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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Best Galaxy S20 Deals (and Which Model to Pick)

Every year, Samsung stuffs more and more tech into its phones—this year it's touting 8K video recording, 5G, and 100X digital zoom on the Galaxy S20 range. But the added features give those phones staggeringly high price tags. Earlier this spring, the Galaxy S20 launched at an eyebrow-raising $1,000, and it is the most affordable phone of the lot. Compare that to the cheapest phone in last year's Galaxy S10 range, the S10e, which started at $750. Yikes. What a jump.

In no way does it mean you need to spend $1,000 on a new phone. There are plenty of good alternatives that won't make your wallet want to sew itself shut. But if you must have the greatest from Samsung this year, we've laid out everything you need to know about the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra, and even the new foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip. Below, you'll also find every notable Galaxy S20 deal and order page we've found so far. For more details on the phones, check out our full recap of Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event.

Updated for June 2020: We've added details on Samsung's Access plan, mentioned the new Verizon S20 that supports sub-6 5G and mmWave, and updated pricing throughout.

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The Right Galaxy for You

The differences between the three Galaxy S20 phones aren't as great as you might think. Samsung has a handy comparison that breaks it down here.

  • The whole Galaxy S20 line is a spectacle: I've spent plenty of time with all three phones now, and you can expect excellent performance in all of them, thanks to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 processor. The hardware is top-notch, perhaps a bit excessive with specs like 12 GB of RAM, but the 120-Hz screen refresh rate is a highlight as it makes scrolling and gaming on the phones look a whole lot smoother. They all have in-display fingerprint sensors, 8K video recording, 5G connectivity, and the usual flourishes like wireless charging, a MicroSD card slot, and IP68 water resistance (but no headphone jack).

  • Galaxy S20 ($1,000+) is the smallest of the lot: If you want Samsung's best but don't want to carry around a phablet, get the S20. It has a reasonable 6.2-inch screen and all the same specs as the S20 Plus, except for a slightly smaller 4,000-mAh battery (that still lasts a really long time). It's missing the time-of-flight camera from its bigger sibling, which is used for improved depth with Samsung's portrait mode and better augmented-reality effects, but it's not a huge loss at all. It is the only phone in the lineup to come in pink, if that's worth anything. Our review (9/10 WIRED Recommends) has more details.

  • Galaxy S20 Plus ($1,200+) is for big-screen lovers: The only reason to buy this over the S20 is if you want a sprawling 6.7-inch screen, though at that point you may as well shell out for the slightly better S20 Ultra. The bigger battery over the S20 doesn't mean it lasts longer, since it needs to power more screen, and the extra time-of-flight camera doesn't add much. Like the S20, the 64-megapixel telephoto camera maxes out at 30X digital zoom, which doesn't matter, because you don't get flattering results anyway—everything looks blotchy.

  • Galaxy S20 Ultra ($1,400+) is for shutterbugs: The standard camera on the previous two phones opts for 12 megapixels and a 1/1.76-inch image sensor, but the S20 Ultra goes the extra mile with a larger 1/1.33-inch sensor and an absurd 108 megapixels. That larger sensor does mean better photos at night, and the giant megapixel count nets more details in your shots (and larger file sizes). But wait, there's more! The 48-megapixel telephoto camera goes up to 100X digital zoom, which is absolutely overkill, but the 10X hybrid zoom is what makes it shine—the other two S20 phones do offer this, but the quality isn't as good. Did I mention it also has a 40-MP selfie camera and a gargantuan 6.9-inch screen? Naturally, there's an even bigger battery. Check out our review (8/10, WIRED Recommends) for more.

  • Galaxy Z Flip ($1,380+) is for early adopters: I spent 24 hours with Samsung's newest foldable phone, and I didn't want to give it up. The clamshell style has grown on me, but it's not going to make you more productive or anything like that. It purely saves a little more space in your pocket, but it's damn fun to flip it open (or snap it shut to end a call). It's the most polished foldable phone I've used so far, but despite a glass screen, there are multiple reports of it scratching or cracking at the crease. Buy it at your own risk if you want something different and have the money to spend, but in a year or two, expect foldables to be cheaper and look and feel even more mature.

