The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is Samsung’s next flagship phone. It’s big, bold and packed full of features which are all evident before you even turn the phone on. It offers everything you need in a phone in productivity, whilst pushing the boundaries in some key areas to ensure that things like playing games and watching movies are top notch.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra comes in three colours: Mythic Black, Mystic Bronze and Mystic White. I had the chance to spend the last few weeks with the Mystic Bronze, and whilst I normally would go for a plain and simple black phone, I actually really warmed to it. It’s eye-catching, but not too in your face, and it screams premium.
The phone is massive coming in at 16cm tall and 8cm wide. It’s by far the largest phone that I’ve ever used, but it’s worth it for the stunning edge to edge display. In terms of how the screen handles the front camera, it fades into the background when the screen is off and on. That large, vibrant display is great for sitting on social media, answering emails or playing games, but the size of the phone can start to feel a little awkward in the hands after a while. Obviously, if you’re grabbing this phone, you probably know what it’s like to own a larger phone, and Samsung has definitely gotten the most out of it in terms of screen real estate for the size of the phone.
In terms of design, the only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the camera bump. It sticks out a lot more than I can remember on any the phone, and due to the fact there’s three lenses, it’s actually a considerable bump. The phone doesn’t sit flat when on a table and has quite a decent rock to it. Once again, not a deal-breaker, but definitely something worth noting.
Samsung has struck a deal with Xbox over the last few year, first bringing Forza Street to the Samsung line of mobiles, and now announcing that Xbox Game Pass streaming will be supported on the Galaxy Note 20 line. Unfortunately, we won’t have this service here when it launches next month, but it’s incredibly easy to see why Xbox wanted to partnered with Samsung to have these devices be the preferred way to experience Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming.
The AMOLED Infinity display is by far the most stunning display that I’ve seen on a mobile device. From the moment I turned it on I was seriously impressed by the deep blacks and vibrant colours that the display produces with its 1500 Nits display. I’ve recently become a PC gamer, and realised just how much a 144hz display can make a difference. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a 120Hz display that is instantly noticeable. Scrolling through your apps or Twitter feed is enough to make you see just how smooth this display is, but booting up something like Call of Duty Mobile or Forza Street will make it hard to move away from a screen like this for mobile gaming.
The display is adaptive meaning that it can shift between 60hz and 120hz on the fly to save on things like battery life. It’s also worth mentioning that the display can only do adaptive motion smoothness in the FHD+ resolution (2316 x 1080) and not QQHD+ (3088 x 1440).
GAMING AND PERFORMANCE
I’m not much of a mobile gamer, but I expect that to change in the future with cloud gaming becoming more of a reality. Putting this device through its paces, I was pleasantly pleased with the likes of Call of Duty Mobile, Fortnite and Forza Street which didn’t miss a beat whilst playing. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has the fastest processor of any Galaxy phone and it has a new cooling system to ensure that it can handle the most advanced of games. I never felt it struggling during multitasking between games and other apps. There’s also a Wi-Fi optimiser which helps get low latency, which is going to help hugely when Cloud gaming.
The Note 20 Ultra has a 4,500 mAh battery which Samsung advises can last the day. Being stuck in lockdown, I didn’t get to put it through its paces in a real world situation as I’d normally like to, but with a heavy use, I did get somewhere between 8-10 hours with the phone, with the 120Hz display mode turned on.
The fingerprint and camera readers both worked for me more often than now, I was super impressed with how quickly the phone recognised one or the other before letting me into the phone.
The Galaxy 20 Note Ultra has three cameras. A Wide lens that’s capable of taking 108MP photos, an ultrawide lens which is capable of taking 12MP photos and a Telephoto lens which has an optical zoom of 5x (with the ability to go to 50x zoom). Samsung’s Smart Take function will allow you to take a variety of photos/videos with one tap, utilising all three lenses.
Taking photos with all three lenses provided a vibrant and colourful photo. Whilst an iPhone will typically take a more natural looking photo, all of my photos that I took with the Galaxy Ultra Note 20 (mostly photos of my sausage dogs) were highly sharpened and full of colour, which actually suits how I like my photos to look quite well.
Night Mode is still a thing, and it definitely goes a long way to taking good photos in low light, but obviously performance will differ depending on what you’re trying to focus on. The selfie camera is able to take 10MP selfies, and I didn’t find it to be too amazing, but definitely passable. The phone is capable of recording 8K video and it performs as well as you’d expect, with good stability and great quality video being the end result.
THE S PEN
One of the main reasons to purchase a Galaxy Note is the pen, and the S-Pen is better than ever in this model. Firstly, writing just feels smoother because of that 120Hz display and latency has been reduced, making the motion feel more one to one, but there’s a bunch of new features that make the pen more useful.
Within the notes app, you can now write on an angle and have the app automatically straighten it, which works a lot better than I was expecting. You can easily turn scribbles into text as well now, and with my illegible writing, that’s no easy task. You can write on your lock screen just by popping out your pen, then add the notes to your Notes app. You can also quickly take a screenshot on an article and write notes straight onto it.
There’s five new Air action gestures, which has you waving your S-Pen in front of your screen to performa actions. These gestures allow you to go back, to your recents app, go to the home screen, go to the smart select screen or capture a screenshot and write on it. They all work really well, and are super helpful.
It’s all of the things that I’ve talked about that make the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G one of the most feature packed phones on the market. Everything it does, it does well, and if you’re a fan of bigger phones, you’re going to hard-pressed to find one better. Obviously, the price does factor in and it isn’t cheap starting at $1,999 AUD.
SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 20 ULTRA SPECS
Dimensions: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm
Battery: 4500mAh (typical)
6.9″ edge Quad HD+ Dynamic
AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display (3088×1440)
120Hz refresh rate
10MP Selfie Camera
12MP Ultra Wide Camera
108MP Wide-angle Camera
12MP Telephoto Camera
Laser AF Sensor
8K video recording at 24 fps (7680×4320)
4K UHD video recording at 60 fps (3840×2160)
1080p FHD video recording at 120 and 60 fps (1920×1080)