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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Long-term Review: A Gorgeous Flagship Phone!

Pros

  • Elegant Design
  • Best AMOLED Display Ever
  • Excellent Camera Performance
  • Loud and Clear Stereo Speaker
  • Good Performance
  • One UI 2.5

Cons

  • Exynos 990 Lags Behind the Snapdragon Counterpart in Gaming
  • 120Hz Display Sucks Battery

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 Note 20 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

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 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.

I have been using this for more than a month now and this will be my full long term review. Moreover, this is a build-up on my first impressions which will provide insight into performance, camera, and battery. So Let’s dive into the long term review of Note 20 Ultra.

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 Long-term Review

Design

  • 64.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm, 208 g
  • Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra looks absolutely gorgeous. I like the rear design of the phone as it now has a big camera module. However, it gets rid of the 100x Space zoom branding used on the S20 Ultra and I’m glad they did it.

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

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra comes in a new frosted finish on the rear and its a satin finish as well. It feels premium and it doesn’t attract fingerprints either. But the thing I loved the most is the new bronze color, it screams premium.

The Note 20 Ultra looks classy and ultra-premium. And, it doesn’t just look premium, it has a premium build as well with the all-new Gorilla Glass Victus on the rear and front glass. It provides up to 2X improved scratch resistance compared to the Gorilla Glass 6.

So far the only scuff marks I’ve had on the Note 20 Ultra is on the stylus and a slight scuff on the aluminum frame. Note that I have been using this device without a case.

ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus Long-term Review: Still a Good Buy!

Display

  • 6.9-inches Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • 1440 x 3088 pixels
  • ~494 ppi density
  • Gorilla Glass Victus
  • HDR10+
  • [email protected]

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a 6.9 inches Dynamic AMOLED QHD display. Not just that but it’s the first phone use backplane technology which helps in variable refresh rate. Note 20 Ultra has a 120Hz refresh rate in FHD resolution but it can change the refresh rate down to 10Hz according to the content. This also helps in power efficiency as it is now 20% more efficient than the S20 Ultra.

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

Yes, you still cannot use 120Hz at QHD res but I did not dwell much into this fact because you won’t notice a major difference between QHD and FHD on the Note 20 Ultra. The display is ultra-crisp, the colors are absolutely beautiful, and it’s definitely the best display yet.

It’s bright and I did not have any problem using it under strong sunlight either. Note 20 Ultra’s screen is really addictive. After using it as the main device for watching YouTube and Netflix, it was hard to adjust to other phones.

Spen

  • Stylus, 9ms latency (Bluetooth integration, accelerometer, gyro)

I’m not a Spen user and the Note 20 Ultra did not make me want to use the Spen either. Samsung has made improvements like reduced latency and some new features but I never really used it except to test its features.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Spen
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Spen

However, it felt very intuitive and easy to use while I was testing it. The writing felt more natural with the improved response time. Spen users will be able to feel this immediately.

Plus, the palm rejection works really well, I did not have any incidental touches while I was drawing on the Note 20 Ultra.

Spen keeps a lot of the features from its predecessor and brings some new gestures. New gestures include shortcuts for the back button, recent app, home, screen write, and others. But gestures are still somewhat gimmicky, sometimes they work well but sometimes it doesn’t.

Another useful thing you can do with the Spen take pictures and videos. It’s useful if you’re traveling alone and want to take a picture with a specific subject with you in it.

Performance

  • Exynos 990 (7 nm+)
  • Octa-core (2×2.73 GHz Mongoose M4 & 2×2.4 GHz Cortex-A75 & 4×1.9 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • Mali-G77 MP11
  • 256GB 8B RAM, UFS 3.1, MicroSD up to 1TB

Samsung has been under crossfire due to this whole Snapdragon Vs Exynos debacle. Snapdragon chipsets have been consistently better than the Exynos variants and it’s the same with Exynos 990. What’s worse is the fact that Exynos variants are not even getting an upgrade from the S20 series which is not the case usually.

So, the global variant of Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is using the Exynos 990 chipset with 8GB RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage.

I have already mentioned it in my impressions that the Note 20 Ultra with Exynos 990 is way behind the Snapdragon 865+ but I was not bothered by this during my usage and that’s mostly because I’m not a gamer.

You won’t find much difference with normal tasks like app opening, browsing, and etc. But, you will definitely notice a lack of power while gaming.

So for the full review, I tested COD Mobile and PUBG along with FPS. You can watch the video for more detailed info because will just summarize it here. In COD Mobile I was not getting consistent 60 fps in MAX fps and HIGH graphics setting. For smoother gameplay, I had to drop to minimum graphics but it was still not consistent however this setting did not yield in major fps drops.

Similarly, I was not getting consistent 60fps in PUBG at extreme fps but it did not have frame drops like COD Mobile. It ran smoother. In the HDR setting, the fps was capped to 40 but the gameplay did not feel as smooth in high settings which also has max fps of 40.

So, Exynos 990 is not a good flagship chipset if you are a heavy gamer. I did not have any problem because I’m not a heavy gamer and I don’t play games quite often. But if you are a heavy gamer, then this device might not be for you. About heating, the device heats up while playing games and even while using the camera. It heats up quickly but it doesn’t affect performance.

