Samsung just launched the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, which now becomes the tip of the spear in Samsung’s line up in the high-end segment of the market.
The Note 20 & Note 20 Ultra are built on the foundation of the Galaxy S20/S20 Ultra phones, but they push consumer phone technology to the extreme.
Thanks to improvements in Industrial Design, Samsung can increase the Note’s screen size to 6.9-inch (Ultra) within a comparable body. Additionally, the smart 120Hz refresh should keep power-consumption in check, while delivering uber-snappy responsiveness.
The screen size is the foundation of the integrated S-Pen’s usability, an input device that has been optimized for almost a decade now. In its 2020 flavor, the Galaxy Note 20 S-Pen features higher precision and latency that is as low as nine milliseconds – the most responsive consumer E-Pen to date.
Samsung has added a ton of Pen Air Action gestures that let you trigger actions while using the pen during presentations, for example. It’s probably best to watch a video to see it in action, but the usability is just outstanding.
Productivity has always been the Galaxy Note’s DNA, and applications such as Samsung Notes have gotten massively upgraded. The Samsung Notes app started as a simple note-taking tool to evolve into a very advanced content creation and sharing platform.
We noticed the addition of “Live sync,” the ability to share notes across devices, and the ability to time-sync your hand-written notes with an audio recording. Time-sync is incredibly useful as you can select and listen to the audio at an exact moment.
The Galaxy Note 20 series can wirelessly project its screen content and switch to Desktop Mode with Samsung DEX. You no longer need to have a dock, and it is possible to (wirelessly) connect to any Miracast-enabled TV, monitor, or projector wirelessly.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 plus platform (Qualcomm press release), the Galaxy Note 20 & Note 20 Ultra reach excellent performance levels for productivity but gaming as well. Such speed extends to 5G (sub-6 + mmWave) and WiFi 6, which are both the best broadband and networking options available today.
Keep in mind that we will run tests on the Snapdragon version of the Galaxy Note 20. There are models powered by Samsung’s Exynos 990 platform in some regions of the world. Generally, Samsung manages to provide the same user experience, but the details may fluctuate.
The maximum battery size is 4500mAh (Ultra), which is not the highest capacity out there. Still, since last year, the Galaxy Note series got high-speed charging (~85mAh/mn, that’s way faster than iPhone 11), which negates the ~10% advantage that some competitors may have in sheer capacity with 5000 mAh batteries.
Ultra-wideband (UWB) technology makes its appearance in the Note 20 series and could enable things such as indoor location, or electronic keys. Late last year, BMW announced that it was using similar technology to replace keys.
But our favorite topic is the Galaxy Note 20 and 20 Ultra cameras. Again, the technology comes straight from the excellent S20 series, and the Galaxy Note 20’s camera is essentially the same as the S20. The Note 20 Ultra camera is comparable to the S20 Ultra’s but with the addition of a laser-assisted autofocus designed to correct a weak spot in the S20 Ultra camera.
In addition to recording at 8K/24FPS, the Galaxy Note 20 can use Samsung’s Galaxy Buds microphones as an additional audio source to improve significantly ambient noise removal (the demo was impressive). That is an excellent idea, and I wish that it would work with 3rd party earbuds too some day.
We will revisit the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra cameras when we take a closer look at the hardware and image-quality, but on paper, it is at the S20 Ultra mage-quality level. The Galaxy S20 Ultra presently has the highest image quality (IQ) rating in our Uber-G Camera IQ mobile camera benchmark.
Overall, the new Samsung Galaxy Note 20, and especially the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, has excellent specifications, design, and camera performance for their respective price segment.
Both phones can be pre-ordered starting tomorrow (August 6) and will be available on August 21. In their base configurations, the Galaxy Note 20 costs $999, and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s price is $1299. T-Mobile and Verizon have announced the phone on their networks, and everyone else should follow shortly.