Tech Junkie First Look – Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G

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If a cell phone company took every feature they had and threw it at a single smartphone… what would that look like?  It would probably look alot like the Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G. I had the chance to take the new Note 20 for a test before it officially goes on sale on Friday August 21st.

 

First impressions

All screen all the time!  The Note series has always offered a large phone.  Many called previous models a “phablet” because it seemed more like a cross between a tablet and a phone.  These days, most phones have pretty large screens so the idea of a 6″+ screen on a smartphone isn’t all that crazy.  The thing that the Note20 does amazingly well is that it has a large screen but it doesn’t feel huge.  In fact, in feels slick.  The glass on the front wraps around the sides and the back has a very nice opaque look to it.  The phone I was loaned to test out is the Mystic Bronze color but be warned that it appears to have a pinkish hue to it in my opinion.  It looks good but some might not call it bronze.

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What’s that bump?

The problem with making a phone thin, and this phone is thin, is that some elements still need the extra thickness.  Case in point, the cameras on the Note20.  They protrude from the back of the Note20 in what feels like a large camera bump.  It’s certainly the largest camera bump I’ve ever seen on a phone.  If you’re going to slap a good thick protective case on this phone then it’ll likely sit nice and flush with the case but if you prefer your phone “naked” then it’ll be more noticeable.

So what about those cameras?

It’s not surprise that Samsung (and other cell phone companies) continues to throw all it has at making the cameras on their phones the best.  This, afterall, is easily the most important feature for many people.  The Note20 Ultra 5G doesn’t disappoint.  The bump may be annoying to some but camera quality makes up for it.  You get a 12MP ultra wide angle camera, a 12MP telephoto camera for zooming and a 108MP wide angle camera!  108MP is insane and used in a smart way so you can digitally zoom without your pictures looking like garbage.  The results are even more impressive than previous Samsung phones.  Check out the side by side below for a look at a wide angle picture next to a zoomed in photo from the same shooting location.

 

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The Note 20 Ultra also adds a laser sensor for razor sharp focus and a 10MP front-facing camera for those all important selfies.

Packing in the power

The Note 20 screams.  The processor inside is the fastest Samsung has used yet on a Galaxy phone.  On top of that the screen on the Note20 is simply gorgeous.  The curved glass makes the phone feel seamless on the edges.  It also goes nearly to the top and bottom of the phone with just a slight black border.  If truly feels like an edge to edge screen and looks downright awesome.

Oh yeah, the other stuff

As part of the Note series we can’t forget the all-important S-Pen.  It pops out from the bottom and while it’s very similar to previous models with a button and touch sensitive tip, it’s more responsive than before.  The S-Pen has gotten so much better, it’s much more than just a stylus.  The screen recognizes the pen even before it touches the screen and the button can be used to remotely control things like taking a photo, pausing your music or advancing a slideshow.  It’s there if you want it but slides away into the bottom of the phone when you don’t.

Samsung has been flirting with the idea of connecting your phone to a full-sized display for years but it feels like they have finally decided to go big with that feature.  They call it Dex and it works really well.  Not only can you plug your Note 20 Ultra into a desktop or laptop for a full-screen experience but for the first time it works wirelessly.  You can browse the web, send text messages and run apps.  You can a use the phone while you do something totally different on the desktop.  Pretty impressive stuff.

My minor complaints

At the end of the day, it’s still a big phone.  People who prefer something more pocketable may opt for the smaller S20.  The camera bump is big.  It was the first thing I noticed when I held the phone.  Good news is, most of us use a case so the bump will likely end up flush but it may be annoying to others.

Conclusion

Simply put – the Note20 Ultra 5G is the best of the best.  Samsung took everything they have and threw it at this phone.  It’s all packaged in what is a sleek package with a nearly edge to edge screen. If you don’t mind a larger phone, the Note20 Ultra 5G is the best Android phone your money can buy right now.  The cameras are awesome, the speed is best of the best and the screen is stunning.  You will pay for this luxury.  The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G is available for pre-order for $1,300 and shows up on store shelves on Friday August 21st.

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