Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review
What is it?
Samsung’s Rs 1 lakh+ smartphone that’s loaded with all the features you can think of. But this is the Exynos 990 SoC-powered version which raises a lot of questions.
Design & Construction
- It goes without saying that the Note 20 Ultra looks extremely polished. This mystic bronze colour along with the matt finish glass on the back looks really premium and the in-hand feel of this smartphone is great.
- However, that camera island, though well designed, is huge, and it protrudes quite a lot. Unless you slap a case on it, the phone wobbles badly on a flat surface.
- The Note 20 Ultra features an enormous 6.9-inch screen, which means that it is a gigantic smartphone. Like all Samsung phones, this display is superb as it’s super bright and vivid with great sunlight legibility.
- The icing on the cake comes in the form of that 120hz refresh rate which really elevates the user experience. However, this high refresh rate only works at FHD+ and not QHD+, however, most users will never notice the difference.
User Interface & Performance
- Samsung’s decision to power the Note 20 Ultra in India/Europe with its home-brewed Exynos 990 SoC remains as controversial as ever. Not only is the Snapdragon 865+ on the US-spec phone more powerful, but it’s also more power-efficient.
- Then, Samsung has allegedly skipped copper cooling altogether on the Exynos version, while the Snapdragon version gets a copper cooling chamber. And it shows since our test unit heated up even during short photography and gaming sessions.
- So heavy mobile gamers should stay away from this phone and look towards either competing Snapdragon 865-powered Android phones or iPhones.
- The software experience on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra remains as polarising as ever, even with Samsung’s new One UI 2.5 which brings minor refinements. It remains a heavy android skin so stock android lovers won’t like it, however, if you want a feature-rich android experience, you will be happy.
- There’s also 12GB of RAM onboard so multitasking is no issue. However, keep in mind that OnePlus’ Oxygen OS is still the gold standard when it comes to smooth Android skins.
- The primary 108MP sensor on the Note 20 Ultra is the same one that we saw on the S20 Ultra, however, it is now paired with laser auto-focus, so no more focusing issues of the latter.
- The image quality of the main camera is one of the best you can find on a smartphone in 2020. The detail and dynamic range are excellent here, but colours do come out to be punchy, which means in typical Samsung fashion, you won’t get true to life colours.
- The night time performance of this camera is also pretty impressive. A lot of software level processing happens on the smartphone after you take a low light shot and that processing, in general, gives really nice results.
- The videos are a similar story. Since the autofocus issues have been resolved the video quality is really praiseworthy. The stabilisation thanks to OIS is also one of the best around.
- The secondary 12MP ultra-wide camera’s performance is OK, but it’s only average but flagship phone standards. The colour profile here is reasonably well-matched to that of the main camera, but the lack of autofocus on this sensor is really baffling for the phone’s price.
- The ultra-wide camera comes with Samsung’s Super Steady EIS, so videos shot with this camera are very stable.
- The third 5x periscope camera is pretty impressive with its results as well as the shots taken at 5x magnification have a very good amount of detail.
- You can get up to 50x hybrid zoom, obviously, the pics at such high magnification will never be of good quality, however, the potent software post-processing does clear up the details quite a bit to make everything usable. Overall, from the 0.5x magnification of the ultra-wide to that maximum 50x hybrid zoom, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s cameras are incredibly flexible and it is always great to have that kind of versatility on your phone.
Check out the camera samples from the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra below:
- The Note 20 Ultra already has a pretty mediocre 4,500mAh battery, so, the battery backup overall is also strictly average with around only 5 and a half hours of screen on time with mixed usage.
- Exynos chipsets, in general, is their poor battery efficiency, and the 990 is no different as it eats by a lot of battery during standby, which is quite disappointing on a Rs 1.05 lakh smartphone.
- You get only 25W fast charging here, which is quite surprising since the S20 Ultra supports charging speeds of up to 45W. Anyway, wireless and reverse wireless charging also come standard on this phone.
- While that super-quick 120 Hz refresh rate, the S-Pen now has a latency of just 9 ms, which is literally negligible. So, scribbling on this smartphone is a fantastic experience.
- The S-Pen’s previous UI navigation and productivity features are carried over on the Note 20 Ultra. The S-Pen is a really special tool and it’s just sad that most Note owners forget its existence within a month of their ownership.
- The in-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is still slow and not very dependable.
- Launched at Rs 1,04,999, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is an incredibly expensive smartphone and at this price, one does not expect heating issues, a comparatively weaker chipset and an average battery life.
- Sure, the phone looks superb, has great camera capabilities, a unique S-Pen and an industry-leading display. But still, I’ll suggest you wait for a nice cashback offer before putting your money on it.
Watch our video review: