Samsung makes displays for a lot of other manufacturers so it should come as no surprise that they have installed possibly the best ever display in a smartphone.
For those after the numbers, remember Samsung included all the numbers in the S20 Ultra. The display is a whopping 6.9-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. The Infinity-O display has a 511ppi resolution thanks to the 3200 x 1440 pixels present. The display itself is also HDR10+ certified and supports 120Hz refresh rate.
First let’s discuss Samsung’s decision to limit the display resolution to 1080P when running at 120Hz. It has been assumed that they have done this to limit the battery use and keep the phone running quick and snappy.
You would expect that running the display at 120Hz and 1440P would result in not just over-taxing of the CPU and other hardware resulting in less resources available to the rest of the operating system. Same goes for the battery use. Running at that high refresh rate and resolution would result in extreme battery usage — but in saying that other manufacturers have done it without any issues.
The display, at 120Hz refresh rate, is simply gorgeous. The colours pop (at any resolution) and the smoothness is extremely noticeable going from 60Hz to 120Hz. Unfortunately, even with the display resolution dropping to 1080P the battery life was not great. Sure it is better than either of the Pixel 4 devices — but that is a very low bar. I struggled to have the device last for the entire day from around 5am until 5pm.
Dropping the display to 60Hz was more noticeable to the eye than the increase in resolution. Although we have used 60Hz phones for a long time I have been using the Pixel 4 XL and before that the OnePlus 7 Pro at 90Hz the entire time. I am used to that smoothness so the change to 60Hz after using 120Hz on the Samsung for a couple of weeks was extremely noticeable.
The colours though on this device are astounding. Most AMOLED displays these days are pretty good and the manufacturers then tweak the software to match and take advantage of it. Samsung are the kings of that. While their displays often over-saturate colours they are the kings of giving people what they want from a display — their displays might not always be technically accurate but they’ve figured out people prefer over-saturated displays and run with that..
Blacks are very black and colours are extremely colourful. This is a beautiful display to look at but Samsung really needs to allow 120Hz refresh rate at QHD+ resolution. Sure it will most likely kill the battery faster but why not give users that option along with a huge disclaimer about the battery life should it be turned on?
My advice would be for Samsung to do this — and it would be relatively easy for them to do it via a software OTA update — and then everyone who wants to do this do it but make sure you have a charger nearby — I’d go for a decent wireless charger to be able to keep it topping up throughout the day without having to plug, unplug, replug etc all the time.
Last thing to mention is the big O. I’ve not used a phone such as this before so was pleasantly surprised with how much I did not care one single iota about it. The O is so small that it basically fits into the notification shade and thus does not interfere with general usage of the display.
Overall the display is certainly the best I have ever used and seen in a smartphone although you could easily say it has been gimped by Samsung for reasons known only to them. It has all the numbers but all the numbers cannot be used at the same time. This is meant to be a super ultra premium flagship, allow the display to be that, a super ultra premium display.