Galaxy S10

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7. Samsung Galaxy S10

Not to be overlooked

Screen Size: 6.1 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 (US)/Exynos 9820 (WW) | Cameras: 12 MP, 16 MP and 12MP (Rear); 10 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 8 GB/128 GB, 512 GB

Gorgeous display
Fast performance
Excellent cameras
Wireless PowerShare support
Front camera isn’t as good as the two on the S10 Plus
Pricier than the S10e

The Galaxy S10 finds itself wedged between the S10 Plus and S10e in size, features and price. As a result, you might be tempted to gloss over this 6.1-inch phone, but that would be a mistake. Most of the features you'll find in the Galaxy S10 Plus are in the S10, including the powerful Snapdragon 855 processor, high-performing triple-lens rear cameras and the ability to charge other devices wirelessly. The S10 even offers decent battery life — 10 hours and 19 minutes on our test — despite having a smaller battery than the S10 Plus.

The biggest difference between the S10 and S10 Plus comes down to the front cameras. Our testing found that the double lenses on the S10 Plus performed a little better than the S10's lone selfie cam. If you can swing the extra $100, the extra screen space on the Galaxy S10 Plus is worth it. But if you don't need a supersized phone and still want high-end features, the Galaxy S10 fits the bill. Even better, it now costs $749, as a low cost alternative to the $999 starting price for the Galaxy S20 lineup. You can also see how the Galaxy S10 compares to the iPhone 11 Pro from Apple.

See our full Galaxy S10 review.

 

best samsung phones Galaxy Note 10

(Image credit: Future)

8. Samsung Galaxy Note 10

Samsung's least-expensive phablet.

Screen Size: 6.3 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 | Cameras: 16 MP, 12MP, 12 MP (Rear); 10 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 8 GB/256 GB

Compact phablet design keeps huge display
256GB of storage
Live Focus for videos
Fastest charging yet for a Samsung phone
No headphone jack or microSD slot
Below-average battery life
Aura Glow model collects fingerprints

There's plenty to like about the Galaxy Note 10, especially for phablet fans. It's got the same S Pen as the Galaxy Note 10 Plus and a very big screen (though at 6.3 inches, it's smaller than what you'll get with the Galaxy S10 Plus). 

The problem is you give up a lot with this phone: there's no headphone jack or microSD slot, and the resolution on the Note 10 is a downgrade from 2018's Note 9. We were also disappointed with the Note 10's battery life, after the phablet lasted an average of 9 hours, 25 minutes on our battery test. That's below-average for smartphones.

The Note 10 costs less than the Note 10 Plus, and its $949 starting price gives its some headroom from the $1,000 ceiling that scares off so many buyers. That may be a compelling reason for many shoppers to get the Note 10, but they should be aware of this phone's shortcomings if they opt for this model over the Plus.

Read our full Galaxy Note 10 review.

best samsung phones: Samsung Galaxy A51

(Image credit: Future)

9. Samsung Galaxy A51

Samsung's budget buy

Screen Size: 6.5 inches | Android Version: 10 with One UI 2 | Processor: Exynos 9611 | Cameras: 48MP, 12MP, 5MP and time-of-flight sensor (Rear); 32MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 4 GB/128 GB

Excellent display
Sleek design
Affordable price
Camera struggles in low light
Performance and battery life underwhelm

Samsung's Galaxy A phones have been a welcome addition to the midrange market, and there's plenty to like about the Galaxy A51. Samsung's phone features an excellent OLED screen and a sleek design. The four rear cameras proved versatile in our testing, and with 128GB of built-in capacity, Samsung didn't skimp on storage. All of this comes in a phone that costs $399, so you don't have to pay Galaxy S prices to get a good smartphone.

Still, the Galaxy A51 disappoints in some areas, especially if you're looking a phone that can rival Apple's low-cost iPhone SE. For starters, those cameras perform best in ideal conditions — when the lights are low, the quality of photos drops noticeably. And the Exynos 9611 powering the Galaxy A51 underwhelms, especially when you consider that Apple uses its top-of-the-line processor in the similarly priced iPhone SE.

Despite some disappointments, the Galaxy A51 remains a good budget buy if you're loyal to Samsung phones. Just be aware that there's a 5G-capable version of the A51 coming later this year.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A51 review.

best samsung phones Galaxy Note 9

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10. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Kind of pricey at this point

Screen Size: 6.4 inches | Android Version: 9 Pie with OneUI | Processor: Snapdragon 845 (US)/Exynos 9810 (WW) | Cameras: Dual 12 MP (Rear); 8 MP (Front) | RAM/Storage: 6 GB/128, 512 GB

Gorgeous display
S Pen has Bluetooth connectivity
Long battery life
Still expensive
Galaxy Note 10's processor and cameras are upgrades

Older Samsung phones tend to see price drops when the new models appear, and more than a year after its release, the Galaxy Note 9 now costs around $549. It's available for less at some retailers. Still, given the price discounts on the S10 lineup — and the fact that the screen on the S10 Plus is pretty big — we think a Note 9 purchase is hard to justify at this point, as good as that phone was in its day.

