Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Review - A game with as many numbers as possible
This year, Samsung is celebrating 10 years since the introduction of the first Galaxy S. To celebrate this, it decided decisively and that, with an ultra version of a smartphone that is bigger, heavier, faster, simply more. Larger numbers were reflected not only in the specifications, but also in the price. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra costs from € 1, 349, which is the most in the company's history. The Ultra is a sort of Samsung's cry that it can also offer the device without any compromises. It can make a phone that is spared for people who want the best of the best. But did he succeed? Let's take a look.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is a truly impressive device. It has a huge, 6.9-inch display, has a 5, 000 mAh battery, 5G connectivity even in Slovakia, 120 Hz display, 108 Mpx camera, larger sensor. Simply everything Samsung had was available in Ultre.
In the nomenclature, Samsung has moved straight to the S20 (and not the S11) because it is a new generation, a new decade of smartphones. Despite ten years "in the works", however, I discovered a few shortcomings on the S20 Ultra. Although they are not so significant that I would not recommend the S20 Ultra because of them, they are currently there and you should know about them.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: Design, display and battery
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is huge. It's really big, so that some people with smaller hands may have a problem with it. Its basis is a 6.9-inch display, which makes it even larger than the Galaxy Note10 +, which is already a device anyway.
Its size was also reflected in the weight, which is impressive at 222 grams . In his hand he looks like a piece of heavy, beautifully worked metal in the embrace of glass.
Samsung also presents its seriousness in color versions. The S20 Ultra is only available in gray or black . The most distinctive feature is the clearly rectangular rear camera module. The cameras stand out, making the phone look even rougher than it really is. Of course, the large SPACE ZOOM 100x label, which symbolizes the capabilities of the new periscope lens, cannot be missing. But more on that later.
The whole device is made of extremely high quality. This way, to the touch, quality phones really only make Samsung. I'm not saying that other manufacturers don't care about quality either, but with Samsung it's a step further. The back curves very gently towards the metal frame, thanks to which, despite its enormity in the hand, it looks comfortable.
Samsung has moved all the controls to the right. In the Galaxy S10, only the on / off button was located on the right side, while the volume control buttons and the Bixby button were located on the left side. The S20 Ultra has them all on the right, with the Bixby button completely gone . One phone is quite difficult to operate with one hand, especially if you don't have big hands.
Because the phone is shiny, it easily collects fingerprints, which I didn't mind as much as in the case of the Galaxy Z Flip, which is an even bigger magnet. Anyway, the phone is big, slippery and can easily fall or scratch you. Even in this case, I recommend buying a case. It is a pity that Samsung did not go into a matte design, which would look even more serious and subjectively a little more beautiful with such a serious device. Even so, I like the design, it really reflects the mentality of the "Ultra" label.
Speaking of that size - the main reason why the S20 Ultra is so big is its 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display . This year, Samsung finally deployed a display with a 120 Hz refresh rate (it had 60 Hz displays so far). It took Samsung so long because he was not satisfied with the quality of color reproduction, which shows how much he cares about the quality of display panels. From my findings, the designation "2X" means that the S20 series phones have two displays that alternate between displaying individual images . How exactly this mechanism, resp. the technology works, i couldn't figure it out anymore, but one thing is clear. It works and it works absolutely fantastically.
If you think there are no differences between S10 and S20, try working on the phones at the same time. On the S20, turn on the 120 Hz refresh rate and try again. That difference cannot be described. The point here is that you have to see it with your own eyes. However, it also has one major disadvantage. By having the phone refresh the contents twice as often, battery life is reduced . In the real world, the 120 Hz refresh rate reduces battery life by an average of 10% , which is sure to teach you to live with.
By default, the S20 Ultra traditionally no longer turns on the highest resolution . You can change that, of course, but the resolution of 2, 300 x 1, 080 also looks fantastic. A full resolution of 3, 200 x 1, 440 is also available, but it consumes even more battery power than the 120 Hz refresh rate, which is only available at lower resolutions.
