Galaxy S20 Ultra ongoing review: Samsung’s camera, battery and superfast screen so far

    The Galaxy S20 Ultra is probably the most superior of Samsung’s new telephones.
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    The Galaxy S20 Ultra is an attention-grabbing beast. As probably the most superior of Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 telephones, it has the biggest display measurement, the most important battery and probably the most digital camera toys in comparison with the Galaxy S20 Plus and commonplace Galaxy S20 (scroll to the top for a full specs comparability). It’s additionally the costliest, beginning at $1,400 for the 256GB model, in comparison with $1,000 for the S20 and $1,200 for the S20 Plus.Samsung’s details of satisfaction for the Ultra come all the way down to that 6.9-inch display, the big 5,000mAh battery, a 108-megapixel primary sensor, as much as 100x AI-assisted digital camera zoom and a 40-megapixel primary digital camera. The core software program and {hardware} options, together with a quick 120Hz display refresh fee, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor and 5G readiness stay the identical for all S20 telephones (the bottom S20 mannequin is a bit more difficult, supporting the sub-6 kind of 5G, apart from Verizon). My mission this week: To take a look at the stuffing out of the Ultra and decide if it lives as much as the promise, who it is for and if it is value all that cash within the first place. Testing is a course of, and good evaluations take time. So for now, listed here are a few of my preliminary impressions, which I’ll replace with new observations as they come up. These are not at all my remaining ideas, so I hope you may stick round for the ultimate, rated overview and particular shopping for recommendation.Now, let’s get this present on the street! Read additionally: Our first images with the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s new cameras
    Quick Galaxy S20 Ultra takeawaysIts 6.9-inch display is vivid and sensible, with Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED 2X tech. Ironically, the display’s pixel density is a tad decrease than on the opposite S20 telephones, however with out having these overview models from Samsung, I am unable to but evaluate them facet by facet.The Galaxy S20 Ultra feels actually heavy (7.76 ounces) and in comparison with the Galaxy Z Flip I reviewed earlier this week, my hand will get fairly drained holding it whereas watching video.The cosmic gray colour I received in my overview unit jogs my memory of modeling clay within the worst manner. Buy it in black or get a case.You can really feel the perimeters of Samsung’s pre-applied display protector if you swipe the perimeters of the display (e.g. when utilizing Android 10’s gesture navigation). It is not the very best feeling.I like utilizing the Edge show panel as an apps shortcut bar, and I additionally love the flexibility to lock the tab and alter it is colour so I can simply discover it regardless of which display I’m on.Design-wise, it is not as refined because the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, however the stubbier (and fewer rounded) edges do make it simpler to put a cursor on the fringe of the display with out my finger falling off the sting.Since the cosmic gray backing is not as mirrored, fingerprint smudging is much less obvious.Benchmarking assessments again up my impression that the S20 Ultra handles duties extraordinarily rapidly.New: Life with the 120Hz displayThe Galaxy S20 gadgets help 120Hz refresh charges on the display. That means pixels refresh 120 occasions a second, twice that of the usual 60Hz refresh fee. The concept is to make every thing from scrolling and animations to gameplay liquid easy. The characteristic is not on by default, and it is not within the fast entry bar, so you must flip it on your self. Samsung envisions you may use it on a regular basis or not, reasonably than having you toggle it for gaming, after which reverting. The alternative, after all, is yours. Using 120Hz will take a battery toll. Exactly how a lot, I’m not but positive. I spent the primary day and a half with the S20 Ultra utilizing the usual 60Hz setting as a result of I wished to determine a baseline feeling for the telephone because it was straight out of the field. Now I’ve engaged the 120Hz setting to see if and the way I really feel the distinction.It’s nonetheless too early for me to inform, however after a full day with it right now (and taking part in a couple of rounds of a racing recreation), I’ll return to 60Hz tomorrow to see what the change is like. 
    Walking with the Galaxy S20 Ultra in my again pocket = excessive nervousness it’s going to topple out and break, particularly the digital camera bump— Jessica Dolcourt (@jdolcourt) February 21, 2020

