Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review: Amazing features, but is anyone a ‘power user’ anymore?

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8.4

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G

Like

  • Sleek lines, matte bronze finish
  • Exceptional screen quality and 120Hz refresh rate
  • 5x optical zoom captures sharp photos in ample light
  • S Pen creates standout opportunities for using the phone

Don’t Like

  • $1,300 is too expensive right now
  • A large, heavy, awkward phone
  • Unsightly camera bump that invites breakage
  • Note 20 Ultra rocks when you lay it down flat

If you’re looking for Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 20 Ultra to be a do-everything phone, you won’t be disappointed. Like other Note phones that came before it, the Note 20 Ultra is aimed at a rarified group of Android “power users” who want a phone with all the toys and aren’t afraid of a higher price tag. With the Ultra, there’s plenty of both.

Samsung saved its best features for the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, including a more refined design than the Galaxy S20 Ultra — a phone I don’t recommend. You’ll find an exceptional 6.9-inch screen, sharp 5x optical zoom camera and a swifter stylus for annotating screenshots and taking notes. The Note 20 Ultra also makes small but significant enhancements over the Note 10 Plus, especially in the camera realm.

Do these features justify the Note 20 Ultra’s price? It begins at $1,300 (£1,179, AU$1,894) for the 128GB version (you can also buy it in 512GB). The retail price is a steep ask, especially when you combine a climate of deep global recession and mounting unemployment. Add that to the fact that if your active work and social lifestyle has changed at all, like mine has, you won’t truly take advantage of all the features this phone has to offer.  Will the Note 20 Ultra still be the phone you want to use post-pandemic, or will a better upgrade come along by then?


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I’ve always enjoyed using a Galaxy Note, for the stylus as well as the sleekness of the line’s design. The Ultra produces top-notch specs, checks all the boxes, and I want to love it. But for me, it doesn’t totally come together, and in terms of value, it’s a miss. Unless you already know you can’t live chin goatee without mustache it, it’s hard to recommend the Ultra for all but the most loyal Note fans, or people upgrading from older phones.

If you get a good enough trade-in deal or bundled offer, I think you’ll be more than happy with the features and performance, even if some aspects, like the protruding camera bump, aren’t your favorite. But if you want to reserve a little money this year and save your splurge when you have more certainty and freedom of movement, there are plenty of excellent devices well below $1,300 that will see you through until then, including the Google Pixel 4A, Samsung Galaxy A51, iPhone 11 or 11 Pro and OnePlus 8 or 8 Pro.

Read on to learn everything from screen quality to sample photos from the Note 20 Ultra’s cameras. Scroll to the end for the full list of specs compared to the standard Galaxy Note 20. Samsung also unveiled one more super-ultrapremium phone this year, the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which went on preorder Sept. 1.

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