Good Stuff
Fast efficiency
Samsung Notes with the S Pen is excellent
Multiday battery life

The reason the screen is so excellent isnt the resolution or the glass; its the refresh rate. It can strike 120Hz, and– in a first for Samsung– its a variable refresh rate. The screen dynamically adjusts based on whats being displayed and can ratchet all the method down to 10Hz if absolutely nothings moving.
Maximalists will likely sneer at the fact that Samsung will not let you all at once set the maximum resolution and the high refresh rate at the exact same time, however I do not care, and I cant see the difference in resolution anyway. The trade-off is much better battery life, and the battery life on the Note 20 Ultra is excellent.
Im routinely getting through two days of use. Even if I press this thing very difficult by shooting 8K video and playing streaming games, it still clocks in around six hours of screen time and does not require to be plugged in up until I sleep.
The battery life out of that 4,500 mAh cell is even more impressive due to the fact that its powering a lot. The Note 20 Ultra has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor, which has a different modem for 5G (an extra power draw). Theres 12GB of RAM– enough to multitask– and the normal selection of other Samsung specifications: in-screen ultrasonic finger print sensing unit, cordless and reverse cordless charging, expandable storage, stereo speakers, Bluetooth 5, NFC, MST, IP68 water resistance, cordless DeX over Miracast.
Samsung even tossed in a UWB radio similar to the iPhone– and much like the iPhone, it appears like its here more as a braggy spec sheet checkbox than as a really beneficial function.
It supports both sub-6 and mmWave variations of 5G, and I continue to believe that 5G is still not worth the cost premium it commands. Where I live, I discover that, at best, its just 10 to 20 percent faster than LTE. And in some unusual cases, its actually slower than LTE.
In general, general performance on the Note 20 Ultra is superior. Apps never ever seem to close in the background, stutters are nonexistent, and the refresh rate on the screen makes whatever feel that much smoother.

Its fair to call the Note 20 Ultra an iterative update. Twice as so: its an improvement of the exact same Note design that Samsung has actually been refining for half a decade, and internally, its a lot of tweaks to the Galaxy S20 Ultra from previously this year.
Beyond that inconsistent selfie cam and Samsungs refusal to just exterminate its Bixby digital assistant, theres absolutely nothing in the Note 20 that I would send out back to the drawing board. And though theres no single huge feature that is an essential, there are great deals of little things that made me keep in mind how fantastic smartphones can be.
I still cant overcome how good the experience of utilizing the stylus in Samsung Notes is, if just since Ive been trained by years of Samsungs software overpromises. This time, it really delivers. Streaming Xbox games on it is truly immersive and enjoyable– and the battery has the stamina to hold up for hours of it. Even the gimmicky Space Zoom often paid off.
This isnt an essential upgrade for you if you have a Note 10 or even a Note 9. And if you do not believe youll utilize the stylus, there are more economical alternatives that offer you a number of the very same benefits.
The Note 20 Ultra is a really ostentatious, fancy phone. Even for a phone as huge as this, that is no little thing.

Samsungs notes app currently does things that Apple Notes is just capturing up to and Microsofts mobile OneNote app still cant pull off, like letting you highlight your handwriting and copy it as plain text. It also lets you export out your notes (longhand or typed) to a Word doc, PowerPoint, plain text file, image, or a PDF.
Even if you never pull the S Pen out of its silo, the Samsung Notes app is properly designed, handling fast lists and longer notes equally well. It has just the correct amount of text formatting, and this year, it added the ability to organize your notes into folders (finally).
Its when you use the S Pen that Samsung Notes truly sings. Its handwriting acknowledgment is as good as Ive seen on any gizmo– and, naturally, your handwritten notes are searchable, too. New this year, Samsung Notes also (finally) can straight annotate PDFs.
You can tap a button to correct your handwriting so it streams naturally down the screen if you compose at an odd angle. That looks like a ridiculous thing, but it makes your notes a lot more legible. Notes likewise works where it can record audio as you write down notes so that you can go back later and tap on your jotting and hear what was said at that accurate moment.
There is an issue with Samsung Notes, though: its just that good on the Note 20 Ultra itself. There is a desktop app (who knew?), however the truth is I would not rely on the majority of my digital life to Samsung Notes unless I could get to whatever in it more quickly on other devices. Later this year, Samsung Notes will have the ability to one-way sync to Microsoft OneNote. I have not been able to test it yet, and its annoying that it isnt a two-way sync, however it ought to help.
Samsungs love affair with Microsoft is getting actually serious this year. In addition to Notes one-way sync, tips and tasks will sync both ways with Outlook. Later this year, Microsofts Your Phone app on Windows will permit you to mirror several apps at as soon as from the Note.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra hardware
The Note 20 Ultra is a huge phone with a 6.9-inch screen. Its so big that I wish to restore the term “phablet” just to explain it. Due to the fact that its large enough to cross some hazy line where it starts to feel like a little tablet instead of a large phone, thats. Usually, I grab my Kindle when I want to read an ebook or a Switch when I want a portable video game machine, but the screen on the Note 20 Ultra is big enough that I never ever seemed like I needed either.
The Note 20 Ultras most popular hardware function is a promontory. It has this massive, mesa-like electronic camera bump on the back that houses the three cameras, a laser focus sensor, and the flash. Its not simply that its big, its that it juts straight out of what is otherwise a huge, flat expanse of phone.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultras cam is as good as any thats ever been placed on a phone.

