Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Review: Shooting for the Moon

The Best S20 in the Galaxy?

Before the coronavirus would run rampant across the globe, the folks over at Samsung were able to launch their S series devices. While we’ve all come to expect them to offer their best with each flagship release, there was a fair bit of head-scratching in the tech community with one of the variants of the S20 series — the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with the so-called “best” that Sammy has to offer so it’s time to share my experience with this device.

Pro

  • A Brilliant Display with High Refresh Rate
  • The Best Speakers on a Flagship

Cons

  • Space Zoom is a Novelty
  • Too Big for Comfort

Big Isn’t Always Better

I think there’s a general agreement in the entire tech community that the Galaxy S20 Ultra is huge. As far as I can remember, this is probably the biggest smartphone I’ve ever used in the last couple of years that isn’t in the Folding Phone category. This makes the Ultra a definite two-hander when being used and a no-go if you’re a fan of skinny jeans unless you bring a bag with you all the time.

To be fair, it does have all the right curves to mitigate some of its size and make the experience of handling the phone better but its sheer size will be an obstacle for some and that’s coming from someone who’s larger than the average Filipino.

Don’t even get me started on the camera bump because I’m really not a fan of this new trend but that’s really more subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all.

Display and Audio Gets a Thumbs Up

One of the things that I always look forward to when getting my hands on a Samsung device is the audio/visual experience because they do make some of the best displays available on any smartphone and they sound good too.

This year they’ve doubled up on the refresh rate to give you 120Hz versus the regular 60Hz and it’s really hard to put the experience into words aside from the usual “it makes animations look smoother and faster”. This is something that you’re going to have to try out in one of their concept stores when the whole global health crisis is over (but sanitize the device even then just to be sure and don’t touch your face until you wash your hands to be safe).

As a refresher, you’re getting a 6.9-inch WQHD Dynamic Super AMOLED Display with the S20 Ultra. You’ve got the usual pop and vibrance to colors to the display that really makes watching videos on their smartphones enjoyable enough to binge entire seasons of your favorite K-Drama or Anime.

The dual speaker system of the S20 Ultra also gives off really great audio with just enough volume for when you want to share with friends and family without compromise to sound quality. Sadly though, no headphone jack so, hopefully, you would have invested in a good pair of wireless earphones.

The Exynos 990 Gets the Job Done

While I know that most of you reading this would have preferred getting the Snapdragon-equipped Samsung flagships, you still shouldn’t sleep on their current flagship SoC at least on the Ultra. Whether at work or at play, it does get the job done and it does it well.

I’ve never been left wanting for more processing power when I choose to work on my smartphone or for when I just want to bust out a quick game or two to pass the time while we’re on enhanced community quarantine. We have been hearing things about overheating with this particular processor and have experienced it on the base model of the S20 series but didn’t really notice it on the Ultra.

Battery life will be a little different depending on the variables of your display settings but I’ve kept it mostly on the Full HD+ and the standard 60Hz for the most part and I was able to get about a day to a day and a half when we were still able to move around the Metro. This gets reduced to almost a full day when I have it cranked to 120Hz though, which is to be expected but still isn’t too bad given the battery capacity of the S20 Ultra that sits at 5000mAh.

All the Bells and Whistles for the Cameras

The highlight for the S20 Ultra has got to be its camera setup, it is pretty hard to miss after all. This is led by its 108-megapixel main camera with the rest of the gang at 48MP for the telephoto, 12MP for the ultra-wide, and a Time-of-Flight sensor for good measure.

Disclaimer: Some of these photos were taken before the Enhanced Community Quarantine. Stay home if you can, guys!

While I am generally happy with the photos I was able to get with the cameras when it came to the dynamic range and sharpness of its captures, I did see a lot of post-processing happening even if I had scene recognition turned off. They somehow up the saturation a little bit as well, which would be nice for posting immediately but I would much rather have the room for tweaks if I wanted to before uploading to Instagram. The addition that I did love on the new Samsung flagship phones though is Single Shot. It really gives you a breadth of options for posting on your social media feeds.

In low-light, I kept Night Mode off for the most part since I did like the output without the feature on better but at least it is there when you want a little bit to brighten up your cityscapes taken at night. Samsung has a fair bit of work to do in this department.

You do have of course the 100x Space Zoom but it’s not something I’d really use outside of this review on a regular basis. It’s a novel feature to have but not really a must.

Verdict: Went Hard for the Specs Race

Is the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra the best that Samsung currently has to offer? In terms of all the features and hardware that they packed in this massive smartphone, that’s a resounding yes. The S20 Ultra has one of the best displays around, the best processor that they currently produce, and all the camera features you could hope for with an extremely high megapixel count to boot.

Is it a flagship we recommend? Yes and no. If you’re looking to get great value from your next flagship buy and it absolutely has to be a Sammy, then I would suggest looking at the S20 or S20 Plus instead. It pretty much ticks everything in the box that the S20 Ultra has minus some of the more novel features.

If you want all the bells and whistles Samsung currently has to offer, then the S20 Ultra is definitely for you.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is priced at Php 69,990 but just like any flagship smartphone though, we do suggest getting it through your local telco of choice. 

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