Samsung have just recently announced their latest in the Note series line up. We have two new devices with the launch of the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
Let’s not waste anytime and dive right in and take a look at what the latest from Samsung has to offer. Let’s start with the Note 20 Ultra as Samsungs latest flagship device
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
The Note 20 Ultra is Samsung’s latest flagship and newest Note device. It continues alot of the design choices in the last Note device, but also takes some things from the S20 from 6 months ago.
The design includes a stainless steel frame with Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back of the device. The latest from Gorilla offers near 2x as much protection against scratches and drops. We really hope that is the case as the Note 20 Ultra is the first device with this new glass, so it remains to be seen. The edge curve was made more subtle on the S20 Ultra, but Samsung have gone back to more extensive curve on the sides of the display which looks amazing but can impact practical use. The device will come with Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, and Mystic White.
Samsung have shifted the S-Pen to the left side of the device, which is take some getting use to for Note users. This is most likely to allow the buttons to stay on the right of the phone for easier access. The S-Pen itself has some upgrades which we will get to shortly.
The Display is one of Samsung’s best and is a 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X with 1,440 x 3,088 resolution. It supports HDR10+ and has up to 1,500 nits of brightness. It also sports 120Hz, but only when using the HD resolution. The refresh also now works in adaptive mode, meaning the refresh rate will change based on the content your viewing; for instances web pages will lower it to 10Hz, movies to 24-30Hz and gaming to 48Hz+. This feature alone could have huge benefits to battery life and that’s something we hope to see.
Chipset’s (Exynos and Snapdragon models)
The internal specs are where things get a tad complicated. As Samsung have for quite some time offered different internal chipsets for different regions. In the US, Canada and South Korea they offer the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ chipset. Everywhere else in the world they offer their in-house Exynos 990.
While in the past the performance difference was never a large gap, with both chips trading blows with each other. That difference has been getting bigger and bigger and with the launch of the S20 six months ago; we saw the biggest divide between the devices. The North America version the S20 launched with the Snapdragon 865 and the Global version with the same Exynos 990 we have the Note 20 series. The difference involved performance, efficiency and even camera quality. Battery life and overall performance throttling on the Exynos 990 chipset were fairly evident but in truth it was only in comparison against it’s Snapdragon brother.
The concern with the Note 20 is pushed even wider with the North america version upgraded to the Snapdragon 865+ and Europe continuing on with the Exynos 990. There were some rumours that Samsung made some changes to the Exynos 990 in the Note 20, but we have no concrete information on this. Sadly there is simply nothing that can be done about this; it is what it is. it has to be noted that Samsung are ultimately offering vastly different versions of the same phone in different regions. So be weary of reviews in the future and confirm it’s the same device you may receive.
Another difference in regions is that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with Exynos 990 comes with 256GB and 512GB options, but the North American and South Korean version comes in 128GB and 512GB options. So Europe at least gets more base storage. Perhaps on purpose. Both devices will come with 12GB of RAM.
The camera sensors have some changes when compared to the S20 Ultra. Normally the Note gets almost identical setup, but in this cases the changes are mostly made to curb the issues that the S20 Ultra saw at launch.
The device has 3 camera sensors which include a 108MP 1/1.33″ sensor with 0.8µm pixel size and 26mm lens and f/1.9 aperture. It now supports laser auto focus, which should solve the focusing issue that occurred on the S20 Ultra.
The telephoto shooter is down from 48MP sensor to a 12MP one. This includes a larger pixel size at 1.0µm and has 120mm periscope lens with f/3.0 aperture. It offers a 5x Optical zoom over the 4X on the 20 Ultra. The zoom is capped at 50x this time around, as truthfully anything beyond that on these sensors and lens is a smudging mess.
The Ultrawide shooter hasn’t changed from the S20 Ultra. It offers 12 MP resolution, 1/2.55″ sensor, and 1.4µm pixel size with f/2.2 aperture The Lens is 13mm with 120˚ degree field of view. The selfie camera has also changed from a 48MP on the S20 Ultra to a 10MP 1/3.2″ sensor with 1.22µm pixel size (Dual Pixel) and the lens is 26mm with f/2.2 aperture.
Video support continues with up to 8K recording at 24fps. There is a plethora of resolutions and ratios to record at available within the app. The App itself has been updated with a more options in pro Video mode with better sound options and histogram for colour.
The Note series wouldn’t be itself with the S-Pen. The changes this time around and more substantial in some cases. The latency for the S-Pen actions from pen to display on the Note 10 was around 45ms. Samsung have managed to bring that down to just 9ms, making it a big leap towards feeling more like a natural pen. The large jump is thanks to increased refresh rate on the display/digitizer and the use of AI to continually track movements and estimate the next direction. It’s basically guessing with high accuracy where you’r heading next.
Samsung are also doing more with air actions, allowing a bit more control over the devices by pressing the S-pen button and swiping the air like a magic wand. We don’t imagine anyone getting any real use out of this feature set.
