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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Full Review Now

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is still the phone to get if you want a device with a stylus. So is the Note 20 Ultra worth the ultra-premium price?

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra boasts a huge 6.9-inch display with dynamic 120Hz refresh rate, a sharp 108MP camera with laser auto focus, and a more responsive S Pen. The regular Galaxy Note 20 is a better option for those who can tolerate without the120Hz display and more advanced camera.
As you can see in our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, this is an excellent device.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: What I like

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Full Review Now
  • The dynamic 120Hz display is amazing: with the Adaptive Motion Smoothness setting turned on, scrolling feels like butter. Even optimized games like Dead Trigger 2 are displayed really smoothly.
  • The Note 20’s S Pen is easier to use than pen and paper: with a fast 9ms response time, it feels like pen and paper. Writing notes on this panel feels so natural that you forget you are writing on the screen.
  • The Space Zoom camera is very impressive. The Note 20 Ultra’s 5x optical zoom put my iPhone 11 Pro Max’s 2x zoom to shame when I got up close and personal with it. And the digital zoom is stable up to 20x.
  • The new S Pen tricks are addictive: the new air actions are useful (such as moving to “home” in a quick arc in the air). But they don’t always work right the first time.
  • Wireless De X mode and Link to Windows work (quite well): I was able to connect the Note 20 Ultra wireless sly to a TCL Roku TV and use the phone as a touchpad. Link to Windows also allows you to run Android apps on your PC.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Design

Samsung has made its most elegant looking hand set to date with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The angular edges and sophisticated Mystic Bronze color give the device a corner office feel.

We also like the fingerprint-resistant finish, unlike the Galaxy Note 10 Plus’ Aura Glow finish; the Note 20 Ultra is also available in Mystic Black and Mystic White.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra-Design1

There are a few things I don’t like about the design. For one, the camera patch on the back is not only large and bulky, reminiscent of brass knuckles, but also supports the entire phone. When you push down on the top of the display, you can hear the phone wobble. Measuring 6.49 x 3.03 x 0.32 inches (164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm) and weighing 7.3 ounces (208 grams), the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is not as large as the Galaxy S20 Ultra (6.6 x 2.7 x 0.34 inches, 7.7 ounces), but it is 6.8 inches and It is still palm-sized compared to the Galaxy Note 10 Plus (6.4 x 3 x 0.31 inches,6.9 ounces),which had a smaller display.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra-Design3

Some Galaxy Note 20 Ultra owners have complained that the camera housing collects dust and condensation under the glass. However, our review unit did not experience this problem.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Display

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s massive 6.9-inch OLED Quad HD+ display is big, bold, and colorful. More importantly, it is the first Samsung phone to offer a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra-Display1

The Galaxy S20 lineup introduced faster refresh rates to Samsung phones, resulting in better visuals as well as smoother scrolling, especially in games and movies. However, this was a feature that had to be adjusted manually; the Note 20 Ultra automatically adjusts the refresh rate according to the content on the screen, which should save battery life.

In Chrome with adaptive mode turned on, scrolling is very smooth and fast. You can also manually select 60Hzif you want to save battery life.

We also tried “Dead Trigger 2,”one of the titles optimized for the 120Hz panel. The game displayed smoothly and felt very responsive while shooting zombies and moving through dark corridors.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra-Display2

The Note 20 Ultra’s panel is very bright and quite legible even in direct sunlight. Measured with a light meter, the display read a fairly high 662 nits, which is very good, but not as good as the iPhone 11 Pro’s 752 nits.

The Note 20 Ultra’s screen reproduced 121.5% of the sRGB color gamut in natural mode and 201.2% in vivid mode, compared to 118.6% for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is one of the fastest Android phones, as it is one of the first hand sets to feature Qualcomm’s Snap dragon 865 Plus processor. This chip set has a 10% increase in clock speed over the regular Snapdragon 865 chip in the Galaxy S20to 3.1GHz and 10% faster graphics.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra-Performance1

This processor is paired with 12GB of RAM and128GB or 512GB of internal storage, we would have preferred 256 GB of storage on the Ultra, but at least it can be expanded up to 1TB via a micro SD card slot.

