Since its beginnings, the series Samsung notes it has always been considered capable of carrying out any task that could be asked of a mobile device. The first Note of 2011, for the time in which it was presented, was a beast of power and battery, and was one of the smartphones with the largest display on the market, to the point of being able to allow the use of two applications at the same time. And, for those times, all the innovations introduced by the first phablet in history were so revolutionary that they created a real market, a bit like Apple did with its iPad.
Well, it has been a couple of years that we have actually noticed a certain change of course regarding the strategy of the South Korean giant and its Note, a device capable of improving year after year and that increasingly aims (also) at design, as well as performance, becoming more and more modern with each new update. For better or for worse (did someone say camera bump?).
In short, even if the Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra 20 it is certainly not the most compact among the specimens of this very successful series, it is clear that now even with the "King of Phablets" Samsung is no longer addressing only those people who want to have all the most modern functions, but also to everyone other users, who want a beautiful, powerful device with that extra touch that no company can ever achieve: and I speak clearly ofS Pen.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review
Also this year those of Samsung have not spared in the packaging of Notes 20 Ultra. Inside it has also been inserted a 25w fast charger with USB-C port and relative cable, then there are excellent AKG earphones with cable, of the in-ear type and with USB-C connection and with different rubber pads in order to adapt them to all ears.
Unlike last year, however, there are no spare tips for the S Pen, much less the USB-C / microUSB adapter.
Design and materials
There is nothing to do, it's been two years since Samsung's Notes have become real gems from the point of view of design and materials. The Notes 20 Ultra is a decidedly great device, which with its 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm e 208 grams, exceeds the size and weight of the previous generation. The weight balance is however well optimized, and despite the huge rear camera bump, using the new smartphone from Samsung is a pleasure.
The structure is in metal, while on the back a glass has been used with a very nice satin effect, which makes the device practically immune to fingerprints but which also makes it more slippery: in short, with such a device it becomes essential to use a cover, both to increase the grip and to protect the camera bump, which protrudes a lot for obvious technical reasons.
The Mystic Bronze coloring of the sample we had in test is very pleasant, and fortunately those of Samsung have fully understood the complaints of users regarding the positioning of the side buttons: in the Notes 20 Ultra the power button and volume rocker return to the right, which is a very welcome thing.
However, I did not like the choice to move the S Pen housing to the left side, which makes it slightly more complicated take out the digital pen. But it is nothing special, and after a few minutes you get used to it immediately.
At the bottom there is the USB input, a microphone, the speaker and clearly the S Pen, while at the top the ear capsule has been positioned in a microscopic hole along the frame. The audio on call is excellent, but the stereo experience is less performing: the lower speaker is of very high quality, but the playback volume is not balanced with that of the ear capsule (which also acts as a speaker for the speakerphone or music) and the difference is very noticeable. The smartphone is always IP68, with excellent resistance to water and dust.
As in the Galaxy S20 Ultra, also in the Notes 20 Ultra the screen is the strong point of the device. It is a panel 6.9-pill OLED to say the least poco exceptional that manages to achieve a refresh rate of 120 Hz managed by technology Adaptive Frequency which, in a nutshell, will vary the real update frequency based on the use of the smartphone and will save up to 22% of energy. The reality of the facts is that, however, although it may be a cutting-edge technology, it is still slightly limited: because yes, it is true that to play 120 Hz it takes everyone and that to see a film 60 Hz is enough and advances , but the adaptive refresh rate with prominent 120 Hz is limited to FullHD + resolution: by switching to the maximum WQHD + resolution of 3088 × 1440 pixels, the refresh rate will be limited to 60 Hz.
Anyway, the brightness is excellent, the color rendering is well balanced and customizable through the settings, the always-on is present and all the features with which Samsung has accustomed its users are integrated, the sideways screen is curved (for lovers of flat screens there is is the younger brother Note 20). The only drawback of this display is in the minimum brightness: the night, for example, while setting the screen to the minimum brightness, in reality the light produced it's still a lot and you risk straining your eyes.
We would have loved to see the Notes 20 Ultra immediately animated by the new Snapgragon 865, but we will still have to wait some time for the "transition" to Qualcomm to begin to bear fruit. Poco bad though, because under the body we find the now well-known Exynos 990 2,73 GHz octa core, flanked by ben 12 GB of RAM memory, a Mali-G77 GPU, and 256 or 512 GB of internal memory.
In short, the performance is perhaps a tad bit below Qualcomm's top of the range, but it must be admitted that for 99,90% of cases no one would notice the difference in common use: the operating system is lightning fast, the opening of the applications is instantaneous and never, never will there be any lag or slowdowns of any kind, despite the sample we are using is still equipped with a non-definitive software.
