Samsung has once again done what it does best: take its most advanced mobile to date – the S20 Ultra –, reinforce all its weak points and attach an S-Pen. Thus, the new Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra was born.
Some thought that Galaxy Note10 Plus last year’s could become the previous installment in the series given the increasingly more minor differences between the Galaxy S families and Galaxy Note models.
But the reality is that Samsung seems to be very sure of the present and future of the Note family despite this apparent loss of identity, and this is demonstrated by its latest edition, the most advanced to date.
With the Note20 Ultra, Samsung combines the best of the S20 Ultra with the best of the previous Galaxy Note10 +, thus aspiring to conquer the hearts – and the pockets – of those who want to have everything in mobile. This is everything you need to know about the Note20 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra, feature datasheet
|Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra|
|Dimensions||164,8 x 77,2 x 8,1 mm|
|Screen||6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED
120 Hz, 19.3: 9 aspect ratio, Gorilla Glass Victus
|Resolution||WQHD / 3200 x 1440 pixels, 508 ppi|
|Processor||CPU Exynos 990 5G Octacore de 2.7 GHz|
|Operating system||One UI 2.5 based on Android 10|
|Storage||128/256/512 GB UFS 3.1 expandable by microSD|
|Cameras||Rear: 12 MP Ultra Wide Angle, 1.4μm pixel size, 120˚ f / 2.2 FOV | 108 MP Wide-Angle PDAF, OIS, 0.8μm pixel size, FOV: 79˚, f / 1.8 | 12 MP Telephoto Space Zoom with 5x Hybrid Optical Zoom, OIS and AF Tracking
Front: 10 MP Dual Pixel AF, 80º FOV
|Battery||4,500 mAh with fast charging (charges up to 50% in 30 minutes) and fast wireless charging|
|Others||S-Pen with 9 ms latency, facial recognition, in-display fingerprint reader, Samsung Pay, Samsung Knox, Dual-SIM + eSIM, Bluetooth 5.0, USB Typ-C (Gen 3.2), NFC, WiFi 6, Wireless DeX|
The analyzed model is a Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage in Mystic Bronze color.
The test was carried out on the latest firmware update in Spain, corresponding to version N986BXXU1ATGI based on Android 10 with One UI 2.5 and the security patch for July 2020.
The best of the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
Among all the features of the Note20 Ultra, some stand out from the rest. This is the best of the new Samsung model.
This year, Samsung has chosen not to vary the physical appearance of its new flagship phone overly and instead keep the visual language introduced alongside last year’s Note10 series.
That, therefore, leaves us with a phone built-in metal and glass, with curved side edges and very straight lines on the upper and lower edges, which were it not for the different protrusions on the edges and the distribution of weights between the upper and lower part, they would almost allow the mobile to be held upright without the need for support.
Although it is a mobile similar to the S20 Ultra, its aesthetics are different. It is undoubtedly one of the aspects in which Samsung continues to strive to differentiate its two main ranges well.
For yet another year, the build quality of the latest model in the Note series has been excellent. The Note20 Ultra is one of the best-built terminals that has ever passed my hands, thanks to the use of quality materials that give it a robust appearance and nice curves that counteract the hardness of its corners and straight lines.
In the same way last year, with the striking “Aura Glow” finish, Samsung has wanted to give the prominence it deserves to the device’s color. The benchmark finish is what the brand calls “Mystic Bronze,” copper-colored and with a finish matte on the back that feels great in hand and gives the terminal an elegant and attractive look.
The Galaxy Note20 Ultra “Mystic Bronze” is the only one of the three finishes available with a flat back.
Apart from that, the body of the terminal has additions already typical of mobile in this category, such as the latest generation of Gorilla Glass, now more resistant to scratches, or the IP68 certification that supports resistance to water and dust.
Even more striking than its design is the front panel of the Galaxy Note20 Ultra, with an impressive 6.9-inch diagonal that pushes it to be one of the largest we have seen on mobile to date.
The screen, based on Dynamic AMOLED technology with a resolution of 3200 x 1440 pixels, is a marvel in every way.
It is incredibly bright, the color reproduction – in the “Natural” screen mode – is excellent and its design has hardly any margins, added to the curves that extend almost to the metal chassis and the hole in the top, Smaller than last year, it makes it look like a phone straight from the future.
