It may be over a year since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S20 range, but choosing between the three S20 models on offer is still a challenge, never mind factoring in other top smartphones. But that’s reality, and if you’re not committed to Samsung, you might find yourself tempted by one of Google’s offerings instead, like the Google Pixel 4 XL. It’s a big phone with a lot of power and an absolutely stunning camera, backed up by Google’s peerless use of the Android operating system. Can the middle child of the S20 range, the Galaxy S20 Plus, take down Google’s monolith? We put them head to head to find out.
|Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus||Google Pixel 4 XL|
|Size||161.9 x 73.7 x 7.8mm (6.4 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches)||160.4 × 75.1 × 8.2mm (6.3 × 2.9 × 0.3 inches)|
|Weight||186 grams (6.6 ounces)||193 grams (6.8 ounces)|
|Screen size||6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED||6.3-inch AMOLED|
|Screen resolution||3200 x 1440 pixels (525 pixels per inch)||3040 × 1440 pixels (537 ppi)|
|Operating system||Android 10 (under One UI 2.0)||Android 10|
|Storage space||128, 512GB||64, 128GB|
|MicroSD card slot||Yes, up to 1TB||No|
|Tap-to-pay services||Samsung Pay, Google Pay||Google Pay|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Camera||12-megapixel, 64MP telephoto lens, 12MP ultrawide lens, and ToF sensor rear, 10MP front||12MP and 16MP telephoto rear, 8MP front|
|Video||8K at 30 frames per second, 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps||4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps|
|Bluetooth version||Bluetooth 5.0||Bluetooth 5.0|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes, in-display||No|
Fast charging (25W)
Qi wireless charging
Fast charging (18W)
Qi wireless charging
|App marketplace||Google Play Store||Google Play Store|
|Network support||AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon||AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon|
|Colors||Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black||Just Black, Clearly White, Oh So Orange|
|Price||From $625||From $580|
|Review score||4 out of 5 stars||4 out of 5 stars|
Design, display, and durability
The Galaxy S20 Plus is a beautiful phone. Like its predecessors, the S20 Plus has a sleek glass build with rounded edges that softly curve into the body. It’s almost all display on the front, with just a single hole-punch for the selfie lens. The Pixel 4 XL has slimmed down previously large bezels, but retains a large forehead bezel for the selfie lens and face-sensing tech. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who says the Pixel is the better-looking phone.
The S20 Plus has the edge over the Pixel 4 XL in pure screen size with a massive 6.7-inch display. The sharpness should be similar, though the Pixel holds a tiny edge in terms of pixels-per-inch. While the Pixel would previously have had an edge thanks to its 90Hz screen, Samsung has boosted its screen tech yet again and the super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate of the S20 Plus screen puts that advantage firmly to bed.
Well, what about durability then? It’s a bit more even here. Both phones have glass bodies, which makes them equally susceptible to cracks and scrapes, and both come with an IP68-rating for dust and water-resistance. You’ll want a protective case regardless.
The durability of each phone is similar, but Samsung’s flagship runs away with the rest of the round.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
Performance, battery life, and charging
The Galaxy S20 Plus is equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor. While the Pixel 4 XL’s Snapdragon 855 will still provide great performance, there’s no doubt that the Snapdragon 865 is the faster and more powerful of the two. That processor is joined by 12GB of RAM, twice the 6GB available on the Pixel 4 XL. Storage is similarly one-sided. The Pixel 4 XL tops out at 128GB of storage, with no microSD card slot. The S20 Plus also has 128GB as standard, but you can spring for 512GB of storage if you like, and either way, there’s support for microSD cards up to 1TB in size. That’s a lot of storage.
If the Pixel 4 XL has an Achilles’ heel, it’s the battery size — 3,700mAh is simply not enough, and it means the phone will only just make it through a workday with medium use. Power users will find it completely inadequate. The S20 Plus has a 4,500mAh capacity, and we didn’t encounter any issues with battery life during our review period. While the Pixel 4 has some exceptionally fast charging, a seriously disappointing battery life means the Galaxy S20 Plus runs away with this.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
Samsung has made some serious strides where the S20 Plus’ camera is concerned. Samsung’s new flagship is equipped with an impressive main camera suite, with a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens, 64MP telephoto lens, 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens, and a time-of-flight depth-sensing lens. It’s impressive hardware, and it comes with some equally impressive software. The new Space Zoom allows a 30x hybrid zoom with A.I. stabilization, and there’s support for filming in 8K.
At first glance, it seems the Pixel 4 XL is completely outclassed, but it never pays to underestimate the Pixel range’s camera. The dual 12MP and 16MP telephoto lenses produce amazing images in a variety of lighting conditions, helped by Google’s impressive Night Sight software. It’ll even take good shots of the night sky with the new astrophotography mode. It’s an impressive camera, and that quality extends to the 8MP selfie camera around the front.
They’re both impressive, but the Pixel 4 XL has an edge in pure polish. While the S20 Plus produces consistently good images across the board, dodgy edge-detection and a less impressive Night mode put it behind the Pixel. The S20 Plus gets some serious points for the Single Take feature, which produces shareable GIFs, images, and clips from a single video — but overall, the Pixel 4 XL is stronger.
Winner: Google Pixel 4 XL
Software and updates
The Galaxy S20 Plus ships with Android 10, covered by Samsung’s One UI 2.0 software. It’s a good manufacturer’s skin, with plenty of customization elements and additional features. It’s down to personal choice whether you prefer this or the Pixel-specific Android 10 software on the Pixel 4 XL — but honestly, we feel you can get used to and enjoy using both of them.
Both the Pixel 4 XL and Samsung S20 Plus can now update to Android 11, although Samsung owners have had to wait a little longer for the latest upgrade. Generally speaking, Samsung’s upgrade history isn’t the best, and it probably won’t be supported for as long as the Pixel 4 XL either. The Pixel 4 XL wins here.
Winner: Google Pixel 4 XL
The Galaxy S20 Plus has no shortage of special features, and includes Samsung’s virtual assistant, Bixby, support for the DeX desktop mode, and — probably most importantly — 5G support. That last point future-proofs the S20 Plus to a significant degree, and means you can rest assured your phone will be able to handle the latest mobile network as it continues to roll out across the world.
The Pixel 4 XL has a similarly broad array of special features, most of which are powered by the exceptional Google Assistant — the Recorder app and Call Screen rest among these. There’s also the motion-powered Motion Sense. These special features are very impressive, and would normally tip the balance in the Pixel’s favor — only, the Pixel 4 XL doesn’t support 5G. We’re leaving this as a draw.
Price and availability
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is currently available on Amazon, with prices starting from $625 for the 128GB model. The Pixel 4 XL is also available on Amazon, with prices starting from $580 for the 64GB model.
Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
The Google Pixel 4 XL is a strong contender, with an exceptional camera, sleek software, and powerful specs, but it has some weaknesses, and those weaknesses are areas where the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus really shines. With an absolutely stunning bezel-less design and a huge battery, the Galaxy S20 Plus is hard to beat. Add the Snapdragon 865 processor, a versatile quad-lens camera, and the full 5G experience, and it’s easy to see why the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is the victor in this particular battle.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Pixel 4 XL isn’t worth buying. Quite the opposite — if you love the Pixel’s Android experience and incredible camera, and you aren’t too worried about the odd design or the smaller battery, then it’s definitely worth considering. But if you’re not a Pixel die-hard or simply find yourself away from chargers for a longer period of time, you should buy the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus.