The Note series has always been distinct and always a bit of a niche. There are few smartphones with a pen and simply relatively few people who want one. The units were also still a bit more expensive and slightly more advanced than the S units. But that has changed this year with the S20 Ultra. The arrival of the latest most expensive category of smartphones and with the ultimate Samsung device means that the Note series is somewhat under pressure. If you want the ultimate, you can not blindly buy a Note 20 Ultra, but you should first examine in which area which device is the best that Samsung has to offer.
Of course, this year’s Note brings with it all kinds of innovations. The focus for Samsung is largely on the S Pen, as it remains the most distinctive part of this device, despite the arrival of the S20 Ultra. There are new air gestures, the pen̵
Excellent and huge
The design has not changed drastically. Note 10+, which was released last year, also had the flat top and bottom and the glass that curls around the device, as it were. It looks nice and it makes the frame look even smaller than they really are. The screen in the S20 series is only slightly rounded to the sides: much smaller than with the S units before it. This in any case makes the design of the note distinct.
What is not the same as with the Note 10+ is that the pen is on the other side, according to Samsung to make room for the cameras, and the buttons have also been moved to the other side. The latter is the same as with the S20 series and a little more comfortable for right-handed users. Part of the design that has been changed by the extensive camera system is the camera island. It has expanded considerably. Not only is the island’s area much larger, it’s also much more protruding, especially because of the telecamera. The note is less comfortable in our hands than the S20s because the phone is more angled. The housing is still IP68 certified, which allows the device to operate for half an hour under 1.5 meters of water.
The screen is extremely important with the Note series, and it is also important that the screen is huge. The screen is a fraction larger than that of the Note 10+ at 6.9 “. At first glance, the screen looks excellent again. Whether it is also better than the Note 10 + or the S20 units was difficult in a very short time that we could get started with The device, which was the result of corona action, is the fact that you can expect no less than the very best, and Samsung also seems to be no less with the Note 20 Ultra.
The resolution is 1440×3200 pixels, just like the S20 Ultra, and the pixel density is also about the same, with 508 pixels per inch. Of course, there is also support for hdr10 +. The main change from Note 10+, however, is the screen refresh rate. With 120Hz, it is the same as for the S20 units. We had hoped that the Note 20 Ultra would work at maximum resolution, but it is not. There, Samsung loses a seam.
But the manufacturer has now seen the light when it comes to dynamically changing the refresh rate, depending on the content displayed on the screen. When watching a video with 24 fps, the smartphone switches to 24Hz, according to Samsung. It should make a difference in battery life. We actually saw a significant difference between 60Hz and 120Hz in the battery test on the S20 devices. If you browse a web page, the device switches to a full 120 fps. In practice, this looked very smooth during practice. It is an important factor that affects how flexible the device feels.
The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 7 called Victus. Of course, we could not test whether this is scratch-resistant or less fragile, but it is in any case a specification that fits a new note, as no other device has it yet. According to Corning, the glass survives the 2-meter drop test compared to the 1.6-meter on Gorilla Glass 6. It would also be “scratch-resistant” twice, although the company does not say how this was tested. It’s a nice idea that your precious Note 20 Ultra is at least protected by the best available Gorilla Glass.
Latest specifications with old friends
Note 20 Ultra has the same soc as the S20 series, namely Exynos 990. There has been quite a lot of criticism from Samsung about the different versions of S20, because Snapdragon 865 would be faster than Exynos 990. Devices with that soc are sold in the US. With the remark, this is particularly justified criticism, as the Note 20 Ultra is released in the US with the Snapdragon 865+, while the Exynos 990 – with which it is released in the rest of the world – has not improved.
The note would not be the note but specifications that exceed the S20 units, but it is somewhat limited this year. It has ufs 3.1 storage, where S20 smartphones have to do with ufs 3.0. The writing speed has increased and ufs 3.1 is also more energy efficient. You also get bluetooth 5.1, where the Note 10+ and S20 phones have 5.0, and a USB-C connection with the USB 3.2 standard, where the Note 10+ had USB 3.1.
The battery capacity is 4500mAh 500mAh less than the S20 Ultra, and the device is fortunately a little thinner. The question, of course, is whether the Note 20 Ultra lasts as long as the S20 Ultra. Charging has not improved from previous Note or S20 smartphones. You have to do it with 15W wireless and the included charger with 25 W cable, while you can go up to 45W charging speed if you buy the right charger.
Note 20 Ultra has 5g and, in addition to sub6, also supports the higher mmwave frequencies. The S20 Ultra and S20 + also have the necessary antennas built in, but the S20 does not. Of course, the Note 20 Ultra is also large enough to accommodate the bulky antennas. It would be strange if he did not support this.
Swing the pen
S Pen of the Note 20 Ultra has much less delay than the Note 10+. Where he had a delay of 42 ms with that device, it has now been reduced to only 9 ms. We scratched the screen quite quickly to see the delay, but it is almost no longer noticeable and it is very handsome. The features of the S Pen have also been updated as a matter of course.
Starting with Air Actions: you can now navigate Android more easily without having to touch the screen. There are S Pen gestures for ‘back’, ‘home’, ‘next’, back to the previous app and take a screenshot. We were able to make these gestures quite quickly. Zoom is new in the camera app. You then have to draw a circle in the air with the pen with the button pressed. It is very difficult in the beginning. We got it again after a while, but it is not intuitive and it will be useful only in very few real situations.
Samsung has expanded its collaboration with Microsoft. You can sync notes from the Notes app to Outlook. Then the notes are stored continuously, just like with Google Drive. In addition, the Note 20 Ultra would be optimized to work with the xCloud game streaming service. It was not clear to us exactly what that means, but hopefully we can test things like this in the review.
Using your phone as a desktop computer with a monitor is possible with DeX, and it has also been improved. Although wiring is still possible, and perhaps faster, it can now also be connected wirelessly with smart TVs. We have not been able to test it yet.
More focus, less depth
We suspect that the Note 20 Ultra’s primary camera has the same sensor as the S20 Ultra. In any case, the specifications are comparable. It has 108 megapixels, an f / 1.8 aperture, a 26mm field of view and a sensor that is 1 / 1.33 “high. It is much larger than the Note 10 +’s 1 / 2.55” sensor. The S20 Ultra is that it has laser autofocus. The S20 Ultra had autofocus issues, although it has improved after updates. That’s why Samsung chose to put laser autofocus on it. tried and focus really seems much faster in low light. Of course, we have to test it a little better before we can draw a real conclusion. Unfortunately, we can no longer get pictures or screenshots from Samsung from the devices, so we can not get a first impression to give the camera quality.
The depth sensor has had to clear the field, compared to the S20 Ultra and Note 10+. It is mainly used for portrait photos – called Live Focus at Samsung. But we have often seen that a depth sensor makes little difference and that devices without such a large sensor take fantastic photos with artificial background blur.
We are very curious about the periscope telecamera with longer use. This has 5x ‘zoom’ compared to the primary camera, which is four times with the S20 Ultra. So an improvement in that area, but it has only 12 megapixels and can zoom in less long hybrid: 50x. Zooming in so far is pretty pointless, but hopefully it says nothing about the details compared to the S20 Ultra’s telecamera. The telecamera worked well during the practical session and the photos looked detailed at first glance. However, the disadvantage of 5x zoom is that zooming 4x or 3 times times gives relatively little detail. The ultram wide-angle camera seems to be the same as the one on the S20 Ultra.
In the video field, there is a mode where you can zoom smoothly. This is good if you want to make beautiful videos, because it is usually quite choppy with smartphones if you are not careful. There is also a mode where you can record 8k video on 24fs, just like on the S20 devices. There is something choppy, also on the Note 20 Ultra. Microphone controls are in the new Pro mode. You can switch between your Note microphone and, for example, Bluetooth headphones.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has some features not found on other Samsung devices, such as the Gorilla Glass 7, some specific hardware specifications and the new telephoto camera. However, the device initially impresses no more than the S20 Ultra, which has been on the market for a while. It would have been nice to see some more upgrades. If only the higher refresh rate also works with maximum resolution. Exercise will of course show if the first impression is correct.
Compared to the Note 10+, it is a slightly larger step, especially in the camera area. But that device came on the market a year ago with the same amount of storage space and RAM and then cost as much as 200 euros less than the Note 20 Ultra. If we take that into account, we see the updates of the Note 20 Ultra a bit thin. The fact remains that the device contains the latest of the latest in almost all areas. It also looks beautiful again, it’s nice that the S Pen has much less delay and we have once again wondered about the screen. It is a very nice unit, for a limited target group and with a hefty price.