Furthermore, Samsung has decided to reinforce one of the weaknesses of the previous Note10 + by providing the terminal with a screen with a high refresh rate of 120 Hz. And it has done it – of course – in a big way, integrating the first screen with a variable refresh rate seen on a mobile.
Apart from the extreme fluidity and smoothness that comes with seeing the world through a large window at 120 hertz, the technology that integrates the Note20 Ultra – which Samsung calls VRR Panel – allows the screen to operate at 120, 60, 30, or up to 10 Hertz based on the content displayed on the screen.
In this way, the screen can switch between different modes depending on what we are doing with the phone. If we read an article or the terminal is in “Always on Display” way, the refresh rate ranges between 1 and 11 Hertz, but it increases until it surpasses the barrier of 24 hertz and reaches 120 if we watch a movie. Depending on the title played, the screen moves in a range between 30 and 120 hertz when playing.
According to company data, the idea behind this technology is to improve the energy efficiency of the panel, reducing its consumption by up to 22%.
A weak point resides in the inability to combine the maximum resolution of the panel with the maximum refresh rate that it supports. Something possible in models like the OnePlus 8 Pro or the OPPO Find X2 Pro. If I have paid 1,400 euros for a mobile, I want to enjoy it to the fullest, even knowing that autonomy will be seriously affected by it.
On the other hand, one more year, we find the now-famous “ghost touches” caused by the pronounced lateral curves of the glass. An excellent way to avoid this problem is by using a cover covering the terminal’s sides.
Behind the panel is the fingerprint reader, based on the same ultrasonic technology that the firm has been using since the Galaxy S10. Both the response time and the precision have not varied excessively. It continues to offer a correct operation, but without yet reaching the level of capacitive sensors like that of the Google Pixel 4a.
Performance and experience
Despite countless complaints against Exynos processors, Samsung has once again equipped the same brain Exynos 990 that gave life to the Galaxy S20 in this Note20 Ultra, which draws attention, especially when we see that the model sold in South Korea and the United States incorporates the Snapdragon 865+.
In the absence of a direct comparison between both phone variants, the reality is that the Galaxy Note20 Ultra flies in the same way that the S20 did at the beginning of the year.
The processor is more than capable of responding well to any task, no matter how heavy, and the 12 GB of RAM based on LPDDR5 technology make multitasking one of the great strengths of this phone, which allows you to maintain dozens of apps in memory without risk of the system closing them automatically.
The software that brings this phone to life is One UI 2.5, a new version of Samsung’s customization layer based on Android 10.
This year, the new features introduced by the software are not too substantial, and the changes are somewhat limited to improving functions that were already present in the previous edition, such as better integration with Windows, which now allows you to use mobile apps from your computer or the support for Samsung DeX wireless.
For the rest, One UI is still One UI, for good and the bad. It’s a fast-paced layer that has a consistent and attractive design and is loaded with dozens of features and tools that can be useful in certain situations.
That, however, also makes it a pretty heavy layer and overloaded with add-ons, among which we can find bloatware Facebook and Microsoft down a tube.
Like any good Note, the Note20 Ultra stands out for a multimedia section far superior to the competition, both in quality and quantity.
The audio from the device, supported by a pair of speakers offering stereo sound, is of excellent quality and does not distort excessively at higher volume levels. In that sense, the maximum volume level is relatively high.
It is also a good vibration motor, a feature that has historically been neglected but has been gaining prominence in recent years, especially in most terminals premium.
As in the S20s, the haptic engine offers a firm and precise response, adding points to the experience by providing feedback when interacting with the interface or with the applications.
Another feature worth highlighting in mobile like this is the possibility of expanding the memory by microSD. While with 256GB of base storage, there should be no storage problems, this addition is very convenient when transferring files, for example, from a reflex camera to the phone.
To all this, we must add all the options and functions enabled by what, without a doubt, is once again the star accessory of the last member of the Note series: the S-Pen.
Once a year, I have the opportunity to test the S-Pen of each new generation of the Note series. And once a year, I remember how valuable and convenient this little accessory can be.
This year, Samsung has not chosen to load the S-Pen with new functions but to polish its operation until it becomes the best S-Pen to date.
The precision of drawing on the screen with the stylus is comparable to the experience obtained with a real pencil and paper. Response time, so the lack of input lag is extremely short, makes wearing this accessory extremely natural.
