Home / Android / Our Galaxy S20 Ultra review, one month later: Disappointment rising

Our Galaxy S20 Ultra review, one month later: Disappointment rising

Our Galaxy S20 Ultra assessment, one month later: Disappointment rising

Samsung’s 2020 Galaxy S household contains three gadgets once more, however they’ve all moved a bit up-market from 2019. There’s no “e” variant this yr, and the bottom mannequin S20 begins at $1,000. Samsung understandably favors the top-of-the-line mannequin, the $1,400 Galaxy S20 Ultra. This telephone has all of the bells and whistles together with a Snapdragon 865, 5G (sub-6 and mmWave), and a revamped digicam setup that includes a periscope zoom module. With all that , the S20 Ultra has ballooned to six.9-inches, and it weighs nearly half a pound. By making an attempt to make no compromises, I fear Samsung has compromised the S20 Ultra itself.

Samsung is the uncontested king of the Android ecosystem—even releasing after which canceling the explosive Galaxy Note 7 barely slowed the corporate down. People care in regards to the Samsung model, so it may possibly get away with charging a bit extra for a telephone. A whopping $1,400, although? While the S20 Ultra is a succesful gadget, it will not knock your socks off the way in which a $1,400 telephone ought to. Even the brand new digicam array looks like extra of the identical from Samsung.

Design, , what’s within the field

The very first thing that struck me once I began utilizing the Galaxy S20 Ultra was how large it’s. The second factor that struck me was the telephone… within the face once I fell asleep utilizing it in mattress that first night time. Let me inform you, nothing drives residence the ludicrous dimension of this gadget like dropping it in your face. It weighs 222g, which is nearly half a pound. And like all current Samsung telephones, it is constructed from slippery glass. Other OEMs have at the least experimented with textured or matte glass that repels fingerprints and will increase grip, however not Samsung. Using this telephone and not using a case is simply asking for hassle.

The digicam module additionally protrudes from the physique quite a bit. The telephone sits noticeably inclined while you set it down and not using a case. I’d surmise Samsung has given up worrying about digicam bulk. Almost everybody will use a case that evens out the again, and once more, you would be loopy to stroll round with this slippery $1,400 gizmo bare. Samsung did make one design change I am comfortable to see: the buttons are again on the proper aspect the place they belong.

You may bear in mind when 7-inch tablets had been a factor, and now telephones have nearly caught up with the S20 Ultra’s 6.9-inch display screen. Sure, the bezels on the S20 Ultra are slim, so it isn’t as cumbersome as a Nexus 7. Still, this telephone will stretch your pocket and your arms. That stated, the show is beautiful. Samsung has lastly shrunken the underside bezel to the purpose it is nearly imperceptibly bigger than the highest, and the opening punch for the front-facing digicam is sufficiently small that it does not require an outsized standing bar. The colours and brightness are class-leading, which is true of each new Samsung flagship.

The S20 introduces two very constructive show modifications this yr. First, the curved edges of previous Samsung telephones are gone. That design regarded neat at first, however it made the telephones liable to unintentional touches. The S20 Ultra has a tiny curve on the very edge—it is extra like a 2.5D glass cowl than a curved show. The 1440 OLED panel additionally helps a 120Hz refresh price, which seems to be unbelievable. Doubling the refresh price makes the UI really feel so fluid and responsive that it is arduous to return to 60Hz.

Unfortunately, the improved show smoothness makes the fingerprint unlock really feel that rather more awkward. Samsung has as soon as once more used an ultrasonic sensor within the show. My expertise with unlocking the telephone has ranged from acceptable to infuriating. Most of the time the S20 Ultra will unlock on the primary strive, however it at all times appears to take a beat longer than I would like. Other instances, the telephone steadfastly refuses to acknowledge my fingerprint for causes unknown, and I’ve to readjust to scan at a special angle. The velocity and accuracy is perhaps nominally higher than final yr, however it’s nonetheless far worse than the capacitive sensor on the S10e.

Don’t anticipate quite a lot of extras within the field with this telephone. You’ll get the 25W charger, a USB-C cable, USB-C earbuds, and the pre-installed display screen protector. I do not personally like the texture of Samsung’s included display screen cowl, so I took it off. If you are frightened in regards to the glass, it’s best to get a high-quality alternative.

