Big photos, big zoom range and big price
The Galaxy S20 Ultra is Samsung’s biggest Android smartphone and its most ambitious sales pitch, with huge camera specs, you will own the world’s most powerful 5 G phone … if you’re ready to spend more money on an unfoldable smartphone than ever before.
The Ultra has a huge 6.9 “monitor with the next-generation fluid-scrolling software that stretches your hand; 5 camera capturing 108MP images, 40MP selfies and 8 K video, and 5G-antennes with peak speeds, 66 times as fast as 4 G LTE.
This is a good change from Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus cameras, although the Ultra is not the best camera telephone with poor autofocus and overexposure. Even with the camera software update, in most non-zoom scenarios we still find the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus better.
The specs of cameras shine for distant subjects. Thanks to an impressive range of zoom lenses, the 48MP telephoto lens allowed us to get up close and personally. It far exceeds Samsung’s 2x optical and 10x digital zooming on previous phones and Google Pixel 4’s minimal 8x digital zoom – even if 100x zooma snaps have not been worth Instagram, 30x zoom looked fantastic on a tripod.
Samsung’s single-take mode lets you answer a regular question: should I take pictures or take a movie?
Take both. Take both. His new one-take-mode captures a variety of images over a span of 10 seconds: videos, ultra-wide pictures, portraits, video overlap, standard video, and so on. It kept us out of the menus and you can also capture 33MP images from video at this stage, which was very useful.
The S20 Ultra has a monster-specific list: RAM 12 GB or 16 GB and internal storage 128 GB or 512 GB kicks things off.
A massive 5000mAh battery is also available to pull down a 5 G power-intensive signal, but it could only last for more than 24 hours in 4 G mode. Last year’s phones have an in-screen fingerprint sensor, but unfortunately it’s the first S phone without a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
It is difficult for anyone to understand the Galaxy S20 Ultra price — even for people who purchased the S9 Plus or S10 Plus and wanted the next Samsung ‘big one.’
Though, for some, the term ‘upgrade’ means something else: they want a phone that crosses new limits and they don’t matter if it takes the price tag into Galaxy Fold’s territories further.
Samsung’s version of Tesla’s ‘Ludicrous Mode’ in its electric cars is Galaxy S20 Ultra. Even though its camera is currently a little overhygienic and inconsistent, early adopters would love to see how its cameras switch from 0.5x to 100x zooming quickly.
Update: With a much needed after-launch camera update, we went back and tested Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. The new program supports but does not entirely repair the autofocus and over-exposure problems we had in March 2020. In addition, the S20 and S20 Plus have taken better pictures.
Display and overall size
- 6.9-inch AMOLED display with fluid-looking 120Hz refresh rate
- 120Hz option only works at Full HD+ to save battery life
- This is a tall phone, though not as wide as the 6.8-inch Note 10 Plus
The 6.9-inch Samsung monitor stretches the limits of your thumb and your finger scope, and you’re not going to feel any bigger than the S10 Plus, the width really is much smaller than the 6.8-inch Note 10 Plus and the 6.7-inch Galaxy S10 5G.
Only the Galaxy S20 Ultra is slightly bigger, not bigger, and stretches to a 20:9 aspect ratio. You can always grab it in one hand and fire it in a wide pocket of jeans – just know you need to work it on two hands to reach any corner of the show comfortablely. It’s huge, not as big as its 6.9-inch screen.
The Super AMOLED display was found to be bright and pixel-dense with its 3200 x 1440 QHD resolution, but the default Full HD+ resolution is still perfectly good to look like. The lower resolution saves the battery life and – spoiler-is the only resolution you can reach the 120Hz screen refresh rate.
That’s all right – with 120Hz switched on, we appeared to prefer Full HD+ rather than dialing the rate of refresh down to 60Hz. With this refresh rate Samsung matches pure gaming handsets such as the Asus ROG Phone 2 and the Razer Phone 2, and screen fluidity makes fast-paced games and even just scrolling through Instagram feel more enjoyable.
We like Samsung to have found a way to make a smaller punching hole for her camera on the front side of the phone and selfies look better than before – and hate the huge dual-lens selfie camera from the S10 Plus, as this display only contains one camera.
