A month ago, I could step outside my home and walk in the park. I was travelling for work, meeting new people and attending press conferences. Work from home was a rare one-day affair in the time of emergency. Now, my life has changed thanks to the coronavirus and the lockdown to keep it out. Although work hasn’t suffered much, the nationwide lockdown has had me rethinking how I review devices.
With the entire country under lockdown, there’s no way I could go outside and test a smartphone as high profile as the Galaxy S20 Ultra. This is a phone is priced at Rs 97,900 and features a camera that can go up to 100x zoom, a 6.9-inch 120Hz display, and a huge 5000mAh battery.
Like I do with every test device, I had envisioned how I am going to review the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which places I will cover in Delhi-NCR to test the 108MP camera, and so on. But then I was left with the phone and my house to review the camera. Also, this will be one of the first reviews I do of a phone which the readers won’t be able to buy right away, neither offline nor online. They will have to wait for things to get back to normal.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra specifications: 6.9-inches 3200×1440 pixels (Dynamic AMOLED), 120Hz refresh rate, HDR video support|Exynos 990|12GB RAM/128GB, microSD| 5000mAh| Android 10, Samsung One UI| Quad camera setup (108 MP wide-angle), (48MP Telephoto), (12MP ultra-wide), (ToF 3D depth-sensing)| 40MP selfie camera| 8K, 4K, FHD video recording| Reverse wireless charging| Water, Dust resistant (IP68)| No 3.5mm headphone jack| 4G LTE
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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra price in India: Rs 97,900
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: What’s good?
The Galaxy S20 Ultra feels very familiar and yet, strange. The phone’s screen is less curved than usual, and there’s a giant camera bump on the back that sticks out. I could feel the extra-large sized camera lump with my fingers whenever I picked up the phone. The Galaxy S20 Ultra does wobble when it’s placed on a flat surface, though the free silicon case inside the box prevents this.
One major highlight of the Galaxy S20 Ultra is its 120Hz display. The screen’s 120Hz refresh rate means the display refreshes 120 times a second. Some OnePlus smartphones and Apple’s iPad Pros already use the same technology. The advantage of using a 120Hz is clearly visible in playing games or when scrolling through your Twitter feed. By default, the screen is set to 60Hz, but I recommend turning on the 120Hz refresh rate.
I liked the display. Blacks are absolute black and colors like red, green and orange are brighter than ever. It was fun watching Once Upon a time in Hollywood on the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 6.9-inch display.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra is all about the cameras. There are four cameras in total. There’s a large 108-megapixel lens, 12MP ultra-wide lens that allows you to capture wide-angle shots, 48MP telephoto with periscopic 4x optical zoom and a depth sensor.
The 108MP wide-angle camera takes good shots, but by default, you get a 12MP shot — the camera combines nine pixels onto the sensor into one pixel; a process called pixel binning. Whether you take shots in 12MP or 108MP, images turned out to be sharp with excellent details and low noise. One thing I would like to highlight here is that a 108MP shot takes more time to process, plus the image size is much larger. So use it when you really need it.
The live focus mode has been drastically improved and also the phone’s ability to take photos in low light. See the samples below, all taken with a dedicated night mode.
The Zoom capability is the highlight of the phone, though. The company is heavily marketing the S20 Ultra’s 100X zoom capability, which Samsung calls Space Zoom. You can shoot an image using 4X optical zoom, but stretch it at 5x, 10x, 30x and eventually 100x.
Up to 10x zoom, images are indeed good but as you further zoom to 30x, the quality starts deteriorating. The 100x zoom is more of a marketing gimmick, useful in some scenarios. Last week, I spotted a peacock on my neighbours terrace. If I hadn’t had the Galaxy S20 Ultra, I couldn’t even see the eyes of that peacock. The results are a mixed bag so to say with the 100x zoom, but at least I was able to capture the subject that far away from the phone. I recommend the use of a tripod when shooting with the 100x zoom.
There’s also a 40MP selfie camera, which is housed in a tiny hole at the top of the screen. The selfie camera produces excellent selfies (both in daylight and low light) but I also observed that Samsung’s software sometimes over processes front-facing shots, resulting in extra-smooth textures.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra feels fast and zippy, thanks to the Exynos 990 processor which is paired with 12GB RAM. I didn’t experience any hiccups or crashes while playing games like Batman – The Telltale Series, Mario Kart Tour or Virtua Tennis Challenge.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a 5000mAh cell, making it one of the few flagships to feature the largest battery. I got a full one-day battery life after heavy use and I am sure the phone can last one and a half days on normal use. Mind you, the battery life may vary depending on the screen’s refresh rate. And Samsung has even thrown in a 25 watts adapter into the box so you can fully charge the phone in approximately 60 minutes.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: What’s bad?
The phone is massive and feels heavy in the hand, though the size is still manageable. I am guessing those with small hands should ignore the Galaxy S20 Ultra and instead settle for the Galaxy S20.
You will also find an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner for added security. I haven’t had a great experience with an under-display fingerprint scanner.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: Should you buy?
The Galaxy S20 Ultra costs Rs 97,900, which clears the air on who the target audience of the smartphone is. The phone is made for loyal Samsung fans, something that is clear from how the company is marketing the device.
I know, many of you think the phone is overkill. Just look at the specifications and features the phone offers. You are right. Not everybody wants the 100x zoom or the jumbo-sized screen on a smartphone. But, if you’re the type of person who wants the best smartphone experience, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is for you.
While reviewing the Galaxy S20 Ultra, I got a lot of queries from people who wanted to know the difference between this phone and the Galaxy Z Flip. Both phones have different form factors and different target audiences. While the Galaxy S20 Ultra is all about the cameras and performance, the Galaxy Z Flip is about the folding screen and looks.
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