Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus vs. S20 Ultra: What’s the Difference?


If you’ve been umming and ahhing about which Galaxy S20 to buy because you just can’t decide between the S20 Plus or S20 Ultra, prepare yourself, as we’re about to make your decision that little bit easier. These two smartphones are very similar, but when we dig a little deeper into the spec sheet, we find that there are a few differences worth noting. Having already compared the S20 and S20 Plus, now it’s time to see how the S20 Plus and S20 Ultra measure up.

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Specs

Galaxy S20 Plus Galaxy S20 Ultra
Size 161.9 × 73.7 × 7.8mm (6.37 × 2.9 × 0.3 inches) 166.9 × 76 × 8.8mm (6.57 × 2.99 × 0.34 inches)
Weight 186 grams (6.56 ounces) 220 grams (7.76 ounces)
Screen size 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Screen resolution 3200 × 1440 pixels (525 pixels-per-inch) 3200 × 1440 pixels (511 ppi)
Operating system Android 11 (OneUI 3) Android 11 (OneUI 3)
Storage 128, 512GB 128, 512GB
MicroSD card slot Yes Yes
Tap-to-pay services Samsung Pay, Google Pay Samsung Pay, Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
RAM 12GB 12, 16GB
Camera 12-megapixel, 64MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide, and ToF sensor rear, 10MP front 108MP, 48MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide, and ToF sensor rear, 40MP front
Video 8K at 30 frames per second, 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps 8K at 30 fps, 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps
Bluetooth version 5.0 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display Yes, in-display
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 4,500mAh

Fast charging (25W)

Qi wireless charging

5,000mAh

Fast charging (45W)

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support All major carriers All major carriers
Colors Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black, Cloud White, Aura Red, Aura Blue Cosmic Gray, Cosmic Black, Cloud White
Prices $1,200 $1,400
Buy from Amazon, Best Buy Amazon, Best Buy
Review score 4 out of 5 4 out of 5

Design, display, and durability

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra hands-on pinhole notch
John Velasco / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus and the S20 Ultra are large phones with very similar designs. The most immediately apparent difference is that the S20 Ultra is bigger in every dimension and considerably heavier. The glass back is curved on both, but the camera module at the top left looks different on the Ultra — it’s wider and has “Space Zoom 100X” written on it. The S20 Ultra has a slightly bigger 6.9-inch AMOLED screen while the S20 Plus has a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen.

Both screens are top quality; they’re HDR10+ certified and they boast a 120Hz refresh rate which makes for a silky smooth feel and will delight gamers in particular. Because the S20 Plus screen is slightly smaller it’s a touch sharper, but the difference is so slight that it’s not going to be noticeable. There’s an IP68 rating for both phones, which means they can be submerged in fresh water to a depth of up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes without any damage. There’s little to separate them here, some people will prefer the extra screen real estate of the S20 Ultra, but others may find that the S20 Plus is easier to handle.

Winner: Tie

Performance, battery life, and charging

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra held in hand
John Velasco / Digital Trends

You’ll find the very capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor in the S20 Plus and the S20 Ultra, though in some markets it will be Samsung’s Exynos 990 chipset instead. There’s an ample 12GB of RAM as standard and 128GB of storage with space to expand that with a MicroSD card. While both phones are offered in a 512GB of storage variant, only the S20 Ultra has extra RAM — there’s 16GB in the more expensive model. Performance with either phone is going to be lightning-fast and smooth. These phones are ready for the most demanding apps and games. They can also store a lot of different games and apps in RAM, meaning you can jump out to do something else and then jump back in again precisely where you left off.

The larger S20 Ultra has an extra 500mAh of battery capacity and that’s likely to enable it to go longer than the S20 Plus between charges, even though it has a bigger screen to power. Both phones come with a 25W charger in the box, but the S20 Ultra can also support 45W wired charging if you buy a compatible fast charger separately. Both support Samsung’s Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 which offers up to 15W with the right charging pad. They can also wirelessly charge other devices in a pinch thanks to Samsung’s Wireless PowerShare feature.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Further reading

Cameras

Taking a photo with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
John Velasco / Digital Trends

This category brings the clearest win for the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra because, while both have impressive and versatile camera suites, the Ultra’s is clearly superior. The S20 Ultra boasts a 108-megapixel main lens, 48-megapixel telephoto lens, and a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens in its main rear-facing camera. The S20 Plus makes do with a 12-megapixel main lens, 64-megapixel telephoto lens, and a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens.

The main difference here in terms of capabilities is that the Ultra’s camera has a 10x optical zoom and a 100x digital zoom, compared to 3x and 30x, respectively, for the S20 Plus. Whether you need that extra zoom capability is highly debatable. However, selfie fans will definitely benefit from the Ultra’s 40-megapixel front-facing camera, which should offer greater detail compared to the 10-megapixel front-facing camera in the S20 Plus. Both phones are capable of capturing video in up to 8K quality.

Samsung also promises smarter artificial intelligence to help you capture the best photos in each situation and larger sensors than previous Samsung phones enable these cameras to capture more light for better performance at night and indoors when lighting may be limited.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Software and updates

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra held in hand
John Velasco / Digital Trends

The S20 Plus and the S20 Ultra both run Android 11 with Samsung’s One UI 3 over the top, which is simpler and cleaner than previous versions, and, importantly for phones this size, easier to use one-handed. The software update schedule for these phones will likely be much the same, so there’s no obvious advantage for either here.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Samsung Galaxy S20 line angled shot
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Although it doesn’t distinguish these cellphones, it’s important to note that both of them support a 5G connection. The tinier Samsung S20 only backs sub-6 5G networks; however, both the S20 Plus and S20 Ultra can uphold sub-6 and mmWave mechanics. 

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The starting price for an S20 Plus is $1,200, while the S20 Ultra comes in at $1,400. Neither model is being sold directly by Samsung, given that they’ve been usurped by the S21. However, you can still find them for sale via Amazon, Best Buy, and other major online retailers. If you’re lucky, you should also be able to find them at a discount relative to their launch prices.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

When it comes down to the winner, the S20 Ultra is our favorite overall. Throughout this article, we’ve talked about the many differences in camera quality, the S20 Ultra’s bigger screen, the larger and longer-lasting battery, and the possibility for quicker wired charging. We love these features, but since the S20 Ultra has a larger size to accommodate for these upgrades, the device itself might seem too bulky for the casual user. With its smaller size and lower price, the S20 Plus has admirable features, but if you’re searching for supreme power and superb performance, we suggest choosing the Ultra.

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