Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, in the test
Samsung is not sending a Galaxy Note 20 Plus into the race this year, but a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. An absolute high-end smartphone that claims to be perfectly equipped for everyday work thanks to the S Pen. In the test of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, CGH reveals whether that worked.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G in the test: conclusion
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G convinced in almost every discipline in the test. The new AMOLED display with variable refresh rate does an excellent job. Content is not only displayed at up to 120 Hertz, depending on the situation, but is also displayed with excellent image quality. Even in direct sunlight you can read the mobile phone without any problems thanks to the high brightness. The performance and battery life are also good. Nevertheless, one would want a Qualcomm processor instead of the Exynos chip, as it works faster and more efficiently. European customers are at a disadvantage here.
You don’t have to compromise on the camera. Here you get the full package with a 108 MP main sensor, all the features and possibilities that a smartphone has to offer today. The 50x zoom is completely sufficient so that you don’t have to regret the 100x zoom of the S20 Ultra. It feels like the S Pen works more precisely and better, but is now on the left side. You have to get used to it. It has made space for the camera and the battery. The runtime is okay, although you can barely get through the day with normal use. A slightly larger battery wouldn’t have hurt. The huge camera hump on the back didn’t necessarily have to be.
In the end, the question arises whether the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is worth almost $1,149.99. For someone who appreciates the S Pen and wants to have the largest cell phone possible with an outstanding camera that you can basically do anything with, definitely. If you can do without the S Pen, you should look at the much cheaper Galaxy S20 Plus. The price-performance ratio there is now right due to the drop in prices. Or you just wait a while until the Note 20 Ultra is cheaper.
- 120 Hertz display
- Update policy
- Fast charging function
- S pen
- Choice of material
- Price-performance ratio
- No 3.5 mm jack socket
- Exynos processor
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G: rating
- Workmanship, feel and design: 9/10
- Display: 10/10
- Cameras: 9/10
- Software: 8/10
- Performance: 9/10
- Telephony and audio: 8/10
- Memory: 8/10
- Battery and everyday life: 7/10
- Overall: 9/10
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G in the test: design and workmanship
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is a very large and angular smartphone. The edges of the display area at least slightly rounded, which makes it comfortable to hold. At 208 grams, it weighs a little less than you would expect. At 8.1 mm, it is also slightly thinner than the normal Note 20. In return, the camera protrudes a lot from housing. We measured an impressive 3 mm that protruded from the back. You have to like that or you buy a protective cover that conceals the camera hump. We chose this model on Amazon.
Otherwise, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is absolutely flawlessly processed, the buttons can be pressed easily, the appearance of the material is very good and the smartphone is surprisingly safe in the hand thanks to the somewhat rough and matt back. But it’s still glass, so you shouldn’t drop your phone if possible.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G in the test: display and speakers
In every new generation of smartphones, Samsung manages to make the display a little better. Even compared to the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the screen of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has been optimized. The Note now supports a dynamic refresh rate that works between 10 and 120 Hertz. Depending on what you are doing, the refresh rate is automatically adjusted. This works very well and is intended to improve battery life. Compared to the Galaxy S20 Plus, which I used continuously at 120 Hertz, I don’t see any difference. Wherever the fast refresh rate is an advantage, for example when scrolling in the browser or in games, it is automatically higher. If you are watching a movie, however, you don’t need the high refresh rate.
The display of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can also be easily read outdoors. According to Samsung, the brightness is at its peak at 1,500 nits. This makes it one of the brightest smartphones on the market. This is a huge advantage, especially when taking pictures in backlight or watching videos outdoors. The brightness control also works very precisely. I hardly had to readjust.
The stereo speakers also do a very good job. They sound clear and are able to fill an entire room properly if necessary. A bit more bass would be desirable, but it can hardly be achieved in a smartphone. Overall, the sound is very good when playing music, watching a film or making calls.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G in the test: performance and software
The performance of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is good. Compared to previous models, Samsung has not tuned the processor compared to the S20 series this year. That applies at least to the European models. In the US, customers get the better Snapdragon 865+, which is cooler, faster and more efficient. With that knowledge in mind, it is of course a shame that German customers are so at a disadvantage. If both processors were identical, that would certainly not be a problem. So you always have the feeling that you are not getting the best – what you are actually paying for at the high price.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra works basically as fast as a Galaxy S20. If you load the phone with updates in the background and want to play something at the same time, you can feel that the phone is reaching its limits. Not as strong as a Galaxy A51, but you can tell that something is happening there. It also gets quite warm under load. Overall, however, all games, apps and the interface run very cleanly.
With the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Samsung introduced the One UI 2.5. This has been optimized in some points and expanded to include wireless DeX. The smartphone can now be converted into a PC without cables if you have the right screen or television. Anyone who has ever used a Samsung cell phone will find their way around immediately. The operating system is basically self-explanatory, so you don’t get any problems. Android 10 is used as the operating system. There will be updates for three years. According to Samsung, Android 13 should be set. Security updates could be distributed even longer. Samsung has made great strides in this regard compared to the past.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G in the test: S Pen
The S Pen is the trademark of the Note series and continues to improve from generation to generation. This also applies to the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G. You have to get used to the new position, but it’s quick. The S Pen works with absolute precision and feels very comfortable on the large display of the smartphone. The collaboration between Samsung Notes and OneNote from Microsoft is practical because you can continue to work on your PC, what you started on your smartphone – and vice versa. Microsoft and Samsung are working ever closer together. You can feel this more and more clearly from year to year.
I find some of the gestures that can be performed in the camera app a bit awkward. You can hold the button on the S Pen and turn the pen like a magic wand. So you can zoom in or out. Certainly quite nice if it is otherwise difficult to get to the cell phone, but in everyday life the zoom steps were too small after every movement. It’s a nice gimmick like all other gestures, but in the end it is rarely used in everyday life.
I don’t only find the S Pen practical when working, but sometimes also when playing or using the mobile phone. I’ve used a Galaxy Note 9 myself so far and got used to the precision of the pen there. Doesn’t always make sense, of course, but I use the pen more often than I expected.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G in the test: camera
Samsung has installed a second-generation 108 MP camera in the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G. It has been improved in many ways compared to the Galaxy S20 Ultra. This includes, for example, the autofocus, which now works much more precisely, even when the objects are very close. There is also a 12 MP wide-angle and telephoto lens. All three sensors do a good job, as you can see in the photos below.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G in the test: battery life
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is equipped with absolute high-end hardware. Samsung has therefore installed a 4,500 mAh battery. This is good in terms of the huge display, the high refresh rate and 5G, but a larger battery would have been even better. Because even if the display works dynamically and the Exynos processor works efficiently, I can barely get through the day with my mobile phone and have a small buffer of around 10 percent in the evening. If things get serious and you have to put more strain on your cell phone or want to make full use of the 5G network later, things could get tight.
After all, the smartphone charges pretty quickly. Thanks to the quick charge function, the Note 20 Ultra is quickly back to 100 percent. You would like the charging process to be completed even faster, as you know it from the competition from China, but you also don’t want to overload the battery and have something from the cell phone for a long time.