The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is arresting, but expensive. This is what we think so far.

Jessica Dolcourt / CNET

I just finished my second day with that Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G. Samsung's cell phone and I are starting to get into a nice little groove. I have already fallen deeply in love with the signature bronze tone of the flagship device, valued at $ 1,300, and the fact that its matte finish puts off fingerprints.

It's elegant and beautiful – by the time you get to the massive camera bump – but also enormous, awkward for my smaller hands to maneuver, and confusing when it comes to certain design decisions. (Read on to learn more about the standard Note 20, which costs $ 1,000.)

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So far, I've captured rich, enticing photos and enjoyed the fullness of an exceptionally large 6.9-inch screen. I've made phone calls, kept up with work and social networks, bought groceries without touch and navigated with Google Maps – all the daily things you would normally do with your phone on a given day.

It's early days and my testing phase will have a lot going for it, from nighttime shots and a new line of S-Pen gestures to steady monitoring of battery life on a 6.9-inch display with a 4,500 mAh battery and a standard 120 Hz update rating. By the end of the Note 20 Ultra review period, I'd like to answer one more big question: How a device that keeps you active in society fits into a world that has already been changed by the company Coronavirus pandemic.

    Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Note 20 Ultra Camera Bump means business.

Juan Garzon / CNET

Note 20 Ultra: Here's what I love right now

  • The bronze color with the matte finish: sleek, refined and less greaseproof when smooth or dirty hands can get over it. It's shiny and understated without being boring.
  • Taking photos is fun. The images are vivid and the 5x optical zoom keeps the image quality high enough for me to keep using it. Ultra wide angle photos are always a great tool in the photo arsenal for creating a dramatic effect.
  • The screen is bright and brilliant as always and is great for reading messages, watching videos and scrolling through photos.
  • My favorite Galaxy Note tricks come back to life e.g. For example, you can take a really precise screenshot with the S Pen, read online menus and fonts that are too small with the magnification tool, and easily take a screen capture or GIF of part of the display.
  • Taking a selfie with the S Pen is a breeze if you press the pen button with one hand without having to extend your arm at an awkward angle or worry about the phone being dropped.
  • Face color filters for selfies are nice for generating warmth or taking breaks when an image is oversaturated.
  • Phone calls sounded great in my area, but of course your situation can vary depending on the service you live in.

Note 20 ultra functions that I'm watching closely

Battery life is something that I watch closely. After an uneven first day, Day 2 was more of what I'd expect from a flagship phone – phew. At 10:30 am it was fully charged and freshly disconnected from the charger. Exactly 12 hours later after a day or moderate to heavy use that included an hour and a half of Google Maps navigation, it was 35%. The standard setting for the 120 Hz screen was used here. Let's see how it goes tomorrow.

This camera bump is difficult to ignore. Without a drop, I constantly worry about whether I might drop it and crack the camera array, which would undoubtedly be the first to be hit, or whether I lay it down and drag or move the device in such a way that it scratches the camera becomes. This has happened to me before and has ruined every ultra-wide image afterwards. So trust me when I say that this is not an idle matter.

Currently running:
Look at that:

First look: Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra


The S placement of the pen It may take some getting used to, but so far switching from the right side of the phone to the left doesn't work so well for me. There's nothing wrong with the design in itself, but for some reason it feels like a chore to reach for it. Did it move to accommodate the camera hardware? We'll see if I warm up to the changes as the tests progress.

Wired headphones Don't come in the box. That doesn't seem like a big deal as Samsung is switching users to wireless earbuds like itss Galaxy Buds Live. But not everyone wants to invest in a bunch of radio buds. Samsung has been touting the $ 99 value for the wired headphones that come with it for years. Without it, the price of the note continues to rise while its value falls. If you don't already have headphones to use, your running costs have just gone up.

It can get a little roasted. My CNET colleagues and I have found that the Note 20 Ultra generates and dissipates quite a bit of heat. Nothing fancy, just a warmth that phones (and laptops and other electronics) can get when they work hard. It wasn't the most comfortable feeling in my pocket and hand on a hot summer day, but definitely not a deal breaker.

