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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra First Impressions: Absolutely Stunning!

Things I Like

  • Elegant Design
  • Best AMOLED display ever
  • The camera looks improved from S20 Ultra
  • Stereo Speaker
  • Good Performance
  • One UI 2.5

Potential Weakness

  • Exynos 990 lags behind the Snapdragon counterpart

Samsung has a variety of smartphones ranging from budget to flagship phones. Their most premium phones are from Galaxy S-series and the Note series.

Samsung Galaxy S20 series was launched earlier this year and it exactly wasn’t the smartphone everybody as hoping it to be. However, Samsung has another chance with their Note lineup.

Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Note 20 series among which the Note 20 Ultra is the top-dog.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the most premium Samsung phone for this year. It’s the update to the Note 10 Plus and looks set to be the best smartphone of the year 2020. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra price in Nepal is Rs. 1,35,000 for the 8/256GB variant.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

I have been using this for over a week now and I love the phone. Let’s see why!

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Specifications

  • Body: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm, 208 g, Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by), Stylus, 9ms latency (Bluetooth integration, accelerometer, gyro)
  • Display: 6.9-inches Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 1440 x 3088 pixels, ~494 ppi density, Gorilla Glass Victus, HDR10+, [email protected]
  • Chipset: Exynos 990 (7 nm+)
  • CPU: Octa-core (2×2.73 GHz Mongoose M4 & 2×2.4 GHz Cortex-A75 & 4×1.9 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • GPU: Mali-G77 MP11
  • Memory: 256GB 8B RAM, UFS 3.1, MicroSD up to 1TB
  • OS: Android 10, One UI 2.5
  • Rear Camera: 108 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS
  • Front Camera: 10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/3.2″, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 4500 mAh battery, Fast Charging 25W, USB Power Delivery 3.0, Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging 15W, Reverse wireless charging 9W
  • USB: 3.2, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector, USB On-The-Go
  • Misc: Fingerprint (under display, ultrasonic), Accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity, Compass, Barometer
  • Colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Price in Nepal: Rs. 1,39,999 (8/256GB)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Impressions

Ultra Premium Design

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has the looks to kill. The big camera module, an elegant satin finish on the glass back, and a superb display make it look gorgeous.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Design
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Design

The S20 Ultra feels underwhelming when compared to the looks of the Note 20 Ultra. On top of that, the new bronze color looks absolutely stunning on the Note 20 Ultra.

As I’ve already mentioned the glass back has a satin finish but it’s not just that. Samsung is using Gorilla Glass Victus on the glass back which is 25% better than Gorilla Glass 6. And, in recent tests, Note 20 Ultra has managed to survive numerous drops with minimal damage.

The camera bump on the Note 20 Ultra is huge due to large sensors but love how those sensors make the Note 20 Ultra look ‘UIltra’. Ther are 3 sensors on the back along with a flash and laser AF system.

Now, one of the changes to Note 20 Ultra comes as the change to the placement of its stylus. It’s the first Note in the Galaxy series to have the stylus on the left instead of right. It does feel weird at first if you’re a right-handed person.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Buttons
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Buttons

Else, the buttons are in the same place just like the USB Type C charging port and the speaker. It has a dual speaker setup as you expect. The secondary speaker has been hidden with such care that it goes unnoticed.

It’s a big phone so it’s very hard to use it single-handedly but I can manage it. But again, it’s a Note device so you’re not meant to use it with a single hand.

I would just say that this is the most premium phone and once you hold this on your hand, there’s no other phone that can give you the same satisfaction.

Gorgeous 120Hz AMOLED Display

I was almost sure that Samsung would finally allow a 120Hz refresh rate at QHD resolution on the Note 20 Ultra. But that was not the case and it’s disappointing. They should have at least allowed us to feel the smoothness of 120Hz at QHD.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Display
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Display

Nonetheless, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s 6.9 inches Dynamic AMOLED display is beautiful. Displaymate has ranked it’s display panel as the best smartphone display right now.

It’s fluid, colorful, and big. What more do you need? Watching content on this screen is an absolute treat. And, I don’t mind the hole-punch in the middle but I prefer it on the left side.

It gets better though. Samsung is using the Gorilla Glass Victus on the front glass as well. So, it’s not just beautiful but it’s tough too. The other thing you will notice is that the display is more flatter. It’s still curved but the curve is very subtle.

