Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked August 2020 event ushered in five new devices from the South-Korean tech giant. The digital event revealed the much anticipated Galaxy Note 20 lineup along with the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, Galaxy Tab S7 lineup, Galaxy Buds Live, and Galaxy Watch 3. Samsung also used this opportunity to announce a stunning new color in ‘Mystic Bronze’ which sports a stylish matte finish. All devices announced in the event have the Mystic Bronze color option.
In previous years, the Galaxy Note lineup had been Samsung’s most premium offering in its smartphone category. This year, the scenario looks to be a little different. While the spec sheet maxes out as usual on the Note 20 Ultra, the price category has more competition now more than ever. And for the price, Note 20 has some surprising decisions that may not sit right with consumers.
The Note 20 starts at $999 / £849 / AU$1,499 whereas the Note 20 Ultra starts at $1,299 / £1,179 / AU$1,849. The Note 20 Ultra has base storage of 128GB in the US, whereas both the UK and Australia will get 256GB right off the bat. However, the UK will receive yet another underperforming Samsung Exynos chip instead of a Snapdragon processor. Various markets may also see Exynos inclusion.
There is a 512GB variant of the Note 20 Ultra that will cost $1,449 / £1,279 / AU$2,199. In Australia, consumers will also have an option of a 4G version. The Galaxy Note 20 phones are available to pre-order and will go on sale on 21 August.
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra overview
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra delivers on the spec sheet. It houses the best-in-class Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor along with 12GB of RAM. On the front, there is a humongous 6.9inch quad-HD OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. On the back, it has a huge camera bump where the 108MP primary, 12MP ultrawide, and 12MP telephoto cameras live. There is a 4500mAh battery that supports the must-have 5G connectivity.
Samsung has also thrown in tons of features to make the Note 20 Ultra feels more noteworthy. The microSD expansion slot is still present, and on the bottom, the S-pen has shifted to the left. The iconic S-pen now comes with more features like Anywhere action, activated through certain gestures like waving a magic wand. The S-pen now operates without any lag at 9ms response time.
Samsung has also included Ultra-Wideband (UWB) tech in the Note 20 Ultra. This new feature will allow for faster and easier file transfers between Android Phones. And for supported Galaxy devices, users can point and swipe to send files seamlessly.
The battery will now benefit from the inclusion of a dynamic display where the phone will switch between the refresh rate as needed. Also, Note 20 Ultra’s battery now supports wireless fast-charging up to 15w.
But the Note 20 Ultra features a few caveats that hide in plain sight.
- The highest resolution and highest refresh rate cannot function at the same time. Turning on the 1440p quad-HD resolution will make the screen run at 60Hz, and the 120Hz refresh rate is only available when the resolution is at 1080p.
- The phone only supports 25W fast charging, a step down from the S20 Ultra’s 45W capability.
- The front camera is only a 10MP shooter, also a step down from the S20 Ultra’s 40MP.
- The periscope zoom lens now only supports up to 50px Space Zoom, unlike the 100px on S20 Ultra, although 100px was never necessary.
Underwhelming Galaxy Note 20
This time around there is an even wider division between Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra than the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus. The most striking omission Samsung made was to include a plastic chassis in a $1000 phone. Yes, the Galaxy Note 20 has a ‘polycarbonate’ body with more rounded edges and a smaller 6.7inch screen.
Other omissions to make the Note 20 inferior to the Ultra version are as follows.
- 1080p display with a 60Hz refresh rate. Yes, a $1000 phone 2020 without a high refresh rate.
- No microSD expansion. Only 128GB storage available.
- 12MP primary camera, which again does take good photos, but comparatively, the Note 20 Ultra has 108MP primary.
- The 64MP telephoto is a non-periscope lens that has lower Space Zoom at 30x.
- Lower 4300 mAh battery.
That said, there are a few features that both the Note 20 phones share that could help users decide further.
- The S-pen. With all the new features.
- Both feature Gorilla Glass Victus for more protection.
- They come equipped with stereo speakers support by Dolby technology.
- IP68 water resistance to add to their durability.
- Both the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra can record videos at 8K.
- Samsung DeX now works wirelessly through Miracast.
- Partnering with Microsoft, Galaxy Note 20 phones can now link with Window 10 to send messages, make calls, sync files, and access mobile apps. Samsung Notes will also sync with OneNote. Additionally, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate support will allow users to play over 100 Xbox titles on their Note 20 phones.
In conclusion, the Galaxy Note 20 lineup are both stellar phones that have increased competition due to their premium pricing. One reason for the pricing could be the support of 5G mmWave and Sub-6 for both phones. But Samsung could be gambling on the power of the S-pen, especially when the S20 lineup itself is equally as good as the Note 20 lineup. Not to mention, Apple will be releasing its iPhone 12 lineup soon.