Galaxy Note 20 Ultra ongoing review: Let’s talk about camera, battery, that 6.9-inch screen

    The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a dear telephone with energy options.
    James Martin/CNET
    After months of lockdown the place I reside, reviewing the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G has been an absolute blast. Samsung’s most superior telephone for energy customers is pricey — it begins at $1,300 (£1,179, AU$1,894) for the 128GB mannequin — but it surely’s additionally filled with options and has an arresting (some would possibly say divisive) design, all of which makes it enjoyable to discover. There have been some bumps alongside the way in which — no telephone is ideal — but in addition some very nice perks of utilizing a premium machine with a fantastically detailed 6.9-inch display screen.My favourite approach to evaluation a telephone is to reside with it and use it as naturally as doable. These are weird occasions, as a result of I am unable to go to the locations and do the issues I usually would when testing a telephone’s options, like utilizing the Note 20 Ultra’s S Pen capabilities throughout conferences, capturing photographs of my buddies at evening or recording road performers to check the Ultra’s new professional video mode. It additionally would not assist that I reside fairly removed from my regular testing grounds.

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    In some methods this situation is the right check of a telephone in these occasions. Life is not the identical right this moment and we do not understand how the continuing coronavirus pandemic might completely change the way in which folks work and reside. A do-everything machine for work and play makes excellent sense for our prepandemic occasions, however how does it match right into a world the place extra folks could work at home and be much less socially energetic, notably till there is a widespread vaccine?Here are my prime observations to date. Note that since that is an ongoing evaluation, so my impressions might change and deepen as time goes on.  Galaxy Note 20 (128GB, $999) Order from Samsung | Verizon | AT&T | Xfinity Mobile | T-Mobile | US Cellular | Best Buy  Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (begins at 128GB, $1,299) Order from Samsung | Verizon | AT&T | Xfinity Mobile | T-Mobile | US Cellular | Best Buy  That Note 20 Ultra digicam bump means enterprise.
    Angela Lang/CNET
    The Note 20 Ultra is further huge, particularly the digicam bumpEveryfactor about Samsung’s new telephone is supersized, from the 6.9-inch display screen to the large — and I imply HUGE — digicam array on the again. It’s 2 inches tall and over an inch extensive, and it juts out prominently. Samsung has accomplished a good job of constructing this digicam mount look as jaunty as doable, but it surely’s nonetheless not my favourite look, and when you do not use a case to spherical it out, I’m involved that any drop or scrape will scratch the digicam first. This has occurred to me with a telephone earlier than, and my ultrawide photographs have been by no means good once more. Also, when you lay the Note 20 Ultra down, say on a tabletop, and write on the display screen, the digicam mount will trigger the telephone to rock.For me, the Note 20 Ultra is a tad too extensive to comfortably slot in my arms, and it towers comically out of my again pocket in a approach that will make a bystander nervous.Although the display screen is big, which is terrific for studying of any type and watching video, I might level out that in right this moment’s setting the place my laptop computer seems like an extension of my arm, I’m extra more likely to comply with a house exercise on the 13-inch laptop computer display screen as an alternative of on a telephone.

    Note 20 Ultra: What I like proper now Color: I can see why Samsung made mystic bronze its signature shade and swapped out a shiny end for a smooth, subtle matte sheen. It’s lustrous and understated with out being boring, and looks like far much less of a grease entice.Casual images: Taking photographs is enjoyable. Images are vivid and 5x optical zoom retains image high quality excessive sufficient to make me preserve utilizing it. Ultrawide-angle photographs are at all times a fantastic software to have within the photograph arsenal to offer dramatic impact. Yes, the Note 20 Ultra continues Samsung’s tendency to oversaturate some photographs, and 108-megapixel images can produce blended outcomes. More on this in my closing evaluation. Overall, I’m proud of most of its photographs. Zoom images is wanting higher: I’m glad the Note 20 Ultra steps again from the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 100x “space” zoom. My finest shot at 50x AI-assisted zoom was one I lucked into (see above). It appears to be like good, however even with an onscreen viewfinder and a stabilizing pressure like a tripod, the picture jumps like loopy.