What will we test tomorrow?

There is still so much to see that the Note 20 Ultra is establishing itself as my daily phone for the next week. That means the new gesture features of the pen, night photography, games, new tricks with the Note app and much more. Check back again as this rating will evolve day by day. Read on for our original impressions on the Note 20 Ultra and the Standard Note 20. And scroll to the end to get all the technical data.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra reminds me of a character straight from Greek mythology. With its sleek profile, shiny bronze finish (for its distinctive color) and thick camera hump on the back that stands out like a set of compound eyes, it's little more than a look to see this new phone for power users a lot of sirens hit cyclops.

The look of Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra is just the beginning of the story – and there's a lot more – including a really surprising change. Before we go there, it's important to understand the context in which these phones come to light. The Galaxy Note 20 phones are pre-order now and are expected to arrive on August 21st, the official sales date. Grade 20 starts at $ 1,000 (GBP 849, AU $ 1,499) and Grade 20 Ultra starts at $ 1,300 (GBP 1,179, AU $ 1,849).

The Coronavirus The pandemic has turned the world upside down, endangered life and one Global recession and to question the need for a premium phone whose cheapest model costs $ 1,000, which is $ 50 more than last year's entry-level Galaxy Note 10. Samsung, however, is asking us to take advantage of a 5G device with juiced cameras Google has just released some features to consider that are better suited for the boardroom than for the living room excellent $ 349 no frills phone that seems more in line with these lean and dubious days.

The new Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are available in a striking bronze tone

Show all photos

18-spiral binder 2


The timing is random, but unfortunate. It may take more than a year to go through the pipeline. When the Samsung designers and engineers planned to update the Note 20, the functional roadmap was well established. The Note line always stood for software and specifications that went far beyond that. While many of the features and updates, such as new S Pen gestures that are designed to handle PowerPoint presentations, make sense for a post-pandemic world, that is State of the COVID 19 cases today forms a weak argument for the "normal" activities that deserve such a device.

That doesn't mean that the 20 and 20 Ultra have no place in the Who is who? List of 2020 phones, although it is too early to know. I spend all day on my laptop, but I still often use my phone as a second or even preferred screen to read in bed, on the couch, or at the kitchen table when I want a change. I use mobile payments more than ever before because businesses in my area avoid cash in favor of contactless transactions. Battery life is still of the utmost importance, as I only use my phone to connect to friends and colleagues during long walks to get some fresh air. According to Samsung, mobile use has also increased during this time.

The difference is that without an end to the pandemic, it's more difficult to come on board with a phone whose main features feel less convincing from the start. In truth, I hope that the Note 20 and the Note 20 Ultra will convince me if I can try out the test devices. I hope Samsung's trade-in and annual upgrade programs will tempt its loyal customers to upgrade to a device that may offer the core functionality, long-term battery life, and appealing extras that make a phone fun for years to come.


The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a bright, massive 6.9-inch display.

Jessica Dolcourt / CNET

I'm ready for the Galaxy Note 20 and the Note 20 Ultra to convince me, or at least do my best – top-heavy camera bulge and everything. (Psst.Samsung too announced the Galaxy Z Fold 2 on Wednesday. Although it certainly costs more than the Note 20, its ability to stay open when collapsed really excited me to see more.)

Galaxy Note 20 vs. Note 20 Ultra: surprising differences

Samsung gave us the idea of ​​a entry-level Note phone in 2019, but this year there is a big gap between the standard Galaxy Note 20 and the Note 20 Ultra. (Scroll to the bottom for a full comparison of specifications.)

Note 20 Ultra: What you need to know

The Ultra features a 6.9-inch screen, a more square shape, and all of the benefits, including more powerful camera technology, are supported Google's share nearby via the UWB share function (Ultra Wide Band) and a microSD card slot with up to 1 TB. The screen has the option to switch to a refresh rate of 120 Hz, where every pixel is updated 120 times per second, making scrolling smooth. (We need to see how this affects battery life.)

