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Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra review – power, features and performance in one attractive package

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  • VERDICT

Samsung has done it again. The Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra deliver the sort of power, performance and features that sets them apart as the go-to devices for power users and for anyone else who wants to own one of the best phones money can buy.

The Samsung Galaxy Note smartphones have a huge fan base and that fan base is set to expand with the release of the attractive and powerful Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra.

These high end devices are popular for a reason – they put a lot of power and performance in your hands and make it possible to get things done and stay productive on the go.

Note20 and Note20 Ultra offer laptop-like performance to not only do your work but also create and enjoy content as well.

In this period when we’ve been working remotely, a device like this has been released at the perfect time.

And naturally it’s also quite an impressive entertainment device as well.

For this review, Tech Guide received the larger Galaxy Note20 Ultra in the new Mystic Bronze colour.

DESIGN

The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity O display with curved edges, a 3088 x 1440 resolution, 496ppi (pixels per inch), HDR10+ certification and a 120Hz refresh rate.

The Samsung Galaxy Note20 has a flat 6.7-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED Plus Infinity O display with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 and 393ppi and HDR10+ certified.

As usual, the Samsung displays are excellent.

With HDR10+ certification and a 120Hz refresh rate on the Note20 Ultra, your content, apps, and web pages looks fantastic. We never got tired of looking at this display.

Apart from the slight difference in screen size, there is also a difference in screen design with the Note20 offering a flat display while the Note20 Ultra has curved edges to make it look a little more premium.

The Note20 and Note20 Ultra follow closely with the design of the Galaxy S20 and S20 Ultra.

Samsung says the Note20 is aimed at the customer who might be new to the Note range while the Note20 Ultra, the device we’re focussing on this review, is targeting the dedicated and loyal Note customer.

Despite its size the Note20 Ultra doesn’t feel too big in your hand and it’s still possible to use it one handed but for most of the time we used it we needed to use two hands.

On the rear panel it’s hard to miss the large camera bump that is quite pronounced.

It juts out nearly 4mm from the rear panel.

With a cover on the phone, that levels the back panel out but without it, it is not quite stable when resting on a surface.

PERFORMANCE

The new Samsung Galaxy Note20 smartphones are powered by a 7nm 64-bit octa-core 3Ghz processor with up to 12GB RAM and up to 512GB RAM. The Note20 Ultra also adds expandable memory.

Of course, the devices are available in 4G and 5G variants so you can always stay connected at high speed.

With this sort of computing power in your hand you can leave the laptop behind and get a lot done on the Note20.

The larger display provides enough screen real estate to do your work.

We were able to write our stories and edit and post then to our Tech Guide site using just the Note20 Ultra.

SAMSUNG DEX

One of our favourite features of the Note has always been Samsung DeX – a feature that turns the device into a desktop computer.

And, for the first time users, can now connect Samsung DeX wirelessly to a smart TV for those times that require a bigger screen to finish your work or share content.

But if you simply connect the Galaxy Note20 or Note20 Ultra to a monitor with a HDMI cable you’ll see a desktop version of the phone complete with icons for the browser, email, files and gallery.

With the addition of a wireless keyboard and mouse, the Note20 suddenly becomes a desktop PC that performs surprisingly well thanks to that fast processor.

We were able to run several apps at once as well as use the browser full screen like we would on a laptop or desktop computer.

And when you’re done simply unplug the phone and everything is still contained on the phone so there is absolutely no security risk if you need to hot desk.

S PEN

The Note wouldn’t be the Note without the S Pen and it is now more useful than ever. But the big change this time is where the S Pen is located – it’s switched from the right to the left bottom edge where you can store it when not in use.

Not only are you able to write and draw on the screen but you can also straighten your handwriting and convert it to text so you can add it to a document.

But it goes even further than that.

One excellent new feature in the Samsung Notes app is the ability to record and synchronise audio while you’re taking notes.

You can then go back to your handwritten notes on the device and tap on a sentence to hear the audio that was recorded as you wrote those words.

There’s even more you can do with the S Pen including being able to control a presentation and open the camera and activate the shutter. Really makes capturing your selfies even easier.

There are also new air gestures for the S Pen to snap a screen shot and to return to the home screen by holding button and drawing a symbol in mid-air.

The S Pen really sets the device apart from not only the rest of the Samsung portfolio but other smartphones in this class.

CAMERA

In the camera side, the Samsung Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra also deliver.

The Note20 Ultra has a 108-megapixel wide-angle camera with up to 50x Super Resolution zoom and 5x optical zoom along with a 12-megapixel ultra-wide angle and 12-megapixel telephoto camera.

The Note20 includes a 64-megapixel telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom and 30x Super Resolution zoom as well as a 12-megapixel ultra-wide and 12-megapixel wide-angle camera.

The Note20 has 30x space zoom, the Note20 Ultra 50x – but that still lags behind the Galaxy S20 Ultra which can achieve 100x Space Zoom.

Taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

Both cameras can take super sharp and bright images along with live focus to take portrait images with a background blur you can control.

The camera can also handle lowlight situations with Night Mode.

Taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

It was even good enough to snap some pretty impressive shots of the night sky without a tripod.

But its real strength is shooting video.

The Note20 and Note20 Ultra are both capable of shooting 8K video at 24fps (frames per second.

Taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

It’s amazing you can get this sort of quality from a smartphone.

What also impressive is pro-video mode that offers professional grade focus, exposure and audio recording.

Taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra Night Mode

Users can select the different microphones to use depending on where the audio is coming from – in front, behind or from all sides – and you can even pair with wire-free earphones, including the new Galaxy Buds Live, and use them to record your audio.

BATTERY

The Samsung Galaxy Note20 has a 4,300mAH battery while the Note20 Ultra has a 4,500mAh battery.

During our review we used the Note20 Ultra as our regular go-to smartphone so we were using it from the minute we woke up to the minute we went to bed.

We got through an entire day and still had about 40 per cent battery left over.

If we pushed it that could almost take us through to lunchtime the next day.

So, the battery is more than capable of keeping you powered all day and well into the next.

PRICING

The Samsung Galaxy Note20 will be available in three colours – Mystic Bronze, Mystic Green and Mystic Grey – and will be priced at $1,499 (4G, 256GB) and $1649 (5G, 256GB).

The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra will available in Mystic Black, Mystic White and Mystic Bronze and priced at $1,849 (4G, 256GB), $1,999 (5G, 256GB) and $2,199 (5G, 512GB).

VERDICT

Samsung has done it again. The Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra deliver the sort of power, performance and features that sets them apart as the go-to devices for power users and for anyone else who wants to own one of the best phones money can buy.