ALSO READ: Infinix Note 7 Review: Good Performer with A Huge Display!

Camera

In terms of camera, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has been excellent. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is using the same 108MP sensor used by the S20 Ultra. It’s the Samsung Isocell Bright HM1 sensor. But, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra brings laser autofocus to fix the autofocus problem. Also, Samsung has decided to go with only 50x zoom instead of the 100x zoom.

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

Zoom

With Note 20 Ultra, Samsung has cut down the 50X hybrid zoom instead of 100X which was seen on the S20 Ultra. It has a 12MP periscope lens than enables up to 5X optical zoom and 50X hybrid zoom.

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The quality is great with 5X optical zoom. You won’t notice a massive loss in quality. The zoom quality is good until 10X and it’s acceptable up to 15X. But, after that, the quality takes a more significant drop.

Normal Photos

There’s no room to complain with the Note 20 Ultra. The details are absolutely great and we get that saturated color profile from Samsung along with an impressive dynamic range. However, I noticed that Note 20 Ultra prefers a slightly darker tone than normal.

The 108MP sensor gives you an impressive natural shallow depth of field. The close-up photos look incredibly appealing. But, the large sensor means that you cannot capture macro like photos. That’s why Note 20 Ultra automatically suggests 2x zoom while you’re trying to take a close-up shot. About the focus problem, the new last assisted focus works perfectly, I did not have any problem with the autofocus.

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If you want more detail you can use the 108MP mode but you will have to take a slight hit with the dynamic range even if HDR is available. Also, photos will be darker than normal photos. I find the normal photos more appealing than the high res photos and high res photos take way more space.

Low-Light Photos

Obviously, the low light pictures don’t have good details as the daylight pictures but it’s not clogged with noise either. Even though the pictures don’t look as sharp, the low-light images look good even without night mode.

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In pitch dark, using night mode will greatly increase the amount of light in the images and photos will turn out better. However, the moving subjects are still a problem as they come out blurred.

Ultrawide Photos

Even though it’s only a 12MP ultra wide-angle sensor the details are excellent. I think that ultrawide angle photos from Samsung are better than others. It maintains the same saturated color profile as the main sensor and you won’t notice much noise even if you take photos in low-light situations.

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What’s good is it also manages the distortion so you won’t notice much distortion in most of the photos.

Portrait Photos

Samsung’s live focus works well as we expect it to. The edge detection and background blue feel natural and HDR works well to control the backlight.

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Except for this, you get a single take feature that takes a 6-7 seconds video and exports the best images, a boomerang kind of video, and some images with filters.

Front Camera

It does a fine job with good details on the face and natural skin tone. The subject stands out from the background as well, so it looks more appealing. Also, the color is not as saturated as it is from the rear camera.

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Then, the portrait mode from the front camera works well too.

Video

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra supports 8k 24 fps videos from the rear camera. Then, it does 4k 60 and 4k 30 as well.

Let’s not dwell on the 8K video because it’s not practical at all right now. However, 4k videos from Note 20 Ultra looks gorgeous with lots of detail. The video has a good dynamic range and the stabilization also works well. Combined with the 4K video from the front camera, Note 20 Ultra is a great smartphone for vloggers.

Battery

  • Non-removable Li-Po 4500 mAh battery
  • Fast Charging 25W

Samsung Note 20 Ultra uses a 4500 mAh battery along with 25W fast charging. It actually has 500 mAh less battery than the S20 Ultra. The Note lineup is always supposed to have a bigger battery but that’s not the case this time.

The 4500 mAh is average as I was getting around 5 hours of screen on time. The 120Hz refresh rate really takes a toll on the battery and sometimes I wished it had more juice in it. As for charging, it takes 1 hour to charge from 0 to 100.

Security

The face unlocks on the Note 20 Ultra works fast and is consistent. They have also made the in-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner faster but it is still not consistent. There were some times when it didn’t unlock even after 4-5 tries and I had to resort to normal pin code.]

I would really like Samsung to improve this on their next major flagship.

Speaker

The dual speakers on the Note 20 Ultra are one of the best and loudest on a smartphone. It’s so loud that I normally had to use it on 80% volume.

It is crisp and the clarity is also really good. You will appreciate these speakers when you’re watching awesome content on that gorgeous display.

Software

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Ultra is using One UI 2.5 on top of Android 10 and right now One UI is my favorite. it doesn’t get boring which is the case with most UI’s. It’s smooth and my experience has been excellent over more than a month’s time.

Some new changes you will notice are the split keyboard in the landscape mode which is actually very useful and then there’s a new nearby share feature that works well and fast. Except for the new note exclusive features, there isn’t much change but One UI is very smooth right now. I like it.

Conclusion

Samsung Note 20 Ultra is an ultra-premium phone and there’s no doubt about that. It looks awesome and it has one of the best builds on a smartphone too. The improved cameras are easily one of the best camera sensors right now and the display is the best.

On top of that, the One UI makes it feel really smooth. But of course, the Exynos variant lacks power while gaming. It is not a big thing for me since I am not really into mobile gaming but still Samsung should let people enjoy the same performance when they are paying the same amount for the same device.

Still, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is definitely a beast of a phone but at Rs. 1,39,999 we expect it to be.

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