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Samsung Galaxy Note20, Note20 Ultra First Impressions

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We got to try the new Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra at the Samsung concept store and here are our initial thoughts.
Samsung Galaxy Note20, Note20 Ultra First Impressions
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra and Note20 

Alongside the Galaxy Buds Live, Galaxy Tab S7/S7+ and Galaxy Watch3, Samsung has finally announced the Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra that comes in LTE and 5G variants.

Both models come with the 7nm Samsung Exynos 990 octa-core SoC with Mali-G77MP11 GPU, 8GB/12GB LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 internal storage. Both have a punch hole at the upper-middle portion of the display that houses the 10MP front-facing camera.

The Note20 Ultra has the larger 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2.0 with variable 120Hz display, HDR10+ support, a maximum peak brightness of 1500 nits and Gorilla Glass Victus protection. The display curves on both sides. Inside the Ultra is a massive 4500mAh battery with 45W charging support and will come with the 108MP+12MP+12MP triple camera module with the new Laser AF system.

While the Note20 will have a flat 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED display with 60Hz and with Gorilla Glass 5 protection. Inside is a 4300mAh battery with 25W fast charging support. At the back is a 12MP + 64MP + 12MP rear triple camera set-up.

Both phones will run on OneUI 2.5 based on Android 10, S-Pen inclusion, Stereo Speaker, and IP 68 water and splash resistance rating.

Let's take a closer look!



Build Quality/Design

Dynamic AMOLED 2.0 and Super AMOLED display
Dynamic AMOLED 2.0 and Dynamic AMOLED display

In front, both devices are Massive displays that surprisingly have significantly different specifications. The display on the Note20 Ultra is the aforementioned 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2.0 with variable 120Hz display, HDR10+ support, a maximum peak brightness of 1500 nits and Gorilla Glass Victus protection that curves on both ends. While the Note20 has a flat 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED display with 60Hz and Gorilla Glass 5 protection.

Both displays have the signature vibrant colors and deep blacks but when set to maximum brightness, the Note20 Ultra is noticeably brighter. The curved edges of the Note20 Ultra are similar to the S20 Ultra where the curves aren't as deep as older Galaxy phones which makes it easier to use and from our experience, it significantly reduces accidental touches on the curved areas.
Note20 Ultra and Note20
Note20 Ultra and Note20

Both phones are made up of a metal frame and glass panels. One major difference is that the Note20 Ultra has both glass panels on the front and back while the Note20 has a glass front panel and a glasstic back panel. Both back panels have the matte textured frosted panel look. They look similar when viewed from a distance but when viewing side by side, the glasstic panel's frosted effect is visually denser. (this means the white frosted effect is slightly thicker). 

When we held both phones in our hands, we loved the polished and solid fit and finish of the glass panel and the metal frame. The major difference is that the matte-finished frosted glasstic panel feels like off. It feels like a matte finished plastic panel that is far from the refined and luxurious matte glass texture on the Note20 Ultra. It is like night and day where the difference is so glaring. We understand that glasstic is tougher and more shatter-resistant than glass but it just feels off. Build quality-wise, this is maybe a deal-breaker out of the box.
Bottom the Note20 Ultra

On top of the Note20 and Note20 Ultra are the microphone port, Antenna lines and SIM tray. The Note20 has a dual Nano-SIM tray while the Note20 Ultra's tray has a slot for one Nano-SIM and one for either a nano-SIM or microSD card (hybrid slot).
SIM tray of the Note20 Ultra and Note20
SIM tray of the Note20 Ultra and Note20

At the bottom of both phones are the speaker grills, USB Type-C Port, microphone port, Antenna lines and the S-Pen slot.

What surprised us about the stereo speakers of the Note20 and Note20 Ultra is how significantly powerful and deep sounding it was compared to S20 Ultras. We only played the notification and call ringtone but it was already night and day compared to the previous S20 Ultra and the competition. 
Note20 left and side

On the left side of both phones is sandwiched metal frame with no additional features while on the right side is the metal volume rocker and power button. Both the volume rocker and power button have the polished and solid metal feel that when pressed gives the right amount of click and feedback when pressed. 

As mentioned above, the fit and finish of the metal frame have gotten to the point that it looks and feels as polished as jewellery. The Bronze and Green colorways really make the metal finish stand out. Overall, both phones feel solid and hefty but because of the glasstic panel on the Note20, it feels significantly lighter than the Note20 Ultra.

Because of the matte textured frosted treatment, the back panel is less slippery and less prone to fingerprint smudges. Don't get us wrong, both phones are still slippery when the holder is not careful. We recommend using a case still.
The two new camera modules
The two new camera modules


The rear camera modules on the Note20 and Note20 Ultra retain the large camera bump on the back that prevents the phone from lying flat on a surface but visually and build quality-wise, this is a huge upgrade from the S20 Ultra. The surface of the camera module has this material that is highly resistant to reflections and glare which should help prevent unwanted reflections with the cameras. Each camera lens is also accented with a round metal trim that has the same color as the rest of the phone. 