When I gave the Note 20 Ultra to my 12-year-old son, our resident Fortnite expert, I found the game play to be so smooth that I had to lobby hard to get the phone back.

In Geek bench, which measures overall performance, the Note 20 Ultra’s multi core score of 3,294 out performs most Android phones, but falls short of the Asus ROG Phone 3’s3,393,which has the same Snapdragon 865 Plus chip The iPhone 11 Pro scored even higherat3,500.

In the video editing test, the Note 20 Ultra took 1 minute and 16 seconds to the iPhone’s 45 seconds, trailing the iPhone.

In the GFX Bench graphics test, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra recorded 1,455 frames in the Aztec Ruins (High Tier) off-screen benchmark, compared to 1,657for the iPhone 11 Pro.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra-Performance2

As one would expect from a premium flag ship model, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra supports both flavors of 5G.

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In New Jersey, we saw download speeds ranging from 40 Mbps to 99 Mbps on T-Mobile’s 5G network, which is not bad. However, they were not blazingly fast. Uploads ranged from10 to 35 Mbps.

Some reviewers complained that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can get a little hot; a tear down of the Note 20 Ultra resulted in there placement of the copper pipe and vapor chamber system used in the Galaxy S20 Ultra with a multi-layer graphite thermal pads were found to be used to help dissipate heat. However, no heat issues were encountered.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has three rear cameras plus a laser autofocus sensor, which should address one of the major complaints about the Galaxy S20 Ultra: focus issues.

The phablet’s camera array starts with a 108MP wide camera with an f/1.8 aperture, paired with a 12MP ultra-wide camera with a 120-degree field of view and f/2.2.12MP telephoto lens has a 5x optical zoom and up to 50x super-resolution zoom.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra-Cameras

The 108MP camera option may seem like overkill, but it is useful if you want to crop the photo at will later. This setting is best used outdoors, so make sure there is adequate ambient light.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s night mode is good, but not as bright or colorful as the iPhone 11 Pro.

The front 12MP selfie camera (f/2.2) has a 120-degree field of view, which will be useful for group selfies.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is designed with a fast 9ms response time for the S Pen to provide a more pen and paper feel when taking notes or drawing.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra-S Pen1

In addition, the S Pen offers five new Any where actions based on the Air actions of the Galaxy Note 10 series. These gestures can be used to return to the home screen, take a screenshot, return to recent apps, and more. However, it takes practice to be able to remember all the gesture-based Any where actions.

Other S Pen upgrades extend to the software side as well. The improved Samsung Notes app now includes Live Sync, allowing all notes to be stored in the cloud and accessed from any device.

Additionally, the Note 20 Ultra can time sync notes along with voice recordings so you can hear what was said as you jot down your thoughts.

I recorded a voice memo with the Samsung Memo app, and sure enough, when I played back the clip, I could see the words I had written highlighted.

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In addition, Samsung’s Memo app has a more PC-like file folder structure that makes it easier to find notes. The software can also straighten hand writing.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: DeX and Link to Windows

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is targeted at power users looking for increased productivity, and this model offers some major upgrades on that front.

Multitasking users will also appreciate the improved DeX experience; the DeX experience is now completely wireless, instead of using a cable or dock to connect to the monitor. Now, what is displayed on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s screen can be transferred to a compatible smart TV from across the room.

After a little tinkering, I was able to use wireless DeX mode on my 55″TCL Roku TV. After connecting to the TV, I was able to use the Note 20 Ultra’s screen as a touchpad to move the cursor on the display. The movements were a bit a wk ward, but I enjoyed being able to retrieve photos from the Google Photos app and display them on the big screen.