Code treated depth detection perfectly, which raises questions as to why the Ultra and Plus need a depth camera.
The display ratio, luminosity rates and support of display standards like HDR10 + have constantly stirred us, offsetting our frequently sluggish handling of this huge unit. It is worth it if you want the best smartphone display now, and don’t secretly want the alleged iPhone 9 to be in the scale of the iPhone SE period.
- You get just two Ultra colors: Cosmic Gray and Cosmic Black
- Less screen curve, but accidental touches persist
- The camera bump and 1mm of extra girth aren’t a bother
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is made of glass and aluminum-no ceramic version this year-and is available in only 2 colours: Cosmic Gray and Cosmic Black. The Cloud Blue is an S20 and S20 Plus exclusive option, while Cloud Pink has smaller S20 sizes, which is unfortunate for ultra owners who want some extra light.
The curve on the left and right edges of the screens is still slightly less prominent compared to previous S phones. Sadly, that doesn’t mean less unintended presses from the almost bezel-less screen – Samsung still doesn’t have excellent palm replacement apps. When we pressed the edges and attempted to move the shutter in the camera app, the phone thought we were still attempting to allow multi-touch and zoom in, instead of pressing a button alone. Palm creep on this phone is very real.
We’ve been talking about the not-wide dimensions (166.9 mm x 76 mm), so let’s talk about the diameter and weight. The Ultra is noticeably thicker on 8,8 mm than other S20 telephones and all S10 telephones (these vary between 7,8 mm and 7,9 mm). Both are completely all right with us.
At 220 g it is also heavier (about about 175 g of the S10 Plus and 276 g of the Galaxy Fold). But for us, this is another great combination, given the rapid 5 G mmWave technology, 108MP camera and 5000mAh battery bundled in this advanced smartphone.
Too many times the camera team leaders from various telephone manufacturers have said TechRadar that “we’ll fit into a better camera, but the design team won.”
Fortunately, the Galaxy S20 Ultra does not sacrifice camera quality to look extra chic. It’s tall, but it looks stylish enough – and more people will still see your glorious pictures of 108MP than your camera.
- 108MP main camera lets you crop into photos while minimizing quality loss
- Most 108MP shots we took ended up having autofocus and overexposure issues
- The 100x zoom is a neat party trick, but not Instagram-worthy; 10x is where the magic happens
- The is the best selfie camera, but not the best camera – at least not with the current software
Update: As expected, after our first detailed Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra camera test, we reviewed the phone’s camera thoroughly using newest apps. Changes have been made but the needle has not been pushed enough to change our analysis decision.
There’s so much we can say about the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra cameras – and that’s good news if you want to take a fresh look at the photos of your smartphone but bad news if you want the best photos of any snapshot.
It is Samsung’s biggest camera sensor update since Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, but we have found the hyped-up 108MP camera mode to capture pictures that are not very different from the 12MP default snapshots taken on the primary phone.
The extra-large pictures, however, offer the opportunity to grow in without loss of quality. It makes sense to record 8 K video for the same purpose, even when you have nothing more than a 4 K TV, always a good idea: you can crop and edit without losing detailed details. It provides you with creative latitude even if you eventually produce a 12MP and 1080p frame.
Nevertheless, Samsung’s 108MP mode has a tendency to display images unnecessarily, and its over-aggressive image processing will smooth out faces and textures. Another problem: we had problems uploading 20 MB of files to some social media networks once we had strong 108MP images, because they had a resolution of 12 000 x 9 000 pixels. Not only did Twitter downsize the photos, it flatly rejected them.
With such a expensive camera phone, that’s disturbing. You also lose some features in 108MP, including fine motion pictures and beauty mode (that’s not missed), and there seems to be some basic (not good) skin smoothing.
The above two images, on the Ultra and an iPhone 11 Pro Max, demonstrate that the Ultra image is luminous, but to the detriment of the dynamic range – with the videos we have checked a lot of this happened. You can also see that the handset had trouble focusing. The bokeh is fine, however, and gives the background a pleasant blur.
