We’ve already looked at the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G in a couple of articles. Our first impressions post outlined the initial sparkle of the device, then we moved onto the software, camera and S Pen. Today, a final look at a few other features of the phone that deserve a bit of a closer look.
Samsung continually up their game when it comes to phones, they produce arguably the best displays going around and are a dominant force in the market. They make screens for a number of other phone manufacturers, but understandably keep the best for themselves. On the Note 20 Ultra 5G you’re looking at a 6.9-inch dynamic AMOLED 2X display that can run at 1440 x 3088 resolution (496ppi). We say can run at that resolution because while it can run high resolution, to do so you’ll drop your refresh rate down. It’d be safe to assume that this has been done to ensure that the battery isn’t destroyed by mid-afternoon on a daily basis.
During our testing of the device, the screen running at 120Hz meant that the battery was looking a little second rate by early evening regularly. Interestingly, when we reviewed the ROG Phone 3 recently this wasn’t the case – that battery was pretty badass! Yes it’s a touch bigger, but the screen didn’t destroy it, so perhaps there are some tricks Samsung still need to learn.
Enough numbers, what’s the screen actually look like?
This is a tale of two screens, the 120Hz FHD and 60Hz QHD options. In fairness, at 60Hz there’s plenty of good points to explore but the drop from 120Hz to 60Hz is surprisingly evident in front of your eyes. It loses something, smoothness of transition, the scrolling is slightly more noticeable and it feels like more work for your eyes.
The colour reproduction is bright and vivid, at times perhaps a little overdone on any of the resolution options — almost unnaturally vibrant colour — and the black is very black but that isn’t special to Samsung. All manufacturers do it to present their screen (and camera) in the best light possible. Samsung hold their place atop the pile of AMOLED screens and with this one, I don’t see any danger of them losing it.
The battery is big, but its life isn’t as good as you’d hope
The numbers are only part of the story these days when it comes to battery life. A 4,500mAh battery should be enough to last most users a full day but that’s not necessarily the case because there’s a lot of variables not just in usage patterns, but the hardware as well. Everything from the screen brightness, resolution, refresh to screen on time, calls (duration and number) and background apps have an effect on your battery life.
The smart charging capacity these days means that the speed of charging is something resembling epic when you first start. But then slows dramatically as you near the battery capacity, so it’s not that much quicker to use higher capacity charger than the included 25W option – but the initial burst and gain of around 25% is ridiculously quick.
The general consensus around the traps — which I wholeheartedly agree with — is that this is one of the best phones of the year so far. But as we’ve already outlined it’s not perfect. The battery is not really where it could, and perhaps should be, and for a phone that costs two grand to not come with at least a TPU case to protect your investment feels a little insulting.
That said though, accessories are a big money-spinner for the likes of Samsung and they’ve got a lot to offer. Just for the Note 20 Ultra there are dozens of accessories with varying costs. That’s before you get to the Samsung partner pages where there are a seemingly endless array of cases. So while it would be nice to have a case, how many buyers would settle for that and not spend another $50 – $80 on a case if one was included?
Really there’s not a lot you can objectively say is wrong with the Note 20 Ultra 5G, in fact you could probably argue there isn’t anything wrong with it. It’s a really good phone, but if you’re keen on buying one you’ll need a solid budget to back it up.
Two gauges I use to see just how good a phone is are how easily it integrates into my daily life and how I feel when it’s time to send it back. In this case, while it didn’t thrill me early it just worked. It did everything I wanted it to and more with processing power to spare. Over the last few weeks, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G has grown on me a lot and I’m genuinely impressed with what Samsung has delivered.
This is genuinely an impressive piece of engineering that deserves recognition as a leader in the premium phone market. The reality for many potential buyers is that the cost will be a big deterrent, particularly in the current era where COVID-19 has affected people so heavily. But don’t despair, wait 10 – 12 months for buyers who upgrade regularly and you may well pick one up second hand or refurbished which — for the right price — will be quite the buy.