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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, analysis with features and price

On the other hand, it should be mentioned that the Galaxy S20 Ultra is a fairly large phone. It brushes 9 millimeters thick, exceeds 220 grams and has a slightly higher chassis than an iPhone 11 Pro Max, a Galaxy S10 + and a Galaxy Note 10+. In the hand, the difference in dimensions is not overwhelming compared to an iPhone 11 Pro Max, but, despite this, it may exceed the limit of certain people. To get out of doubt, it is best to go to a store where they have a Galaxy S20 Ultra exposed, use it for a few minutes and see how it fits your hand, your preferences and your habits of use.

Before finishing this section, there are a number of details that deserve special attention:

  • The lateral curvature of the screen is much more subtle than in previous generations. This could already be seen in the Galaxy S10, but Samsung has taken it one step further in this new generation. Being lighter, the curvature of the panel does not come into contact with interface elements such as the keyboard, which facilitates the use of the product. It is curious, however, that Samsung of this type of steps taking into account that curved panels have been one of its identity seas since the S6 Edge.
  • The side frame is not steel, as is the iPhone 11 Pro. This may seem a minor detail, but the use of such material significantly increases the perception of value of the phone. In other words: its presence will have made the S20 Ultra feel more premium in the hand. And considering that this phone costs almost 1,400 euros, there will be no more.
  • The lower frame is still slightly thicker than the rest, which slightly breaks the horizontal symmetry of the phone. This detail is also present in competing products, and the reason is purely technical.

The most advanced 5G connectivity (although it doesn't help much)

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The Galaxy S20 Ultra offers 5G connectivity in several markets, including those in which the version is marketed with an Exynos SoC. To put it to the test, I have used it with a Vodafone SIM card, the only operator that currently offers a 5G network to Spanish consumers. The experience can be summarized in two points:

  • In Madrid, the status of Vodafone's 5G network is premature. The main problem is the coverage, which is quite irregular and is limited only to certain downtown streets. As soon as you leave those key points, you enter a building or walk through alleyways, the mobile loses the 5G signal and reconnects to the 4G network. Most of the time, therefore, you end up using the smartphone with the fourth generation infrastructure.
  • At the moment, the use cases that allow to take advantage of the 5G network are quite scarce. During the days that I have used the Galaxy S20 Ultra, I have not faced any situation in which there was or would have been grateful to have such connectivity. In everyday processes such as playing a movie on Netflix, watching a video on YouTube or browsing social networks, the difference between a 4G network and a 5G network is barely visible. In the future it is likely that the situation will evolve and new services will be announced that will allow to take advantage of this infrastructure; but, until then, don't expect 5G to transform the way you use your smartphone, because most likely you don't even realize it's there.

That said, I think Samsung has made the right decision by incorporating a 5G modem into its smartphone reference. When you pay almost 1,400 euros for a product, you expect that this type of avant-garde technologies are present. In addition, the manufacturer has mounted a compatible modem with many of the technologies that will define 5G over the next few years (it is compatible with mmWave, sub-6, SA, NSA, etc.), so if you buy a Galaxy S20 Ultra and you plan to keep it for many years, you can take advantage of the different improvements that are incorporated into the 5G infrastructure of the operators.

The best screen of the moment, again

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The screens of the Galaxy S family have positioned themselves, for years, among the best in the industry; and that of the S20 Ultra is no exception to this standard. It has a size of 6.9 inches, a resolution that reaches QHD + and uses the latest specification of Dynamic AMOLED technology, a term used for the first time with the Galaxy S10.

In terms of brightness, uniformity, color accuracy and contrast, the Galaxy S20 Ultra panel offers excellent metrics. The only criticism in this regard is the color mode that is active by default, which oversaturates the images above the appropriate and makes everything too strident. This can lead to erroneous photographic editions, to lose certain nuances during the reproduction of multimedia content, etc.

The option can be deactivated in the system settings, so it really is an easily solvable problem. However, Samsung's decision in this regard is surprising, as it is a step back from the Galaxy S10. With this model, the manufacturer decided (finally) to reward the realistic images instead of the strident ones and not activate the intense color mode by default.