And then there is this camera curve. Full disclosure: I haven't had a chance to see Grade 20 in person here in California, but my New York colleague Richard Peterson was able to handle both devices and videotaped and tried to answer my laundry list with questions.

During a virtual briefing and browsing through our footage, it is clear that the Note 20 Ultra looks elegant and sexy from a point of view. It's uncomfortably top-heavy from another, so I have to jump on a case to protect the Note 20 Ultra's camera mount. The fact that the camera array protrudes so far from the body makes this area much more susceptible to breakage, tears, and scratches when it falls or is pulled onto a surface – for example, when you lay the phone on its back.

We'll put the Note 20 Ultra new Gorilla Glass Victus shield on both sides for testing, but during my career as a reviewer, I broke enough phone cameras to suggest avoiding this risk at all costs.

The mystical bronze color has a matte finish, while mystical black and mystical white are shiny glass.

This camera mount on the Note 20 Ultra is serious business.

Richard Peterson / CNET

Note 20: Did someone say plastic?

The standard Note 20 has a 6.7-inch flat screen with no curved sides (a staple in the Note line for years). But here's the clincher – it has a plastic backing that Samsung prefers to call polycarbonate. There is no microSD card slot (like last year) and small functions are missing. There are stripped-down camera specs (including pro-video mode), less advanced screen technology with no 120 Hz refresh rate, lower battery capacity (4,300 mAh vs. 4,500 mAh), less RAM (8 GB vs. 12 GB), and no UWB Share.

The mystical green, the mystical bronze and the mystical gray tones of the Note 20 include pastel colors and are all matt. It uses a metal frame and Gorilla Glass 5 on the front, not the newest Gorilla Glass Victus.

The Note 20 has the same core specifications as the Note 20 Ultra. The 10 megapixel selfie camera, the new S Pen gestures and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor are part of both phones.

But back to the plastic pad of the Note 20: It feels unusual for a phone family, which is usually about presenting the best of the best that Samsung has to offer. Without checking the phone, a $ 1,000 plastic-backed phone seems hard to swallow. Maybe I'll change my mind.

Note 20 cameras: 108 MP, pro video mode, 8K video recording

On the camera array, Samsung wants the Note 20 phones and especially the Note 20 Ultra to shine. It's a step back from the boast of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which boasted a 100-fold Room zoom Function and a main camera that is able to take a 108 megapixel photo and instead focus on the idea of ​​cropping more details.

Grade 20 vs. Note 20 ultra camera

Galaxy Note 20

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Main camera

12 megapixels (F1.8, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, 1.8 μm, 79-degree field of view, 1 / 1.76-inch image sensor)

108 megapixels (F1.8, OIS, 0.8 μm, 79-degree field of view, 1 / 1.33-inch image sensor)

Ultra wide angle

12 megapixels (F2.2, 1.4 μm, 120 degrees FOV)

12 megapixels (F2.2, 1.4 μm, 120 degrees FOV)


64 megapixels (F2.0, 0.8μm, 76 degree FOV)

12 megapixels (F3.0, 1.0 μm, 20-degree FOV)

Front camera

10 megapixels (F2.2, 1.22 µm, 80 degrees FOV)

10 megapixels (F2.2, 1.22 µm, 80 degrees FOV)


3x hybrid

5x optical

Super zoom



Laser auto focus sensor



Video recording



Samsung has also given the Note 20 Ultra a 108-megapixel camera option – you tap it to turn it on if you want full resolution. When it comes to zooming, the Note 20 falls back to 50 times the zoom, with the Note 20 adjusting to 30 times.

It's interesting to see the Samsung backtrack this way, but the company seems to be responding to the feedback that the S20 Ultra was too expensive and its 100x zoom wasn't good enough or useful enough to justify the price.

