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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Hands-on, Quick Review: The Note You Should Get

Sammy's top-tier flagship is the one that matters

Samsung’s officially announced two new flagships under the Galaxy Note lineup, but unlike their Galaxy S series, only one of the two phones deserves your money.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the very best that Samsung has to offer, and should be the model you get if you’re a long-time Samsung fan or just want to upgrade to a top-tier flagship.

As tempting as Note 20 is considering the price difference, you should forget that it exists, at least if the cost isn’t being subsidized by a telco. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is where it’s at, and should be what you spend your cash on.

Samsung at its best

Despite a few misses now and again, Samsung has been more or less churning out gorgeous models every time they announce their new flagships.

This year is no exception, and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is probably the nicest phone Samsung has made so far, refining design elements from the Galaxy S20 in a way that makes for a better-looking phone.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra uses a glass and metal sandwich design as most other flagships nowadays, though it’s the first to use Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus, which has both increased scratch and drop resistance making the phone much tougher as a result.

Samsung’s re-used that polarizing, rectangular, protruding camera module that we saw in the Galaxy S20 Ultra for the Note 20 Ultra, with a few design changes.

While it’s almost as large as the one in the S20 Ultra, it doesn’t look as ungainly, though it’s still pretty humongous and still takes up a lot of space on the rear of the phone.

The rear and front glass curve aggressively into the aluminum frame of the device, which alleviates its size somewhat. Don’t be fooled though – the phone’s size means it’s still a literal handful for people with smaller hands, which has been par for the course for the series for a long while.

Samsung’s also moved things around a little bit with the Note 20 Ultra, shifting the S Pen from the right side of the phone to the left side. People who are shifting to the Note series won’t have a problem with this, but long time Note users will definitely be annoyed at the sudden change. As if to make up for this, Samsung has moved the power and volume rocker to the right side of the phone. Like most Samsung flagships nowadays, there’s no 3.5mm jack, and the phone is IP68 rated against water and dust ingress.

Samsung’s a master when it comes to producing displays (and is frequently tapped by other companies to make displays for their phones) so it’s not surprising that the Note 20 Ultra has one of the best-looking panels we’ve seen this year.

The Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is 6.9-inches big, has a Quad HD+ resolution (3088×1440, 496 ppi), is HDR10+ certified and has a 120Hz refresh rate. It’s one of the best displays we’ve ever laid our eyes on so far this year, and that’s saying something.

There’s still a small cut-out at the top of the panel that houses the 10-megapixel selfie camera.

Talking about the camera, the Note 20 Ultra has a triple camera setup this time around and tosses the ToF camera found on the Galaxy S20 Ultra in favor of a laser autofocus system.

There’s a lot of overlap with the camera system on the Note 20 Ultra with Samsung’s earlier flagship: the 108-megapixel shooter for one is pretty much identical compared to the Galaxy S20 Ultra. So is the ultra-wide 12-megapixel camera.

The big change here is the new 12-megapixel telephoto camera that has a native optical zoom of 5x, with an f/3.0 aperture lens. Zoom tops out now at 50x for Samsung’s Space Zoom, half of what the Galaxy S20 Ultra is capable of.

Nothing stirs controversy for Samsung more than its continued decision to use its own Exynos 990 chips for its flagships, which many people feel is a downgrade from the Snapdragon 865+ that powers the US version of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Qualcomm’s new top-tier chipset has a significant performance lead VS Samsung’s homegrown processor in benchmarks, though the company is still confident in its own solution for now.

For the Philippine variant of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Samsung is offering the phone with 8GB of RAM for the LTE only variant, and 12GB of RAM for the 5G variant.

Both variants will have 256GB of storage, along with a microSD expansion option that’s not present on the smaller Galaxy Note 20.

As for the battery, the phone will have 4,500mAh worth, and the device has fast charging tech that allows it to be charged to 50% in just 30 minutes. It still has fast wireless charging as well as reverse wireless charging capabilities as well.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is priced fat Php 67,990 for the LTE model, and Php 72,990 for the 5G model.

Read more about the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra in our coverage:

Smart Announces Signature Plans for Galaxy Note 20 Series

Smart Announces Signature Plans for Galaxy Note 20 Series

Smart Announces Signature Plans for Galaxy Note 20 Series

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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