Beyond the usual parameters, the really interesting thing about the Galaxy S20 Ultra's screen is its refresh rate, which reaches 120 Hz and doubles the usual frequency. By default, the 60 Hz mode is active, so the user has to go to settings and activate the 120 Hz manually. When you do, the user experience is completely transformed. The scroll of the lists, the animations when interacting with the applications any action that implies the movement of elements in the interface takes place with greater ease and fluidity. It is such a pleasant sensation that once you try it, you don't want to go back.

Samsung is not the first manufacturer that opts for these types of screens. Apple has been mounting 120 Hz panels on the iPad Pro for years, OnePlus incorporated 90 Hz displays in the past year, etc. Samsung, on the other hand, is the first one that incorporates a 120 Hz panel in a popular smartphone, so there are probably many brands that get on this train after the step taken by the South Korean company.

On this mode of 120 Hz, yes, we must make a couple of extra insights:

  • Some manufacturers dynamically adapt the screen refresh rate based on user actions. In this way, if no movement is made in the interface, the panel temporarily lowers the rate up to 60 Hz and reduces the energy consumption of the equipment. The S20 Ultra, on the other hand, does none of that. The 120 Hz is maintained even if the user is reading a static text or observing an image.
  • The 120 Hz are not compatible with the QHD + resolution, so the user must choose between 120 Hz and Full HD + resolution or 60 Hz and QHD + resolution. Rumors circulate that ensure that Samsung enable this possibility by updating software future, for those who want to squeeze the S20 Ultra panel to the maximum.

Great numbers, great results

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The Galaxy S20 Ultra incorporates the latest SoC Exynos, up to 16 GB of RAM, a storage of type UFS 3.0 They are large numbers that, in practice, translate into a wonderful user experience. The team is able to face even the most adverse tasks with ease.

The personalization layer of Samsung, which they call One UI, also influences the user experience. Aesthetically, it is much simpler and more consistent than the layers of customization that the manufacturer alone developed in the past. Functionally, in addition, it facilitates the use of smartphones with large screens such as the S20 Ultra thanks to a layout of the elements designed for it.

As far as autonomy is concerned, the 5,000 mAh battery offers great resistance even in complex scenarios. With two SIM cards (one of them 5G), the active 120 Hz refresh rate and an intermediate application use, it was quite easy to end a day with a certain percentage of the remaining battery (around 30%). The autonomous, therefore, is no problem in the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

If you still need some extra juice, Samsung's phone is compatible with a fast charging system of up to 45 W of power, which equals, on paper, the proposals of manufacturers such as Huawei. The negative part is that only a 25 W power adapter is included in the box, so to enjoy that extra power, it will be necessary to go through the box once more. In any case, the performance of the 25 W adapter is probably more than enough for the vast majority of people, so it is a minor problem.

As far as biometra is concerned, Samsung is still betting on the ultrasonic fingerprint reader under the screen. The manufacturer introduced it for the first time in the Galaxy S10, and since then, in the successive models, it has been refining its operation until the version present in the Galaxy S20 Ultra, whose performance is very good.

Even so, I believe that three-dimensional facial unlocking systems such as Face ID are more appropriate, since they generate less friction every time you access an application with biometric verification or simply unlock the device.

The 108 megapixel camera

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The camera is the main difference between the Galaxy S20 Ultra and the immediately lower model. It is the reason that must justify the 250 euros of difference with respect to the Galaxy S20 + 5G and, above all, the 100 euros of difference with respect to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, considered, next to the Pixel 4 XL, as the reference in the photographic field.

To undertake this task, Samsung has chosen the path Samsungian, which is none other than that of the big numbers.

  • The main sensor is very large and has 108 megapixels of resolution. What Samsung does, however, is to combine nine of these pixels into one, which, therefore, has a much larger size (2.4 microns). This, in principle, helps to capture more light in adverse light situations.
  • If the user so wishes, he can deactivate this combination of pixels that they call nonabinning and make 108 megapixel images with more resolution. In night scenes, however, the use of this shooting mode is not recommended, as the sensor captures less light and the resulting image is clearly inferior.
  • The secondary sensor has a resolution of 48 megapixels, but the interesting thing is that it is accompanied by a periscope-type lens that performs a four-fold optical zoom. Its opening is f / 3.5, smaller than the usual ones in the main sensors. When the light begins to fall, therefore, its performance is impoverished.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