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Another important upgrade is Link to Windows integration, which allows you to access mobile apps on your Windows 10 PC via the Your Phone app. I was able to send and receive messages, make calls, and check notifications on my Galaxy Tab S laptop.

The fun really starts when you start running Android apps on your laptop. We tried several games, including Asphalt 9, and they ran more smoothly here than in DeX mode. Keyboard control actually worked well, but you can also use the laptop’s touch screen.

Some apps ran in full screen, but the Sky force shooter remained in a small window. According to Samsung, Link to Windows will eventually be able to run up to six mobile apps simultaneously on a PC. Last but not least, I can mirror the Galaxy Note 20interface directly to my Windows laptop and run apps from there. I had no problem launching Twitter and scrolling through the feed; you can’t do this on an iPhone.

Xbox Game Pass

Thanks to the power of Microsoft’s x Cloud game streaming, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can playover100 Xbox games via Xbox Game Pass (currently in beta), including Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4,”Minecraft Dungeons, and Halo: The Master Chief collection.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra-Xbox Game Pass

I tried a few rounds of Forza, and despite streaming via the cloud, the game play was surprisingly smooth using the PS4 controller. My only disappointment was that I had to wait a while for each game to load.

Battery life and charging

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a fairly powerful 4,500mAh battery, which was sufficient for daily use.

After unplugging at 9a.m., I used the Note 20 Ultra for a variety of apps: I watched “Umbrella Academy “on Netflix for over an hour, streamed Spotify for an hour and a half with the screen on, and played “Fortnite” for about 40 minutes. I also used Twitter for almost an hour, surfed the web and checked email.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra-Battery life1

Even after all that, I still had about 27%  juice left at 9pm. Not bad.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra battery life vs other phones
Row 0 – Cell 0Battery life (hrs:minutes)Battery size
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (60Hz/120Hz)10:26/7:594,500 mAh
OnePlus 8 Pro (60Hz/120Hz)11:05/9:024,510 mAh
Galaxy S20 Ultra (60Hz/120Hz)11:58/9:135,000 mAh
Galaxy S20 Plus (60Hz/120Hz)10:31/8:554,500 mAh
iPhone 11 Pro Max11:543,969 mAh
iPhone 1111:163,190 mAh
Galaxy Note 10 Plus10:474,300 mAh
Google Pixel 4a8:553,140 mAh

In a battery test for Tom’s Guide, it with stood 10 hours and 26 minutes of continuous web surfing at 5G with150 nits screen brightness. In this case, it used T-Mobile’s network, with 60Hz screen mode turned on; with120Hz screen mode turned on, it lasted only 7minutes 59 seconds.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra-Battery life2

In contrast, the Galaxy S20 Plus, with its 4,500mAh battery, lasted 10 hours 31 minutes and 8minutes 55 seconds in 120Hz mode; the OnePlus 8 Pro lasted 11 hours 5 minutes in 60Hz mode and 9 minutes 2 seconds in 120Hz mode. All of the handsets on the best hand set battery life list lasted more than10 hours.

In contrast, the Galaxy S20 Plus, with its 4,500mAh battery, lasted 10 hours 31 minutes and 8minutes 55 seconds in 120Hz mode; the OnePlus 8 Pro lasted 11 hours5 minutes in 60Hz mode and 9minutes 2 seconds in 120Hz mode. All of the handsets on the best hand set battery life list lasted more than10 hours.

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The Note 20 Ultra came with a 25-watt charger, which charged the battery to 56% in 30 minutes. This is good, but not as good as the OnePlus 8 Pro’s 63% in the same amount of time.

The Note 20 Ultra came with a 25-watt charger, which charged the battery to 56% in 30 minutes. This is good, but not as good as the OnePlus 8 Pro’s 63% in the same amount of time.


The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is almost the pinnacle of Android phablets. It offers a best-in-class display, a better S Pen experience, and a wealth of features for work and play. The camera is very good, solving the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s focusing problems, and the powerful zoom and Xbox game play give the Note 20 Ultra some advantages over the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

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