Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review: a colossus with feet of clay

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
Author and references

With this Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Samsung flexes the muscles and incorporates all that it does best. Latest generation processor, 120-inch 6,9 Hz screen and of course the stylus. Everything is there to make this smartphone a must...at least in theory. And in practice?

Presentation

Despite the global pandemic, Samsung did not want to postpone the launch of its new flagships. Here are the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. Marketed on August 21, the mobiles are presented as simple improvements to the formula that we knew. It is the more imposing of the two that we are testing here. We are therefore facing an imposing Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, 16,5 cm high and armed with a stylus.



Skinny are the novelties in this flagship, which retains an Exynos chip in its innards; Samsung still refusing to ship Snapdragon chips in its high-end European. A regrettable choice as Samsung's "house" chips are known to be less optimized, whether in terms of performance or autonomy.


The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and its stylus.



Launched at €1, the Galaxy Note 309 Ultra faces the crème de la crème, be it the iPhone 20 Pro Max, the Huawei P11 Pro but also its brother, the Galaxy S40 Ultra.

Ergonomics and design

For the design of this Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Samsung continues the momentum of the Note 10. We therefore find a curved screen occupying 86,5% of the front and incorporating a central punch. The feeling of holding only one slab in the palm of your hand is back, and it remains very pleasant. It is therefore a very aesthetic front. However, difficult to obtain an identical consensus concerning the back.


The glass back of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra



The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has one of the most imposing photo islands. A real protuberance, it makes the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra wobbly. Otherwise, the glass back is the most beautiful effect. It does not retain fingerprints and also has nice reflections.


The protrusion of the photo island of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

On its lower edge, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra houses its famous S-Pen stylus. If it has not changed physically, it is now housed on the left side of the mobile. Samsung also ensures that the latency between the movements and the transcription on the screen goes to 9 ms.


The imposing Galaxy Note 20 Ultra in hand

In hand, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra manages to remain pleasant, despite XXL dimensions (164,8 x 77,2 x 8,1 mm) and a notable weight (208 g). The side buttons, positioned on the right edge, are accessible, although a little high. For its part, the fingerprint sensor under the screen is fast and precise. Finally, the stylus seems safe in its sheath and is easy to handle once out.




The hallmark of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offers a port dedicated to a nano SIM card as well as a second, hybrid, which can be transformed into a microSD port. Finally, in good top of the range, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is IP68 certified; it is therefore waterproof.

Audio

Unfortunately, and like last year's model, the terminal does not have a 3,5 mm mini-jack connection or a USB-C to mini-jack adapter. This shortcoming costs him a star in this part devoted to ergonomics. Samsung forces us to go through its supplied USB-C headphones or to fall back on any wireless headphones. Regrettable for a smartphone of this size.


The lower edge of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with the sleeve for the stylus

Screen

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a 6,9-inch Oled panel displaying in 1 x 440 px for a resolution of 3 dpi. Unfortunately, to achieve such quality, you will have to give up 088 Hz. Indeed, the Galaxy Note 496 Ultra panel is only able to go up to WQHD + at 120 Hz. To take advantage of a faster refresh rate, it will be necessary to be satisfied with a display in FHD + (20 x 60 px) for a resolution of 2 dpi.

Mean Delta E colorimetry = 3,7

Besides that, the panel of this Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is well calibrated. However, it is necessary to make a slight detour through the settings of the mobile to take full advantage of it. So, by going to the settings, select "screen" and then "screen mode". Once in this menu, choose the "natural" profile. This done, you will get a color temperature of 6K, extremely close to the 596K expected by the video standard. Unfortunately, the average delta E is not as excellent. Positioned at 6, it shows slight chromatic shifts visible to the naked eye. This is the only thing we can fault this screen, as big as it is excellent. Oled obliges, the contrast ratio tends for its part towards infinity. Overall, this is a more than relevant screen for consuming video content in good conditions.

In terms of performance, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra panel is very satisfactory. Able to climb up to 978 cd / m², it properly limits reflections (50,9%). Excellent performance to ensure exemplary readability, even in direct sunlight. In the dark, the screen is able to go down to 1,9 cd / m², which is low enough not to dazzle in the dark. Finally, the tactile delay (52 ms) and zero afterglow time (Oled requires) are excellent.

performances

In Europe, Samsung insists on delivering its top-of-the-range models with its in-house chips. A choice still regrettable as it has been proven that the versions equipped with Snapdragon chips (delivered to the USA) are better. It will therefore be necessary to do here with an Exynos 990 chip and 12 GB of RAM. Unsurprisingly, the results are mixed. With an overall index of 89, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is just a little more powerful than the Galaxy Note 10+ (88), but less than the Galaxy S20 (89) and S20 Ultra (91).

