Galaxy Note 20 ongoing review: What’s good and not so great about the $1,000 phone so far

    Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 in mystic inexperienced.
    Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
    I used to be excited to unwrap Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, a supercharged $1,300 flagship telephone that offers the Galaxy Note 10 line a major improve, for a worth. But in some methods, I’ve anticipated the usual, cheaper Galaxy Note 20 much more. Positioned because the entry degree Note telephone this 12 months, the $1,000 gadget has some main variations that might matter and a hefty price ticket of its personal, regardless of scaled-down specs that embody display screen high quality, digital camera tech and construct materials all the best way to storage and RAM (scroll to the top for the complete specs comparability). Order from Amazon | Samsung | Verizon | AT&T | Xfinity Mobile | T-Mobile | US Cellular | Best Buy | Walmart | Sam’s Club |I’ve now spent over a full day with the Note 20 and I’ve some observations to share. It takes a very good week to totally take a look at a telephone, so I’ll maintain updating this publish as new observations develop. Just needless to say my opinion would possibly change because the expertise all comes collectively — and that is a very good factor. Getting to know a tool takes time and the expertise out of the field might settle as an individual makes use of it in day-to-day actions. Ready for the primary of my first impressions? Here we go.

    The plastic backing issues, however possibly not the way you anticipate One of the main — and really apparent — variations between the Note 20 Ultra and commonplace Note 20 is the backing. You get a Gorilla Glass Victus cowl materials on the again of the Note 20 Ultra and a polycarbonate (meaning plastic) backing on the Note 20. This might not look like a giant deal, however Samsung and different high-end smartphone makers are maybe victims of their very own success, coaching customers that cup is stylish and complicated, whereas plastic, a sometimes much less shatter-prone materials, is much less refined. Samsung despatched alongside my first selection Note 20 end, the mystic inexperienced coloration, which is a wonderful, shimmery, inexperienced with blue undertones in the proper mild. It seems downright satiny. However, there’s nonetheless some incongruity in relation to each the look and the worth. Side by aspect with the Note 20 Ultra’s glass backing, the Note 20 seems and feels midrange, which does not line up with a $1,000 gross sales determine. 

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    Here’s one other problem with the backing. I seen that the corners snag my fingertips as I maintain the gadget and not using a cowl. It is not painful or disruptive, but it surely would not really feel as luxe as a $1,000 telephone ought to. Samsung was gracious sufficient to ship alongside a number of circumstances, which makes the issue disappear, but it surely’s necessary to strive the telephone each methods. Here’s one space the place the plastic backing is a win. The Note 20 feels considerably lighter than the Note 20 Ultra, in hand, in my pocket and in my purse. It’s a lot simpler to carry when writing, watching movies and simply carrying round. That’s an actual plus for me.

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    How about that Note 20 digital camera? Today’s observations Testing a digital camera is not a single-day affair. It takes time and a wide range of lighting circumstances to essentially get a really feel for the actual strengths and weaknesses. My first time out with the digital camera system raised a number of questions, largely as a result of I had the Note 20 Ultra in my different pocket and switched off between the 2.

    Let’s deal with the primary elephant within the room, that digital camera bump. It’s entrance of thoughts on the Note 20 Ultra and way more pared down on the Note 20, rising from the floor a bit, however not a lot you are fearful about stubbing your thumb on it. Writing with the S Pen on a Note 20 Ultra (and not using a cowl) prompted the telephone to deeply rock. The Note 20 nonetheless rocks and not using a cowl, however not as a lot. What does this all imply for picture high quality? In phrases of the specs, the digital camera variations you will discover most come all the way down to pared-back element seize (64-megapixels on the excessive finish as a substitute of 108-megapixels), 3x optical zoom as a substitute of 5x and 30x digital zoom as a substitute of 50x on the Note 20 Ultra.

