- 120Hz refresh screen
- Camera with 5x optical zoom and up to 50x digital zoom
- All-day battery life
- S Pen stylus support
- Outstanding performance
- Very expensive
- Heavy and awkward to hold
- Protruding camera hub
The Samsung Note has been around for a decade. As such, enthusiasts were thrilled to hear about the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. With its reputation, it’s obviously going to be a chart topper. But does the phone offer enough performance and value to justify its price point?
The Galaxy Note Ultra is quite large, so one-handed users beware. Color choices include mystic bronze, mystic black, and mystic white. The stylus holster is located on the left side of the phone versus the right on previous versions. Otherwise, it’s the solid slab of a phone people have come to expect of the Note series.
The camera hub is the only thing reviewers were not so happy with. It sticks out, making the phone wobble when sat on a flat surface.
The upgrade to a 120Hz refresh rate display is the most notable thing about the new Samsung Note 20 Ultra. But it comes with some caveats.
If you want to enjoy QuadHD you will need to settle for 60Hz. To keep that silky-smooth refresh rate, you’ll need to lower the resolution to 1080p.
Otherwise, the 6.9-inch curved screen has reviewers saying its great in some ways and not so much in others. Accidental taps, for one, have reviewers hesitant to sing its praises even if it is beautiful for media consumption.
There’s no denying the phone is super fast and capable, even when streaming games. It has one of the most powerful processors available on an Android phone right now.
Add on the 120Hz refresh rate display and it feels that much faster. Better still the phone’s software can adjust the frame rate on the fly, depending on what you’re doing. This means you won’t waste precious battery life when doing basic tasks such as checking text messages or emails.
Software & Storage
As with most top-tier phone these days, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra runs Android 10. But Samsung has customized the software to take full advantage of the S Pen. Reviewers said that the new air gestures were addictive and useful. The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra comes with 128GB onboard storage and a MicroSD space for further expansion.
As expected of Samsung, the cameras tout some insane specs -- like their 50x AI assisted digital zoom. There is also a 5x optical zoom -- a rare feature on phones today.
If that wasn’t enough the rear-facing lens is 108MP an astounding amount among newer smartphones.
In ideal lighting, the cameras pleased reviewers. However, low light situations were left some reviewers wanting.
Tech Radar says, “Then... the sun started to set. This is where Samsung’s phones tend to compensate for noise with aggressive texture smoothing, and the Note 20 Ultra is no different.”
Being such a large device, you wouldn’t think the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra would hold a charge well, but reviews indicate otherwise.
You’ll want to leave it to charge every night.
Reviewers noted that the phone lasted all day but ended the day with about 20% battery left. Still if you find yourself low during the day, fast charging and wireless charging options allow you to pick between convenience and speed when topping up your charge.
The phone features stereo speakers. Reviewers had no issues with the sound. But you will need wireless headphones or earbuds for private listening -- or a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter -- as the Note 20 Ultra does not include a headphone jack.
Specs at a Glance
- Gorilla Glass "Victus" chassis
- 6.9-inch OLED, Quad HD display
- Octa-core, 3GHz Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 processor
- 8 or 12GB of RAM
- Android 10
- 128GB of storage with MicroSD option
- 108MP rear-facing camera with 12MP ultra-wide and 12MP telephoto lenses
- 10MP front-facing lens
- 4500mAh battery
- S-Pen stylus
The Samsung Note 20 Ultra seems to check all of the boxes for an amazing smartphone in 2020. But it comes with some trade offs. It’s very big, so those with small hands might struggle to use it. That said, the massive screen is great for games and movies. The cameras are awesome but the way they stick out on the back of the phone is not.
Still, overall complaints are few and most reviewers seem pretty impressed.
The Verge says, “The Note 20 Ultra is a very ostentatious, flashy phone. But this year, it didn’t get a flashy update. It got what amounts to a spec bump (and a camera bump to match). But that’s enough to make it perhaps the best flagship Android phone you can buy right now. Even for a phone as big as this, that is no small thing.”
Forbes remarks, “Samsung’s latest, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is out. I’ve been testing it for three weeks and it’s a pricey but powerful phone that is the highest point Samsung phones have yet reached. The design is classy, the performance is strong and in Samsung Notes it has the best app the company has built.”
What the Critics Are Saying...
- Vigneshwar SR, Fone Arena
Well, if you are looking out for smartphone with stylus, we can assure you that no other phones in the market can match Samsung when it comes to stylus functionality. Leaving out the “productivity” factor, recommending the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra gets a bit tricky now. At Rs. 1,04,999, the Galaxy Note...
- Chris Welsch, DxOMark
The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon), like its Exynos sibling, turns in a solid audio performance, with above-average scores for dynamics and volume, and an exceptional score when it comes to artifacts in playback. As for drawbacks, the lack of high-end extension hindered tonal balance an...
- David Nield, T3
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is beautifully designed, incredibly powerful and has one key feature that you can't really find anywhere else – that useful S Pen stylus. Combined it is a productivity and creativity powerhouse.
- C. Scott Brown, Android Authority
Samsung's Galaxy Note line has always been for the power users, and this year's models are no different — especially the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. This new ultra-premium phone is Samsung's most refined device yet.
We just can't excuse the 'good, but not on par with the competition' smoothness and battery life and battery charging speed, nor the display forcing you to choose between 120 Hz and full resolution. You might, however. If these things aren't the most important to you, then the Galaxy Note20 Ultra is...
Prices (Where to Buy)
The Galaxy Note20 Ultra price will vary depending on retailer, age, special offers and whether or not it's purchased with a service plan. If purchased with a 2 year service contract for example, you would likely pay much less for the phone itself up front. You can compare Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra prices from around the web here on The Informr.
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra user manual here.
Samsung backs up the Galaxy Note20 Ultra with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your Galaxy Note20 Ultra has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Samsung support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Samsung's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.
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