As with every new generation of the Note series, there is debate whether an accessory like this can be helpful on a screen of this size. In my case, I have to say that the S-Pen has become an indispensable ally these days, especially when editing and retouching photographs using Adobe Lightroom on mobile.
So much so that all the images in this analysis have been transferred from a camera to the Note20 Ultra using the MicroSD slot and edited using the S-Pen.
The worst of the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
Not everything on the Galaxy Note20 is perfect. During our tests, we have found some weak points that are worth keeping in mind.
The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra is not only massive. It can also be uncomfortable due to its more rectangular format than other similarly sized models.
His twin brother, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, already had a considerable size, which could be excessive depending on what type of audience. And the Note20 Ultra only accentuates this feeling with its sharp corners, side curves, and straight lines.
In short, using a cover to protect this mobile is almost essential unless you want to test the resistance of the Gorilla Glass Victus that Samsung introduces in this terminal.
Considering the advances of other manufacturers in terms of autonomy with their reference mobiles, that Samsung is still not able to offer a good experience in this regard is something to worry about.
The 4,500 mAh battery in the Note20 Ultra should be enough to last at least a day and a half of use with the phone. The reality is that reaching the end of the day with battery remaining is a difficult task.
Even more annoying is the fact that, if I have learned something in recent years testing Samsung terminals, most likely the models sold in the United States and South Korea, with a Snapdragon processor do not have the autonomy and overheating problems with which we have found in these days of testing.
In that sense, the terminal’s fast charging technology supports maximum power of 25 W. Although it is not the most powerful we have seen, it is more than enough to recharge the phone’s battery in just over an hour. In addition, we have fast wireless charging and reverse wireless charging.
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra, so are its cameras.
With the Galaxy S20 Ultra camera system, Samsung wanted to go significant no matter the consequences. And he ended up creating a photographic technique that, even being more versatile, was below that of the S20 and S20 + in terms of consistency and image quality.
For this reason, the brand has decided to change the formula slightly on this occasion, saying goodbye to the 100x zoom, the 40-megapixel front camera, and giving the primary sensor the support it needed.
Thus, we find a total of four cameras: one of them on the front and the other three on the back.
Starting with the latter, we find the same primary sensor with 108 megapixels of resolution that was already present in the previous Ultra, added to a 12-megapixel Ultra Wide Angle sensor, and a telephoto with the exact resolution as the latter, which bases its operation in the periscope type format that gives you the possibility of five times optical zoom .
The main change is found in the small section that appears to the three sensors’ rear right. It is a laser focus system that supports the primary sensor. It undoubtedly improves the device’s capabilities when it comes to focusing on the subject or object to be captured, something with which the S20 Ultra suffered excessively.
Otherwise, the telephoto is now brighter so that the phone software activates it in scenes with less light.
It has also changed the front camera, as it now becomes the same 10-megapixel sensor present in the rest of the Galaxy S20 series models.
Regarding the video, to the option of capturing 8K clips at 24 or 30 FPS, the possibility of recording Full HD + video at 120 FPS using the new “Professional Mode” is added, which gives the most advanced users in this field the possibility to take full advantage of the capabilities of the Note20 Ultra’s camera system.
Behavior by day, portrait mode, and at night
The one in the Note20 Ultra is the camera of a Samsung mobile phone; there is no doubt about that: the – very – vivid colors, a white balance that tends to the warm side, and a certain tendency to overexposure of the scenes will be the bread of every day when using the device’s photographic system.
In general, the captures made with this Note20 Ultra are of excellent quality, at the level of the best that we have produced using a mobile phone. The dynamic range is good, although sometimes it is a bit more intense than we would like, and it can end up generating “halos” around some objects – for example, when taking a photo of a building in which the sky appears just behind-.
The primary sensor is the one that offers the best image quality in most situations. However, its large size and resolution can harm it when used to take photos of objects at a very short distance. The shallower depth of field generated naturally results in out-of-focus edges or the appearance of some artifacts.
The Ultra wide-angle and the telephoto offer a somewhat lower image quality, although they provide an extra versatility that is undoubtedly appreciated.
The first, with 12 megapixels, offers a good result, although its photographs lack a certain lack of detail when we zoom. However, for the type of images for which it is intended, the sensor does its job perfectly.
