It makes no sense to come up with the usual standards for the Samsung Galaxy Note series. If a smartphone is needed not only for entertainment but also for business tasks, there are simply no alternatives to the S Pen and advanced software. We have tested the latest Galaxy Note20 Ultra and are ready to talk about its pros and cons in detail.
A giant of glass and metal
The austere design of the Note line is elevated to absolute here: sharp corners, a metal frame, glass plates on the front and back. Suitable weight: 208 grams. The camera block seems to be breaking records in size, but the model is unmistakably recognizable even from a distance. The back panel is matte, does not collect prints. The angular design is effective, but it has drawbacks: the body in some positions digs into the palm of its edges. With time you get used to it. And if the discomfort persists, a cover will help.
The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra was the first to receive the new Gorilla Glass Victus, which covers the front and back of the device. We don’t undertake to judge its durability – we don’t want to bear material responsibility for an expensive device. However, for all the time that the phone spent in the editorial office, no micro-scratches appeared on its cover. In addition, the screen is additionally protected by a high-quality factory film.
The gadget boasts support for memory cards up to 1 TB, however, for expansion you will have to sacrifice one of the SIM slots. The lock and volume buttons have moved to the right – this is really more familiar. At the same time, the S Pen nest was moved to the left corner. The presence of an additional “hole” does not affect the water resistance according to the IP68 standard – another positive feature of the Galaxy Note family. But there is no audio jack. However, it was removed in the last generation, it’s time to get used to it.
We would like to highlight branded accessories. Together with the smartphone, they sent a book cover. The key feature of Smart LED View Cover is the display placed on the cover. Various information is displayed on the LED panel: time, call and message notifications. You can assign LED icons to your liking and even draw your own using the mobile editor:
The evolution of the electronic pen
The main thing in any Galaxy Note is the branded stylus. The new flagship has an improved S Pen, which has a lower response time. In addition, there is an accelerometer and gyroscope for gesture control of the smartphone right in the air, and machine learning technology is also used.
Thanks to the minimal response time, all pen touches are displayed on the screen without delay, and drawing with the S Pen is very comfortable. A wide range of tools are available in PENUP. It is convenient to do handwritten insertions not only in a notebook, but also in photographs, as well as in PDF files. The latter function can be used in an interesting way. Have you sent another document for signature by e-mail? We open it directly on the phone, casually sign it and send it back.
Another useful feature of the pen is the remote control of the device at a distance of up to 10 meters. We display the image on the monitor and flip through the slides while the gadget lies at the opposite end of the room. Or we can use the S Pen to shoot with a tripod – it’s more convenient than starting the timer and running back into the frame every time.
The pen has many virtues that you quickly get used to. To find out the meaning of an unfamiliar word, you do not have to open the translator in your browser: just remove the stylus from the slot and start the translation function. With this accessory, it is easy to make notes on an inactive screen, and they are saved in Samsung Notes and synchronized with other devices of the brand. Most of the options are familiar from the Galaxy Note9 and Note10. But now they are more comfortable to use, because the new flagship instantly reacts to removing the S Pen and touching the display.
The screen is simply royal
The display is luxurious and this is no exaggeration. Dynamic AMOLED 2X sensor with WQHD + resolution delivers stunning brightness and clarity. The diagonal has grown and is now an impressive 6.9 inches. The maximum brightness is 1500 nits, no problem in sunny weather. HDR10 + picture enhancement technology is also supported.
The screen is curved at the edges and occupies almost the entire area of the bezel. At the same time, there were no false presses on the side faces during use. The front camera is inscribed in the center of the upper part of the display, like in the previous model.
The matrix refresh rate is 120 Hz, so the interface functions smoothly and quickly. However, the vendor has imposed an unexpected limitation: either 60 Hz or adaptive horizon is available in options. The system decides when to use the maximum number. It is impossible to force a constant 120 Hz.