    The Ultra’s huge digital camera bump worries meSamsung redesigned all the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s cameras and gave its premiere telephone the most important digital camera array of the S20 gadgets. The module is inescapably giant, about an inch by an inch and a half if I eyeball it, and it rises from the floor. It’s unpleasant, however extra importantly, I fear about defending the glass over the sensors.When I set the telephone down on its again on a tabletop, or reposition it, I can really feel and listen to the bump scrape throughout the floor. If this telephone had been to fall out of my fingers and hit the pavement, that module would most likely be the very first thing to crack. Unfortunately, I do know this state of affairs firsthand. The identical factor occurred when the Galaxy Note 10 Plus took a nosedive out of my pocket after I completed reviewing the telephone.I’m relying on a case to make the digital camera module really feel extra flush, and higher shield it throughout drops. Broken glass throughout the sensors can downgrade picture high quality.The S20 Ultra’s digital camera bump is loud and proud.
    Sarah Tew/CNET
    How good are 108-megapixel digital camera and 100x zoom?I instantly started testing the Galaxy S20 Ultra digital camera, but it surely’s only the start. The Galaxy S20 Ultra’s primary digital camera has a 108-megapixel sensor, however that does not imply that each picture you are taking will mechanically be 108 megapixels. Without that setting, photographs resolve to 12-megapixels, however every of these “superpixels” is made up of 9 smaller pixels utilizing a time period known as pixel binning.Remember, too, that 108-megapixel photographs simply take up twice the house of a photograph taken with the digital camera on commonplace mode, typically many occasions better. For instance, I would take a 12-megapixel shot that is 3MB in measurement whereas the 108-megapixel model shops that scene at 24MB, occupying 8 occasions extra storage.In order to snap a 108-megapixel shot, you must choose the choice. I do not suppose I’ve the dangle of when to make use of it and when to not. Some images I took in vivid daylight and in low gentle circumstances, seemed brighter and extra saturated in 108 than the identical picture I took in commonplace mode, shedding shadow and element. They weren’t at all times my favourite, and in some methods appeared much less distinct as a result of the shading seems to be flattened out, at the very least in my take a look at images thus far.One take a look at picture of many. (This is a 12-megapixel picture.)
    Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
    What has been spectacular is the element you see when cropping into a selected a part of the picture, like the middle of a flower or a small element on a shot. Still unclear to me is when I’ll get that element and after I will not. Some images I shot shut up had been really noisier in 108 after I zoomed in (on the laptop computer display and the telephone display) than they had been taken with the usual picture mode. It could be that shut up and macro photographs do not work as nicely with the 108-megapixel possibility. Luckily I’ve a full day of pictures to work that out.I’ll additionally proceed to experiment with 100x zoom, which makes use of AI algorithms to zoom in to far distances. Samsung calls its characteristic Space Zoom, and the Ultra is the one new S20 that may hit 100x. I’ve already taken some faraway photographs of architectural options at 10x, 30x and 100x zoom. It’s neat to see the development, however at this level, I wrestle to consider a time I’d really need the full-fledged 100x zoom. At this vary, the digital camera will get too shaky for handheld photographs. I do see a profit to taking 10x and 30x zoom in locations the place you’ll be able to’t bodily shut the space between your place and the topic — like at a rock live performance — however for these 100x zoom photographs, a monopod, tripod or different stabilizer is a should.A deep crop on a flower middle utilizing the 108-megapixel digital camera setting.
    Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
    Battery life: A powerhouse within the makingIf the sound of a 5,000-mAh telephone battery sounds superior, you would be right. It makes the S20 Ultra heavier, however already I’m reaping the advantages of 100% confidence that my telephone will be capable to stand up to most issues I throw at it. At least over 4G information, and utilizing a 60Hz display. I’ll be keeping track of the battery right now to see how the 120Hz refresh fee would possibly take a toll.As for 5G, these quicker speeds are identified to empty battery reserves quicker than 4G, however that is not one thing we have been in a position to quantify but. At this level, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is not fairly calibrated to AT&T’s 5G community, and I’ve been testing on an AT&T SIM. AT&T and Samsung guarantee me that by the point the Ultra arrives on retailer cabinets, 5G will likely be good to go. I’m attempting to get my fingers on a T-Mobile SIM card to see how that may make a distinction in battery life.In the meantime, the S20 Ultra continues to truck alongside, retaining spectacular battery reserves even after hours of hotspotting to my laptop computer, streaming Netflix video, and importing dozens of images and video over mobile. I’m fully unconcerned about working low. Battery testing will take time, particularly for our lab assessments, however thus far, it is easy crusing.

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    Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 100x zoom makes snooping simpler


    Still to return in Galaxy S20 Ultra testingPhotos, images, images (particularly actual world 108-megapixel and house zoom eventualities)Single Take digital camera extra with Ultra’s camerasBattery toll with 120Hz displayBattery life lab drain testsDay to day usabilityMore processing efficiencyGalaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra specs

    Samsung Galaxy S20

    Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

    Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

    Display measurement, decision

    6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X

    6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X

    6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X

    Pixel density




    Dimensions (Inches)

    2.72 x 5.97 x 0.311 in

    2.9 x 6.37 x 0.30 in

    2.99 x 6.57 x 0.35 in

    Dimensions (Millimeters)

    69.1 x 151.7 x 7.9 mm

    73.7 x 161.9 x 7.8mm

    76.0 x 166.9 x 8.8mm

    Weight (Ounces, Grams)

    5.75 oz; 163g

    6.56 oz; 186g

    7.76 oz; 220g

    Mobile software program

    Android 10

    Android 10

    Android 10


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

    12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight digital camera

    108-megapixel (wide-angle), 48-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight digital camera

    Front-facing digital camera




    Video seize





    64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz)

    64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz)

    64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz)



    128GB, 512GB

    128GB, 512GB




    12GB, 16GB

    Expandable storage

    Up to 1TB

    Up to 1TB

    Up to 1TB


    4,000 mAh

    4,500 mAh

    5,000 mAh

    Fingerprint sensor








    Headphone jack




    Special options

    5G enabled; 120Hz refresh fee; water-resistant (IP68)

    5G enabled; 120Hz refresh fee; water-resistant (IP68)

    5G enabled; 120Hz refresh fee; 100x zoom; water-resistant (IP68)

    Price off-contract (USD)




    Price (GBP)

    £799, £899 (5G)

    £999 (5G)

    £1,199 (128GB), £1,399 (512GB)

    Price (AUD)

    AU$1,349, AU$1,499 (5G)

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


    Published earlier this week and up to date incessantly with new data.

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