Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review

Early Decision

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is big, vibrant and brash. It features almost every top-end spec you might want on a premium smart device, and going on first impressions it looks efficient in taking on the cream of the Android crop and Apple’s best iPhones, although we’ll need to evaluate it better to see if it meets our expectations.


  • Top of the line specifications.
  • Strong style.


  • Big for the hand.
  • Unusually dated ‘quickly’ charging tech.

The brand-new Galaxy Note 20 Ultra isn’t any bigger than Samsung’s top phone from 6 months ago, but it might be wholly better, with a big 6.9-inch screen, feature-packed stylus and high-grade specifications. Of course, you’ll require a huge hand and deep pockets to accept Samsung’s new best.

Unusually, the Note 20 Ultra feels like more of a brother or sister of the Galaxy S20 Ultra than of the Galaxy Note 20, which was released alongside it at Samsung’s virtual Unpacked occasion. The standard Note 20 is an extremely lower-specced version of the Note 20 Ultra, while the Galaxy S20 Ultra is similar in regards to both specifications and size.

We’ve had some quick hands-on time with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and here are our early thoughts.

  • Also take a look at our hands-on Samsung Galaxy Note 20 evaluation
  • And our Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 first appearance
  • Here’s our hands-on Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 review
  • Read our hands-on Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus evaluation
  • Don’t miss our hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review

Want to hear everything about Samsung’s Unpacked? These are the highlights of the Note 20 launch:

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra release date and rate

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

( Image credit: TechRadar)

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was unveiled on Wednesday, August 5 at the business’s virtual Galaxy Unpacked event, alongside the brand-new Galaxy Note 20 and a variety of other devices, including the Galaxy Watch 3.

You’ll be able to pre-order the phone right now in the UK, and at midnight on August 6 in the United States. The main Galaxy Note 20 Ultra release date is Friday, August21 Australia’s pre-order date is yet to be validated.

The ‘most inexpensive’ version of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra costs $1,299/ ₤ 1,179/ AU$ 1,849, and in the United States that gets you 128 GB of internal storage, while the UK and Australia base model has 256 GB of storage, both with 12 GB of RAM.

There’s a variant with 512 GB of storage that costs $1,449/ ₤ 1,279/ AU$ 2,199 In Australia, there’s likewise a 4G-only variation of the phone that costs AU$ 1,849 but you can’t purchase that in the UK or US.

Whichever version you’re looking at, those are remarkable amounts of money to pay for a smart device, and you’ll wish to seriously think about whether you need whatever the Note 20 Ultra offers prior to investing in it. The new Galaxy Note 20 is substantially less expensive, however, as we’ve discussed, it comes with lesser specifications throughout the board.

Design and display

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the sort of gadget that makes you sit back and wonder if phones truly need to be this huge. It has a 6.9-inch screen, and you’ll be grateful to know that the front of the device is pretty much all screen, so that’s almost the overall size of the handset too.

The screen itself is beautifully bright, with a Quad HD resolution of 3088 x 1440 and curved edges at the sides. The only intrusion is the smallest punch-hole we have actually seen in the top of the screen to house the selfie electronic camera.

Samsung galaxy Note 20 Ultra

( Image credit: TechRadar)

The display screen has a 120 Hz optimum refresh rate. That indicates the screen will revitalize quicker than your older phone to give you a smoother picture, whether you’re seeing a film, playing video games or simply scrolling your social networks feeds.

The refresh rate is adjusted dynamically depending on what you’re doing, so your phone will decide when to max out at 120 Hz, and when to dial the refresh rate back in order to save battery.

The example Samsung provided us was that when you’re video gaming the phone will offer you the full 120 Hz, but if you read a web page or an ebook it will drop it down to a lower Hz, and you shouldn’t even observe the switch in between apps.

We weren’t able to explore this feature much during our limited hands-on time with the phone, but Samsung ensures us that you can switch the dynamic setting off if you do not like the idea. However, you still can’t use 120 Hz mode with the QuadHD resolution, which is going to dissatisfy anyone who wants the very best of the very best.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a big gadget that will need using both hands at many times, even if your hands are fairly big.