I took the exact same selfie with a Note 20 Ultra and a Pixel 4. I hereby call the Note 20 Ultras selfie electronic camera the #Hamcam.
This is an awful image, and I have a bunch more like it, but I also have some that look darn great. Im not sure how or why the camera chooses to ham it up, either. Even if you switch off every face smoothing and filter choice, Samsungs selfie cam still applies something to tidy up faces. Since I know theres a good cam in there someplace, I want it didnt.
The rest of the cams fare much better. You get 3 electronic cameras: a 12-megapixel ultrawide, a 12-megapixel telephoto with a periscope assembly, and a 108-megapixel main wide-angle. Lets take them in order from most basic to the majority of complicated.
Typically, the ultrawide sensing unit on any phone is the weakest of the bunch, and thats the case here. However, the ultrawide on the Note 20 Ultra is better than that average. Im happy with the dynamic variety, in specific, which is necessary for landscapes.
For the telephoto, Samsung went with its “folded” periscope system. The sensing unit sits behind a set of mirrors that extends its real optical zoom variety to 5x. Samsung also has this thing it calls “Space Zoom” that lets you integrate the optical and digital zooms to enter 50x. Remarkably, the S20 Ultra has a higher megapixel count and provides 100x zoom, which means Samsung called it back for the Note.

Keep in mind 20 Ultra screen and specs
When it comes to its specifications or efficiency, there arent a lot of surprises with the Note 20 Ultra. The screen, in particular, is outstanding. Its big, undoubtedly, but all of the little technical details are spot-on. The color precision, seeing angles, and brightness are all outstanding; I had no problem using it outside in intense, direct sunlight. Its a quad HD + OLED at 496ppi, supporting HDR10+ and a couple of different color alternatives. Its likewise using Cornings newest, stupidly called Gorilla Glass “Victus.”.

Left: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the “Hamcam.” Right: Pixel 4 XL. Both in picture mode, though results are the exact same without it.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a three-camera range on the back.

Samsungs Notes app is remarkably excellent.

Camera bump aside, I do not believe anyone is creating nicer phone hardware right now than Samsung. Since it has the cleanest lines, the Galaxy S20 is my favorite phone hardware of the year so far. The Note 20 Ultra does not rather rise to that level due to the fact that of the electronic camera bump, however its an otherwise flawless execution of what I anticipate a Note to be.
That indicates it has a big screen, yes, but it also indicates that it has squared-off corners, minimal bezels, and is symmetrical front to back. Samsung has a new surface on the back thats matted instead of glossy. That conceals fingerprints, however it (counterintuitively) makes the phone a little more slippery. Samsung is highlighting the bronze color this year, and for good reason: its lovely.
One other oddity: the S Pen stylus silo is on the left-hand side of the phone instead of the. As a righty, I discover it a little off-putting. I figure its time leftys had something swing their method.

There is a matte surface on the back that pushes back finger prints however is a little slippery.

Samsung is also pushing Microsofts Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service. Playing an Xbox game on the Notes huge (for a phone) screen feels entirely natural.
The rest of Samsungs One UI variation of Android is par for the Samsung course. The experience on the Note 20 suffers as an outcome. Inside Samsungs own apps, youll sometimes run into massive banner advertisements; Samsung Health is especially outright.
: Bixby. Instead of letting this poor excuse for a digital assistant suffer any longer, Samsung requires to send out Bixby to be with loved ones because farm upstate where it can live happily ever after.

Bad Stuff
Selfie video camera (the “Hamcam”) oversmooths deals with
Expensive compared to non-stylus competitors
Ads in Samsung apps
Gigantic with an enormous electronic camera bump

Samsung Notes can realign your handwriting, convert it to text, and repeat audio from the moment you wrote it.

Playing Xbox or Stadia video games on the Note 20s cinema is great.

Left: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra; Right: Pixel 4 XL. Both in Night mode.

