Premium smartphones have gotten really, really good over the past several years thanks to advancements in processors,AI,camera modules and image processing.When it comes to flagship, the first word that comes in mind is the Galaxy S series from Samsung. #Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Review
Samsung is a brand that is popular among tech enthusiasts for its super polular Galaxy S series followed by the Note series globally. For the past several years, Samsung has almost always gotten one thing right on all of its smartphones — the hardware. Samsung is the first smartphone maker that debuts the latest offerings from Qualcomm every year in its S series lineup and also its flagship Exynos processor for certain markets and we are here with our Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Review
The S20 Ultra is the biggest and heaviest phone you’ll find.The Galaxy S20 Ultra has metal frames with a glass sandwich design having slightly curved display up front and a slightly curved panel of glass on the back too. Although the curves on the front are not that much noticeable now as Samsung has opted for a much flatter display to protect it from both accidental touches and drops and so goes all the features that we used to see in Galaxy Edge And Note Edge Series.
Here are some spec highlights that we have covered in our Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Review
- Main screen: 6.9in QHD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X (511ppi)
- Processor: Samsung Exynos 990 (EU/India) or Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (US)
- RAM: 12 or 16GB of RAM
- Storage: 128, 256 or 512GB (UFS 3.0) + microSD card
- Operating system: One UI 2.1 based on Android 10
- Camera: Quad rear camera: 108MP wide angle, 12MP ultra-wide angle, 48MP telephoto, depth sensor; 40MP front-facing camera
- Connectivity: 5G, dual nano sim, USB-C, wifi6, NFC, Bluetooth 5 and location
- Dimensions: 166.9 x 76.0 x 8.8mm
- Weight: 220g
Build & Design:
The metal frame and glass, though, are very glossy and, in turn, very slippery. Still, they feel good in the hand and is of manageable size.
The 6.9″ (17.53 cm) panel on the S20 Ultra is just, well, perfect. The Super-AMOLED display has deep blacks, strong contrast, and vibrant colors. Plus, they’re super bright when you’re outdoors and get super dim when you’re using your phone in bed (even though you know you shouldn’t). Plus, the 3200×1440 resolution is sharp even if the software tones it down to FHD by default.
Samsung’s last top-end display, in the Galaxy Note 10+, was already a pristine example of everything we wanted from a phone screen. And then, Samsung one-upped itself with the Galaxy S20 Ultra. I couldn’t find a single negative mark on this screen. It’s exceptional in brightness, colors, viewing angles, reflectivity and every other part of the display experience that matters.
It has one massive advantage in that it doubled the refresh rate to 120Hz, which is the latest frontier of display smoothness. By doubling the refresh, every single bit of motion on the display is impressively smooth.
You obviously notice it the most when scrolling through feeds and lists, but it applies subconsciously to every bit of movement and every animation — opening apps, pulling down the notification shade, sliding in side drawers and everything else. It’s just pleasing to the eye, and you’re quickly spoiled by it in a way you don’t realize until you go back to a 60Hz screen. Obviously your eyes re-adjust to 60Hz in a similar way, but I just love the look of 120Hz anytime I have it on.
The 120Hz mode is only available at the default FHD+ resolution — if you want to max out to the full capabilities of the display at QHD+, you drop all the way back down to 60Hz. But that in itself is a fine trade-off; even if you’re sticking to 60Hz. Although Samsung has promised to bring 120Hz refresh rate at max resolution with a software update.
Great hardware meets great and optimized software.Software used to be a big problem for Samsung, but the company has gotten progressively better over the past few years. With the Galaxy S20 series, you’re looking at Android 10 with One UI 2.1 over top and, for the most part, it’s really quite good!
One UI really has just about every feature you can imagine or would really ever want on a smartphone. It can flip on a dark theme, wake you up with your favorite songs, automatically crop screenshots on your behalf, and just so many more things that you probably don’t think about on a daily basis.Samsung also added a new feature to allow locking an app in your device’s memory.
One UI 2 defaults to the traditional three-button Android navigation bar, but Android 10’s new gesture navigation system makes using the super-sized screen easier.
Samsung guarantees only two major Android versions from release.