However, there is a small problem, which I hope depends on the prerelease version of the software: The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra tends to heat up a lotespecially with demanding applications or games, or when using the camera for too long. Of course, it is nothing substantial, but too marked heating could then lead to thermal throttling phenomena that, in such a device, no one wants to see.
This is clearly a dual sim smartphone, which is capable of connecting to 5G networks and integrates an excellent WiFi module 6 able to connect to the wireless network even in areas where other devices are starting to falter.
The S Pen is still improved, which continues to be Bluetooth and which has been enriched by Anywhere Actions which will allow you to activate a series of shortcuts simply by moving the stylus, a bit like it happened with Air Actions. But the thing that thrilled me most was the decrease in latency time, which compared to the Note 20 Ultra has even reduced by 80%: it is an important leap forward, which really makes it much more natural to write freehand with the stylus, bringing the experience closer to that of paper and pen. Good Samsung.
Camera - Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
As tradition now has it, the photographic sector of Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra 20 is a legacy of the best exponent of the Galaxy S series currently on the market, and for 2020 we are clearly talking about the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. However, a much more "reasoned" and balanced legacy, in which, for example, we do not find (fortunately) a 100x zoom (clearly in digital), in favor of a very honest 50x which is nice to have, but definitely poco useful in everyday life.
Either way, the main camera is the best known by now 108 megapixel f / 1.8, which is flanked by a wide angle with 120 degrees and one field-of-view 5x telescopic zoom, both optically stabilized. It is a respectable photographic sector, which allows you to take photographs even at full resolution (ie 108 megapixels) and which integrates all the AI features of Samsung. All in all, take pictures with the Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra 20 it's fun, the images are always very vivid and the quality of the optical zoom is so high that it makes you want to use it more often.
Of course, that perhaps too marked saturation, now a symbol of photography with Samsung, continues to be present, and when shooting at 108 megapixels you get contrasting results, but the white and color balance is (almost) always optimal.
It is a very complete photographic sector, which also makes excellent photos with effect possible bokeh to people and objects thanks to a laser sensor that seems to be more precise than the ToF. The shooting modes are many and in automatic mode it is also possible take night photographs, even if the best results are obtained with the dedicated mode, which is no more surprising than expected: in short, it works well on all optics, but remains on par with the competition.
Exceptional the mode of ultra video stabilization which, among other things, increases the field of view and allows you to record videos as if you were using a gimbal: provided, however, that you use it in bright environments and not moving too fast, otherwise strange situations could occur, with proportions perhaps slightly artificial.
Good front camera from 10 megapixel f / 2.2, really good videos recorded in 8K which, of course, have a framerate that stops at 24 fps, but which remain well balanced despite the very large resolution.
The software of the Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra 20 is the typical Android 10 customized by the One UI 2.1, which we have already appreciated on the Galaxy S20 Ultra and which, in reality, does not integrate any specific news for this model, if not all the features related to the S Pen: you can always take notes with the locked screen even in color, it has been improved the Samsung Notes feature that converts handwritten text into a Word document, screenshots and screen clippings can be made, or animated messages can be sent and so on.
In short, it is the typical Samsung software, enriched by the features of Android 10 (and finally the lateral "back") and by the gestures possible with the S Pen which, personally, I have not used more than a couple of times.
La Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra's battery is a 4500 mAh, which represents a small step forward compared to the 4300 mAh of the previous generation, but which is not yet able to guarantee an autonomy equal to that of the old Galaxy Notes, which were also bought for the exceptional battery life.
With 100% charging and the screen always set to the highest refresh rates, I managed to get to poco less than 3 hours of screen onbut using the camera a lot. And ok, it's not an exceptional result, but it must always be taken into consideration that the sample I received for testing is not yet equipped with the final version of the software.
Then there is the recharge fast wireless 45w, for which you will need a power supply to be purchased separately, and the possibility of sharing the battery energy with other devices continues to be present through the function wireless power share.
Sales price in Italy and conclusions - Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
The Prezzo of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra clearly varies according to the version chosen. Let's start with 1329 € for version 12/256, up to the 1429 € for the 12/512 GB version. Furthermore, for an initial period, by purchasing the new smartphone of the South Korean giant, you will have 3 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a Game Controller, a wireless charger or the Samsung Galaxy Buds + for free.
And let's face it, we are talking about very high figures and not within everyone's reach, and greater than the 1129 euros that it was necessary to shell out to take home a Galaxy Note 10+. In short, the Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra 20 is a product for a few and is one of the smartphones to beat for this end of 2020: with its S Pen and the excellent updated version of Dex it is a great product for productivity and, ok, it does not integrate the unlock with the 3D face, and it's certainly not a perfect device, but it has everything you could possibly need.
The question is simple: probably no smartphone should exceed 1000 euros in actual cost, but if it is not the Notes 20 Ultra to be able to cost so much, what other device actually could? None, because no smartphone is more complete than the latest arrival from South Korea.