Update Samsung Note 20 Ultra Three Review – Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is Samsung’s latest super phone of 2020 and packed with technology. But it was launched at a time when budgets had grown and demanded more than £1,000 for a smartphone.
Costing £1,179, this behemoth is the best of the South Korean company’s 2020 smartphone lineup, and it has a kitchen sink and everything.
Update Samsung Note 20 Ultra Three Review
In terms of design, it is very similar to the previous Note 10+. The entire front is screen and the back is glass with a thin metal strip and curved sides that end with a flat top and bottom. It has an attractive and limited design. The 6.9-inch QHD+ Amoled display is stunning and offers a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, which is equal to or better than competitors such as the OnePlus 8 Pro.
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In the upper middle part of the screen there is a small hole for the 10MP selfie camera. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
Most notable is the huge camera housing located on the back of the phone. Equipped with three cameras, a 108MP regular camera (wide) and a 12MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom. Big, bold and surprisingly attractive in bronze.
The clear back glass is the best from Samsung. It hides fingerprints and provides an amazing grip for the size of the phone. I found it easier to hold compared to a similarly sized Galaxy S20 Ultra. But the Note 20 Ultra is a bulky phone, so you’ll need two hands to use it. Checking notifications and answering calls was all I could safely manage with one hand.
The camera block is massive, but it’s one of the most attractive with color-matched bronze accents. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
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The USB-C socket is the only port on the bottom of the phone. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The Note 20 Ultra ships from Europe with Samsung’s latest Exynos 990 processor, the same processor used in the S20 Ultra. In the US, we have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865+ instead. Both options come with 12GB of RAM.
The Note 20 Ultra basically performed the same as the S20 Ultra. However, it generally felt fast and smart, handling games and other intense tasks effortlessly.
Battery life was disappointing compared to competitors like the OnePlus 8 Pro, which lasted 38 or 32 hours on the S20 Ultra. The Note 20 Ultra runs in less than 30 hours between charges with the screen on at that time.
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During testing, the phone spent about 3 hours on 5G and the rest on Wi-Fi, with the screen set to a default dynamic refresh rate of 120Hz and FHD+ resolution. On a very busy day with 5G usage and lots of camera, the Note 20 Ultra still ended the day with at least 15% left. The battery life isn’t the best in its class, but you can use it for a day or so without any issues.
Charging the Note 20 Ultra with the included power adapter was very fast, reaching 100% in less than 70 minutes, identical to the S20 Ultra and faster than the OnePlus 8 Pro. Fast wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are also available.
Samsung has not provided estimates for the expected battery life of the Note 20 Ultra. This is typically 500 full charge cycles while maintaining at least 80% capacity for other rechargeable batteries. The unit is usually serviceable and the battery can be replaced at an authorized service center. Expect a battery replacement to cost over £100 and a screen over £290.
Samsung declined to comment on the Note 20 Ultra’s use of recycled materials, but it does offer replacement and recycling plans for older devices.
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Keep the S Pen tucked away by the slot on the bottom of the phone and charge it until you need it. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The Note 20 Ultra runs the latest version of Android 10 from Samsung called One UI 2.5. It’s very similar to what runs on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, but it does add some software features to the S Pen, such as handwriting recognition, screenwriting tools, various screenshots, and translation and gesture support.
The improved S Pen gesture, which uses the stylus like a magic wand, is a bit of a gimmick, but it’s convenient to use the buttons on the stylus as a camera remote.
Samsung has expanded its software partnership with Microsoft. This includes phone-to-PC mirroring and support for Microsoft’s new Xbox game streaming service, which is part of the popular Game Pass Ultimate subscription, making the Note 20 Ultra one of the first smartphones to do so.
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Overall, One UI 2.5 works well and is one of the most custom Android versions, but it will soon be out of date and Google will release Android 11 in the near future. Samsung promised three years of support from major Android updates and monthly security patches, which is good for Android devices, but negligible compared to phones Apple has supported for more than five years.
Samsung’s camera app is one of the best, and it has an extra floating shutter button that makes using larger phones a little easier. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The rear camera system on the Note 20 Ultra is similar to that of the Galaxy S20 Ultra and works just fine. The 108MP main camera is really great, and it can take broken photos in medium lighting. Low-light performance has also been significantly improved, with Samsung’s night mode catching up to its Google and Huawei competitors.
The 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera is one of the best in the phone, but it’s a new 12MP 5x telephoto camera that’s a step above the S20 Ultra. The extra optical zoom makes a real difference in how close you are to objects, resulting in great photos at the default 5x zoom and great photos at the 10x zoom. It has a magnification of up to 50x, but beyond 20x isn’t great. If your hands are stable, well lit, and your subject is perfectly still, you can get good photos from the extended zoom, but it will take some effort and luck.
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Video quality up to 8K is also good, with different shooting options, smooth zoom, and microphone recording settings that do a much better job than most Android devices. The 10MP selfie camera is one of the best in the market.
Overall, the Note 20 Ultra’s camera competes with the best in the industry, slightly raising the Galaxy S20 Ultra to Samsung’s best.
This phone has the same ultrasonic display and fingerprint scanner as other recent Samsung devices. It is slower and more demanding than its competitors used by OnePlus and others. It only works about 70% of the time. Not good enough for a phone at this price. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra will be priced at £1,179 for 256GB storage or £1,279 for 512GB storage on August 20.
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For comparison, the smaller Galaxy Note 20 is £949, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is £1,199, the Galaxy Z Flip is £1,300, the OnePlus 8 Pro is £799, and the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max is £1,149.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is Samsung’s best phone yet, but it’s released when the super extravagant phone looks luxurious rather than a necessity.
Expensive in the world of high-end, high-end smartphones of up to £2000. The problem is that they don’t triple the price of phones that cost less than a third.
The S Pen is a unique and powerful tool for those who still want a stylus. Note fans will be delighted. Microsoft Windows 10 extensions are great and will be improved. The camera is really great the phone sees this part and works well. It has a great screen, but those who want a bigger screen are better off with a much cheaper phone.
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The fingerprint scanner isn’t good enough for a phone at this price, and the battery life is solid for everyday use, but it’s a bit short compared to the competition.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is very close to the best super phone out there. The real question is whether someone wants a giant phone at £1,179, even though you have a very good phone under £400.
Pros: Huge 120Hz screen, 5GB, Nice and flexible camera, 5x optical zoom, microSD card slot, Dual SIM, Single user interface, Wireless charging and power sharing, Good performance, S Pen Cons: Too bulky, expensive, no socket A headset, the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is not as good as its competitors, and the battery life is good.
Bronze looks great, but it’s more akin to purple mixed with rose gold. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian has an affiliate and sponsorship partnership. If you buy something through one of these links, you can earn a commission. Learn more.
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