Word to the Wise

Here's some friendly advice before you drop four figures on a new phone.

  • Don't buy these phones just because they support 5G: All three Galaxy S20 phones can access the newest 5G mobile networks, but there are caveats. The S20 only supports sub-6, a type of 5G that's slightly faster than 4G with similar building penetration and range. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint all have deployed this flavor of 5G throughout the US, though only in select areas in a handful of cities. The S20 Plus and Ultra both support sub-6 and millimeter wave (mmWave); the latter delivers much faster network speeds (think 1 gigabit per second), but its range is abysmal and it currently doesn't quite work indoors. (A Galaxy S20 model that supports sub-6 and mmWave recently launched on Verizon's network.) Don't expect to regularly access these faster speeds—you'll predominantly be using 4G on these phones. Our 5G guide breaks it all down further.

  • Consider a case: At the end of the day, all these phones are still fragile slabs of glass. I recommend slapping a case on to protect your expensive investment, and we have a guide chock full of recommendations for all three phones.

  • Peer outside the Galaxy: There are plenty of other excellent options that can be had for several hundred dollars less. If you really want to stick to Samsung, consider its Galaxy S10 range; all three models have been discounted and are still great phones, especially the Galaxy S10E, which can be bought for just $600. Alternatively, our best Android phone remains the Google Pixel 3A ($320+), which is all that most people need, or the powerful OnePlus 7T ($499), which also has a screen with a high refresh rate. Check out our Best Cheap Phones guide for other options.

How to Get the Galaxy S20 Unlocked

The easiest place to go for all three phones (as well as the Galaxy Z Flip) is Samsung.com. We always recommend you buy the phone unlocked, because you can easily use it on any carrier should you switch (the smallest S20 can only access mmWave 5G networks on Verizon, but you need to buy the Verizon-specific model). It also usually means no preinstalled bloatware.

Galaxy S20 Deals From Wireless Carriers

If you don't think you'll be switching carriers anytime soon, then below are deals from a few major players—just remember to always read the fine print. You can still get up to $200 in Samsung credit when buying from carriers, you'll just need the Shop Samsung application to claim it.

  • Verizon is offering $150 off when you buy a Galaxy S20 or Galaxy S20 Plus. The savings come in the form of bill credits, and it doesn't matter if you pay via installments or full retail price. If you are joining Verizon as a new subscriber, you can save an additional $150 if you get an Unlimited plan (it'll come in the mail as a Verizon gift card). If you add two Galaxy S20 models to your cart, including the S20 Ultra, you can get up to $1,000 as monthly credits if you buy them on installment plans, and one of them needs a new line and an unlimited plan.

  • Visible, Verizon's prepaid carrier, is offering $100 as a prepaid Mastercard. You just need to be a new member switching to the service, and port your old number from your old carrier. The entire range is also being sold at a slight discount starting at $984, likely because there is no access to 5G on Visible.

  • AT&T is offering the Galaxy S20 for $10 a month for 30 months (amounts to $300). The caveat is you need to add a new line and an eligible unlimited plan, and you see the savings as bill credits. For all S20 models, including the S20 Plus and the S20 Ultra, you can get discounts on Samsung's Galaxy Tab S5e and Galaxy Buds Plus, though you'll need to follow specific instructions, like buy the Tab S5e and the phone on an installment plan. Click the "Available Offers" button at the top of the page for more details.

  • T-Mobile is offering 50 percent off if you buy an S20 or $500 if you get the S20 Plus, or S20 Ultra. You need to be a new subscriber on an eligible plan, buy the phone on an installment plan, and you'll see the savings as bill credits over a 24-month period.

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