The quality of the display on the S20 Ultra is without question the highest I have ever seen on a smartphone. The manufacturer's engineers did a huge amount of work, which was reflected in several awards. The colors are balanced, the display is quite bright even outdoors and HDR10 + support is especially welcome when watching series and movies on Netflix.
One thing that disappointed me with the S20 Ultra, however, is perhaps the most the battery life . When the Samsung phone was introduced and I saw that it had a 5, 000 mAh battery, I was immediately pleased. Have a phone that can't handle just 1 hard working day, or maybe a day and a half? Don't worry about running out of battery power during the day? This is a goal that all manufacturers should aim for today.
Unfortunately, the S20 Ultra did not succeed . Especially after the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, I found out how much I would "enjoy" 20-30% better battery life. In this mode, I have to connect the phone to the charger around 7 to 8 in the evening . And I don't get up almost early, but classically around 7 to half past eight.
Worse battery life is caused by the less energy-efficient Exynos 990 chipset. From the words of foreign editors, it is clear that the version powered by the Snapdragon 865 processor does not have such a problem. The S20 Ultra is hardly a one-day phone.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: Cameras
The numbers game was mostly reflected on the cameras. It is true that Samsung * gives more * in all directions, but with cameras it is * more than more *. Samsung is not trying to outperform the competition in this regard. He wants to jump her by the pole and set a new Olympic record. He has used several technologies in the S20 Ultra, which he has not used before, and thus impress people who are thinking about what they will buy with the retreat of Huawei.
Galaxy S20 Ultra has five cameras (if you also count the sensor measuring the depth of field). Most of them are charged with the number of megapixels up to the ceiling. On the front there is a 40 Mpx selfie camera, on the back there is a 48 Mpx zoom sensor and there is also a 108 Mpx main sensor and the equipment is complemented by a 12 Mpx ultra-wide sensor.
When introducing the S20 Ultra, Samsung made it clear that more mega pixels made sense in their case. The 108 MP sensor located in the S20 Ultra is specially adapted to their needs. No other manufacturer has it . The phone can combine or split individual pixels as needed. For example, when there is enough light in the exterior, the pixels are split and the data collects all 108 Mpx. However, when lighting conditions deteriorate, the pixels combine to form " super pixels " capable of capturing as much light as possible.
Okay, the basic theory is behind us, so what are the results? Galaxy S20 Ultra takes great photos, which changes over time - it improves. Samsung is struggling with several issues, which it is gradually fixing.
In good light, the S20 Ultra takes fantastic photos. The images are detailed, full of color, but not exaggerated, and the white balance is again a bit more accurate than before. The quality has improved even in low light conditions, but that's still not it. Huawei does it better and Google does it better. Night mode produces images that look artificially brightened and heavily flooded with digital noise, which is a shame. Following the Huawei model, the S20 Ultra has a slightly larger physical sensor.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed taking photos with the Galaxy S20 Ultra. It's a fantastic smartphone that offers you flexibility . Whether you're shooting something on a basic sensor, ultra-wide shots, or want to get something close. The shots will look fantastic with one exception - 100x zoom . There, Samsung tries too hard to smooth out the final shot, which makes it an useless bunch.
The S20 Ultra offers 4x optical zoom and 10x zoom without loss of quality (combination of optical zoom and large sensor cropping). I can say with my hand on my heart that this is really enough. It may seem that you will use 50x or 100x zoom every day, because the phone can do it. But the truth is that much more depends on the quality of ultra-wide shots, classic shots, and shots that have a slight zoom (up to 5x). I used the 100x zoom only when I could not read what is written on the remote sign, and despite my best efforts, I still could not read it after taking a picture due to the significant smoothing of the final image. For Samsung, it's a numbers game that you could forgive on the one hand, but I'm happy on the other, because the new technologies are also about such experiments and pushing the bar higher and further.
But enough about the approximations. I even like the " Single take " mode or the " Single take " in the Slovak version. It is a mode in which you start recording something you want to immortalize (celebrations, fooling around with family or friends) for 10 seconds and the phone offers you not only video , but also photos with applied filters, GIF animations and more. A really great affair, thanks to which you will have many more memories of individual experiences than before. I really can't praise it.