On closer inspection, Samsung is not really making progress in its software optimization. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offers a multitasking index of 99. In other words, it allows you to juggle between applications extremely fluidly. It is in the game that things get complicated. The smartphone only reaches an index of 77, well below what is expected of a flagship of this scale.

This Galaxy Note 20 Ultra does have a "Performance" mode, but it only slightly improves the speed of the mobile. He thus goes to an overall index of 89 thanks to a slight, but not sufficient, improvement in play (79).

Our performance tests are carried out with viSer, the application developed by the company SmartViser.

Photo

At Samsung, it is claimed that the photo is the business of the Galaxy S. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is thus less ambitious than the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Here, no 100x zoom, you will have to settle for a 50x, digital of course and based on a 5x periscope module. By its side, the Korean manufacturer has however retained the main module, at 108 Mpx. Finally, a third ultra-wide-angle module completes the imposing photo unit.

MODULE PRINCIPAL ULTRA WIDE-ANGLE 5X TELEPHOTO LENS
108 Mpx 12 Mpx 12 Mpx
f / 1,8 f / 2,2 f / 3,0
eq. 26mm eq. 13mm eq. 120mm


The photo modules on the back of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Module principal : 108 Mpx, f/1,8, éq. 26 mm

As on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, Samsung has decided to integrate a 108 Mpx sensor on its Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Without specifying if it is the same, it is just as efficient and capable of capturing images in two different definitions. By default, it will shoot in 12 Mpx, thanks to the pixel binning technique. This merges several photosites, here 9, in order to capture more light. The theory therefore is that this process improves night shots. To take 108 Mpx photos, just change the format in the photo application. Samsung has made the maneuver very accessible and the mobile follows perfectly. Thus, no slowdowns in 108 Mpx, it is at least one thing that the Exynos 990 chip succeeds brilliantly.

Huawei P40 Pro+ (eq. 23 mm, f/1,9, ISO 50, 1/115)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 26 mm, f/1,8, ISO 80, 1/100)
enlarge

Let's start by taking a look at the 12 MP shots. By day, the results are excellent, but not yet perfect. The sharpness is present, the exposure is correct and the colors are well represented. However, a slight image processing smooths the image and forces the contrasts.

Huawei P40 Pro+ (eq. 23 mm, f/1,9, ISO 1600, 1/10)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 26 mm, f/1,8, ISO 640, 1/14)
enlarge

At night, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra also delivers very good results. The whole is perfectly readable and detailed. Still, the image processing slightly smoothes the image.

Mode 108 Mpx

Let's now compare the shots in 12 and 108 Mpx. Inevitably, the difference is glaring. By increasing the definition of the photo, the sharpness is increased tenfold. The most impressive remains on the periphery, where the amount of detail remains excellent. Unfortunately, the image processing persists and the contrast remains a little too forced. This gives overall very good shots, but less convincing than those of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, where the rendering was much more natural.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (108 Mpx, eq. 26 mm, f / 1,8, ISO 50, 1/60 s)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 26 mm, f / 1,8, ISO 80, 1/100 s)
enlarge

And this famous image processing is revealed even more at night. If the image remains perfectly readable from the center to the periphery, we note a clearly visible electronic noise and a slight tendency to turn towards red.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (108 Mpx, eq. 26 mm, f / 1,8, ISO 1 250, 1/24 s)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 26 mm, f / 1,8, ISO 640, 1/14 s)
enlarge

Night mode

Finally, the main module of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra does have a night mode. This one is rather discreet. The greatly extended exposure time allows Samsung to reduce image processing, for a slightly more realistic rendering.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (Mode nuit, 12 Mpx, eq. 26 mm, f/1,8, ISO 200, 1/4 s)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 26 mm, f / 1,8, ISO 640, 1/14 s)
enlarge

Module ultra grand-angle: 12 Mpx, f / 2,2, éq. 13 mm

The ultra wide-angle module of this Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is good without shining. By day, the shots are readable, but overexposed and slightly blurry.

