The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra is a beast of a smartphone. It has a huge display, stylish design, impressive battery life and the most important part of the line: the S Pen pen.
However, at $ 1,299, the Note20 Ultra also has a real price tag. But this price tag gives you a ton of features that Android fans looking for a top-notch device are sure to appreciate, including 5G connectivity.
However, Samsung is also offering a slightly smaller and more affordable version of the Note20 for $ 999, as well as $ 999 for the S20 + 5G and $ 1,399 for the S20 Ultra, giving consumers a dizzying range of choices.
The Samsung Galaxy Note range brought large-screen smartphones into the mainstream. When the original Note was launched in 2011, it was equipped with a 5.3-inch display, which caused a sensation because of its huge size at the time. Fast forward 9 years and no one will keep an eye on the Note20 Ultra’s almost 7-inch display.
For 2020, Samsung has tidied up the camera cover on the back of the Note20 Ultra. The three lenses are now over the top and look far more appealing than the Note10’s thin lens strips.
This time around, Samsung has given the Note20 Ultra a fresh bronze paint job, which makes the handset look and feel a bit more luxurious than its predecessor.
The Note20 Ultra’s enormous display is great for watching movies and leafing through Instagram or TikTok. The 6.9-inch panel uses Samsung’s AMOLED 2X Infinity-O display technology. This basically means that it produces vivid colors and has a refresh rate of 120 Hz. That’s more or less the same type of display as the Galaxy S20 range.
This refresh rate, which measures how many times a new image appears on the screen every second, means that you scroll through websites and even write on the display with the S Pen pen.
But make no mistake, the Note20 Ultra is not for people who want a more compact smartphone. At 6.5 inches, the Note20 Ultra is even larger than Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max (AAPL), which is 6.2 inches. However, the phone also has a smaller 6.5-inch display.
If you’re used to rocking a bigger phone, it shouldn’t take any getting used to.
Samsung is always trying to add new, exciting features to its S Pen pen to make it more than just a pen. For the Note20 line, this means that a handful of the actions Samsung called Air Actions have been added to the mix.
Aerial actions are gestures you can use the S-Pen to perform while holding down the pen’s Action button. With this function you can, for example, control the volume in Spotify by gesturing up or down, or pulling up your recent apps by gesturing back.
It’s a nifty party trick, but I can’t see many people actually using it in a real-world scenario.
Even so, the S Pen is a champion when it comes to taking on-screen notes and marking up documents, and that’s exactly what it is supposed to do. And as usual, the tip of the pen offers great resistance, which makes writing feel much more natural.
When Samsung released its Galaxy S20 Ultra earlier this year, it added an exaggerated 100x zoom feature that looked more impressive on paper than the actual results. That’s why Samsung downsized the Note20 Ultra and instead gave the phone a 50x zoom.
Even so, I found the extreme zoom only minimally useful for taking clear photos. Sure, you get a feel for the scene, but you’ll still see blurs, just like I did with the 100x zoom on the S20 Ultra.
When taking pictures with the wide-angle camera of the Note20 Ultra, however, the images were razor-sharp and clear. Even low-light shots looked surprisingly good. Compared to shooting with the iPhone 11 Pro Max, I found that the Note20 Ultra’s images tend to be less vivid and the colors appear flatter on the Ultra.
The Note20 Ultra’s selfie camera was found to be softer than the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s, but it produced brighter live video images.
In terms of videos, Samsung has also added the ability to control where the Note20 Ultra records sound in your movies. You can force the phone to focus on audio from the front or bottom, or zoom in on an audio source. This should come in handy when trying to capture a more cinematic experience in your home videos.
The Galaxy Note20 Ultra is said to be a monster of a smartphone, and it certainly has the features to suit its role. It includes a Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon 865+ processor and 12 GB of RAM with 128 GB, 256 GB or 512 GB of storage space. There is also a microSD card slot that supports cards up to 1TB in size.
In terms of battery life, the Note20 Ultra was able to stream live video through Google Meets during Yahoo Finance’s daily live broadcasts for an hour without shutting down almost as quickly as the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Both phones got me through a full day even sending, but the Note20 Ultra had more juice than I was ready to hit the sack.
The Note20 Ultra is a smartphone powerhouse thanks to its huge screen, powerful processor and exceptional battery life. The camera could use some work and less gimmick, but it’s still one of the better options out there.
If you are not a fan of the S Pen pen, I would recommend going for the Samsung Galaxy S20 range of phones. They offer many of the same functions without the extra pen. If you’re looking for a pen that’s Ultra but too expensive, there’s also the standard Note20, which starts at $ 999.
You won’t get the same type of camera and will have to go with a 6.7-inch panel instead of the Ultra’s 6.9-inch display, but that’s probably not a problem for most users.
However, if you want the biggest nasty touch, go for the Ultra.