  • The Galaxy S20 Ultra allows, as promoted by the brand, to reach up to 100 magnifications with its camera. The operation of the system is as follows: between 1x and 4x performs zoom digital based on the main 108 megapixel sensor. When it reaches 4x, it switches to the secondary sensor and offers a zoom purely picky Between 4x and 100x, the phone still uses the secondary sensor (48 megapixels) and its four-magnification telephoto lens, but, on that image, it applies digital clippings. To enrich the final result, use various image processing algorithms.
  • The third sensor is wide angle and has a resolution of 12 megapixels.
  • The fourth chamber, finally, is of the ToF type, which helps measure the distance between the different elements of a scene.

These large numbers and, above all, the large pixel size of the main sensor (2.4 microns using technology nonabinning) invite you to think that this camera, that of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, is excellent. And, in a way, it is. It is a very good camera that can be trusted and with which the vast majority of people will be satisfied.

It also constitutes a significant leap compared to previous generations of the Galaxy S family, which were slightly off the hook with respect to competing products such as the iPhone, the Pixel or the contemporary Huawei.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Image captured with the main sensor of the S20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Image captured with the main sensor of the S20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Image captured with the main sensor of the S20 Ultra.

That said, the main camera of the Galaxy S20 Ultra is not perfect. In fact, there are many situations in which the algorithms of the iPhone 11 Pro and the Pixel 4 XL do a better job, especially in terms of noise treatment, shadow lighting and color accuracy. And if someone invests 1,359 euros in this phone, they probably expect that, even in those areas, Samsung's phone will be the same or even better than the competition. But that is not the case. The performance is very good, but maybe not as much as it should be.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The Galaxy S20 Ultra, on the other hand, does not have a traditional 50mm (2x) lens, but instead digitally cuts the image captured by the 108 megapixel sensor. This works well, but, for many AI algorithms that Samsung has implemented, its performance is somewhat lower than a 2X optical, especially in detail.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

From ah, the zoom The Galaxy S20 Ultra is clearly superior to most of its competition. The 4X is extremely fun because of the possibilities it offers and the way it compresses perspective and deforms objects. The only thing to keep in mind, yes, is that the performance progressively declines as the light begins to disappear remember that the objective has an aperture f / 3.5, much smaller than the f / 1.8 of the main sensor .

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Image captured with the 4x optical zoom of the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Image captured with the 4x optical zoom of the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Image captured with the 4x optical zoom of the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Image captured with the 4x optical zoom of the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Image captured with the 4x optical zoom of the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

The 10X, despite partially resorting to digital increases, offers quite good performance. As expected, the quality falls slightly compared to 4X, but it is still quite usable under favorable slander conditions.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

10x image with the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

The 30X, on the other hand, is relatively acceptable, although the lack of sharpness in this case begins to be more evident. The 100X, finally, is quite expendable. The low quality of the final image must also be added to the difficulty of framing correctly, since any slight movement of the phone completely disregards the scene.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

30x image with the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

100x magnification image with the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Regarding the wide angle, Samsung has done a very good job in terms of detail, especially when compared to the iPhone 11 Pro. In addition, it is possible to use the night mode with this lens, which can be quite useful in certain scenarios

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Image captured with the wide angle of the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Last but not least, it is important:

  • 8K video recording. Despite being one of the star functions of the team, it is quite expendable. It is limited to 24 FPS, the stabilization system in this mode is quite inefficient and the quality in general is much better. If you want to record video with the S20 Ultra, it is best to leave the 8K as anecdotal and use, instead, the recording mode in 4K at 60 or 30 FPS, which offers a very good quality.
  • Portrait mode In complex scenes, the ToF camera of the S20 Ultra allows you to cut the different elements that appear in the scene quite accurately. The improvable part is the algorithm in charge of treating the skin, which continues to soften the textures and does not always succeed with skin tones and lighting.
  • Focus problems The S20 Ultra sometimes has difficulty focusing correctly, especially if the subject is close. It is a problem recognized by the manufacturer, so that a future solvent update may be this problem. Until then, it's something to keep in mind.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Image captured with portrait mode on the Galaxy S20 Ultra.