Then there’s more. Samsung has implemented what they call the backplane technology on the S20 Ultra’s display. And, this helps it to switch between refresh rates on the fly. So, the display will run on full 120Hz while you are scrolling and it can even drop down to 10Hz if it’s still. Samsung claims that this helps to increase display efficiency by 25%.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Punch-hole
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Punch-hole

The bezels have been improved further but it’s not a huge step up from S20 Ultra. And, I don’t think they can go any further without implementing a pop-up camera or an in-display camera.

Exynos 990? Here we go again!

I couldn’t help but remember the meme from GTA San Andreas “Sh*t here we go again’ when I found out that Samsung is using Exynos 990 on the Note 20 Ultra. The Exynos and Snapdragon saga has been going for a very long time. And, the difference between the variants has been increasing each year.

The global version of the Note 20 Ultra gets the Exynos 990 and limited markets like the U.S and South Korea get the Snapdragon 865+ variant. But it gets more disappointing because Exynos 990 is the same chipset we saw on the S20 series.

Every year Samsung has used upgraded chipset on the Note series. So, it’s kind of a double whammy for the Exynos users.

Well, Exynos 990 is also a capable chipset and there has been no case of lags or stutters in real-life usage. And, I haven’t noticed stutters during my short gaming session where I played COD Mobile.

We will test out its gaming prowess in more detail in our review and also compare it with the S20 Plus to see if there are any performance tweaks.

Upgraded S-pen

I’m not an S-pen user but the new S-pen feels smoother as it’s been upgraded to 9ms response time. Taking notes definitely feels a lot more natural and responsive. Along with the upgrade to its response time, they have introduced a few new gestures too. And, so far they have been a hit or miss.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Spen
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra S-pen

The new gestures are called air actions and some new features include gesture shortcuts for smart select and screen write. It’s safe to say you won’t be using gestures anytime soon.

Furthermore, you can customize the actions of S-pen while using the camera and media. A single press and double press can be used to manage volume or play the previous/next track.

50X Hybrid Zoom Camera

Samsung Note 20 Ultra has a triple camera setup on the rear. There’s a 108MP main sensor, 12MP ULtrawide angle sensor, and a 12MP periscope sensor.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Camera
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Camera

Images have crisp details and the colors are saturated as you would expect. The dynamic range is very good and the HDR works well. You can get more detail with the 108MP camera.

HDR is also available on the 108MP mode and there’s not much difference between normal and 108MP except the details.

Similarly, the 12MP ultrawide angle camera also performs exceptionally. You get good details and the images have similar colors profile as the main sensor.

With the periscope lens, you get 5X optical zoom and up to 50x hybrid zoom. This year they haven’t gone for the 100x zoom which was used on the S20 Ulta. The images have good quality until 10x zoom, after than the details are not so good but it’s useful if you want to capture objects which are far.

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The 10MP front camera is wider and captures good images with saturated colors. The front camera can capture 4k videos as well. It’s really good for bloggers.

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You can capture up to 8k videos from the rear camera but this is not practical. You need 8k devices to watch 8k footages. Plus, they take up plenty of storage. They have fixed the focus issues which tainted the S20 Ultra. The laser AF works very well and it’s very fast.

Something new this year is in the Pro video mode. In this mode, you can also select and different audio sources such as Bluetooth devices to record sound.

I am yet to test its camera for the full review. So, we’ll take an in-depth look at its camera quality including night mode in our full review.

Battery

Note 20 ultra has 4500 mAh battery which is fine on paper but it’s actually less than what the S20 ultra has. S20 ultra has 5000 mAh battery and naturally, the Note series have always had a bigger battery.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra USB Port
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra USB Port

Even though the battery life should be fine as it utilizes variable refresh rate technology which improves battery life as well. We will look at the battery usage in our full review.

Software

On software sides of things, it has Android 10 along with One UI 2.5. OneUI is definitely one of the good UI out there right now. I mean after the One UI update, Samsung’s phone just feels much better.

It’s the first phone with the One UI 2.5 which brings some new features. One of the new features includes a split keyboard on landscape mode. This is really helpful on big devices like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Then of course there’s wireless DeX mode and lots of other changes. Some specific features for Note include audio bookmarks, PDF support on Samsung Notes, and Handwriting languages.

Final Thoughts

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is really beautiful and I love the new color and design. The S-pen also brings improvement and the camera has been improved too. The only complaint here is the use of Exynos 990 on the global variant. If you’re paying the same price then everyone should be getting the same variant but that is not the case.

However, Note 20 Ultra in Nepal is cheaper than other places as it’s a 4g variant. That is fine because 5g is a dream right now and it’s not necessary.

With all said and done, Note 20 Ultra looks to be the best flagship phone of 2020. However, the Exynos 990 is still a thorn in its side.

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