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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review: A deluxe smartphone

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra packs a great many features for a Note series phone. Read our review to find out how is it like living with the 1 lakh Samsung phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is here.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is here. (HT Photo)

Brand: Samsung
Product: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Specifications: 6.90-inch (1440x3200) display, Samsung Exynos 990 chip, 10-megapixel selfie camera, 108-megapixel + 2-megapixel + 12-megapixel rear cameras, 12GB of RAM, 256GB storage, 4,500mAh battery, IP68 certification.
Price: 1,04,999
Rating: 4/5

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the most advanced smartphone Samsung has produced so far. For the Note series as well, it is a massive upgrade. From 120Hz display, 108-megapixel camera to a more refined S Pen stylus, there is plenty to get enamoured with the Note 20 Ultra. At 1,04,999, it is unapologetically expensive.

I have used Galaxy Note 10 Plus for quite some time. And I can say for sure, Note 20 Ultra is not the monotonous year-on-year upgrades you get. It does resemble the predecessor, but you do not have to look hard to see the changes on the design.

For starters, the back panel houses a giant camera module with button-like three large sensors. The module is protruding a lot more than the renders of the phone reveal. I do not know whether it looks good or not but it is very distracting. Most of the time, I had to be extra careful to ensure the camera lens does not attract the scratches.

Camera module is a lot protruding than it appeared in renders
Camera module is a lot protruding than it appeared in renders (HT Tech)

Coming to the front, the screen is as bezel-less as it can get. The punch-hole camera in the top centre looks smaller. Dual-curved design gives an extra edge (pun intended). Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a large 6.9-inch display, largest ever on a Note so far.

While a large-screen experience is expected from this iconic phablet series, what makes the Note 20 Ultra different is the introduction of 120Hz display.

Faster refresh rate ensures a more fluid screen experience. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra gives two motion smoothness options – Adaptive and Standard. If you reduce screen resolution to HD+ or Full HD+, you can enable the Adaptive motion smoothness to automatically adjust screen refresh rate up to 120Hz. You can choose Standard for 60Hz refresh rate to get longer battery life. You cannot use the Adaptive mode with the maximum screen resolution (WQHD+).

I have mostly enjoyed the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s display. From basic browsing to streaming OTT content, more real-estate gives a better view of almost everything.

But not all is perfect. The ultra-slim bezel also leads to the accidental pressing of the sides. This automatically triggered pop-ups or functionalities I never summoned. I faced this issue at least once every day. This is despite the fact that I have grown accustomed to large-screen phones and in particular the Galaxy Note 10+.

A closer look at the new Note 20 Ultra
A closer look at the new Note 20 Ultra (HT Photo)

That said, one of the best or probably the best feature Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has to offer is the camera. And yes, the 108-megapixel camera takes stunning photos. Daylight photos have come out very well. Lowlight photos, not so much. Note, you have to manually enable the 108-megapixel camera mode. Good thing is that once it’s set to 108-megapixel, it stays that way. The image processing is surprisingly fast. The zoom camera (5x optical zoom) is equally good. Here are some of the camera samples to better illustrate its performance. Overall, it’s one of the best camera phones I have used so far.

Daylight (overcast weather) shot taken from the 108-megapixel sensor. Colours and depth have come out very well in this photo. (image resized for web)
Daylight (overcast weather) shot taken from the 108-megapixel sensor. Colours and depth have come out very well in this photo. (image resized for web) (HT Photo)
 A lowlight photo taken at sunset. The sharpness is slightly underwhelming in this picture. (image resized and cropped for the web)
 A lowlight photo taken at sunset. The sharpness is slightly underwhelming in this picture. (image resized and cropped for the web) (HT Photo)
A casual shot from the Note 20 Ultra with HDR and AI optimisations enabled. (Image resized for web)
A casual shot from the Note 20 Ultra with HDR and AI optimisations enabled. (Image resized for web) (HT Photo)

Speaking of performance, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is dependable. It’s difficult to do a pre-Covid-level review as you’re not as mobile as you used to. Nonetheless, it handles power-hungry applications very well. I played Call of Duty Mobile with absolutely no problem. From multi-tasking to basic use cases, Galaxy Note 20 Ultra does not disappoint at all. There is one hot issue that Samsung needs to address though. The phone gets warmer than usual in some use cases, say, playing a game as well as responding to WhatsApp messages, and refreshing a browser in the background.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra's battery life is predictable and reliable. You can also use some software optimisations to get better battery life.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra's battery life is predictable and reliable. You can also use some software optimisations to get better battery life. (HT Photo)

As far as battery life goes, an ideal WFH day will get you an entire day with a single full charge in the morning. It supports fast charging and wireless charging as well, so you do not have to worry about the battery much. The battery life could vary if you are going out and using more applications such as Google Maps etc.

No Note review can be complete without talking about the S Pen. The stylus looks the same as the last one but is incredibly fast and easy to use. There are added functionalities as well. If you like taking notes on-the-go, this stylus phone is worth considering.

Verdict

As said earlier, the 1,04,999 price tag puts Galaxy Note 20 Ultra in a different league altogether. I am on the fence to recommend this phone as an upgrade from your routine premium phone. It is a luxury phone, for now. The Android loyalists, power/productivity-oriented users or simply those who have the budget, can definitely consider the Note 20 Ultra. Otherwise, there is a lot you can do with 1 lakh.