But the jewel in the crown of this system is undoubtedly the 12-megapixel sensor with periscope-type optics and 5x optical zoom.
This sensor allows you to capture superb quality images in the zoom ranges of 5x and 10x, and it performs well enough up to 30x. From there, the loss of detail is noticeable.
Surprisingly, it is not difficult to capture scenes with some movement using this sensor, thanks to a sound stabilization system. In addition, the possibility of using the is appreciated telephoto in locations with lower light.
When night falls, the primary sensor lifts its chest and shows what its larger size is really for: it is possible to capture well-lit night scenes without using the night mode, whose operation, by the way, has not changed concerning that of the S20.
It is good to Portrait mode, at least when blur “quality” and edge detection. In most cases, of course, the natural blur of the primary sensor will be more than enough to capture portraits with the background – slightly – out of focus.
In any case, we once again find one of the significant problems that have been present in the cameras of Galaxy phones for years: a face smoothing automatic and impossible to deactivate, which comes into play as soon as the camera detects a person in the image. The only way to bypass this processing is by using the “Pro” mode built into the camera app.
Another problem is found in the lag when capturing the images. Sometimes the camera takes longer than usual to take a photo after pressing the shutter button, which is incredibly annoying when trying to capture scenes with moving subjects.
There aren’t too many complaints – except, again, for the smoothing – in the section, either selfie. Although Samsung has decided to reduce the sensor’s resolution, it is a good camera capable of offering very decent results in the vast majority of situations. However, it seems to suffer more than expected in indoor scenes or at night.
Where the Note20 Ultra knocks out any other existing Android phone is when it comes to video recording.
In terms of the number of options available and the quality of the image captured, the video section of the Note20 Ultra is the best that we have tested on an Android terminal to date, very close to reaching the level of the latest iPhone.
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra, opinion and final thoughts from Andro4all
The Galaxy Note is not mobile for everyone. They have never been.
With the Note20 Ultra, Samsung takes this philosophy a level further by offering the most advanced set of features that we have seen so far in a mobile phone of the brand, thus creating a device that, even having lost its essence in a way, remains unique.
This new generation takes the foundations of the Galaxy S20 Ultra and improves them through a technical sheet; although not so striking, it consists of more polished ideas and coherence, which leaves aside the more is better.
All this remains, for another year, backed by those unique features that, since the first model of this family, make the Note series one of the best valued and with the most significant number of faithful around the planet.
As the Note10 + that I was able to test last year did, this Note20 Ultra continues to blur the line that separates the models of this series from the terminals of the Galaxy S family. But as long as there is S-Pen, there will continue to be a future for the Note.
” The Note20 Ultra is the most attractive Note to date. ”
At present, the Note20 Ultra is the most attractive Note to date thanks to tweaks that make it even more complete and balanced than last year’s model, with a screen that finally adopts 120 Hz, a photographic system that —weighs to continue dragging the classic defects of the brand’s mobiles— it offers an excellent result in most situations and a simply exquisite aesthetic.
Recommending the purchase of a mobile whose price exceeds 1,000 euros is always tricky, even more so in a situation like the one that the world is going through in the middle of 2020 – after all, for much less money, you can buy a mobile as good as the Pixel 4a -. But those willing to do so should know that today, the Galaxy Note20 Ultra is the mobile that offers more – and better – things within its segment.
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra price and where to buy
The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra can now be officially purchased on the official Samsung website and at official distributors.
Its price is 1,309 euros for the model with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, and 1,409 euros for the variant with 12 GB of RAM with 512 GB of storage.
The two models can be pre-booked from when the phone is presented, and shipments will begin on August 21.
|Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra, opinion and Andro4all Note|
|Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra?|
|Conclusions||The Galaxy Note20 Ultra has it all. Or, at least, everything that is expected of a 1,300 euro mobile: the best screen seen in a smartphone, added to an exquisite construction and aesthetics, an improved camera system that, now, is at the height of the best, and above all, an S-Pen that you will not find in any other mobile on the market.|
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
An almost “round” mobile (despite its corners).
Sharlene Meriel is an avid gamer with a knack for technology. He has been writing about the latest technologies for the past 5 years. His contribution in technology journalism has been noteworthy. He is also a day trader with interest in the Forex market.