    The digital camera variations play out in quite a few noticeable methods. First, there’s the Note 20’s picture high quality by itself, as a standalone gadget. Then you’ve the comparability between the Note 20 versus the Note 20 Ultra images. Finally, there’s the Note 20 versus different telephones in its $1,000 worth level. Today I in contrast the 2 Note 20 telephones on a pleasant, lengthy stroll alongside the rugged Northern California shoreline. It was a moody day, however I used to be in a position to shoot every thing from harbor seals and herons to wonderful rock formations, vibrant purple thistles and crashing waves.  The Note 20 did properly and caught the photographs I wished, together with video of cute seals arching on ocean rocks to keep away from the surf and incoming tide, to a stoic crane who stood at consideration lengthy sufficient for me to get the shot earlier than flying away. (Stay tuned for comparability images on the following replace.) Note 20 versus Note 20 Ultra digital camera

    Galaxy Note 20

    Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

    Main digital camera

    12-megapixel (F1.8, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, 1.8μm, 79-degree FOV, 1/1.76″ picture sensor)

    108-megapixel (F1.8, OIS, 0.8μm, 79-degree FOV, 1/1.33″ picture sensor)

    Ultra-wide angle

    12-megapixel (F2.2, 1.4μm, 120-degree FOV)

    12-megapixel (F2.2, 1.4μm, 120-degree FOV)


    64-megapixel (F2.0, 0.8μm, 76-degree FOV)

    12-megapixel (F3.0, 1.0μm, 20-degree FOV)

    Front-facing digital camera

    10-megapixel (F2.2, 1.22μm, 80-degree FOV)

    10-megapixel (F2.2, 1.22μm, 80-degree FOV)


    3x hybrid

    5x optical

    Super Zoom



    Laser auto-focus sensor



    Video seize



    For all of the bulbous faults of its protruding digital camera array, the Note 20 Ultra’s enhanced images bought me nearer to nature than the Note 20 and, after some time, I finished reaching for the Note 20 altogether. Zoom did not get me as close to to the fluffy seals lounging on the rocks and after I did zoom in to the cormorants on the rocks or turkey vultures within the bushes, the photographs appeared grainier than on the Note 20 Ultra.  I might nonetheless share the Note 20 photos and movies with my birder and nature-loving buddy — who I knew would flip for them regardless — and the images are nonetheless efficient and usable. But aspect by aspect, it is apparent the place Samsung made its investments.
    Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are available in a putting bronze shade
    See all images

    Phone measurement: Just how massive is massive? The digital camera checks proceed, however there’s one space that instantly popped into thoughts. The Note 20 is totally smaller and far lighter feeling than the Note 20 Ultra. However, it nonetheless towers out of my pockets and fills my hand. That may be the appropriate trade-off of a large-screen telephone — right here now we have 6.7-inches versus 6.9 on the Note 20 Ultra. Coming up: Screen high quality, battery life, storage, extra This is just the start of my Note-versus-Note Ultra testing interval. Screen specs, battery life and a number of minor options will go face to face to find out which telephone gives the most effective worth for the cash (proper now it is anybody’s to lose) and if there are different elements that might push one above the opposite — or above competing gadgets. Keep checking in as this review-in-progress evolves. Meanwhile, brush up on the complete specs comparability beneath. Note 20 versus Note 20 Ultra

    Samsung Galaxy Note 20

    Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

    Display measurement, decision

    6.7-inch; 2,400×1,080 pixels

    6.9-inch; 3,088×1,440 pixels

    Pixel density



    Dimensions (Inches)

    6.36 x 2.96 x 0.33 in

    6.49 x 3.04 x 0.31 in

    Dimensions (Millimeters)

    161.6 x 75.2 x 8.3 mm

    164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm

    Weight (Ounces, Grams)

    6.84 oz, 194g

    7.33 oz, 208g

    Mobile software program

    Android 10

    Android 10


    12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto)

    12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)

    Front-facing digital camera



    Video seize




    Snapdragon 865+

    Snapdragon 865+



    128GB, 512GB




    Expandable storage


    Up to 1TB




    Fingerprint sensor






    Headphone jack



    Special options

    S Pen stylus; 5G connectivity; Wireless PowerShare; water-proof (IP68)

    5x optical zoom, UWB sharing, S Pen stylus; 5G connectivity; Wireless PowerShare; water-proof (IP68)

    Price off-contract (USD)


    $1,300 (128GB), $1,450 (512GB)

    Price (GBP)

    £849 (4G) and £949 (5G)


    Price (AUD)

    AU$1,499 (4G) and AU$1,649 (5G)

    AU$1,849 (4G) and $AU$1,999 (5G)

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