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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G review: Best Android phone, now with a lot extra

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Review: Priced upwards of Rs 1,04,999, this is a perfect upgrade for those on Note phones older than the Note 9 and welcome change for those who have been hooked to the S series for long.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Rs. 1,04,999
Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Updated: August 18, 2020 9:04:02 pm
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I have always maintained that the Samsung Galaxy Note series is the most effective Android phone. In fact, in one way it is still an unparalleled phone, a stylus ahead of anything any other company has to offer. So it also becomes tougher to improve on a device that is already this good. Plus, the expectations at this end of the product spectrum will also be higher, and only something spectacular will get noticed on a device that is already pretty good. And that is the weight the new Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is carrying on its rather broad shoulders.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G specs: 6.9 inches Dynamic AMOLED 2X (1440 x 3088 pixels, ~496 ppi density) + 120Hz | Octacore Exynos 990 + Mali-G77 MP11 | 12GB RAM + upto 512GB internal storage | 108 MP f/1.8, 26mm (wide) + 12 MP, f/3.0, 120mm (periscope telephoto) + 12 MP, f/2.2, 120˚, 13mm (ultrawide) + 10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide) selfie camera | 4500 mAh with 25W fast charging | 208 g | Android 10, One UI 2.5

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G price in India: ₹ 104,999.00

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G: What is new

The black and grey person that I am, it is tough to impress me with the colour of products. Yeah, that is rather dark, but that is also the boring person I am. But then, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is one phone that had me intrigued with its colours, more so because everything Samsung showcased that day from this phone to the earphones have that same bronze finish that is both unique and classy at the same time. Samsung is clearly on to something here, and this could well emerge as a selling point for the phone. This is nothing new for Samsung. Many years ago it had Indian drooling over its gold-finished flagships.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is one phone that had me intrigued with its colours. (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

While the design of most of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is exactly the same as before, there is one change and it is a big one. To say the camera bump — necessity by the 5x optical zoom — on this phone is big will be an understatement. It is that one slab jutting out on the footpath, but also a signature design feature people will notice from the other side of the hallway. Don’t be surprised if even this becomes a reason people want to buy this phone with its three prominent lens circles.

The Samsung phone has three cameras at play. (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is, by all means, large phone and this is something you have to keep in mind before buying this phone. With small hands, you will struggle to catch up to the 6.9-inch display, quite literally, and should settle for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 which is also big for most people’s needs. However, the curved edges offer a good grip for those who can wrap their hands around this phablet. And for those who are going to make good use of the stylus to let their creative juices flow, this extra real estate will be something that gives them a clear edge.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G: What is good

There are a few reasons one will opt for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G. For me, they will be an uncompromising performance, the 120Hz display, the versatility of the camera, multi-day battery life and the best stylus money can buy. I don’t have to say much about how good a Samsung display is. This time, I just need to say it comes with a 120Hz refresh rate too adding more smoothness to the S-Pen among other things.

But the best thing for me in Note 20 Ultra is still the S-Pen. In fact, watching the launch I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t much new coming to the S-Pen, the most unique feature of this phone for the past many years. However, I was wrong and it took me just the first scribble of the S-Pen to realise that. While Samsung does not seem to have changed the S-Pen as such, what it has done is to improve the software to give a near lifelike experience while using this stylus. Samsung achieves this by offering slight feedback and sound of carbon, or nib, on paper. A small tweak, but it has a huge impact on the experience of using the S-Pen.

The best thing for me in Note 20 Ultra is still the S-Pen. (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

The other big thing is the camera, literally as I mentioned before. There are three cameras at play here. The main camera is 108MP with an f/1.8 and 26mm wide angle and does a great job of your regular photos by offering superbly vivid colours and great performance in low light. On the Note 20 Ultra screen the photos pop out, and impact that you seldom get on other phones. Then there is the 12MP, f/2.2, 120˚, 13mm ultrawide which tries to fit in more than you would expect and does a good job of it, even in low light.

The main camera is 108MP with an f/1.8 and 26mm wide angle and does a great job of your regular photos. (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

But the camera that had me intrigues the most was the 12MP, f/3.0, 120mm periscope telephoto lens on this phone. With this, Note 20 can achieve a 5x optical zoom and a 50x hybrid zoom. The 5x optical zoom is great and good enough to compete with what any point and shoot can offer. As you zoom in further and enter the realm of digital from optical, the noise does creep in. However, till about 20x the results are quite good.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra camera sample in digital zoom. (Express photo by Nandagopal Rajan) Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra camera sample (Express photo by Nandagopal Rajan) Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra camera sample (Express photo by Nandagopal Rajan) Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra camera sample (Express photo by Nandagopal Rajan)

At 50x, you are there up close and personal with the subject, but the image quality is not that great.

50x zoom camera sample has some noise. (Express photo by Nandagopal Rajan)

But the 50x, is still a stunner as you can see things the naked eye cannot and this is almost like a binocular in that sense.

Though in the video you can manage only 20x, with the zoom, I managed some shots I never imagined I could click on a smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra camera sample (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

Also, there are fun features like Single Shot which lets you use all the camera featured in a single click, giving you a collection of images and clips in a few seconds. Plus, the video camera capabilities of the Note 20 make it good enough to become the camera of choice for more television channels and maybe even short filmmakers thanks to the 8K video recording capabilities.

Performance has never really been an issue with any Note series phone. The same is the case with the Note 20, making it an ideal phone for Android power users. Also, by buying the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G you are future proofing yourself for whenever India decides to move to the next generation networks — remember, at this price you are going to be using the Note 20 for a couple of years at least.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a 4500mAh battery which lasted me a day and a half with regular use, and that includes consuming Facebook Watch videos before bed, which I know for a fact drains battery real fast.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a flawless phone in many ways. (Express photo: Nandagopal Rajan)

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G: Things to keep in mind

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a flawless phone in many ways and in a couple of weeks I used it, there were no red flags. But the size of this phone is overwhelming and if you are unsure about using large phones, try holding this at a retail shop before committing yourself. Also, while consuming videos, I noticed slight heating in some edges — not across the device. Though nothing alarming, this is something that might need a software update to fix.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G: Who should buy

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is a perfect upgrade for those on Note phones older than the Note 9 and welcome change for those who have been hooked to the S series for long. But given the price, this is a phone for power users and I don’t see why casual customers should even look this way. No other phone can offer you a stylus to improve your work and creativity and that itself makes this the best Android phone in my books — I have said that almost every year for many years now. Go ahead and buy this if you want to outperform yourself with the 50x zoom, 6.9-inch screen and, of course, the S-Pen.

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