    Screen high quality: The display screen is 6.9 inches and, as at all times, vibrant and good. This was wonderful for studying the information, watching movies and scrolling by way of photographs. See the flip aspect to brightness beneath. Since the bezel’s so slim, I preserve by chance urgent the edges of the telephone (extra beneath), however the picture itself is terrific, even on the default FHD Plus setting of two,326×1,080 pixels (it goes as much as WQHD Plus, which is 3,088×1,440 pixels).  Stylus methods: My favourite Galaxy Note instruments are right here, like taking a extremely exact screenshot utilizing the S Pen, utilizing the Note 20 Ultra’s magnifying software to learn on-line menus and too-small font (so easy), and simply making a display screen recording or GIF of a portion of the show. You can even double-click the S Pen button to erase what you’ve got written. There are a couple of extra in addition to, like writing on prime of a PDF you may import into the notes app (sure!) and annotating a display screen. A brand new format within the Notes app makes it simpler to modify amongst menu gadgets. Selfie shutter button: Taking a selfie utilizing the S Pen is a breeze once you press the stylus button with one hand with out having to stay your arm out at a clumsy angle or fear about dropping the telephone. Face tone filters for selfies are a pleasant approach so as to add some heat or tone it down if an image is oversaturated.  Phone calls: Who makes use of a telephone anymore? I do, particularly now that I take lots of work calls whereas out on a stroll. Every name has sounded nice in my space, each over mobile and by way of apps like WhatsApp and Slack. Of course, your state of affairs might differ relying on the service the place you reside, and the identical goes in your 4G or 5G connection. The S Pen nice for display screen navigation, writing and any precision work like taking screenshots of precisely the half you want.
    Angela Lang/CNET
    The Note 20 Ultra options I’m conserving an in depth eye on Battery life: After an uneven first day, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s 4,500-mAh battery is behaving extra like how I’d count on for a flagship telephone — whew. On my heaviest day of use to date, it was at 35% after 12 hours (which included an hour and a half of Google Maps navigation) and slowly drained to 16% by 7 a.m. This was utilizing the default 120Hz display screen setting with adaptive brightness and no battery optimization setting. I’ve now turned that on, so we’ll see the way it goes. Edge contact rejection: I’ve began to note that the razor-thin bezels could also be interfering with how I exploit the Note 20 Ultra, particularly when I’m mendacity down on my again or aspect, and particularly when typing. The notification shade will abruptly begin sliding down as if I’ve summoned it, the sting display screen could come out or another difficulty would possibly interrupt my typing. It’s not a deal breaker for me at this stage, however it’s one thing that is occurred most mornings and evenings. 

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    First Look: Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra


    It’s heavy: After an particularly grueling day, I needed to veg out watching Netflix earlier than drifting off to sleep. After 10 minutes, my hand grew heavy attempting to carry up the telephone. I switched to my telephone stand, propping the Note 20 Ultra on the stand and placing the stand on my stomach. It wobbled and swayed each time I laughed. It even fell off as soon as. I lastly put the stand and telephone on my nightstand and flipped to my aspect to look at, till I obtained a crick in my neck and known as it quits after about an hour. Great sound and picture high quality, although. The S Pen placement: It could also be one thing I merely must get used to, however to date, the transfer from the best aspect of the telephone to the left is not working all that effectively for me. There’s nothing inherently mistaken with the design, however for some motive reaching for it seems like a chore. Did it transfer to accommodate the digicam {hardware}? We’ll see if I heat as much as the modifications because the checks go on. Nighttime display screen brightness: With the lights out, Android’s Wind Down mode on and the brightness slid to its lowest setting, the display screen is just too vibrant to induce sleepiness. It’s extra more likely to rev me up throughout middle-of-the-night wakeups than lull me again to sleep. I’d like to see a extra aggressive midnight setting.  The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a vibrant, large 6.9-inch show.
    Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
    Wired headphones do not come within the field. My colleague Patrick Holland embraces this — and perhaps for you, it is not a giant deal as Samsung transitions customers to wi-fi earbuds like its Galaxy Buds Live (aka Galaxy Beans). But the Galaxy Buds Live price $170 and Samsung spent years touting the $99 worth of the wired headphones that got here within the field. If you did not care all that a lot about getting wi-fi headphones (for instance, they at all times fall out of my ears or choose up wind noise outdoors), you are routinely shedding the $99 worth of the bundled headphones, plus the $170 or nevertheless a lot you wind up spending on one thing else. So when you do not have already got headphones you wish to use, your price of possession simply went up. It can get a bit of toasty. My CNET colleagues and I’ve seen the Note 20 Ultra appeared to each generate and dissipate various warmth — this has been a each day prevalence. Nothing out of the strange, simply an emanating heat that telephones (and laptops and different electronics) can get once they’re working arduous. On a scorching summer season day, this hasn’t been essentially the most nice sensation in my pocket and hand, however undoubtedly not a deal breaker.