Software, efficiency, and battery

The S20 Ultra runs Android 10 with Samsung’s One UI 2.zero pores and skin, and there is little or no right here we’ve not seen earlier than. Samsung made a couple of tweaks like including Duo to the dialer and integrating Spotify with Bixby Routines. Otherwise, this is identical software program expertise you’d get on a Galaxy S10 after the Android 10 replace. It’s a quick telephone, as quick as the rest with the potential exception of the Pixel. Samsung telephones have at all times gotten a bit sluggish for me over time. I am unable to say if that can occur this time, however we’ll see.

Samsung defaults to utilizing customary navigation buttons on the S20, however you possibly can swap to both Samsung’s gesture setup or the usual Google model. However, you possibly can solely use Google’s gesture nav with the inventory One UI residence display screen—sure, that is nonetheless a limitation in spite of everything these months. Samsung’s launcher is not terrible, however it feels clunky. Simple actions like including icons or managing folders take extra effort than they do on different residence screens, and Samsung nonetheless hasn’t discovered what to do with the left-most panel. Bixby Home is gone, changed with an analogous characteristic referred to as Samsung Daily. Like Bixby Home, this can be a scrolling checklist of beneficial content material and hyperlinks, and none of it is vitally good. I’d kill for Google Discover as an choice.

The S20 Ultra contains all the same old One UI options just like the Edge Panel, pop-up view, one-handed mode, and extra. It additionally has the improved Link to Windows performance that debuted on the Note 10+. Although, I do not care for many of Samsung’s included apps, so that they’re simply taking over house. There are additionally quite a few settings buried a number of menus deep that you’re going to not often if ever use, and the whole lot on this telephone appears to need to ship you a notification.

One decidedly good factor in regards to the S20 Ultra is that it helps all the present 5G networks. You do not should do something particular, offered 5G is enabled in your SIM card. Simply swap your SIM in, and you can connect with each sub-6 and millimeter wave 5G. Of course, discovering 5G will show tougher. I used the S20 Ultra totally on T-Mobile’s 5G, however I used to be in a position to play with Verizon’s millimeter wave, too. In each instances, my expertise was similar to the final time I used these 5G networks. T-Mobile’s 5G works in additional locations, however its barely any sooner than 4G—generally it is truly slower. Verizon’s 5G is blazing quick however nearly unimaginable to seek out even in areas that ought to have protection.

One of the explanations this telephone is so heavy is the large 5,000mAh battery. Presumably, the discreet modem required for the Snapdragon 865 makes use of extra energy than the built-in LTE-only options we have had lately. The 120Hz display screen can also be a battery hog. I’ve examined the Galaxy S20 in each 120Hz and 60Hz modes. In my expertise, 120Hz mode is nice for about six hours of display screen time in barely over 24 hours. That’s not unhealthy essentially, however it’s disappointing for a 5,000mAh battery. In 60Hz mode, the S20 Ultra will get about 30% extra battery life for me.


The S20 Ultra’s digicam array is essentially the most substantial improve over the S20+, which has extra in frequent with the bottom mannequin S20. The images expertise actually has to seal the deal for this $1,400 telephone, however it does not get there. I’ve gotten some excellent pictures from the S20 Ultra, however it’s nonetheless a Samsung digicam with all of the foibles we have come to anticipate. I haven’t got a lower-tier S20 to match, however I can say the outcomes right here aren’t a lot completely different than the Note 10+ regardless of all the flowery new in that large module.

Photos taken with the S20 Ultra’s main shooter have a really “Samsung” high quality with extreme edge sharpening and smooth textures. This telephone has 108MP to work with, however the photos are sometimes much less detailed than a tool just like the Pixel Four with its 12MP sensor. Samsung additionally ramps up the publicity time when gentle begins to decrease, which results in lengthy shutter lag. The ISO additionally goes greater than I would anticipate for a tool with a large aperture and massive sensor. I’ve observed some unusual focus points with each the usual and zoom cameras, too. The S20 Ultra appears sluggish to seek out the proper focus, and even tiny moments trigger the telephone to “hunt” for focus once more. This ends in some ruined pictures and movies. The ultra-wide digicam has the identical processing points, however it’s much less obvious in a large field-of-view.

The S20 Ultra is the one S20 with true optical zoom within the type of a 4x periscope digicam (the massive sq. sensor on the backside). This telephone helps 100x zoom with a mix of optical and AI-powered digital magnification. These excessive zooms do not look good, and the viewfinder shakes a lot that you’re going to drive your self loopy for those who do not use a tripod. The results of Samsung’s processed zoom is nearly similar to a manually cropped picture from the first sensor. Samsung ought to have simply targeted on the Four-10x zoom pictures, that are stable. See our comparability with the Pixel Four for extra on that.

