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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy S20 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy S20 Ultra: Now that the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is official, how does it compare to Samsung’s previous flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra?

So initially looking at the size and design, the Note 20 Ultra is a little bit slimmer, it’s a little bit shorter, but it’s a little bit wider.

And that is because it’s got more squared-off edges.

Now, this is in line with the Note 20 series, which we’ve been seeing for many years.

And it’s something that looks really, really nice, although it may not be as comfortable for some people compared to the curved edges on the S20 Ultra.

But being the bigger overall device, which is also thicker and heavier, the S20 Ultra in my experience is less comfortable to hold overall compared to the Note 20 Ultra.

Now both devices do have curved glass on the back as well as somewhat curved glass on the front.

The curves on the Note 20 Ultra are more significant compared to the S20 Ultra, which is a little bit flatter.

Now, personally speaking, I do prefer a more flat display to a curved display, although curved displays do look better.

But the S20 Ultra does have Gorilla Glass 6, whereas the Note 20 Ultra has Gorilla Glass 7, which is more durable, and it’s also more scratch-resistant.

In addition to that, it also comes in what I would say are better colors compared to the very bland-looking S20 Ultra, which just comes in gray and black.

And this is something that I’ve talked about before.

It does make the device look very boring in my opinion.

The Note 20 Ultra does come in black, white, as well as a bronze, which in my opinion looks absolutely stunning.

The bronze version also has a frosted back finish, which attracts fewer fingerprints.

And this is something that I really do like.

So overall I do like the design better on the Note 20 Ultra.

We do have aluminum frames for both devices, as well as IP68 water and dust resistance.

Now let’s look at the displays.

So both of these do have Samsung’s Infinity-O design, so we’ve got a punch out in the middle with very small bezels, although the bezels are slightly smaller on the Note 20 Ultra, which does give it a slightly higher screen to body ratio.

Both devices do have Quad HD Plus Resolution with a 120-hertz refresh rate.

Now you do get a slightly higher pixel density on the S20 Ultra because it is slightly taller, but honestly speaking, it’s very insignificant.

And having that refresh rate does make things super smooth on both devices.

Now as with the S20 Ultra or the Note 20 Ultra, you cannot have 120 hertz with Quad HD Plus Resolution at the same time.

It is going to switch to full HD Plus when you are at 120 hertz.

This is to preserve battery life, but it’s one of the advantages that you get on the Note 20 Ultra is that it does have an adaptive refresh rate, which is going to switch to a lower refresh rate, depending on what you’ve got on your screen and that should make it
more power-efficient.

In addition to that, the Note 20 Ultra also has a brighter display, it’s got a peak brightness of up to 1500 nits, which is 25% brighter compared to the S20 Ultra.

And I believe that makes it the brightest smartphone display on any smartphone right now.

And although the S20 Ultra is very bright, and it is going to be absolutely fine to use outdoors.

You’re just going to get that edge on the Note 20 Ultra, and I would say that the Note 20 Ultra does get the win for the overall better display.

Now, both displays do have an Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner which works pretty much the same.

We were hoping for the 3D Sonic Max from Qualcomm on the Notes 20 Ultra, but unfortunately, this isn’t here.

The Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner, generally it’s fine.

I tend to assign one fingerprint twice, just to make it a little bit more accurate and faster.

And within that display, we also have the punch out for the front-facing camera.

And the S20 Ultra actually has a higher resolution, 14 megapixels versus 10 megapixels.

Now the S20 Ultra generally still shoots at 10 megapixels unless you actually force it to go to 14 megapixels.

And that is because it uses pixel binning, so it combines four pixels into one to give you 10 megapixels anyway.

And that’s the way you’ll be able to get the best out of the front-facing camera on the S20 Ultra.

So in my brief testing, both seem to take very similar selfies, but we do have some differences for the rear-facing cameras.

So firstly, I do think that the Note 20 Ultra has a much better-looking camera module.

It’s also smaller, although it might look like it’s got a slightly larger bump, overall the device is thinner.

Three main cameras on both devices.

We have an ultra-wide camera, we’ve got a primary camera, as well as an optical zoom camera, which uses Periscope technology.

The ultra-wide camera as far as we can see is pretty much the same and we’ll see how much it has been improved because I did have some issues with dynamic range on the S20 Ultra.

