Best Samsung Phones Android Central 2020
Samsung is one of the biggest phone manufacturers in the world, and with good reason — it makes some pretty incredible phones, combining outstanding hardware design with long lists of handy features that differentiate its phones from the competition. The Galaxy S20 Ultra is the company's top phone, but there's also a range of other devices that hit different sizes, price points and value propositions.
- Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
- Best Compact: Samsung Galaxy S20
- Best for Productivity: Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
- Best for Less: Samsung Galaxy S10
- Best Mid-range Option: Samsung Galaxy A71
- Best on a Tight Budget: Samsung Galaxy A51
Best Overall — Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
The Galaxy S20 Ultra is the culmination of years of iteration and improvement. Samsung has been sticking with this general design language since the Galaxy S6, but it feels like it might have finally perfected it. The S20 Ultra is incredibly well-built, and its massive footprint allows it to squeeze in top-of-the-line specs, 5G support, and a massive 5,000mAh battery.
It also has the best display we've ever seen on a phone: an enormous 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling. It has plenty of other great hardware features, too, including microSD expansion, water resistance, and bilateral wireless charging. It runs Samsung's most mature One UI software yet, and it's buttery smooth thanks to the Snapdragon 865 chipset.
Of course, we can't talk about a Samsung phone without mentioning the cameras. The S20 Ultra goes all out with a 108MP primary camera, featuring a sensor 3x larger than that of the preceding Galaxy S10 series and 9:1 pixel binning for extra-sharp and bright 12MP photos. You also get an ultra-wide camera and a new periscope-style telephoto camera that lets you reach all the way up to 100x zoom.
There's also 8K video recording, complete with editing tools built into the gallery, and a new Single Take shooting mode that captures multiple different types of photos and videos all at the press of a button.
- Incredible 120Hz display
- Top-end specs
- Incredible cameras with massive sensors
- Support for mmWave and sub-6 5G
- Massive 5,000mAh battery
- No headphone jack
- Too large for some
- Very expensive
The super-phone that does it all
The S20 Ultra has an incredible 120Hz display, great cameras, a beautiful design, and top-of-the-line specs.
Best Compact — Samsung Galaxy S20
The S20 Ultra may be the most eye-catching phone in Samsung's 2020 lineup, but the cheaper S20 is every bit as good for most people. You get a nearly identical experience, with the same 865 processor and equally impressive cameras, all in a size that actually fits in your hands (and pockets).
The screen is smaller at 6.2 inches, but still wonderful with the same 120Hz refresh rate. The smaller 4,000mAh battery should still be plenty for most people (especially when you consider the reduced power draw of the smaller display), and you'll still be able to zoom all the way up to 30x with the telephoto camera. It also still has 5G, although only sub-6 and not mmWave 5G. Otherwise, this truly is a Galaxy S20 experience through and through, with a much much manageable size and more accessible pricing.
- Core GS20 experience for less
- Compact size fits most hands
- Reasonable price for all it offers
- Smaller battery
- No mmWave 5G support (sub-6 only)
- Screen may actually be too small for some
The surprisingly pocketable member of the S20 family
The S20 doesn't have the 108MP camera of the S20 Ultra, but it's otherwise essentially the same phone in a smaller size.
Best for Productivity — Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
The Galaxy Note 10+ offers almost everything that makes the Galaxy S20 Ultra great in a slightly cheaper package, with the added benefit of the unrivaled S Pen stylus. All of the basics are the same, with excellent build quality, a high-end screen, consistently good cameras, and software that's packed with features. You'll get last year's Snapdragon 855 processor, but that's hardly a downside.
The S Pen offers a unique experience you won't find on any other phone. You can write, draw, annotate, and sign documents all day long. Plus, it can be used in a pinch to control your phone from a distance over Bluetooth. You can even use it as a remote shutter for Note's cameras, making it far easier to take challenging shots without contorting your hands, or even grab a fun group selfie.
- Outstanding performance
- Great battery life and fast charging
- Consistent camera performance
- Expandable storage
- Best stylus experience on any phone
- Camera isn't great at low-light
- No 5G support on most carriers
- No headphone jack
Best for Productivity
Productivity never stops when you have a Note
With a Galaxy Note you get incredible performance and battery life, a huge display, and the powerful S Pen.