The Note 20 Ultra has a 5x optical zoom, which should make photos taken in this area sharper and clearer than with the digital zoom alone. We'll see soon.

The faster autofocus in the Note 20 Ultra also offers an advantage over the standard Note 20, allowing you to take photos of writhing pets, amusing facial expressions, and fluttering hummingbirds faster without missing the shot.

Pro video mode offers more manual tools and options for shooting footage that should make aspiring filmmakers happy. This has been one of Samsung's weaker areas compared to the latest iPhone for several years. As with the Galaxy S20 UltraBoth phones support 8K video recording. However, keep in mind that video files on and next to your phone are enormous.

Typing is one thing that Galaxy Note phones do best.

Richard Peterson / CNET

The Note 20 phones get new S Pen pens and note-taking app tricks

What would the Galaxy Note be without a pen? For loyalists, scribbling, navigating, and commenting is part of the charm of the phone. This also applies to the Notes app, which you can use to perform all of the above tasks. Here are the latest features for both Note 20 models.

New S Pen gesture navigation: Point the pen tip away from your body (and some distance from the phone), hold the pen button while doing one of five new gestures to return, go home, open a current app, or take a screenshot with To make Smart Select. You can also twist the pen to cover the entire screen.

The S Pen responds faster on the Note 20 Ultra when the 120 Hz screen option is enabled.

Handwriting recognition gets better with tools including autostraighten.

Samsung notes is finally automatically synchronized automatically. This saves a note in the cloud that you can access from any other device – provided you're signed in to a Samsung account.

Attach voice recordings and time synchronization. You can synchronize your voice memo with what you write so that it plays back from the time you mentioned the word.

Import a PDF for commenting or highlighting. Instead of printing a page or downloading it for signing and then uploading it or sending it again, you can simply mark your signature and export it again.

Additional functions and extras from Note 20

  • UWB support for sharing files like a digital key. Point to other Samsung devices with UWB.
  • Xbox Game Pass Ultimate gives you access to over 100 games that you can play on the fly.
  • Samsung Microsoft partnership: Drag and drop and sync Windows devices and apps to your Samsung phone, including notes and reminders.
  • Samsung DeXWith the vision of replacing your computer with your phone, you can now wirelessly connect to another screen to view your content, for example on your TV screen in your living room.
  • You can Pair a Galaxy Note 20 with the new one Galaxy Buds Live to turn on noise cancellation. You can still hear a lot of static and distortion in the recorded demo I saw, but it cut off annoying conversations.

Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra specifications

Galaxy Note 20 vs. Note 20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Display size, resolution

6.7 inches; 2,400 x 1,080 pixels

6.9 inches; 3,088 x 1,440 pixels

Pixel density

393 ppi

496 ppi

Dimensions (inches)

6.36 x 2.96 x 0.33 inches

6.49 x 3.04 x 0.31 inches

Dimensions (millimeters)

161.6 x 75.2 x 8.3 mm

164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm

Weight (ounces, grams)

194.8 g

7.33 ounces, 208 g

Mobile software

Android 10

Android 10


12 megapixels (ultra wide), 12 megapixels (wide angle), 64 megapixels (telephoto)

12 megapixels (ultra wide), 108 megapixels (wide angle), 12 megapixels (telephoto)

Front camera

10 megapixels

10 megapixels

Video recording




Snapdragon 865 Plus

Snapdragon 865 Plus


128 GB

128 GB, 512 GB


8 GB

12 GB

Expandable memory


Up to 1 TB


4,300 mAh

4,500 mAh

Fingerprint sensor






Headphone jack



Special features

S pen pin; 5G connectivity; Wireless PowerShare; waterproof (IP68)

5x optical zoom, UWB approval, S pen pen; 5G connectivity; Wireless PowerShare; waterproof (IP68)

Out of Contract Price (USD)

$ 1,000

$ 1,300 (128 GB); $ 1,450 (512 GB)

Price (GBP)

£ 849

£ 1,179

Price (AUD)

AU $ 1,499

AU $ 1,849


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