The more recent Note 10 delivers faster performance, thanks to the Snapdragon 855, but at least the Snapdragon 845 inside the Note 9 remains a powerful processor. You forgo the three rear cameras on the Galaxy Note 10 as well, and the gesture-based controls for the S Pen are exclusive to Samsung's newer phablet. 

That said, the cameras on the Note 9 are still very good and benefit from Samsung's Scene Optimizer. The Note 9's version of the S Pen also features Bluetooth connectivity, an addition that made the already capable S Pen an even better tool for power users. The Note 9 boasts good battery life, too, lasting nearly 11.5 hours on our battery test.

Read our full Galaxy Note 9 review.

 

best samsung phones galaxy fold

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11. Samsung Galaxy Fold

An interesting first effort for foldable phones

Screen Size: 7.3 inches (open), 4.6 inches (closed) | Android Version: 9 with One UI | Processor: Snapdragon 855 (US | Cameras: 12MP, 12MP, 16MP (Rear); 10MP (Front, closed) 10MP, 8MP (Front, open) | RAM/Storage: 12 GB/512 GB

Innovative folding display
Multitasking support
Very expensive
Bulky and heavy
Distracting notch

The Galaxy Fold is likely to be defined by its ill-fated launch, when troubles with the review units for Samsung’s first foldable phone forced the company to delay the debut of the Fold by nearly five months. That’s unfair, as it would overshadow a truly innovative design that Samsung improved during the phone’s delayed launch by shoring up the Fold’s durability.

There’s plenty to like about the idea behind the Galaxy Fold, which gives you a device with a 4.6-inch external screen for basic activities. But when it’s time to do real work, open up the Fold to reveal a 7.3-inch display that rivals tablet screen sizes.

The problem with the Galaxy Fold is that there are just too many flaws in this phone, especially in light of its $1,980 price. That expanded screen is great for multitasking, allowing you to run three apps at once. But there’s a visible crease in the display that makes this premium device feel unpolished. We also think the cameras — and there are a lot of them — don’t measure up to what the iPhone 11 offers. That notch that dips into the interior display is also a disappointment.

The Galaxy Fold was an important step by Samsung into the world of folding phones. But it’s going to be overtaken by other, more practical designs like Samsung’s own Galaxy Z Flip, which relies on a vertical flip phone-style approach.

Read our full Galaxy Fold review.

How to choose the best Samsung phones

Picking which Samsung phone to buy is primarily driven by budget considerations. You're not going to spring for a Galaxy S20 Ultra, for example, if you're not prepared with at least $1,400, even if you opt to spread those payments out over time. But other factors need to be taken into consideration as well.

Start with how you use your smartphone. If it's primarily a productivity device, you'd want to focus on the Galaxy Note lineup, specifically because of the powerful S Pen that comes with Samsung's large-screen phone. If you turn to your phone for photography, the Galaxy S series is usually first in line for Samsung's camera innovations.

Budget-minded shoppers will want to consider the Galaxy A51, as we noted, but there's a 5G version of the Galaxy A51 on the way along with the Galaxy A71 5G, which cost $499 and $599, respectively. That means if you want a 5G-ready Samsung device, you're not restricted to the company's pricey S20 options.

How we test Samsung phones

To find the best Samsung phones, we test the company's handsets the same way we test every smartphone we review. We run benchmarks on each phone, including synthetic benchmarks like Geekbench 5 and GFXBench to measure graphics performance. That allows us to compare Samsung device to other phones, including Apple's iPhone. In addition, we use real-world testing that includes a video transcoding test using Adobe Premiere Rush. 

In our lab, we measure the brightness of the phone's display (in nits), as well as how colorful each screen is (DCI-P3 color gamut). In these cases, higher numbers are better. We also measure color accuracy of each panel with a Delta-E rating, where lower numbers are better and score of 0 is perfect.

To determine how long a Samsung phone's battery lasts, we have the phones continuously surf the web over LTE with their screens set to 150 nits of brightness. The average smartphone lasts for 10 hours, with the best phone battery life reaching 11 hours or more in our testing.

Our camera testing involves taking photos with each Samsung phone we review and comparing them to similar shots from comparable models.We take shots of landscapes, food, portraits and more, and also allow you to be the judge with side-by-side comparisons in our reviews.