Samsung Galaxy Note 20 ultra 5G review: We put the latest launch to the test

David Phelan
·3 min read
The Independent
The Independent

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G - Buy now

Screen size and resolution: 6.9in, 1440 x 3088 pixels, 496 pixels per inch
Screen technology: OLED
Storage capacity: 128/256/512GB
Expandable storage? Yes
Camera (rear): 108MP wide, 12MP telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide
Camera (front): 10MP
Dimensions: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm
Weight: 208g
Headphone jack? No

Samsung’s note smartphones have consistently boasted a large display and an integral stylus that is stored in the body of the phone. In this latest model, retailed at £1,179, the screen size has reached 6.9 inches, more than half an inch bigger than last year’s note 10.

Even so, because the display stretches to the edges of the phone’s front, and thanks to sloping edges, the phone is (just about) manageable in the hand, though it’s worth trying it out for size before you buy, to be sure.

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The new model comes in three colours, mystic bronze, mystic white and mystic black. Obviously, there’s nothing actually mystical about any of them, it’s just branding.

The bronze is particularly appealing, with a satin finish on the back, but a gloss finish on the S pen stylus, which is also bronze-coloured. Pop the stylus out of the phone to launch relevant apps.

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For instance, with the screen in standby mode, you can scribble notes on the phone screen, and this year, to make it more like pen on paper, Samsung has introduced a subtle scratchy-writing sound which adds to the effect.

This latest version of the S pen has very low latency, that is, there’s no perceptible lag between you writing a word and it appearing on screen.

The rear cameras sit in a huge island at the top left of the phone. This juts out some way so, unless you have the phone in a case, it will rock back and forth on the table if, say, you are typing on the keyboard.

The cameras, carefully designed with lens edging that is colour-matched to the body, are pretty potent. The main one has a huge 108MP resolution. Samsung uses a process where nine adjacent pixels are treated as though they were one much bigger one, delivering a high-quality 12MP image. This works well, and images are detailed and sharp with great colour fidelity.

The telephoto lens can zoom in to a massive 50x, and though the results at this zoom level are too blocky to be good enough for regular use, there are uses, such as being able to read signs at a great distance, for example.

The big display is bright, sharp and very attractive. It has what’s called a variable refresh rate. A fast refresh rate means everything looks smooth and responsive, from scrolling menus to playing video.

The top refresh rate here is double that on most phones. But it can save battery by using a low refresh rate if that’s all that’s needed.

Battery life is good. Well, it’s a big cell, so no surprise that it can get you through the day. Mostly there will be plenty of charge left but the combination of the big, detailed screen and fast processor could mean a heavy-use day will see it pretty depleted by the end, though it’s still unlikely to run out.

Buy now

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