The primary camera is also the 108-megapixel sensor from Samsung with optical image stabilization.

However, Samsung now has a laser autofocus sensor on the Note 20 Ultra.

You guys may have seen me cover as well as many others cover the S20 Ultra, and one of the pieces of feedback that we did have was that autofocus was just not as fast as we expect from Samsung.

So it looks like Samsung has taken this feedback on board for the Note 20 Ultra.

And they have given us a dedicated laser autofocus sensor, which in my brief testing definitely does seem to work really well.

Now, when it comes to the Periscope zoom cameras, the S20 Ultra does have a high resolution.

48 megapixels.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy S20 Ultra

But once again, as I mentioned, if you are shooting, you’re going to be shooting at 12 megapixels anyway, so that doesn’t really matter.

But the Note 20 Ultra firstly, does have a wider aperture, and it also has better optical zoom up to five times compared to four times on the S20 Ultra.

And guess what?

We no longer have the 100x Space Zoom, which was plastered on the S20 Ultra.

So the 100x zoom, I mean, it was a cool feature, but realistically speaking the results were just not usable.

And having that plastered on the camera itself actually took away from the fact that the S20 Ultra actually does have a really good zoom, at 10x, even up to 30x.

Now Samsung has once again taken that feedback on board, we don’t have anything plastered over the cameras and they’ve limited that zoom to 50x, which does mean that they’ll be able to optimize it more for that level compared to the S20 Ultra.

So as soon as I’ve got the retail version of the Note 20 Ultra, I’ll try to work on some camera comparisons.

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Now, the S20 Ultra does have that additional

Time of Flight sensor, which is used for depth information.

Now I’m really not sure how much of an impact this is going to have on portrait shots.

Once again, we will be testing this out.

Now for video, both devices can film at up to 8K, 24 frames a second from the primary camera.

However, we do have some software improvements on the Note 20 Ultra, as well as some audio improvements.

So we’ve got an updated Pro Video app, which is going to give you a lot more control over zoom.

You can do some more cinematic zoom, rather than just jumping from one point to another.

And you’ve also got more control over your audio.

So you’re going to be able to select the direction that you want the audio in, you’ll be able to plug in an external mic, and you’ll also be able to use Bluetooth to connect your Galaxy Buds live and have the mics from there feed directly into the Note 20 Ultra wirelessly.

So overall you are getting a few more advantages on the Note 20 Ultra in the way of cameras.

Now let’s talk about the chipsets, what’s powering these devices.

Well, you guys may have already heard me rant about this a lot, but we don’t have consistent chipsets across the board.

So the S20 Ultra has either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset or the Exynos 990.

Now, if you’ve watched my review, you would have heard me feeding back as well as many others, that there is definitely some inconsistency between these two.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 is fast, and it’s also more power-efficient.

For the Note 20 Ultra, you still get the Exynos 990 in certain regions, such as the UK, and some parts of Asia.

But if you’re in the U.S. you will be getting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 plus, which is 10% faster and
10% more power-efficient compared to the 865, which is already superior compared to the Exynos 990.

So you’re going to have even more of a bigger gap between the regions when it comes to the Note 20 Ultra, which really does not
make any sense to me.

And when it comes to storage, the S20 Ultra is available in a 128-gigabyte version or 512 gigabytes.

The Note 20 Ultra is once again, disjointed because you do get a base of 128 gigabytes in the U.S.

but here in the UK for example, it starts with the base of 256 gigabytes, and you can get up to 512 gigabytes.

So it kind of seems like because the UK and other regions are getting an inferior chipset, they’re kind of giving double the storage as a base to make up for it.

That’s kind of what it seems like to me right now.

I don’t know what’s going on.

Now, this is UFS 3.1 storage versus UFS 3.0 storage.

So it should be faster storage, we’ll see how much of an impact that has.

And for RAM, we do have 12 gigabytes as a base on both devices, but you can get up to 16 gigabytes of RAM on the S20 Ultra.

Not sure how much of an impact that’s going to have on the day today.

Now, both devices do have a micro SD card slot, so you can expand the storage on both of them which is great.

And for software, we do have Android 10 with the One UI skin on top.