5G, battery life, specs and software
- 5G mmWave speeds are up to 66x as fast 4G LTE, but only in some areas
- During our testing, 4G LTE was sometimes faster than sub-6 5G
- Google Duo video calls are helpfully now integrated into the dialer app
- Samsung’s Quick Share feature apes Apple’s AirDrop so you can easily transfer files, but it’s limited to S20 phones for the moment
The Galaxy S20 Ultra is likely to be the first 5 G smartphone for many people – just 1% of phones delivered by 5 G in 2019, so it remains very new technology.
Like the S20 plus, the Ultra blends mmWave with sub-6 technology for quickest (mmWave) and widest (sub-6) download speeds. The S20 is fitted with only sub-6 and for this purpose it will not be marketed by Verizon, a mmWave company in the US.
And how easily is 5 G on the Ultra S20? We checked only next to Samsung’s cell phone, at least in NYC, 66 times faster than the 4 G LTE iPhone 11 Pro Max. We have 1.9 Gbps on the mmWave network of Verizon in Bryant Park, which broke our last 1.6 Gbps record on the S10 Plus at the same venue.
We had to be outdoors and next to a 5 G node on a lampstand to do that. Sadly, mmWave is incredibly quick, although its reach is amazingly small, while sub-6 is slower (from 200Mbps to 500Mbps), yet has a broader range, a more stable link and operates within. We have also seen higher speeds on our 4 G LTE iPhone 11 flying across London, which is only limited to sub-6 networks.
The truth is that 5 G is still very new in some countries, but by integrating the two 5 G systems, the S20 Ultra and S20 Plus, the exposure to super fast networks can be ensured for the future.
All other internal specifications are top of the line: a 7-nm chipset (Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 in the U.S., or Samsung Exynos 990 in the UK and Europe), 12 GB of 16 GB or RAM, an internal storage of 128 GB or 512 GB or an expandable microSD card slot.
Samsung’s One UI 2.0 reskins Android 10 apps with a one-hand interface, with a lot of menu items on the bottom half of the screen to select. Another advantage is that Google Duo is now incorporated directly into the dialer app-Full HD video calls is possible, and you can chat with up to 8 people.
The other new addition to the app is Fast Transfer, Samsung’s AirDrop. You can share files with multiple users, not just one person at a time, without connecting to Bluetooth or signing in. However, the feature is currently only available in the Galaxy S20 series, with the intention that older Samsung phones will get it in the future.
Battery life and charging
- 5,000mAh is a monster battery size, but power gets used up quickly at higher settings
- There’s a big difference in drain time with 5G and 120Hz enabled
- There’s a 25W charger in the box, and the Ultra is compatible with an optional 45W charger and 15W wireless charger
The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a battery capacity of 5,000mAh, while the S20 Plus has a battery of 4,500mAh, to avoid this. We found that the Ultra lasted longer than 24 hours a day and we were not testing non-stop 5 G speeds.
Our battery drain check lasted 12 hours and 13 minutes and passed through web sites of the T-Mobile LTE network. The 120 Hz computer turned off precisely three hours, with the handset failing on the same check at 9 hours and 13 minutes. We found it difficult to say no to the fluidity of the 120Hz screen, but you may want to disable it if you don’t play.
Samsung’s ‘Super Fast’ load returns on the S20 Ultra, up to 45W here with an optional loader and up to 25W with a loader included.
Which represents what we saw at Galaxy Note 10 Plus and the strong Wi-Fi loading capability of Ultra up to 15W.
We could charge the phone to 31 percent in just 15 minutes and to 63 percent in 30 minutes using the 25W charge given the large size of the battery.
Samsung S20 ULTRA
With 108MP images, a 100x camera zoom, 40MP selfies, and a 6.9-inch 120 Hz display, this Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra goes big in everything imaginable. You will pay more for this phone than any unfolding phone before it with over the top internal specs matching some laptops, but that's not shocking. What is surprising are some bugs that prevent the Ultra from reaching its full potential.
- Impressive camera zoom range
- Samsung’s best display yet
- Fast 5G speeds confirmed
- Camera quality is inconsistent
- Price is a new kind of ridiculous
- You’re going to need a bigger hand