On the Galaxy S20 Ultra, however, I was most disturbed by the time the phone spent looking for focus. It manifests itself as "breathing, " when the lens goes through the full range of its focus until it finds what it really needs to focus on. This is exactly the thing that is tied to the software. Samsung is working hard on the issue and the latest updates have already brought significant improvements, but it is not yet fully tuned. However, as I said, this is a software issue that can be fixed, and I firmly believe that it will.
In other ways, the S20 Ultra is a fantastic tool . The selfie camera, which is based on very nice shots * (* depends on the subject in front of the camera ), has also undergone improvements. The dynamic focus mode has also been improved, which is again more accurate and more pleasing to the eye. Simply put, the S20 Ultra is the best photo smartphone, at least from Samsung, despite the marketing storm around 100x zoom. Future updates, I firmly believe, will only strengthen him in this position.
The last big "wow" feature is the ability to record and edit 8K videos . The fact that it offers a phone that you put in your pocket is impressive. However, the quality of the shots themselves is something else and, unfortunately, I do not recommend this option for the normal shooting of family reunions. However, it is still VERY impressive and I believe that Samsung will constantly improve 8K videos. In a few years we will have 8K TVs at home and I will tell you - record your memories of children or family in the highest reasonable quality. Thank you in the future, because it is not possible to go back in time, but quality shots can give you this illusion for a short time.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: Performance, Software & Battery
The issue of performance and battery life is a very sensitive topic in this year's news from Samsung. The company again decided to divide the phones into two groups according to where they are sold. While in the US and South Korea you buy them with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, in Slovakia and other parts of the world they are powered by the Exynos 990.
This is very important information, as processors are very different despite their similar performance on paper. I would like Samsung to use the same processor in all smartphones, but unfortunately we live in the real world, where this is sometimes not possible. Why am I so outraged?
Snapdragon 865 is a more powerful and better designed chipset than the Exynos 990. It stays cooler at work, has lower power consumption and a more powerful graphics chip, at least in terms of long-term performance.
These discrepancies have also been reflected in dozens of comparisons on the Internet. While the version with Snapdragon 865 has no problem driving even the most demanding games (like let's say PUBG Mobile) for a long time (30+ minutes), the Exynos 990 starts to sweat almost literally, which is reflected in lower performance and higher consumption. This is because when the processor overheats, it tries to protect not only itself but also the rest of the system, thus reducing the clock speed, which results in reduced performance.
Is it the "end of the world"? Absolutely not. I have been using the Galaxy S20 Ultra for a little over a month and I will tell you that I did not have a single performance problem. I deliberately didn't want to prepare a review quickly to make sure all the information was true, and I found that even if it's based on the truth, you hardly notice it in the real world. However, I agree that TOP models sold at the same or higher price should be equipped with the best on the market. And the best on the market this year is definitely the Snapdragon 865.
On the software side, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is a classic "Samsung". The company has equipped it with a One UI 2.1 user interface built on Android 10, which is beautifully tuned, fast and, above all, makes sense. The environment is not crowded and you will find everything quickly.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is the ultimate phone for Samsung. It's the epitome of the belief that South Korean experts can beat all Android smartphone manufacturers in every way. Is there a phone with a 90 Hz display on the market? We will have a 120 Hz display. Is there a 50x zoom phone on the market? We will have a 100x zoom. Although such an approach is not 100%, Samsung has largely succeeded.
It is a beautiful and powerful phone that offers flexibility like never before. However, it also has disadvantages. The main one is the higher price - up to € 1, 349. You also pay for 5G, which you will not use in Slovakia yet. However, the higher price also has another reason, which is a completely redesigned camera system. These are at a level that I could not have imagined with Samsung a year ago.
Is the Galaxy S20 Ultra the best Samsung device? Unequivocally. Is it worth buying? Definitely, but I would wait until the price drops by at least a "5G tax".
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is the epitome of what Samsung can do. It is the result of the challenge of making a phone that knows everything better and has everything better. Did it work? For the most part, yes, that is why we rank it among smartphones that are worth buying the most.