Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Review: Is it worth spending 1300$?

So I was talking to a friend recently and he asked me what phone I was using and it was the galaxy note 20 ultra sitting right in front of me and this is the moment where I have to try to distill all of my thoughts and my testing and my experience into like one sentence that's easily digestible to a regular person that's not in the tech world and what came out of my mouth was yeah it's really nice but it's also 1300$, so it better be. When I step back to really think about it and to put together all my thoughts for this full review for you guys. That thought really just kept coming back to me over and over because at this price you really only see like the crazy first gen experimental folding phones or flagships the absolute best that a company has to offer and this is a 1300 flagship, so it's got to be top of the line at basically everything to even consider it worth buying and the note 20 ultra for me kind of lives up to that.

Build quality:-

First of all this is the best looking and best built phone that Samsung has ever made in my opinion. The matte sort of soft touch finish on the back, the boxy flat top and bottom, the razor thin bezels, the champhers at all the metal rails and edges. Even the color, mystic bronze is not normally a look I go for its kinda pink from some angles but also kinda rose gold from some other angles but actually kind of like it. And I like the contrast with the dark camera bump. All the way around like I said from the first time I picked up this metal and glass phone in my first impressions blog it screams quality. And with Samsung’s flagships there's always also a bunch of the little things that also add up to make that premium feeling experience things that we would be nit-picking and complaining about if they weren't here for this price but they are here. The vibration motor is really high quality, the same ultrasonic in display fingerprint reader is back here and it's pretty fast. There’s wireless charging and reverse wireless charging is here. There's ip68 water resistance all the stuff we kind of take for granted to be in a Samsung flagship but it is all here again, just no headphone jack.

Display:-


Then I think the two main things that make this an ultra note are the display and the S-pen. The display is A++, it's a 6.9 inch quad hd super amoled display. It's got hdr certification, the 120 hertz refresh rate, the tiny hole punch in the top of the middle, outstanding maximum and minimum brightness, it's crispy it's great I mean it's just a great screen. But there are believe it or not both pros and cons to this ultra screen. The main con being it is absolutely massive and it has curved edges and yes I did experience accidental touches occasionally and I think that happened more often thanks to the hand gymnastics that are required to handle such a big screen like this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I’m on the side of preferring flat displays but this one is not flat. Also of course having a huge display that goes right up to the edges and a tiny hole punch cut out makes a pretty solid media experience.

Although i will say maybe my only hardware disappointment in this phone is the speaker system not that it's problematic it's not bad at all, it's just easy to block that bottom speaker and it is a stereo pair with the earpiece but overall despite its Dolby atmos support I was unimpressed with the actual quality or fullness of the sound from the speakers.

Performance:-


The specs behind the display are all high-end as you'd expect, if you didn't already know snapdragon 865+ and this unit has 12 gigs of ram and that combined with the 120 hertz display is really everything i want in a smartphone. Nowadays you've heard me talk about high refresh rate, it makes its way to yet another flagship here in the note and yes I still love it there were no problems with performance and smoothness, from my usage was great. Also behind the notes display is the same ultrasonic fingerprint reader we saw in the s20 ultra and it's ultra impressive and ultra similar to last year's performance nothing ultra special here. Gaming in this phone is ultra smooth but is you are purchasing a note smartphone than your motto is definitely not gaming. But if you want to than experience is best in class.

 Battery:-

Then you got yourself a 4500 milliamp hour battery now i'm old enough to remember when Samsung  galaxy note was like the big battery phone it was a battery champ because it was just the battery you couldn't kill in one day well, it's not that anymore “shocker”. You can kill this 4500 milliamp hour battery with a giant 120 hertz display using it all the time even if it's not a quad hd. But with typical use note 20 ultra's battery is good like it's six hours of screen on time ending a day with 15 to 25 battery left, regularly good and I have no problems with that especially when this phone also supports 45 watt fast charging and there's wireless charging so it's good. If you really want the extra next level battery champ there are other phones including the brother of this phone s20 ultra which is kind of just like the same form factor minus the S-pen that's a 5 000 milliamp hour battery so that's better but this is good.

Camera:-

I have a lot to say about this camera system as you can probably imagine but I’ll try to keep it concise here. First of all this camera bump is huge, It’s huge and there are other phones with big camera bumps big camera systems but something about this one just being a straight up shelf. Like it's not tiered like the s20 ultra or rounded or you know a double shelf like some others they don't try to hide it. It’s just a big block on the back of this phone that sticks out so much that it actually has a tendency to gather dust in the corners around it but I honestly don't hate it, it’s like they're owning it. The rings around the three cameras to me I think is a good look and you do get a great array of cameras. It’s the 108 megapixel standard camera that sort of rattles a bit when you shake it because it's so big and then there's a 12 megapixel ultra-wide and a 12 megapixel periscope zoom camera.