The S20 Ultra is the first smartphone to ship in European/Indian markets with Samsung’s latest Exynos 990 processor. In the US it has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 instead. Both variants come with 12 or 16GB of RAM, which is more than most laptops. On the hardware side of things it has maxed out hardware that we can expect in any smartphone till date without any compromises.
No matter what content or app you throw at the S20 Ultra, it devours the calculations and offers buttery smooth performance.It can easily chew through normal day to day tasks and can even run high end games like Asphalt 9 at 120 FPS and PUBG at max graphics even at HDR settings at 60 FPS (120 FPS support for PUBG will come later this year and Galaxy S20 series will be among few devices to support that).
Then there’s the 5,000mAh battery. The S20 and S20 Plus have 4,000 and 4,500mAh batteries, respectively. The biggest phone gets the biggest battery and Samsung claims it will deliver two days of battery life. Again, this depends.
If somehow, that battery life isn’t good enough for you, you’ll be pleased with the charging options. There are USB-C and Qi charging here that works on any cable or pad, but Samsung didn’t stop there. In the box, you’ll have a 45W “Super Fast Charger” which fills this device up very, very quickly.
Things are different if you go with the Full HD+ resolution option and 60Hz. At this conservative setting, the battery definitely shows more longevity.
Fully charging the S20 Ultra takes 70-90 minutes with the included power adapter, but closer to two hours with other 30-45W USB-C chargers. Fast 15W wireless charging and 7W wireless power-sharing is also available – great for charging your Galaxy Buds+ or other Qi-compatible phones from the back of the S20 Ultra.
The massive lump on the back of the phone contains Samsung’s new quad-camera system: a large 108MP wide angle, 12MP ultra-wide angle, 48MP telephoto with periscopic 4x optical zoom and a depth sensor. There’s a 40MP front-facing camera poking through a small hole in the screen too.
Samsung’s camera system has taken a big leap forward over the last year, after lagging behind competitors from Apple, Google and Huawei. The quartet of cameras allows you to smoothly zoom from ultrawide angle (0.5x), through the wide angle (1x) and out to 4x optical zoom, then on to 10x hybrid zoom. From there you’re into what Samsung calls “Space Zoom”, which is essentially a digital zoom on top, taking you all the way to 100x magnification.
The 12MP ultrawide camera produces some really good shots in most lighting conditions, excellent for creating a fisheye effect close up or for capturing more of a cityscape in one shot.
The main 108MP camera shoots 12MP photos by default, combining nine pixels on the sensor into one pixel of final image, in a process known as pixel binning. The resulting photos are great, striking an excellent balance of detail and low noise, although occasionally a little over-sharpened on full crop, even in the kind of middling light of British homes where previous Samsung cameras struggled. Samsung’s dedicated night mode is good but not quite on the same level as Night Sight on the Pixel 4, taking considerably longer to take the same shots.
The live focus portrait mode is improved too, but given that the wide-angle camera takes images with plenty of natural bokeh, I found I didn’t need to use the artificial mode. The camera app has the usual array of beautifying and smoothing features, if that’s your jam.
The camera can also shoot full 108MP shots, but I found that most of the time the 12MP mode produced better images. It’s nice to have the creative option, though, as you can crop right into a 108MP image for a closeup without using a zoom.
The zoom is the star of the show though, rivalling the previous zoom king, the Huawei P30 Pro, which uses a similar periscope lens system for a 5x optical zoom. Shots at 4x optical zoom are best, but push it to 10x and, while not quite lossless, the images are very good indeed, blowing everything but the P30 Pro out of the water.
The S20 Ultra also captures very good video, arguably the best on Android. It will shoot up to 8K video but stabilisation and effects are limited to 1080p.
The 40MP selfie camera shoots 10MP images by default, and produces some of the very best, most detailed shots.
Thanks to its very slim bezels, there’s not much room for speakers on either S20/S20+ or S20 Ultra. As a result, there’s one downward-facing driver and another very small speaker at the top of the device. They get very loud, but the sound is mostly unimpressive. It lacks depth and at high volumes sounds distorted and noisy.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra is Samsung’s superphone to conquer all superphones. Everything pushed to excess.
But all that excess also makes the phone far too big and in our opinion we would rather say go with the regular S20 or S20+ if you need a more comfortable form factor device with flagship specs at a cheaper price.
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