The Galaxy Note20 Ultra's rear camera module is made up of the 108MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera and 12MP Periscope camera with 50x Space zoom while the Note20 has a 12MP main camera, 64MP Telephoto with 30x Space zoom and 12MP ultra-wide-angel camera. Both have LED flash but only the Note20 Ultra has the new Laser AF system. Both rear cameras can also record up to 8K 24p video while both front-facing cameras has dual pixel autofocus.


Samsung Galaxy Note20 Specs

Display: 6.7-inch flat Gorilla Glass 5 protected Dynamic AMOLED Plus with FHD+ 2400 x 1080 resolution at 393 ppi
CPU: 7nm Samsung Exynos 990 octa-core processor
GPU: Mali-G77MP11
RAM: 8GB LPDDR5
ROM: 256GB UFS 3.1
Back Camera: 12MP f/1.8 with PDAF, OIS + 64MP f/2.0 Telephoto lens with PDAF, OIS, 3x Hybrid Optic Zoom, 30x Space Zoom + 12MP f/2.2 120-degree ultra-wide-angle camera with LED Flash
Selfie Camera: 10MP f/2.2 with Dual Pixel AF
Battery: 4,300mAh w/ 45W Fast Charging, 15W wireless charging, wireless reverse wireless charging
OS: Android 10.0 w/ OneUI 2.5
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz), 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, OTG, NFC, GPS, GLONASS, USB Type-C, MST, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: In-display Fingerprint sensor, face unlock, IP 68 water and dusts resistance, Stereo Speaker, Hi-Res Audio, Dolby Atmos,  USB-C, Colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Gray and Mystic Green
Dimensions: 161.6 x 75.2 x 8.3 mm
Weight: 194 g
Price: PHP 53,990


Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra Specs

Display: 6.9-inch 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass Victus protected Dynamic AMOLED 2.0 screen w/ 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate QHD+ 3088 x 1440 resolution at 496 ppi with HDR10+, 1500 nits peak brightness
CPU: 7nm Samsung Exynos 990 octa-core processor
GPU: Mali-G77MP11
RAM: 12GB LPDDR5
ROM: 256GB UFS 3.1 expandable up to 1TB via microSD
Back Camera: 108MP f/1.8 main camera with PDAF, OIS, Laser AF + 12MP f/3.0 Periscope lens with 5x optical zoom, and 50x Space Zoom with OIS, PDAF + 12MP f/2.2 120-degree ultra-wide-angle camera with LED Flash
Selfie Camera: 10MP f/2.2 with Dual Pixel AF
Battery: 4,500mAh w/ 25W Fast Charging, 15W wireless charging, wireless reverse wireless charging
OS: Android 10.0 w/ OneUI 2.5
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz), 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, OTG, NFC, GPS, GLONASS, USB Type-C, MST, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: In-display Fingerprint sensor, face unlock, IP 68 water and dusts resistance, Stereo Speaker, Hi-Res Audio, Dolby Atmos,  USB-C, Colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black
Dimensions: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm
Weight: 208 g
Price: PHP 67,990 (LTE), PHP 72,990 (5G)


As of the moment

Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra front and back
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra front and back

Our first impressions of the Note20 family is mixed. We are not too excited that Samsung has chosen to equip both phones with the Exynos 990 when the Korean giant has chosen to use the upgraded Snapdragon 865+ in select countries like in the United States. 

Aside from the SoC, we are impressed with Note20 Ultra's build quality, design, Dynamic AMOLED 2.0 display, and the new stereo speakers. The Note20 Ultra is promising and could be one of the best phones in 2020. It could be worthy of its PHP 67,990 starting price tag.

On the other hand, right out of the Gate, we were not excited with the specs of the Note20 nor were we happy that it didn't receive the new Dynamic AMOLED 2.0 with the variable 120Hz refresh rate. We get that it is to help with the battery life of the 4300mAh battery but the S20 family has 120Hz with similar capacities. But what caught our attention the most is how off-feeling the matte textured frosted glasstic panel is on the back. It doesn't feel as luxurious as the metal frame and the front panel and because of this, it stands out. Don't get us wrong, the Note20 is stunning especially the color, metal and glass panel but the glasstic back panel is glaring when you touch it. One could argue that you can just wear a case and forget about it eventually. So we have mixed feelings with the Note20. It could add up and be a major deal-breaker.

As always, we will reserve judgement until we get to fully review both smartphones. So far, we are liking the Note20 Ultra more than the Note20.

Pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra begin on August 7, 2020. If you are interested, you can visit the nearest Samsung store in your area to see the new models first hand. We got to have an extended look at the new phones from the Samsung store SM Megamall.

What do you guys think?
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