Now being the newer device, the Note 20 Ultra is going to be getting updates longer compared to the S20 Ultra.

And Samsung has also said that they’ll be giving software updates for up to three years on the Note 20 Ultra.

So there is an advantage that you’re getting here.

And the Note 20 Ultra also has an ultra-wideband chip, something that you don’t have on the S20 Ultra.

This will allow you to quickly share files with other devices that also have an ultra-wideband chip, and eventually, they’re saying
it will be able to do things like unlocking your car.

Again, these are going to be things that will hopefully develop with time.

And the Note 20 Ultra also has Wireless-DeX.

So we do have DeX supports on the S20 Ultra, but that is why the support on the Note 20 Ultra, as long as the TV supports
Miracast, I’m being told, then you will be able to use that in a desktop environment wirelessly.

Whether or not this feature is going to be coming with the software on the S20 Ultra, we are currently not sure.

But at this point in time here is an advantage that you get on the Note 20 Ultra.

Another advantage that you get on the Note 20 Ultra, of course, is that it has an S Pen.

And this gives you many many more possibilities and a lot more productivity benefits.

And I’m somebody who absolutely loves the S Pen, and uses it very regularly.

And Samsung has also improved the S Pen compared to what we had on the Note 10 Plus.

The latency is now improved by 80%, so it’s just down to nine milliseconds.

That’s similar to what we’ve got on, say the Apple Pencil.

And it is very, very smooth to write on.

And you do get a bunch of features such as being able to import annotate PDFs, have better handwriting recognition as well.

These are features that you of course don’t have on the S20 Ultra or pretty much any other device out there that’s not a Note.

For the speakers, the good news is we do have stereo speakers on both devices, which are tuned by AKG.

We’ve got one in the earpiece, and one button (indistinct).

They do sound very very good.

The bad news which you should be expecting by now is there is no 3.5-millimeter headphone jack.

I’m really not sure when the best time is just to kind of not talk about that anymore, and only talk about it when we do have a 3.5 millimeter jack.

Because it has just become the norm now.

Now moving onto the batteries, the Note 20 Ultra actually has a smaller battery compared to the S20 Ultra.

Now, how that’s going to affect battery life is going to vary depending on whether you get the Qualcomm Snapdragon version or the Exynos version.

The S20 Ultra in my experience has had pretty good battery life, the better battery life on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 version.

Now the Note 20 Ultra, you do have the improved display, which does have the adaptive refresh rate, so in theory, that should give you better battery life.

And if you are one of the lucky ones that get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 plus chipset, then that should make it even more power-efficient.

Now, both devices do support 25 watts charging, and you do get a 25-watt charger out of the box.

But with the S20 Ultra, you can get an external 45-watt charger.

This is sold separately, but it is available.

This is something that’s not supported on the Note 20 Ultra.

I’m not sure why this is.

Personally speaking, 25 watts is pretty fast anyway, you get around 50% in half an hour, which is sufficient for most people I would say.

Maybe Samsung felt that the 45-watt charger just wasn’t being sold enough so they’ve kind of taken it out.

I’m not too sure.

Both devices do have wireless charging, and they both also support wireless PowerShare where you will be able to charge other devices on the back of these.

Now finally, let’s talk about the price.

The Note 20 Ultra is actually coming in cheaper, compared to what the S20 Ultra came in at.

And in the UK you actually get double the storage as well.

In the U.S. you still get the same 128-gigabyte storage as a base, but it is a hundred dollars cheaper than what the S20 Ultra
came in at initially.

This does make the Note 20 Ultra the better overall deal, but you do have to consider that the S20 Ultra has been out for a longer period of time.

So right now, having a quick look around it is going for around about a thousand pounds in the UK, which is about a 15% drop but no doubt this is going to drop even further as time goes on.

So you might be able to get a better deal on the S20 Ultra.

However, I would still be tempted to go towards the Note 20 Ultra because of all of those improvements, and the fact that you will
be getting those updates for a longer period of time.

That’s what I think anyway.

What do you guys think?

Are you happy with all of the improvements that we’ve got now on the Note 20 Ultra?

Definitely drop me a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

There’s of course going to be lots more Samsung Galaxy Note 20 (indistinct) real coverage here on the show.


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