Left to proper: 1x, 4x, and 100x zoom

I do not take quite a lot of selfies, however the S20 Ultra sports activities a 40MP front-facing digicam. The cheaper S20 variants solely have a 10MP front-facing digicam. The S20 Ultra’s 40MP digicam picks up quite a lot of element, however perhaps not as a lot as you’d anticipate. Samsung’s processing tends to melt faces barely. It’s nonetheless loads good for Instagram and video calls.

Samsung has additionally added assist for 8k video recording, which you’ll be able to see above (observe the main focus looking initially). When you keep away from focus points, the S20 Ultra takes nice video. The 8K mode is a little bit of a gimmick proper now since you in all probability do not have an 8K display screen, however you possibly can edit the video proper on the telephone. That’s spectacular however not a make-or-break characteristic for most individuals. You may as properly go away the telephone in 4K mode, which helps 60fps mode. 8K is locked to 24fps.

Should you purchase it?

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra


Probably not. Samsung retains pushing the value of its telephones into the stratosphere, and the S20 Ultra reaches new heights at $1,400. That pile of money does get you some superior options like the perfect, smoothest OLED out there proper now and 5G assist on all carriers. The telephone’s construct high quality can also be stable, however I do want Samsung would attempt to innovate with supplies a bit extra.

Most of the issues that make the S20 Ultra good can be found on the cheaper variations. The digicam is the principle differentiator, and it does not really feel prefer it belongs on a $1,400 telephone. Despite the 108MP main sensor, most pictures look the identical as some other high-end Samsung telephone from the previous couple of years, and there are some aggravating focus points. Samsung says it’s going to roll out an replace to enhance the digicam quickly, however aren’t we at all times promised updates to enhance the digicam? To prime it off, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is obscenely massive, and I do not like carrying a slab of slippery glass that hardly matches in my pocket. With a case, this telephone is over half a pound, making it uncomfortable to make use of for lengthy stretches.

The S20 Ultra (proper) in comparison with the S10+ (left)

The Galaxy S20 and S20+ have very comparable specs, they usually’re neither as costly nor as outsized because the S20 Ultra. I do not suppose the S20 Ultra is nice sufficient to justify the improve.

Buy it if…

You need essentially the most feature-packed telephone potential and value is not any object.

Don’t purchase it if…

You’re cautious of outsized telephones and excessively excessive value tags.

Where to purchase:

The S20 Ultra is offered from all main carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon). Samsung and Best Buy have Amazon, and B&H for those who fancy unlocked.

beloved Galaxy Z Flip, both. We agree on the fundamentals right here: the battery life and show are good, however the software program comes with its justifiable share of annoyances. Perhaps most galling, the brand new digicam setup is, in a phrase, unhealthy. Oh, and the value. Charging $1,400 for this telephone is obscene.

Samsung’s digicam processing merely hasn’t stored up with the competitors, and packing in additional superior is not slicing it. There was an replace just lately that appears to have largely fastened the autofocus, however the picture high quality continues to be substandard. You can take some good pictures with this telephone, however most of them seem like they got here from a mid-range gadget—edges are continually oversharpened, and particulars are blurred. The dynamic vary can also be extraordinarily inconsistent. I am getting used to the sensation of abject disappointment once I take a look at the gallery after snapping photos. My spouse, who not often feedback on picture high quality, informed me some pictures I shared of our canine regarded “soft,” and he or she’s fully proper. Ryne says the S20 Ultra “takes horrible pictures.” Emphasis his. Here are some extra pattern pictures.

This telephone is much too costly, providing few if any professional upgrades over the S10 household. I do know some persons are jazzed about 5G, however it simply doesn’t matter proper now. I am continuously switching backwards and forwards between 4G and 5G telephones, and I by no means discover any advantages from 5G. We’re years away from 5G mattering, however Qualcomm is ramming it down our throats with the Snapdragon 865. I’ll admit, nonetheless, the 865 is an efficient chip on the subject of system efficiency. The S20 Ultra began quick and has remained that means all through my testing.

This telephone is already large, however it’s too slippery and awkward to make use of and not using a case.

Rumors point out S20 gross sales had been unhealthy even earlier than the coronavirus pandemic took maintain, and I would wager the value was the principle drawback. Samsung must suppose lengthy and arduous about how one can transfer ahead. Ryne suggests anybody keen to spend $1,400 on a telephone ought to get the Z Flip as a substitute, and I agree. I actually get pleasure from utilizing the Z Flip, and I am in all probability going to toss the S20 Ultra in a drawer.

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