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Samsung galaxy Note 20 Ultra

( Image credit: TechRadar)

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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

( Image credit: TechRadar)

The S Pen stylus is housed on the left-hand side of the Note 20’s bottom edge. That’s a switch from the right on more recent Note phones, so if you have actually been using one of those you might discover that muscle memory has you reaching for the wrong side to pull the stylus out.

Samsung has brought a few minor enhancements to the S Pen for the Note 20 series, and these include extra gestures for managing specific functions, along with an enhanced latency and a nib that must allow you to write more precisely and rapidly.

The rear of the phone is made of glass, which feels more exceptional than the ‘Glasstic’ (actually: Polycarbonate) material used on the Galaxy Note 20, and the edges of the device are aluminum. If you’ve used a current Galaxy Note device you’ll find that these edges are a little less rounded than in the past, but the device still fits comfortably in your hands with a little stretch.

Samsung galaxy Note 20 Ultra

( Image credit: TechRadar)

As on other recent Galaxy gadgets, the fingerprint scanner is embedded inside the display, and it’s great to have both this and Face Unlock. As with the majority of things, you may require to utilize two hands to reach that embedded finger print sensor conveniently. The gadget is IP68 water and dust resistant, so it ought to have the ability to make it through the odd splash of liquid.

You’ve got the choice of three colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black and Mystic White. Our preferred is the first in that list– the copper-like bronze hue you can see above– however if you’re looking for a more subdued shade you may want to choose one of the other 2.

Cam and battery

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

( Image credit: TechRadar)

Just like most recent Samsung phones, the rear variety comprises three cams. This time, it’s a 108 MP f/1.8 primary cam, 12 MP f/3.0 telephoto and a 12 MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, which on paper sounds less remarkable than the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

In our restricted screening, the Note 20 Ultra appeared to offer comparable image quality to the Galaxy S20 Ultra, albeit without the 100 x ‘Area Zoom’ and with a somewhat broader telephoto aperture. We still have a 50 x ‘Area Zoom’ which is where the usefulness and quality bar of the S20 Ultra cut off anyhow.

We’ll be evaluating the cams far more extensively for our full review and determining if the Stage Detection Autofocus (PDAF) does along with the Note 20’s Double Pixel Autofocus, so make sure to inspect back for our considered decision.

On the front of the phone is a 10 MP selfie camera, comparable to the front cam on the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus, and we got great images out of those two phones. Of course, on the Note, you can set off selfies from another location with the S Pen, which is a perk for some people.

The Note 20 Ultra is packing a 4,500 mAh battery, which we suspect will see you through a full day from a single charge, although again we’ll need to do additional testing to see exactly how it performs.

An oddity here is that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra just supports 25 W quick charging. That should see your gadget charge rapidly, but it’s not as fast as the 45 W charging we saw on the Galaxy S20 Ultra and Note 10 Plus. Rather, Samsung has selected the older tech utilized on phones like the Galaxy S20

It’s not likely to be harmful to your experience with the Note 20 Ultra, however it’s an odd peculiarity given that Samsung has maxed-out the specifications in many other locations– and when you’re paying leading dollar for a phone you could be forgiven for feeling a little short-changed.

Efficiency and software application

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

( Image credit: TechRadar)

Running the program on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset or a Exynos 990; which processor you get depends where you are, with US versions of the phone utilizing the Qualcomm, while the UK and other markets get the Exynos variation.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is 5G all the way in the United States and UK, so you won’t be able to get a variation of this phone that only has 4G connection.

Early verdict

The Note line has actually constantly been associated with the best Samsung has to offer, and Ultra is a fitting name for the business’s most effective and feature-packed Note phone.

What is a hands on evaluation?

Hands on evaluations’ are a reporter’s very first impressions of a piece of package based on spending some time with it. The crucial thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can provide you some sense of what it’s like to use, even if it’s just an embryonic view.


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