Tips for work and play
Samsung is getting serious about integrating software with computers and Windows. No docking stations or HDMI adapters are needed, the desktop mode works wirelessly, although a USB connection is still possible. Link to Windows allows you to quickly pair your phone and computer. View photos taken with the Galaxy Note20 Ultra, work with notifications, and answer calls right from your laptop.
The flagship allows you to deploy an impromptu office anywhere: even at home by the couch, or on a business trip. If you connect your smartphone to a TV, you can create a kind of virtual classroom for a child or show a presentation to colleagues. Everything works without brakes. But for the DeX wireless connection to work, the TV must support Miracast technology.
The eight-core Exynos 990 chip was chosen as the hardware platform. There is also a modification based on Snapdragon 865, but, as usual, it is not for our market. RAM in the latest type of smartphone – LPDDR5. A version with a built-in 256 GB drive and 8 GB of RAM came to the review.
With such equipment, it is very difficult to find fault with performance. In the AnTuTu benchmark, the novelty is gaining 541,551 points, which is even higher than the Galaxy S20 Ultra we tested with a similar filling. PUBG runs at “ultra”, the frame rate is confidently kept at around 50-60 fps. No problem in The Elder Scrolls: Blades, you can comfortably explore forests and caves. During gaming and running in synthetic tests, the device heats up noticeably, but there is no obvious throttling.
There are no questions about the daily operation of the gadget. It provides instant feedback to user actions, and face unlocking is quick, even in low light. The One UI 2.5 shell pleases with a variety of options, large icons and a logical arrangement of elements. Galaxy Note20 Ultra is perceived as a convenient and fast tool for solving problems of any complexity, you get used to its advantages quickly.
Photo – good, video – excellent
We will tell you about the new camera in detail in a separate article. In the meantime, let’s get acquainted with its characteristics and make a first impression. The main photo module is triple: a standard 108 megapixel sensor, a 12 megapixel wide-angle sensor, as well as a 12-megapixel telephoto camera, which is responsible for a fivefold zoom. Interestingly, the company has ditched the TOF sensor on the Note10 +. The front camera is similar to that of the previous generation and the Galaxy S20 line. This is a 10-megapixel module with f / 2.2 aperture and autofocus.
The market is now saturated with top-end camera phones. Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra definitely belongs to them, but is positioned more as a device for business. During the day, the shots are of high quality, I especially want to praise the wide-angle lens. He does not look like a poor relative, like many competitors, and shoots surprisingly well. The 5x optical zoom is also pleasing: with it, even distant objects turn out to be clear. But the night preset and portrait mode no longer give a wow effect. Errors are noticeable when blurring the background – the same depth sensor and a separate portrait sensor would not hurt the smartphone. In the sun, optics sometimes give noticeable glare, so you need to be careful. In general, the Galaxy Note20 Ultra demonstrates a high level of photography, as befits a premium model, but some moments still spoil the overall picture.
There are practically no questions about recording videos. Supports digital and optical stabilization, even when walking fast, the picture is smooth. The footage has high definition, there is no jelly effect and sudden jumps in exposure, and the focusing speed is fast. We will tell you more about this, including examples of shooting in 8K, in a separate article. In the meantime, you can evaluate the video in 4K resolution with a frequency of 60 frames per second:
The manufacturer has taken care of advanced video recording settings, so bloggers, travelers and just demanding users will be delighted. Available to change ISO and shutter speed, manual focus, color balance adjustment. When changing the field of focus, focus-peaking is activated, highlighting areas of the frame with a green outline, which is very convenient. You can select the direction of sound recording by cutting out unnecessary noise from the front or back. All options change not only before recording, but also directly in the process. Below is a small demo of manual adjustments. At the same time, the minimum ISO was set, which made it possible to avoid digital noise in the dark.
Such a different autonomy
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra is equipped with the most capacious battery in the entire history of the series: 4500 mAh. However, a large and bright screen with increased hertz effect significantly affects power consumption. In the video playback test, the gadget lasted 16 and a half hours (average brightness, adaptive display mode. This is less than last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note10 + . In everyday use, the battery is also consumed quickly: the phone needs to be charged every evening.