The S Pen and Samsung software application.
There is one specification that is truly excellent: Samsung has actually lowered the latency on the S Pen stylus. Its down to 9ms (80 percent faster than the Note 10) through a combination of faster processing, a greater refresh rate screen, and some predictive artificial intelligence that can intuit where the stylus is going ahead of time.
Its impressive since its concrete: latency when composing and drawing with the S Pen is the finest Ive ever seen on a phone. The virtual ink streams right out of the stylus tip with nary a gap.
Usually speaking, my suggestions when it concerns the Note is this: if you absolutely desire a stylus, your only option is a Note. You probably do not if you do not understand if you want a stylus. Itll just be a thing that you use a few times and after that ignore.
This year, I found myself using it a load. Its not due to the fact that of the latency, and its definitely not due to the fact that of Samsungs silly “air actions” that let you wave the S Pen around like a magic wand remote control.
Its due to the fact that of Samsung Notes. After a week or so with the Note 20 Ultra, I stand by it.
Samsung Notes is the very best notes app you can get on a phone.

If there is something new for Samsungs routine, its this new “Ultra” name at the end of its flagship S and Note phones. The Note 20 Ultra doesnt quite increase to that level due to the fact that of the video camera bump, but its an otherwise perfect execution of what I anticipate a Note to be.
Generally speaking, my guidance when it comes to the Note is this: if you certainly want a stylus, your only choice is a Note. Notes also does the trick where it can tape-record audio as you jot down notes so that you can go back later and tap on your jotting and hear what was said at that precise minute.
There is an issue with Samsung Notes, though: its only that excellent on the Note 20 Ultra itself.

Samsung has actually settled into a new routine for its Galaxy Note line of smart devices: take a few of the major brand-new features from the flagship Galaxy S updates from earlier in the year, improve on them a little, and include a stylus. Instead of being the first with brand-new technology, the Note has ended up being the phone that fine-tunes it.
If there is something brand-new for Samsungs regular, its this brand-new “Ultra” moniker at the end of its flagship S and Note phones. Samsung has long felt the likes of OnePlus and Huawei (at least till this year) nipping at its heels, and the Ultra tier of its phones is Samsungs response to anyone who thinks it cant make the highest-level Android phone.
Ultra likewise suggests ultra-pricey, as the Note 20 Ultra starts at $1,299.99 for a design with 128GB of storage. You can bump that all the method approximately 512GB for $1,449.99.
There are lots of excellent features of regimens: they are foreseeable, they enable you to develop abilities, they are comfortable and familiar. They can likewise lead you to fall into a rut. The Note 20 Ultra avoids that trap, thankfully– not because it has new ideas, but because it does such a great job with the usual ones.
Theres nobody thing I can point at to explain what makes the Note 20 Ultra such a great phone. However there are a great deal of little things.

Finally: video. I am a much larger fan of Samsungs Pro Mode for video than I expected to be. Yes, theres an 8K option in there, and yes, I think that outdoors anything however perfect conditions shooting simple subjects, you ought to adhere to 4K or lower. But the interface for professional mode is tidy and clear. And Samsung has actually included lots of microphone alternatives, a relative rarity on phones. You can change in between the front mic, rear mic, or the omni mic. You can likewise plug in a USB-C mic or record off a Bluetooth headset.

Grid View.

” Space zoom” can do 50x, but its not extremely usable.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Good. The S20 Ultra was never anything more than a parlor trick over, say, 15x zoom– but it was fairly excellent at 15x. The exact same applies to the Note 20 Ultra. Pinch all the way in to 50x, and youre taking a look at something more similar to abstract art. However at 10x approximately, its much better than the iPhone 11 Pro and competitive with the Pixel 4. Those phones cant zoom farther than that, but the Note 20 can, and I got decent results at 15 or perhaps 20x.
Then theres the primary 108-megapixel cam. This sensing unit is Samsungs own, and Samsungs whole project with cameras this year is to make a generational leap over the Sony sensor-using competitors by using all of those megapixels.
Samsung stumbled out of the gate with the S20 Ultra, which had severe focusing issues that were only partially alleviated by a software application upgrade. The Note 20 Ultra has that upgrade, but, more significantly, it likewise has a laser autofocus system. Its a brute force hardware service, however it works: close up, the focusing is much quicker and even more trustworthy than the S20 Ultras.

You can take 108-megapixel photos, however the truth is that youll almost never get enough included information to be worth it. Much better to stick with the default 12-megapixel images, the result of combining (referred to as “binning”) multiple pixels together. Those results are timeless Samsung: great however in some cases a little oversmoothened and/ or oversharpened.
Samsung has fallen a step behind the iPhone in regards to color and still hasnt captured up to the Pixel in regards to detail, however I still believe its ahead of many of the rest of the Android pack. Surprisingly, I found myself choosing the Note 20 Ultras low-light mode pictures to the Pixels. In those cases, a minimum of, Samsungs fondness for smoothing produced a more pleasing image in incredibly low light.

The video camera module on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is enormous.

The Note 20 Ultra electronic camera.
With a camera bump this big, you d anticipate the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra to have an outstanding cam system. It does– although the real photos you leave it arent always terrific. However, the essential thing is that Samsung has mostly recovered from the problems that beleaguered the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
I think the Note 20 Ultra has a cam system thats on par with the very best phones out there, except for one part: Samsung biffed it with the selfie video camera.


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