The note taking app has been upgraded to support exporting as PDF and Microsoft word, which can be extremely useful. You can also record a voice memo’s along with specific sentences to really add more information to your documents.
The other specs for the Note 20 Ultra includes a Micro SD/Dual Sim slot for expandable storage. We have stereo speakers, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 6, USB Type-C 3.2, under display fingerprint reader. 25W fast charging, 9w reverse wireless charging, 4,500mAh battery and lastly IP68 water resistance. The Note 20 Ultra is running Android 10 with One UI 2.5.
Galaxy Note 20
The Galaxy Note 20 is the base model for the new Note series. The specs on paper however read of something a little bit more mid-range when comparing it to the Note 20 Ultra or even other devices avaialble on the market. The only spec that is shared is the chipset itself. The design, camera, battery, display, and even S-Pen are different and lesser compared to the Note 20 Ultra.
Design and Display
The design does differ in a few places compared to the their true flagship Note 20 Ultra. The Note 20 does not come with the latest Gorilla Glass Victus and instead uses Gorilla Glass 5 on the display. The back of the device is made of plastic instead of glass, the display is flat; a welcome change that was on all of the the S20 series. The Note 20 will arrive in Mystic Green, Mystic Bronze, Mystic Gray, Mystic Red, Mystic Blue. This is market depending as well.
The display comes in at 6.7-inches with a 1,080 x 2,400 resolution and Super AMOLED Plus display. The refresh rate is also locked at 60hz making this an odd display for the base Note 20 model. Not a bad display in anyway, but not the standard that Samsung typically offer on flagship series , even with the plus/ultra nomenclature missing.
Chipset and Camera
Internally the device has the same region chipset’s included. North America and South Korea will get the Snapdragon 865+ chipset from Qualcomm and the rest of the world will get the Exynos 990. The Note 20 will also include 8GB’s of RAM and have 128GB of storage. Sadly there is no MicroSD slot for any expanding later.
The camera’s are also different compared to the Note 20 Ultra. The main shooter is a 12MP with 1/1.76″ sensor size and 1.8µm pixel size. The lens is 26mm wide and has f/1.8 aperture. The secondary telephoto is 64MP sensor offering 3x optical zoom with 1/1.72″ sensor size and 0.8µm pixel size. Lastly the ultrawide sensor is 12MP with f/2.2 aperture and 120 degree field of view. It has a 1/2.55″ sensor and 1.4µm pixel size.
The Selfie camera is the same from the Ultra. It’s a 10MP 1/3.2″ sensor with 1.22µm pixel size (Dual Pixel) and the lens is 26mm with f/2.2 aperture.
The lack of laser focus compared to the Note 20 Ultra shouldn’t be considered an issue, as the use of it in the Note 20 Ultra was to fix the focusing issues the S20 Ultra suffered with the same 108MP. Since the Note 20 Ultra shares that same sensor, the inclusion of the laser AF was to solve the focusing issue it. The Note 20 itself now uses a 12MP sensor and not the 108MP one, so it won’t suffer the same focusing issues.
The included S-Pen in the Note 20 is the exact same and features all of the same functions compared to the Note 20 Ultra. There only difference is the latency doesn’t make the same leap in performance. Instead of 9ms on the Note 20 Ultra, the Note 20 itself is around 25ms. Most likely this wont be as noticeable to many, but the true advancement in latency on the Note 20 Ultra is most likely related to the displays increased refresh rate and touch response, which the Note 20 doesn’t include.
The other specs include stereo speakers, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 6, USB Type-C 3.2. under display fingerprint reader. 25W fast charging, 15w wireless charging, 9w reverse wireless charging, 4,300mAh battery and lastly IP68 water resistance. The Note 20 is also running Android 10 with One UI 2.5.
Launch details and Pricing
The launching of the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra is set for August 21st. Both devices are avaialble for pre-order with some extra’s avaialble for pre-ordering. The Ultra includes either Music or Game pack (your choice). Music pack is a pair of Galaxy Buds Live in Mystic Bronze. The Game pack is a 3 month Xbox Game Pass subscription, MOGA XP5-X+ controller, Wireless charging stand.
The Note 20 or Note 20 5G includes the same Game pack but the Music pack is a pair of Galaxy Buds+.
Pricing is where things again get tricky. The Note 20 Ultra is in Europe is priced around €1299 give or take. We say that because some retailers are charging more and some are charging less.
The Note 20 however is priced at €999. It’s really hard to take that number seriously as we read out the specs. The 1080p@60hz display, while stunning no doubt, doesn’t match competition or Samsung other offers. The Plastic back and use of Gorilla Glass 5. Among other factors the Note 20 just doesn’t seem worth the money compared to the Ultra or other devices on the market. This might be Samsung’s attempt at the decoy effect, and their effort to make the Note 20 Ultra seem more worthy, as €1299 is still pricey money for a smartphone. I guess we will know closer to release if folks are interested in paying €999 for what should be called the Note 20E.