Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G review

GSMArena team, 18 August 2020.

Introduction

It's Galaxy Note season and this year the best one is the Ultra. Samsung's mixed things up a bit atop the lineup and the one you want in 2020 is the Galaxy Note20 Ultra. We have it right here.

Last year, in a one-off effort, Samsung put out the Note10 and Note10+ - a relatively closely-specced pair where size was really the key factor for picking one over the other. Not so this time around. The Note20 Ultra and Note20 are both big and feature parity is out the door - in a similar fashion to how the S20 Ultra is above and beyond the S20+, only even more so.

Pounding on the Note20 in absentia isn't what we're here for and we'll deal with its shortcomings and limitations when one shows up at our doorstep. For now, let's focus on the Ultra.

First appearing on the other S20 Ultra, the oversized camera hump makes a return on the Note20 Ultra. Most of the bits inside are the same, including the main 108MP cam and the 12MP ultra wide. But the periscope telephoto that's in part responsible for the sheer size of the assembly is now 12MP, swapping out the 48MP unit of the S-series phone - we'll have to see about that.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G reviewGalaxy family shot: S20 Ultra • Note20 Ultra • Note10+

The display is a nice marriage of Note-style geometry with some high refresh rate coming in from the S20s, now supposedly made even better with an adaptive refresh rate adjustment. Oh, and spoiler - it's the brightest AMOLED screen we've seen to date.

The S Pen is here, of course, now relocated to the left side. It's improved too, getting a 9ms latency (down more than 4 times compared to the Note10), system-wide Air actions, and a Notes app to make you forget Google Keep.

All this comes in a redesigned package featuring a stainless steel midframe where once was aluminum and the brand new Gorilla Glass 7 (aka Victus) for improved durability. For improved looks, the matte finish on the back will ward off fingerprints, though only the Mystic Bronze color option gets that treatment, sadly. The Mystic Black is all shiny.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G specs

  • Body: 164.8x77.2x8.1mm, 208g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus), stainless steel frame; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins); Colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, Mystic White.
  • Display: 6.90" Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 1440x3088px resolution, 19.3:9 aspect ratio, 496ppi; HDR10+, Always-on display, 120Hz@FHD/60Hz@QHD refresh rate.
  • Chipset: Exynos 990 (7 nm+) - Global, Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865+ (7 nm+) - USA: Octa-core (2x2.73 GHz Mongoose M5 & 2x2.50 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4x2.0 GHz Cortex-A55) - Global, Octa-core (1x3.00 GHz Kryo 585 & 3x2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 585) - USA; Mali-G77 MP11 - Global, Adreno 650 - USA.
  • Memory: 128GB 12GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, 512GB 12GB RAM; UFS 3.0; microSDXC (uses shared SIM slot).
  • OS/Software: Android 10, One UI 2.5.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 108 MP, f/1.8, 26mm, 1/1.33", 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS; Telephoto: 12 MP, f/3.0, 120mm periscope, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 5x optical zoom, 50x hybrid zoom; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 1/2.55", 1.4µm; LED flash, auto-HDR, panorama.
  • Front camera: 10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/3.2", 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF; Dual video call, Auto-HDR.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 8K@24fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR10+, stereo sound rec., gyro-EIS & OIS; Front camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30fps.
  • Battery: 4500mAh; Fast charging 25W, USB Power Delivery 3.0, Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging, Reverse wireless charging 9W.
  • Misc: Fingerprint (under display, ultrasonic), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer; NFC; FM radio (Snapdragon model only; market/operator dependent); Samsung Wireless DeX (desktop experience support), ANT+, Bixby natural language commands and dictation; Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified); S Pen Stylus, 9ms latency (Bluetooth integration, accelerometer, gyro).

Some other points on that list raise questions, however. Like the battery capacity that's less than on the S20 Ultra, and the axing of the 45-watt charging support. The increasing gap between the Snapdragon and Exynos platforms is another less than ideal reality that users in half the world need to come to terms with.

Speaking of, we'll be reviewing the Exynos version of the Galaxy Note20 Ultra, in 5G spec. That's one of few times you'll hear 5G mentioned in the review, however, as we'll be dropping it for the sake of brevity.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G unboxing

A rather typical Samsung presentation, the Galaxy Note20 Ultra's two-piece black cardboard box features the S Pen printed on the lid. A slightly glossy 'N20' contrasts against the matte material while the side edges of the top surface have striped patterns to allude to the curved display inside.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G review

As part of the package, you'd be getting a 25-watt charger that adheres to USB PowerDelivery with the PPS bit of the standard supported as well. A USB-C-to-C cable is included, naturally. A pair of AKG-branded in-ear headphones are in there too, if you're not getting a pair of Galaxy Buds Live as part of some pre-order bundle.

This being a review unit and not strictly a retail-ready package, it was missing the usual spare S Pen tips and the tool for replacing them. Different sizes of tips for the earbuds were nowhere to be found either. We can't imagine Samsung's skipping either of these things and commercially available units will likely have them.

Reader comments

  • Jimmy

I bought the Ultra model 4G variant as 5G coverage is still useless in many areas in Dubai. It's Exynos, 8GB, which neither this site nor Samsung are mentioning (found out after i bought) 512GB memory. The battery sucks, 10% per hour(discharge) ...

  • YaMan

Same here bro, at least on the Exynoses in my region, but damn did I get a sweet discount on the vanilla s20 5g and ye I'm lovin' it, everything else is smooth except the selfie camera (video calls) tint the image quite funky sometimes. ...

  • Senchou

Everything good except battery life. How i wish it has 5000 mah.