    There’s nonetheless a lot to see because the Note 20 Ultra begins to settle in as my each day telephone for the subsequent week. Keep checking again as this evaluation develops daily.  Note 20 cameras: 108MP, professional video mode, 8K video seize The digicam array is the place Samsung needs the Note 20 telephones, and particularly the Note 20 Ultra, to shine. It’s taken a step again from the ostentation of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which boasted a 100x Space Zoom characteristic and a important digicam able to capturing a 108-megapixel photograph, to pay attention as an alternative on the concept of cropping in for extra element.  Note 20 vs. Note 20 Ultra digicam

    Galaxy Note 20

    Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

    Main digicam

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

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

    Ultrawide 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 digicam

    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



    Samsung nonetheless gave the Note 20 Ultra an 108-megapixel digicam possibility — you faucet it to show it on once you need the total decision. When it involves zoom, the Note 20 falls again to 50x zoom, with the Note 20 settling in at 30x.  It’s fascinating to see Samsung backtrack like this, however the firm appears to be responding to suggestions that the S20 Ultra was too costly and its 100x zoom wasn’t adequate or helpful sufficient to justify the value. The Note 20 Ultra has 5x optical zoom, although the digicam shortcut instruments make it simpler to select 2x and 4x zoom earlier than leaping to 10, 20 and 50x zoom settings. You can go extra granular by pinching and zooming within the viewfinder. Faster autofocus within the Note 20 Ultra can also be designed to provide it an edge over the usual Note 20, so you may snap photographs of squirmy pets, amusing facial expressions and flapping hummingbirds quicker, with out lacking the shot.  A professional video mode packs in additional handbook instruments and choices for capturing footage, which ought to make aspiring moviemakers joyful. This has been one in every of Samsung’s weaker areas for a number of years, in contrast with the most recent iPhone. Like the Galaxy S20 Ultra, each telephones assist 8K video seize. Just remember, it will make video information huge on and off your telephone. We’re nonetheless testing this mode and we’ll additionally concentrate on it in a separate digicam deep dive.Supporting writing is one thing Galaxy Note telephones do finest.
    Richard Peterson/CNET
    The Note 20 Ultra has a brand new S Pen stylus and observe app methods What would the Galaxy Note be with out its stylus? For loyalists, scribbling, navigating and annotating are a part of the telephone’s allure. So is the truth that the Notes app permits you to do the entire above. Here are the latest options for each Note 20 fashions. New S Pen gesture navigation: Pointing the pen tip away out of your physique (and at a distance from the telephone), press and maintain the stylus button whereas making one in every of 5 new gestures to return, go residence, open a latest app or take a screenshot with Smart Select. You can even squiggle the pen to seize the whole display screen. The S Pen is extra responsive on the Note 20 Ultra when the 120Hz display screen possibility is on. Handwriting recognition will get higher, with instruments together with autostraighten.  Samsung Notes will get reside auto-syncing in the end. This will retailer a observe within the cloud so that you can entry from another machine — so long as you are signed in to a Samsung account. Attach and time-sync voice recordings: You can get your voice observe to sync with what you write so it will play again from the time you point out the phrase. Import a PDF to annotate or spotlight: Instead of printing out a web page or downloading it to signal after which add or ship out once more, you may merely mark your signature and export it again.
    Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are available in a hanging bronze shade
    See all photographs

    Other Note 20 options and goodies UWB assist for sharing information like a digital key. Point to share with different Samsung units utilizing UWB. Support for Google’s Nearby Share.120Hz refresh charge by default, with an choice to flip into 60Hz to save lots of battery life.New Gorilla Glass Victus on either side.Colors: Mystic bronze shade (matte), mystic black and mystic white (shiny).Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers you entry to over 100 video games you may play on the fly. Samsung’s Microsoft partnership: Drag-and-drop and syncing from Windows units and apps to your Samsung telephone, together with notes and reminders.Samsung DeX, the imaginative and prescient for changing your laptop along with your telephone, now enables you to join to a different display screen wirelessly to view your content material, say in your TV display screen in your front room. You can pair a Galaxy Note 20 with the brand new Galaxy Buds Live to activate noise cancellation. In the taped demo I noticed, you continue to hear lots of static and distortion, but it surely did lower out interfering conversations. Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra specs Galaxy Note 20 vs. Note 20 Ultra

    Samsung Galaxy Note 20

    Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

    Display dimension, decision

    6.7 inches; 2,400×1,080 pixels

    6.9 inches; 3,088×1,440 pixels

    Pixel density

    393 ppi

    496 ppi

    Dimensions (inches)

    6.36×2.96×0.33 in

    6.49×3.04×0.31 in

    Dimensions (millimeters)



    Weight (ounces, grams)

    6.84 oz, 194g

    7.33 oz, 208g

    Mobile software program

    Android 10

    Android 10


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

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

    Front-facing digicam



    Video seize




    Snapdragon 865 Plus

    Snapdragon 865 Plus



    128GB, 512GB




    Expandable storage


    Up to 1TB


    4,300 mAh

    4,500 mAh

    Fingerprint sensor






    Headphone jack



    Special options

    S Pen stylus; 5G connectivity; Wireless EnergyShare; waterproof (IP68)

    5x optical zoom, UWB sharing, S Pen stylus; 5G connectivity; Wireless EnergyShare; waterproof (IP68)

    Price off-contract (USD)


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

    Price (GBP)



    Price (AUD)



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