                                  

So how are the cameras? They are great, first of all the addition of the laser autofocus really fixed the hunting problems the galaxy s20 ultra was having with this same huge camera module. it's not the same tracking autofocus as a pixel but the hunting is gone. Close-up subjects are no longer problematic but what it didn't fix is the shutter lag. There's still a pretty noticeable delay between tapping to take a photo and when the actual capture happens which is kind of a bummer if you're trying to capture fast motion or any action type stuff. But I will say that with the caveat that you got to be a little more patient and hold the camera still and wait for the shutter lag, this camera turns out outstanding photos in all kinds of conditions in daylight, in harsh shooting into the sun, shooting at night, shooting indoors and outdoors this thing crushes.

Click using 50x Zoom

I think you could make an argument that it's just above the pixel for versatility, thanks to having a really good ultra wide that's almost as sharp as the main lens and of course the massive zoom capabilities that you never have to use but if you do they're impressive still 50x isn't as insane as 100x but it's far more than you'll probably ever need and so you can rest easy that anytime you need a quick 4x or 8x zoom the photo will still be plenty sharp.

The 10 megapixel selfie camera is fairly average but acceptable and then for video I’d put it again right below the iPhone system thanks to the super steady mode and all the 8k options and the faster auto-focus but really I was having most of my fun with the main sensor and taking photos that I think would often rival what you take from any other phone, iPhone 11 pro, pixel 4, Huawei phones this is right up there. Well done Samsung on these cameras just makes it feel like the gigantic camera bump is more worth it.

S-pen:-

Are you impressed that we got this far into a galaxy note review without talking about the s-pen yet? So the S-pen got some pretty dramatic technical improvements in the note 20 ultra this year mainly that the latency is now down all the way to nine milliseconds on this better display. And that translates to apple pencil levels of realism and responsiveness you love to see it and you love to hear it also (maybe). There's this sound now when you write with the S-pen that actually corresponds pretty well with how it would sound if you were writing on like a chalkboard or a pen on paper or something. It's pretty impressive but I could also see that getting annoying to someone who uses the S-pen like a lot so you can turn that off. But yeah technically speaking it is a big improvement but the S-pen really overall is the same thing it's been for a while. Which depending on who you are is either a fun optional accessory that comes along with this flagship or an absolutely vital tool for sketching or note-taking or annotation work.

I’m not the biggest S-pen person so for someone like me a galaxy note probably isn't the best use of money but there are people who every year wait for the latest galaxy note because this phone represents the absolute best stylus experience on a phone and so for those people yeah this is it.

Conclusion and Opinions:-

I could write pages and pages about this phone if i tried to cover all of the features buried in Samsung’s software because they absolutely pack this phone to the gills. The edge lighting, the secure folder, the wireless music sharing, the air actions, the reverse wireless charging, the wireless decks is super impressive even Bixby. I mean, I found there's always something buried in here that you've either never heard about or maybe you knew about it but just didn't use it because Samsung is on the side of shoving in too many features instead of the other way around like trying to keep it super simple and leaving things out that aren't perfect. It’s like the opposite of the apple strategy and you see that throughout using this phone from the launcher to the camera app to the settings and if there's any upside to that it certainly makes you feel like you're more getting your money's worth.

But at the end of the day are you? Are you getting 1300$ worth of smartphone here? Honestly that's probably pushing it I’d say, you probably aren't but the thing about Samsung launch prices is they're guaranteed to fall like this phone in three or four months will most likely cost a bit less than it does now at launch. But if there's any phone that makes it feel like you're getting the absolute complete package from the spec sheet to the huge incredible display to the build quality to the cameras to the battery to the stylus you can't get anywhere else to the software it's probably this one.

But I want to end it all with a thought that we have to keep is that, now in 2020 just attaching the note name to something doesn't necessarily mean flagship quality anymore like it used to. And for Samsung’s line-up the word that you use to look for to symbolize and describe the absolute best in Samsung’s line-up used to be note but it's not now the word you need to look for is ultra. The ultra? It's a nice phone yeah but for 1300 bucks? It better be.

 


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1 Comments

  1. Okay so how I came across your blog is a long story. Let just leave aside. But it only took me 10 seconds to notice the fact that you are not writing your own reviews. This review is the written version of Marques Brownlee (MKBHD)'s Note 20 Ultra review. Well bro, you are not getting anywhere. Hard work is hard work and hard work pays off. Now just think rationally, I came to your website and saw that you are just copying the reviews from some another person. Just think of the impact your website had on me. I will never visit your blog again knowing that I will be finding the stuff I have already read/watched somewhere else. This is the thing you want to avoid. Provide your own content and you will definitely see some progress.

    Hope you will understand what I am trying to say.

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