Top of the food chain

 Top of the food chain

Top of the food chain

Note 20 Plus Ultra 5G is Samsung’s latest halo phone

Samsung phones focus on productivity and the Note 20 Plus Ultra 5G comes with heaps of apps, built-in functionality and gimmicks that expand what you can do with it, while having a sexy chassis to boot.

I owned several previous iterations of Note phones, and find that the S Pen, the included stylus, can be extremely useful at times. I typically use it for note taking, drawing and precise selection. But’s that’s too basic, right? This S Pen comes with air gesture to control the phone with the pen without touching the phone (more about this below), handwriting scribble can be converted into digital text on the fly. And, yes, it also has gotten faster to the point of 9 milliseconds latency level, which I did not notice since last year’s one is already fast (at 42 milliseconds). But for people who can detect fast movement, this may be noticeable.

I found the customisable air gesture that comes with the S Pen to be quite unreliable, working about 80% of the time. The camera hump is huge compared to previous phones I have reviewed, but it looks very classy and pretty. This huge protruding hump houses three cameras plus one laser auto-focus censor.

I am not an avid photographer, however, I received strong reviews from friends over my handful of snapshots. This phone does not disappoint in clarity and focusing speed even at its maximum 50x zoom. It has a variety of modes and comes with a 12MP ultra-wide, a 108MP wide, and a 12MP telephoto lens. I personally love the “Single Take” mode that shoots nine types of photos and videos (with amusing sound effects) all at once with a single push of the shutter button. It is a go-to mode for a photo-taking novice like myself. Also, its pro video mode effectively zooms in on your area of focus while also focuses on the sound of that area too.

Games like ROV and Free Fire run like a charm on maximum settings. Many people say that the Note 20 with the Exynos 990 chipset is terrible, but I did not find that to be the case at all. I have found that most high-end phones these days are over-powered for what most apps require. So, yes, the Exynos chipset may be inferior to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon or Apple’s Silicon, but 10-20 millisecond lag means nothing to me and most people.

This Note 20 Ultra is deeply integrated with Microsoft Windows by giving real-time file and data synchronisation. It comes with a full version of Microsoft Office and integrates nicely with the “Your Phone” app on Windows 10 that allows you to access notifications and phone calls while projecting the phone screen on your PC wirelessly.

Moreover, Wireless DEX makes it easy to run a Windows-look-alike version of Android wirelessly on Miracast-ready TVs and PCs.

Samsung has pretty much perfected their screen-building technology, especially on their top-of-the-line smartphone, and the 6.9-inch Gorilla Glass Victus (that Samsung claims can withstand 2m drops) is quite beautiful. I personally prefer the higher 1440×3088 pixels resolution (at 60Hz refresh rate) to the 1080P resolution at 120Hz refresh rate. My eyes cannot distinguish the difference between the refresh rates, but I do see the difference in resolution. I own other 90Hz and 120Hz phones, and always prefer the crispier resolution to the jaggier but faster refresh rate settings. But that’s just me. Having the ability to choose is always better than not being able to.

Netflix on this is a joy, since it supports HDR10+, which helps with colour reproduction on displays, making videos more vivid and lifelike.

Curved screens are nice to look at and while fine for web surfing and social media, I still find them unreliable for gaming due to imprecise touching. Gaming often requires the player to tilt the phone sideways, causing accidental touches to occur regularly.

The curved screen mistouch can be negated with an app called Edge Touch that can be downloaded at Samsung’s Galaxy Store for free. This app lets you narrow the screen’s response to errant touching.

The phone’s matte back surface makes it less prone to fingerprint smudges compared to other phones.

The battery seems to be slightly more optimised than Samsung’s S20 series. And even though it has the same battery capacity than the S20+ that I am currently using, the Note 20 Ultra seems to last about 30-60 minutes longer.

(Photos courtesy of Samsung)

The phone comes with 5G capability, which is pretty much still non-existent in Thailand.

The stereo speakers produce a very loud and bassy sound, although the bottom firing speaker is on the left side of the phone unlike most I have used previously. When playing games with the phone horizontally, you need to flip the bottom of the phone to the left to avoid your hand covering the speaker and lowering the volume.

The IP68 water resistance is extremely useful (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic). I wash my phone with soap at least once a week and like to take underwater videos too.

A screen protector is preinstalled out of the box, but there is no bundled case as with the Note 10. I would seriously recommend purchasing a protective case due to the phone’s high price tag.

Even without all the productivity features, this phone is far beyond reasonable. But as a status symbol that can be used for work and play, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is at the top of the smartphone food chain right now.

SPECS

Screen: 120 Hz 6.9″ Corning Gorilla Glass Victus (1440 x 3088 px)
Camera: 12 MP ultra-wide + 108 wide + 12 MP telephoto + laser auto-focus sensor (rear), 10 MP (front)
CPU: Exynos 990
RAM: 12 GB
Storage: 512 GB (UFS 3.0)
Battery: 4,500 mAh (25W fast charging)
Colour variation: Bronze, black
Connectivity: 5G, USB-C, Bluetooth 5.0, dual Nano-SIM, microSD expandable
Weight: 208 g
OS: Android 10 with One UI 2.5 skin on top
Price: 46,900 baht

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