Samsung’s phone lineup is impressive, with plenty of cutting-edge features and options at multiple price points, but it can also be confusing and intimidating as you try to figure out which phone is best for you.
For example, is there a big difference between the $399 Galaxy A51, the $1,399 Galaxy S20 Ultra, the brand-new $1,299 Note 20 Ultra, and the even newer Galaxy Z Fold 2? (Spoiler alert: Yes.) But what about the A51 versus the S10? Well, that’s when things get tougher.
Below, we’ll break down the top phones in Samsung’s lineup and try to help you find the right phone for you.
A no-frills phone: Samsung Galaxy A51
We reviewed the Galaxy A51 earlier this year, and while it’s priced at the low end, its performance left us wanting more.
Overall, it’ll get the job done, but it’s going to teach you how to be patient when you encounter random slowdowns and sluggishness.
Battery life and the camera are both solid, with the camera taking slightly oversaturated photos that are still more than worthy of being shared on Facebook or Instagram. The battery should be more than enough to get through a full day of heavy use.
The A51 has a 6.5-inch FHD+ display, a 32-megapixel front-facing camera and four rear-facing cameras, ranging from a macro shooter for up-close shots to an ultrawide camera that lets you zoom out on a photo.
The A51 is a fine phone for someone who doesn’t need a lot from a phone. It’ll handle sending messages, Facebook browsing and the occasional gaming session.
2019 specs for less: Samsung Galaxy S10
When Samsung announced the Galaxy S20, the company also announced a price drop for the entire Galaxy S10 line, the previous generation of Galaxy phones.
The Galaxy S10 line was originally announced in March 2019, and despite being more than a year old, all three phones are still fast, have stellar cameras and live up to everything we said in our Galaxy S10+ review shortly after their release.
The Galaxy S10e is the entry-level model. It uses different display tech and has a fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button but keeps the impressive camera setup the S10 line is known for.
The S10 line is essentially a 5G-less version of the Galaxy S20, without the fancy camera zoom. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. If you want to know how each model stacks up when compared to OnePlus or Apple, we have a buying guide that walks you through it all.
For the creative power user: Samsung Galaxy Note 20
Samsung’s Galaxy Note line has traditionally been geared toward business users and power users who want their phones to do anything and everything. And this year, with the release of the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, Samsung is once again aiming its high-end phones at power users.
There are some key differences between the two, starting with price. The Note 20 is priced at $999 and comes in only one configuration. It has 128GB of storage and lacks a microSD card slot as well as some other features you’ll find in the more expensive Note 20 Ultra.
Speaking of, the Note 20 Ultra starts at $1,299 for 128GB of storage. You can get a Note 20 Ultra with 512GB of storage for $1,449.
Both phones come with 5G connectivity and S Pen stylus support, and are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor.
The Note 20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch WQHD+ display, a 4,500mAh battery, 12GB of memory, 120Hz screen refresh rate, 9ms latency for the S Pen and microSD card support.
The Note 20 has a 6.7-inch FHD+ display, 4,300mAh battery, 8GB of memory, 60Hz screen refresh rate and 26ms latency for the S Pen.
For someone who wants the latest and greatest, the Note 20 doesn’t make a lot of sense, no matter how attractive its $999 price tag is.
We have a lot more testing to do with the Note 20, but it’s easy to say the Note 20 Ultra is the clear winner between the two devices. If you’re itching for a stylus, massive display and what should be long battery life, then the Note 20 Ultra is calling your name.
For the power user: Samsung Galaxy S20
The Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra are some of Samsung’s most expensive and most capable phones. All three models have revamped cameras, 5G connectivity and a new design. The starting price for the S20 is $999, the Galaxy S20+ is $1,199 and the S20 Ultra is $1,399.
The main differences between the three models come down to screen size, camera features and 5G capabilities. The S20 has a display that measures 6.2 inches, the S20+ display is 6.7 inches and the S20 Ultra’s screen measures 6.9 inches.
The camera setup on all three models is impressive, with 10x hybrid optical zoom (a feature all phones should have) and up to 100x zoom on the Ultra. The S20 and S20+ have up to 30x zoom, but whether it’s 100x or 30x, it’s not a very useful feature. Photos taken at that zoom level are blurry and pixelated.
When it comes to 5G support, all three S20 models have it, but the standard S20 is not created equal. The short version is that the S20 supports only one 5G connectivity standard, and it’s the slower of the two standards. The S20+ and Ultra support both standards, future-proofing your investment.
The S20 line is ideal for someone who is overdue for an upgrade and doesn’t mind spending more for a phone.
For the forward thinkers: Samsung’s foldables
Samsung has an entire line of smartphones that boast foldable displays. Yes, that means the display actually bends or folds, without breaking, either shrinking down the overall size of the phone when it’s closed, as is the case with the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, or opening up to reveal a more tablet-like screen on the inside, like the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
But there’s a big hurdle to get over when looking at foldable phones: the cost. The Galaxy Z Flip 5G, for example, costs $1,449.99. The original Z Flip, sans 5G connectivity and with an older processor, was priced at $1,380.
And now we have the Galaxy Z Fold 2, the successor to last year’s $1,980 Galaxy Fold. The Fold 2 will set you back $1,999, but comes with some added benefits such as private access to on-demand support, and a VIP service that includes premium subscriptions to a handful of services like the Founder’s Card or access to elite golf courses.
Granted, the high cost of Samsung’s foldable phones comes with benefits like using a device that’s arguably on the cutting edge of technology. Many argue that foldable displays, in some shape or form, are the future of phones. We can’t argue with that prediction; it sure does feel that’s the direction things are heading.
So, if you really want to test out the latest and greatest, and don’t mind going through initial growing pains as Samsung works through refining hardware, software and the overall cost of this kind of phone, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the best you can get right now. It has a 6.2-inch display on the front, and then opens up to a 7.6-inch display on the inside, providing a tablet-like experience.
We’ll have plenty of more thoughts about the Galaxy Z Fold 2 in the coming days and weeks, once we’re able to get one in our hands. If you’re already sold, you can preorder one right now, with the official launch just a couple of weeks away on September 18.