On the other hand, autonomy is highly dependent on the settings and the type of load. The proprietary One UI shell offers many power saving options. For example, if you select Medium Saving power mode, set the default frequency to 60 Hz, and dim the Always On Display, the battery consumption will be moderate. In mixed use (messengers, YouTube, web surfing, periodic photography), the Samsung flagship will last a day and a half without an outlet.
In games, the situation is similar. Launch The Elder Scrolls: Blades in maximum performance mode, set the screen brightness to medium and WQHD + resolution. In this case, only a refresh rate of 60 Hz is available, but in The Elder Scrolls a high hertz is not required. Under these conditions, the Galaxy Note20 Ultra will provide less than five hours of gaming. The result is average. Let’s change the operating mode of the smartphone to “Optimized”, leave the same hertz and brightness, but lower the resolution to HD +. Let’s go again to explore the forests of Tamriel – now the battery will be enough for more than five and a half hours of continuous play. Power consumption has decreased, gaming sessions last longer.
Fast wired charging and wireless are supported. Includes a 25W adapter. By today’s standards, the power of the charger is not outstanding. But, it is possible that this will have a beneficial effect on the life of the battery in the future. Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra is also equipped with reversible charging – it is convenient to power up a watch or TWS headphones.
Impressions of the “raccoon breeder”
It’s no secret that the Galaxy Note family has a loyal audience. In Russia, such devices are affectionately called “raccoons”. The author of the material has long used the Galaxy Note9 and still considers it to be one of the most balanced devices. The American ACSI rating also put this gadget in first place in terms of owner satisfaction. What emotions does his successor leave?
Galaxy Note20 Ultra has managed to impress even a person who is accustomed to this series. It is easy to feel the difference in the work of the S Pen on the “old” Note9 and the hero of the review: it is more comfortable to draw with a pen on the screen of the novelty. The Bixby button was cleverly removed in the tenth generation: it was not popular. Powerful and pleasant vibration feedback and high-quality sound are still pleasing. Despite the lack of an audio jack, AKG headphones are traditionally included, they are connected via USB Type-C.
There are also drawbacks. First of all, ergonomics suffered. In addition to the body of impressive size, a huge block of cameras interferes, so using a phone lying on the table is uncomfortable without a case. The noise reduction in portrait mode is weird: faces and textures look more plastic than they should be. Apparently, this is also continuity. But Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra takes new heights in video quality – its predecessors are also good, but not so much. The most noticeable difference is the brighter, faster 120Hz display. The raccoons’ interface has never been so responsive.
- 6.9 “, WQHD +, 120 Hz, Dynamic AMOLED 2X
- CPU Exynos 990
GPU Mali-G77 MP11
- 8 GB
- 4500 mAh
- main – 108 MP (f / 1.8, OIS) + 12 MP (wide-angle, f / 2.2) + 12 MP (5x optical zoom, f / 3.0, OIS), front – 10 MP (f / 2.2)
- S Pen, IP68 protection, wireless connection via Samsung DeX, reversible charging, stereo speakers, Gorilla Glass Victus
- GEEKBENCH 5
- single-core 792
- OFFLINE OPERATION
- Up to 16 hours of video playback in adaptive smoothness mode
About 5 hours of playing The Elder Scrolls: Blades in high performance mode and WQHD + resolution
The advantages and disadvantages of the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra can be argued for hours. But one cannot be taken away: the novelty simply has no alternatives, except for the devices of the previous generation. Of the minuses, we note the average autonomy at a high refresh rate of the display. There are questions for individual photography modes. But the Note20 Ultra is hard to beat in video recording and picture quality. The electronic pen impresses with its convenience and responsiveness – it is comfortable to draw, take notes and translate texts on the go. If you don’t need the S Pen, it’s wiser to take a closer look at the Galaxy S20 line: it’s cheaper and not much worse.