Best for Less — Samsung Galaxy S10
When Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S20 series, it also announced that it'd continue selling the Galaxy S10 at a reduced price. This provides an excellent option for shoppers who don't want to shell out four figures for a new phone; even a year in, the Galaxy S10 is still a terrific phone with powerful specs and three great cameras.
You won't get 5G with the Galaxy S10, but most networks throughout the U.S. don't yet offer a worthwhile 5G experience anyway. You get the same Android 10 software experience with One UI 2, a blisteringly fast Snapdragon 855, water resistance, reverse wireless charging … basically everything and the kitchen sink!
- Last year's flagship at a discounted price
- Three versatile cameras
- High-end Snapdragon 855
- Top-notch build quality
- No 5G support
- Likely won't be updated for much longer
Best for Less
Last year's flagship is still an excellent buy
Even a year on, the Galaxy S10 is still a fantastic phone. You won't get 5G support, but it still has excellent build quality.
Best Mid-range Option — Samsung Galaxy A71
The Galaxy A71 is one of Samsung's best phones yet — and not just in the mid-range segment. There really isn't anything missing on the device: you get a massive 6.7-inch AMOLED screen (second only to the S20 Ultra) backed by robust internal hardware, versatile quad cameras at the back with a 64MP primary sensor, and incredible battery life with 25W fast charging.
Combine that with a gorgeous design and it's easy to see why the Galaxy A71 is one of the best devices around. If you're looking for a reliable option without spending too much money, the Galaxy A71 should be at the top of your list.
- Outstanding battery life
- Gorgeous design
- Massive AMOLED screen
- Robust internal hardware
- Great 64MP camera
- Slow fingerprint sensor
Best Mid-range Option
The best mid-ranger from Samsung yet
The Galaxy A71 has it all: a massive AMOLED screen, great internal hardware, versatile cameras, and outstanding battery life.
Best on a Tight Budget — Samsung Galaxy A51
The Galaxy A51 continues the heritage of last year's A50 by bringing the best features that Samsung has to offer to a more attractive price point. The phone has a large 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display with vibrant colors and excellent contrast levels, and you also get a 48MP camera at the back, along with a 12MP wide-angle lens, a 5MP macro lens, and a 2MP portrait module.
The design itself has also been refreshed, with the Galaxy A51 looking just as modern as the Galaxy S20 series. There's a hole-punch cutout for the front camera, and the thanks to thin bezels, the phone isn't too unwieldy to use. The A51 has a generous 4,000mAh battery with 15W fast charging, and while it isn't the fastest phone in the world, it gets all the basics right. The only thing it's missing is Samsung Pay.
- Premium design
- Vibrant AMOLED screen
- Great battery life
- Decent cameras
- Good value
- Laggy at times
- No Samsung Pay
Best on a Tight Budget
Gorgeous design meets great cameras
With a modern design and stunning AMOLED panel and quad cameras at the back, the Galaxy A51 has a lot going for it.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra is Samsung's best phone, and the default choice for people who want to have the most high-end phone that money can buy. Its high price is hard to justify for some, but the 108MP primary camera and 100x telephoto are well worth it if cameras are your top priority. You'd be hard-pressed to find something you need to do that the S20 Ultra can't accommodate.
The smaller and less expensive Galaxy S20 or even the S20+ are interesting alternative choices for those who have different size or budget needs, offering the same core Galaxy S20 experience regardless. Last year's Note 10+ is a similar offering in both price and feature set, with many things that are directly comparable to the S20 Ultra for a bit less money, with the added perk of the S Pen.
On the lower end, Samsung offers the Galaxy A51, with hints of the flagship Galaxy S models trickled down to a mid-range price range that can be incredibly appealing if you can't push your budget as high as the S20 — though if you still want a flagship experience, last year's Galaxy S10 is yet another great purchase.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S., for Android Central. Keeping you up to date with mobile news and analysis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.
Hayato Huseman is a recovering trade show addict and Video Editor for Android Central based out of Indianapolis. He can mostly be found complaining about the cold and enthusing about prog metal on Twitter at @hayatohuseman.
Daniel Bader (@journeydan on Twitter) is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he's writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there's a correlation.
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