Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Review


The Galaxy Note Ultra is a device amounting to $1,399. This is a high-end luxury unit, even at Samsung's standards. It's the phone for people who board the aircraft early and derive a sense of satisfaction in watching the rest of us slowly file into the plane, knowing how close we should be to the rear.Of course, any of any of these apps will potentially filter down into cheaper versions, so this is the handset for those who are willing to spend a premium to be a year ahead of the market.


5 G represents the perfect example of this phenomenon. Still a luxury on the models of last year, it is now standard across the Note line (and will almost certainly be with the Galaxy S when the new models arrive in six months time). The cellular networks around the world may not have been ready at the time to support it, but it was yet another bleeding-edge tech available for early adopters willing to pay a premium.

As always, the performance will differ. But that goes double in a time when 5 G coverage in the US is only spotty. Samsung sent a sample to the database, with a Verizon SIM (TC's parent company). I couldn't get to the Queens 5G network where I live, but when I walked across the bridge to Manhattan over the weekend, things flicked on. I 'd be able to do a more controlled test between LTE and 5G battery ratings in a more ideal situation but it's 2020 and it's far too much to hope for.

The truth of the matter is that if you opt for Note 20 or Note 20 Ultra — or any member of the S20 team, for that matter, you 'd be getting a nice handset. There are just a few key differences between Note 20 and the Ultra, despite the $400 gulf. The screen is the first, and immediate difference. So you know that you have a really premium device. It is very, very high.


This means the difference between a 6.7-inch display (2,4001,080) and a 6.9-inch display (3,0881,440). It's a much smaller difference to the 6.2-inch and 6.9-inch S20 options than the gulf. It's ultimately to the detriment of the Note line that its largest screen size is the same as the S20, and that the difference in size between the two Notes is relatively small. I 'd say the high-end on mobile screens is really beginning to rub up against the ceiling, yet we've said that over and over and over again, and yet here we are.

The primary factor that has facilitated the Note 's growth in its nine-year existence from what seemed like an impossible large 5.3 inches to 6.9 is Samsung 's commitment to lowering the screen-to - body ratio of the handset. Yet the Ultra is a very big phone. I just can't fully wrap my hand around it. Honestly, the sheer scale of the product may well be a deal breaker, depending on the size of your hands and / or pockets.

The upshot of having such a big phone is you get more battery space. That means a battery life of 4,500mAh up to the 4,000 of the 20s. That's good but still considerably smaller than the 5,000mAh of the S20 Ultra, probably due to the presence of the S Pen slot, which eats up a chunk of the internal footprint. I was able to do it at a single charge for more than 24 hours (closer to 28), definitely hitting the company's "all day" life benchmark.


Of course the camera is the other major difference between Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. The camera module is huge once again. Samsung has freshened up the product design a little bit, but it is still very huge, frankly. But, that's forgivable because you're factoring in what the phone holds here. The latest Notes feature a triple camera setup but the Ultra replaces the 12-megapixel large lens for a 108-megapixel, joining the ultra-wide 12-megapixel and 12-megapixel telephoto.

The setup is similar to those of the S20 Ultra, with a few significant distinctions. The time-of - flight depth camera was swapped for a laser autofocus, for starters. The TOF certainly sounds more like an element of future proofing. It will probably play an important role in addition to the current demands of portrait mode, as augmented reality becomes an increasingly important aspect of mobile software, going forward. Having said that, laser autofocus just feels more pragmatic about everyday picture taking demands. And the camera setup has a true and efficient bokeh on images even without portrait mode allowed and is very efficient with close-up macro shots.

The other big change here on the Space Zoom front is some tempered hopes. The app, which was introduced for the S20 Ultra, offered a mind-boggling 100x zoom. The truth of the matter was less exciting, because in the end anything that approached that top number was unusable. Many of the shots ended up looking like an abstract impressionist work. The Ultra Note holds stuff to 50x, which is still-impressive but more manageable.

At this number you still risk a relatively significant deterioration of the picture, but overall the results would be more pleasing than doubling the number. And the zoom on this thing is truly excellent overall. I would recommend using the default photo software that you stick to the three tree icons to switch between the three primary cameras. That will bring it to a maximum optical zoom of 10x. But if you need something more than that, then go for it.

Samsung 's approach to camera quality has largely focused on hardware, and the results are clear in the images it takes. This is a contrast to the approach taken by Google, which seeks to differentiate itself almost exclusively with computational photography. The camera of the Pixel is very good in its own right, but on stuff like quality zooming it simply can not compete with the Note. Samsung 's approach of course costs money. It is important to note that here, mates, we talk about a $1,400 cell.


The screen is really terrific. The colors can be a bit oversaturated for my tastes — particularly when it comes to bright reds, but that's an easy fix by toggling from “vivid ” to “ natural ” under screen settings. Under the latter environment the reds may be a little muddy for some. It's really just a matter of personal preference either way, but I recommend playing around with it. The refresh rate of 120Hz makes some extremely fluid animations, but this is one of those features that you can easily disable when you need to conserve your battery.

One of the more underrated features introduced on the S20 has been the directional mic, allowing you to determine the focus of the audio recording based on the positioning of the device. The ability to use the Galaxy Live Buds as mics when recording is even more cooler. That's something that is going to be useful for stand-up interview videos, particularly in noisy environments.

Note 20 is among the first apps running the Snapdragon 865+—essentially an overclocked version of the 865 flagship you'll find on the S20. The speeds of the clock are a little softer here and graphic performance has been improved by about 10 percent. In 2020, mobile processors are currently not getting better than this. I 'm planning to post something a little more comprehensive on the Microsoft partnership that brings some exclusive Game Pass content to your handset (honestly, I'm waiting for one of those Bluetooth mobile Xbox controllers right now).

But this thing sings for most of your everyday activities, and will definitely be one of the best cloud gaming handsets, as the new Snapdragon flagship has been combined with 12 GB of RAM. There is also a good 128 GB of capacity here, that can be extended to a very good 512 GB. Better yet, that can be extended to a ridiculous 1 TB MicroSD slot courtesy (also available on both S20 models, but not included in the regular Note).


I probably write this every time a new note comes out, but after almost a decade of playing around with Note devices I'm not really a stylus person. That said, the ability of the device to recognize my truly terrible handwriting continues to impress me. Maybe I'll be one of those generations to be a convert. I think stranger stuff happened. After all these generations the S Pen is quite refined and very responsive. Air Actions let you use the stylus even at a distance as a control — a feature that's neat enough but I don't see myself using it again. Other cool new additions here are the Audio Bookmark, which will synchronize recordings to the notes you take. Helpful indeed, but I expect it will be more so when Samsung launches one of these iterations of live transcriptions à la Google Recorder.

If you've read enough of these bimonthly reviews of Samsung's flagship, you probably know what's next. The Note reflects more of a refinement than anything more substantive about its predecessor. If your note is one or two years old, you certainly don't have to run out to buy the very nice phone as well. This is just kind of where we are in the mobile industry's life cycle. Updates, on the whole, just feel more incremental.

But the Note 20 Ultra, as with each of these devices, represents some of the finest mobile hardware you can buy at this point in time. Particularly the camera needs to be called out for its truly excellent capabilities. But, as ever, it'll cost you the finest. If you can stomach the concept of an Android phone worth $1,400, they don't come any better than the Ultra Galaxy Note.










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