The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra — the 10th installment of the iconic, S Pen-toting, big phone — is sleeker, more powerful, and more feature-packed than ever. The big-screen phone debuted earlier this month alongside a multitude of Samsung products, including a duo of tablets, a smartwatch, a wireless earbuds.
Just like last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note10, the new Note20 Ultra is available in two distinct variants — a Note20 5G with a 6.7-inch screen and a Note20 Ultra 5G with beefier hardware and an even larger 6.9-inch display panel. I tested out the Ultra model, and it’s what I’d choose if I were buying a new Android phone. It has a larger display with a higher resolution, more memory, bigger battery, and better camera than the cheaper Note20,
Thanks to Corning’s latest Gorilla Glass Victus used in its making, the Galaxy Note20 Ultra is incredibly durable. The new material, besides offering praiseworthy resistance from scratches, can help the big phone survive drops from up to 2 meters (almost 7 feet) without a case. For comparison, the Note20 has a plastic back and a screen covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The latter is plenty tough, but not on par with the Victus.
I spent a couple of weeks testing the range-topping Note20 Ultra 5G and it really impressed me. With a perfect amalgam of flawless design, next-level craftsmanship, top-tier specs, and a user experience to match, it’s the do-it-all Android phone to get. Here’s why:
• Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus
• 6.9-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with 120 Hz maximum refresh rate and HDR10+ compatibility
• Triple camera with 108 MP main, 12 MP telephoto with 5-times magnification optical zoom, 12 MP ultra-wide, laser autofocus sensor; 10 MP selfie camera
• 12GB of RAM, up to 512 GB of expandable storage
• 4,500 mAh, fast wired and wireless charging, reverse wireless charging
• Built-in stereo speakers, waterproof body with
• No headphone jack and no bundled wired earbuds
The Mightiest S Pen to Date
A defining Samsung Galaxy Note feature since 2011, the S Pen stylus of the latest iteration is the best to date. In addition to the usual precision and tactility, the accessory has a whole new set of gesture controls. Dubbed Air Actions, they allow you to switch between apps, annotate screenshots, and even return to the device’s Android home screen, among others.
While I tested the phone, I used the S Pen frequently to take notes during virtual meetings. Air Actions allowed me to effortlessly switch between my open notes, Slack, and Microsoft outlook to keep an eye on new messages. Learning Air Actions takes minutes — Samsung has thankfully added a tutorial about the new functionality.
The S Pen is also backed by an equally capable software. Samsung Notes has a host of new features, including the ability to set templates, add voice recording, and even export the notes as PowerPoint documents, just to name a few.
There’s even an option to sync your notes and doodles across multiple devices, thanks to Microsoft OneNote integration. Samsung has also partnered with Microsoft for enhanced Link to Windows functionality.
A Marvelous Display
Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Note20 Ultra with the same glorious display as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra smartphone. Flanked by impossibly thin bezels, the 6.9-inch panel with millions of vibrant pixels and infinite contrast is a perfect canvas for the S Pen stylus. It’s deservedly the best display on any smartphone out today.
With 120 Hz maximum refresh rate, the screen makes every interaction with the phone seamless and fluid. Gaming is also quite memorable — a multitude of top-tier Android titles support the cutting-edge functionality.
The screen is also HDR10+ certified, thus ensuring that compatible content will look even more dramatic on the Note20 Ultra. Overall, the Dynamic AMOLED 2X display is a tech marvel, and alongside the S Pen, among the main reasons why you should consider the phone.
The Galaxy Note20 Ultra shares not only a display with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, but also camera hardware. Its wide camera has an image sensor with 108 MP. It can capture either detailed photos at full resolution, or 12 MP images that combine the data of nine sensor pixels into one. The main camera sensor of the Galaxy Note20, for comparison, has only 12 MP.
When it comes to sheer camera zoom capabilities, the Note20 Ultra is second only to Samsung’s own Galaxy S20 Ultra, which debuted earlier this year. Its telephoto snapper has a 5-times optical zoom, as well as 50-times space zoom. They allowed me to capture shareable images from seemingly impossible distances while I tested the phone.
Like the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the Note20 Ultra can also capture 8K video with an overwhelming number of pixels (four times more than in 4K). There’s an option to capture incredibly sharp still images in the process, too.
The camera interface has a Pro Video mode, which gives users full control of the recording settings. Some of the noteworthy features include the ability to adjust the zoom speed and change the audio recording direction.
Like every Galaxy Note that came before it, the Note20 Ultra is one of the mightiest smartphones available today. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s range-topping chipset, and it has more RAM than many laptop computers, so there’s no slowing it down.
While I tested it, the phone switched between a multitude of open apps instantly. Playing the latest Android gaming titles was also a breeze. With Wi-Fi 6, the phone is also an amazing cloud gaming rig.
You can expect a day of use from the Note20 Ultra, even with the screen resolution set at QHD+ (instead of the default FHD+) and the refresh rate set at 120 Hz. You can replenish the device’s battery fast in wired or wireless mode — its bundled charger you will get you from 0 to 50 percent in only 30 minutes.
The Galaxy Note20 Ultra excelled at everything during my testing — from enhancing my workflow, to keeping me informed, entertained, and connected, to completing tasks with amazing speed and quality. It’s truly a do-it-all smartphone that’s impossible not to like.
You can order the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra in black, white, or bronze, with each option sporting a cool matte finish. The big phone is priced at $1,299 — a steep but fair price considering the hardware and the experience you’ll get.
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