Huawei P40 Pro+ (eq. 18 mm, f/1,8, ISO 125, 1/100 s)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 13 mm, f / 2,2, ISO 64, 1/50 s)
enlarge

At night, the image processing smoothes the whole and drowns out the colors at the same time as the sharpness. We are a long way from the excellent performance of the Huawei P40 Pro+.

Huawei P40 Pro+ (eq. 18 mm, f/1,8, ISO 4000, 1/15 s)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 13 mm, f / 2,2, ISO 2 000, 1/25 s)
enlarge

5x telephoto module: 8 MP, f/2,2, eq. 13mm

By day, the 5x telephoto module of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is relevant. It offers a readable, detailed and convincing rendering. The image processing is there, but the whole remains convincing, especially for such a module.

Huawei P40 Pro+ (3x, eq. 80 mm, f/2,4, ISO 64, 1/50 s)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 120 mm, f / 3, ISO 100, 1/50 s)
enlarge

At night, however, this module collapses. Electronic noise is multiplied, while readability is reduced. Little chance of having a usable photo under these conditions.

Huawei P40 Pro+ (3x, eq. 80 mm, f/2,4, ISO 2500, 1/15)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 120 mm, f/3, ISO 800, 1/5)
enlarge

Front module, video and portrait mode

At the front, Samsung has integrated a module equipped with a 10 Mpx sensor and a lens opening at f / 2,2 to act as a selfie machine. It turns out to be very well made. The sharpness is part of it, the management of the backlight is suitable and the whole is satisfactory. In the same way, the portrait mode, whether carried out with the front or rear module, remains excellent. Even the curly hair is properly cut, and it's quite nice. Finally, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can film in 8K. A performance that he manages to achieve without too many problems, apart from the appearance of a grain on the image.

Autonomy

As on the performance side, the autonomy of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is penalized by an Exynos 990 chip still as poorly optimized. Especially since by default, the mobile displays in FHD + (2 x 316 px) and in adaptive mode, navigating between 1 and 080 Hz. Under these conditions, the flagship only lasted 60:120 p.m., facing our autonomy protocol. It is not uncommon to see the battery percentages drop visibly. A quarter of an hour of gaming or 13K video requires more than 30% energy... To estimate the impact of 4 Hz on battery life, we then reduced the refresh rate. Result, the Galaxy Note 10 Ultra, in 120 Hz and FHD +, only lasts an additional half hour, or 20 h 60 min. Not enough to raise the bar then.

With the 25W charger, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra charges in 1h15. A short time but far from being the most impressive.

The results obtained with viSer come from measurements carried out in real conditions of use (calls, SMS, videos, launching of applications, web browsing, etc.).

Sustainability

Our sustainability score helps determine the sustainable aspect of the smartphone for both the consumer and the environment. It is based on the repairability index, durability criteria (protection index, standard connectors, warranty period and updates, etc.) and an assessment of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies. . You will find all the details of the analysis in our article presenting the sustainability score.

Highlights

  • Excellent finishes.

  • Stylus still as precise.

  • Nice screen.

  • Very good day photo modules.

  • IP68 certification (waterproof).

Weak points

  • Disappointing performance.

  • Ultra-light autonomy.

  • Charging slower than the competition.

  • Bad secondary photo modules at night.

  • No mini-jack or USB-C to mini-jack adapter.

Conclusion

Note globale

It's hard to present the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as the flagship of flagships. Expected as an irreproachable version, the latest Korean iteration disappoints and stumbles on important points. Thus, its autonomy is very disappointing and its performance is far from excellent. Ironic for a mobile that asserts ambitions in terms of productivity. So yes, it is still a very good smartphone which also has excellent finishes, a very nice 120 Hz Oled screen and which delivers very good photos. But in an increasingly competitive market, this is no longer enough to stand out. Its format and its screen become the norm and equivalent shots are offered by other manufacturers. Disappointing, especially a few months after a Galaxy S20 Ultra which was flawless. We would therefore advise you to turn to it, or to the more balanced Oppo Find X2 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro... unless you are driven by an irrepressible desire for a stylus.

Sub Notes
  • Ergonomics and design
  • Screen
  • performances
  • Photo
  • Autonomy
  • Sustainability
Read more
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