Released from August 21, the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the new high-end smartphones from Samsung. Always accompanied by their trusty stylus, these devices have everything to become new references… even if certain choices leave us perplexed.
As usual, Samsung has chosen the first week of August to unveil its new Galaxy Note. In the middle of this incredible summer when Covid-19, TikTok, and Donald Trump are in the news, the most famous Korean brand has given itself the mission of amazed geeks with two ultra-high-end products, the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, respective successors to the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10+ from August 2019.
techryn.com had the opportunity to try them out a few days ago and today gives you its first impressions.
Starting next week, we’ll be releasing more comprehensive reviews of the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra.
Time to let our laboratory torture the Korean’s new monsters.
Two very different models
Those hoping for a compact Galaxy Note 20 may be disappointed.
This year, Samsung has not declined its flagship device in a “small version” as it did last year.
The Galaxy Note 20 sports an OLED display with a 6.7-inch diagonal, while the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch screen, like the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
We are far from the very appreciable 6.3 inches of the Galaxy Note 10.
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There is not a 0.2-inch difference between the Galaxy Note 20 and its boosted version.
For example, and this surprised us, Samsung has chosen to reserve the 120 Hz refresh rate for the large model and not to go beyond the very classic 60 Hz on the “small” Note 20.
If the uninformed user should not be aware of it, we on our side are very disappointed with this decision.
At a time when 90Hz and 120Hz are becoming the norm (they improve the smoothness of smartphone screens, which really changes the user experience), why is Samsung depriving one of its devices? high-end of a last-generation screen? All of this is all the more unjustifiable since all Galaxy S20s are entitled to it and the Galaxy Note 20’s price tag of 959 euros places it among the most expensive devices on the market.
Another curious choice, Note 20 is content with a “Super AMOLED” screen while Note 20 Ultra is entitled to “Dynamic AMOLED” from the S10, S20, and Note 10. Will this rollback have an impact on the quality? of the screen? It could in any case have an impact on the appetite of the public.
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Another element of differentiation, this time more aesthetic, the screen of the Galaxy Note 20 is flat while that of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is curved.
This time around, it gives the advantage to the small model which we think is much more pleasant to use.
Indeed, the main theoretical advantage of the curved-screen is aesthetic gold, with its very thin borders, the classic Galaxy Note 20 gives a lot of change and fits better in the palm of the hand.
Its smaller size and, above all, its lower weight of around twenty grams simply make it a more pleasant smartphone to use. Therefore, we can only regret Samsung’s choice to have made it a device reserved for those who would like to discover the Note, at the risk of offering them a degraded experience.
The same goes for the choice of colors.
This year Samsung has not lacked inspiration with so-called “Mystic” colors.
But here again, the Note 20 suffers from the comparison since unlike the Ultra, it will not be available in “Mystic Black” and “Mystic White” tones and will only be available in “Mystic Bronze”, gray or pink.
Note that this very soft pink is the color the Korean seems to be counting on to boost his sales at the end of the year.
The Exynos 990 does not go away
Another disappointment (you are probably starting to see it, this Note 20 range did not really thrill us), Samsung is recycling the Exynos 990, the Galaxy S20 chip.
While it wouldn’t have surprised us last year when the Galaxy S10’s 9820 processor was quite a good vintage, it’s much more of a problem this time around.
Indeed, the Exynos 990 is considered one of the most power-hungry chips on the market and is damaging the Galaxy S20s, which, according to our laboratory measurements, are among the least enduring high-end devices on the market.
Aware of this situation, Samsung promises wonders in terms of software optimization (the screen would be configured by default on 60 Hz and would push at 90 or 120 Hz only when necessary) but it is unlikely that the Galaxy Note 20 will break new records.
endurance, however. All of this is all the more worrying given that the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra’s 4300 mAh and 4500 mAh batteries are smaller than those of the Galaxy S20 + (4500 mAh) and Galaxy S20 Ultra (5000 mAh) …
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In the US and Asia, where the Galaxy S20s use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 processor rather than the Exynos 990, the Galaxy Note 20s are entitled to the all-new Snapdragon 865+.
This difference in treatment between Europe and the rest of the world is starting to be annoying.
In addition to settling for a less well-optimized chip, our market is the only one not entitled to a Note 20 more powerful than the S20. Too bad.
On the network side, note that the classic Note 20 will be marketed in a 4G version and a 5G version.
If you plan to buy a Note 20 Ultra, it will necessarily have a 5G modem.
All these devices are Wi-Fi 6 compatible.
Finally, on the storage side, Samsung offers a minimum of 256 GB for all models (with 8 GB of RAM on the Note 20 and 12 GB of RAM on the Note 20 Ultra).
We welcome this generous choice which, on the Note 20 Ultra only, can even be supplemented with a Micro SD card.
The new S Pen impresses
New that is not reserved for the “Ultra” model, the iconic S-Pen stylus of the Note range now responds to a shorter latency.
It is 9 milliseconds on the Note 20 Ultra and 26 milliseconds on the Note 20 itself.
Note 10 for its part displayed a latency of 42 ms.
Apparently anecdotal, this change is perhaps the most important of this new generation.
Especially for Samsung, the stylus is the main selling point of this line.
In use, this optimization is obvious. The switch from a Note 10 to the Note 20 Ultra within minutes of each other is disturbing as Samsung’s latest S-Pen seems responsive to its predecessor.
This quasi-instantaneity could seem superfluous.
In fact, this fluidity reinforces the feeling of writing that is natural, immediate, and simply more pleasant.
For anyone who likes to draw, write, or just doodle, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has it all.
We can’t wait to use it on a daily basis. And for the basic Note 20, that’s arguably one of the only arguments that could set it apart from the competition even though we would have liked it to use the same technology as its big brother.
Samsung recycles S20 camera modules
It’s hard to find any differences between the S20 / S20 Ultra and Note 20 / Note 20 Ultra.
In fact, the latter can be counted on the fingers of the hand.
Samsung is content to recycle what it did at the start of the year with this generation… and even zooms out less well.
Don’t worry though, all this shouldn’t prevent the two Note 20s from excelling.
With its main sensor of 108 Mpix (module opening at f / 1.8), the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the better off of these two devices. It also has an ultra-wide-angle attached to a 12 Mpix sensor (f / 2.2) and a periscope module with x4 optical zoom and x50 digital zoom (and not x100 as on the S20 Ultra), with a 12 Mpix sensor (f / 3.0).
The reason for this choice is quite simple, Samsung has removed a stabilization layer and can no longer achieve x100 without tremors. We will be satisfied with the x50 which, unfortunately, does not seem designed to surpass those of the S20 Ultra.
Finally, Samsung chooses laser autofocus to improve the focus and leaves out the ToF sensor this time.
The brand promises improved speed.
Will the Galaxy Note 20 be convincing?
Released on August 21, the Galaxy Note 20 is, not surprisingly, expensive.
It will cost 959 euros (4G) or 1059 euros (5G) for the classic product with 256 GB of storage and 1309 euros (5G, 256 GB) or 1409 euros (5G, 512 GB) for the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
If the latter is unlikely to disappoint the geek with its characteristics, the former convinces us less prior.
Our testing will shed light on many gray areas, including battery life and screen, starting next week.
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