Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and first impressions

Let's admit it: smartphones these days, even those that are affordable, are usually fast enough in terms of performance, and you can get a pretty decent camera without spending more than a thousand dollars. However, if you want more than just enough, if you want your phone to be meticulously crafted with a polished design that shines like a jewel, then this is when you should start looking at feature phones. This is the feeling I felt after using Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, for about an hour after I borrowed it from a tech reviewer on YouTube shortly after the Unpacked event.

The new Note phone features a square, rectangular body that is instantly recognizable and different from Samsung's S series phones. Its new design reduces the bezels even further so you really feel like you're holding just one giant screen, without interruptions. The screen is definitely large at 6.9 inches, more like a tablet. The previous version had a 6.8-inch screen, and Samsung somehow managed to design a slightly larger screen, although the Note 20 Ultra comes with a larger screen, but it is completely identical to last year's phone.

Note 20 Ultra and a revolution in design

But the big difference is in the shape of the camera module: when you hold last year's phone and compare it to the new one, the contrast is amazing. The new phone comes with a camera module designed in a bold and noticeable way.

There are a few other small changes: the buttons are now on the right where they belong and the S Pen is now on the left. A few other things haven't changed: the screen is still slightly curved (something less noticeable on such a giant screen by the way), and there's still no headphone jack as expected.

You have three colors to choose from, all of which are neutral and less striking than the explosion of color we had on the Note 10 Plus. Where the basic version comes in a color called Mystic Bronze, then you have the color white, and then the model you see in the pictures here is Mystic Black, which actually looks more like the gray of the iPhone.

This version unfortunately was glossy but was smeared with fingerprint smudges. Another great thing about our phone today is that it comes with a glass body that is much stronger and more durable than any other phone. The protection layer is called Gorilla Glass Victus and it has great resistance against scratches and bumps. In theory, the phone should be able to survive a big drop on its head, just don't try it on purpose.

Minor modifications to the pen

The number one reason people buy the Note is the S Pen, and if that's your main reason, you'll be glad to know that the S Pen upgrade here is the biggest ever in the series' history. The company reduced the response time to just 9ms, which is a more than 4-fold improvement. This means that there is no apparent delay between the moment the S Pen touches the screen until the time the actual drawing appears. It's just like using pen on paper, which is very fancy.

Samsung has also improved its Notes app with cloud sync, and it will transform and edit unsightly handwriting in digital text. There are also 5 new “air gestures” that you can use to control your phone remotely. I've tried them and they don't always work from the first try, I'm not likely to use them much in the future.

screen and enough وك

However, the reason I'm buying the phone isn't the S Pen: it's the display. 6.9 inch Dynamic AMOLED display, saturated with colour. This is the best screen I've seen on any Samsung phone so far. It displays incredibly rich colors and gets super bright at 1,500 nits, so you can use it outdoors and in the sun without any worries, plus, it supports Quad HD resolution, but not if you use the 120Hz refresh rate option.

After that, the maximum resolution is 1080p, which is a bit frustrating as other phones can do this. However, Samsung seems to think that this could drain a lot of battery. If you ask me, I'll always go with 120Hz alongside Quad HD.

Speaking of the battery, there is one with a capacity of 4500 mAh inside. Yes, it's smaller than the 5,000mAh one found on the S20 Ultra. Some people will find this disappointing. I have not. The Note phone is a little thinner than S20 UltraAnd for me, that last one is pretty cumbersome, so I really appreciate the Note's slim body. You also have all the other features you should expect from a battery: 25W fast charger in the box, support for wireless charging, support for reverse wireless charging. The phone also supports 45W fast charging if you spend an additional $50 fee to purchase this faster charger.

Extraordinary interior features as usual

Under the hood, you get the highest specs: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, 12GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage with support for its expansion via a microSD slot. The new thing here is UFS 3.1 storage technology, which means the phone is faster than before, and you can feel it throughout the user interface that looks more vibrant than ever.

The important part of the phone is the camera. The huge camera bump has a 108MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide one, and a 12MP optical zoom lens. This last lens is a beast and will give you almost exactly the same zoom as the one on the S20 Ultra, which means it's pretty cool. You don't get "Space Zoom X" and instead you can "zoom" up to 50X only. I can totally live with that because images beyond that zoom range are too blurry for me at all.

Samsung also fixed the S20 Ultra's autofocus issue on this note. You now get laser autofocus that focuses in the blink of an eye for both photos and videos. It is really impressive.

So here's the bottom line for the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. It's a phone that you can have if you want to pamper yourself with the best technology, it represents the concept of practical luxury. And with Samsung promising three major updates in the future. What about excitement and innovation? Well, the phone might feel a little boring compared to the foldable giant: Galaxy Z Fold 2. But in the end you know what it is, innovation comes with its share of risks and problems, and if you want a risk-free phone you can count on, the best option is the Note 20 Ultra which is one of the finest smartphones at the moment.

Mohamed Hamed

Mohamed Hamed

A BA in English literature and a diploma in translation from AUC University, age 25 - I love the technical field, you will find me either reading an article or books about a new technology, I write on many technical websites.

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