Beautiful 120 Hz display • Long battery life • Smooth performance • Impressive 108MP camera sensor
Too large • Auto focus is faulty • Frustrating fingerprint sensor in the display • Expensive
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is a powerful phone with crazy technical data. However, it is unlikely that you will use the special features on a daily basis.
Of the three phones in the Samsung Galaxy S20 family, it is easy to understand why someone is immediately interested in the S20 Ultra.
For starters, it's equipped with a 6.9-inch display, a 108 megapixel camera sensor and 5G modem, and a 5,000 mAh battery – and that's just a fraction of what it offers.
The S20 Ultra is also equipped with Samsung's Space Zoom, which combines optical zoom technology with digital zoom with AI. The handset can zoom up to 100x without loss.
Yes, that's right. With the Ultra, you can enlarge your subject 100 times. And although the phone is definitely capable of it, I'm not sure if the function is really necessary. It's also frustrating to use it sometimes, which I'll go into later.
Although I am certainly a fan of the high quality images that the Ultra delivers in both daylight and low light conditions, such an intense camera sensor is not necessary for everyday use.
Samsung advertises the Ultra for its improved image stabilization (compared to the Galaxy S10), the 8K video recording capability and the 100x zoom mentioned above. However, these are not the features you absolutely need when taking photos to publish them in your Instagram stories.
At a starting price of $ 1,400, this is also not a phone that you should drop so much money without thinking about what you will actually get.
A gigantic and fragile build.
Aesthetically, the S20 Ultra doesn't look too different from its predecessors, but you can tell that the design has been given a facelift. Samsung has abolished the line's very structured, boxy look in favor of softer curves.
On the right side is a power switch, which also serves as a Bixby button to call up the Samsung voice assistant. The volume rocker is located directly above. There is a USB Type-C port on the bottom. But in contrast to the Galaxy S10 series, Samsung has omitted the headphone jack here.
Instead of opting for a horizontal camera module that extends across the back of the phone, Samsung has instead packed the sensors into a more rectangular form factor on the left side of the phone. And although it looks much more modern, the quad camera setup takes up a large part of the back surface of the phone.
The camera shock also sticks out quite a bit from the phone. So if you don't have a case on it, placing it on a flat surface means that it not only rests on the lens, but also rocks back and forth.
The S20 Ultra is a huge phone. In my tiny hands it almost looks like a pill. And in the bigger hands of some of my very big friends, still looks far too big.
Like the rest of the Galaxy phones, the Ultra is made of glass with metal in between. makes it very fragile.
I know that a glass finish looks and feels much higher quality and that it also enables wireless charging. But I can't help but wish Samsung had at least offered consumers a matte option or other alternative build that doesn't tend to break.
It wasn't long before I became increasingly frustrated to maneuver this thing. The Ultra hardly fits in my coat pockets and sticks out of the back pockets of my jeans. It almost felt like I was babysitting the phone every time I picked up the phone. I had to hold it in a certain way – almost always with two hands – so I didn't accidentally drop it.
And no, I didn't put a case on the phone (which is certainly an "I" problem) because it would make the phone even thicker and stronger.
Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful phone. But its size, fragility, and cost are the main reasons why I would almost prefer staring at the phone remotely than holding it.
Breathtaking and smooth display
The 6.9-inch AMOLED display of the S20 Ultra (511 ppi) is breathtaking and offers users a dynamic Quad HD + resolution with HDR10 +.
It is also equipped with the Samsung display "Infinity-O". This enables very minimal steadies. And unlike the S10 with a front-facing camera on the right, the Ultra's hole-punch selfie camera has been moved to the center of the display.
I was definitely more of a fan of the Ultra when I initially turned it on out of the box. And I think I can attribute this feeling to the fact that I have just spent two weeks checking two foldable phones: the Motorola Razr and the Galaxy Z Flip. So I felt more comfortable when I reunited with a large, traditional smartphone display.
Until I realized that the screen, like its structure, is too big for my hands. For reference, the iPhone 11 Pro Max has a comparatively "smaller" 6.5-inch display, which I thought was too big for my hands. For this reason, I finally decided on the more compact iPhone 11 Pro.
I can hardly navigate with one hand in the Ultra, but even when I stretch my thumb over it, I can't reach certain things on the screen. I finally realized that I could only use this phone successfully with two hands.
But that also means that Samsung has not exaggerated that the touch response rate has been improved. Because the screen is so big, I accidentally typed and triggered random things in apps or even certain letters and symbols when I was writing messages at a speed that felt like a fast pace.
Regardless of this, the display is still very nice, especially if a refresh rate of 120 Hz is set. After unpacking, however, the display is set to 60 Hz, which also feels snappy.
That said, you should definitely opt for this higher refresh rate. Scrolling through articles or timelines on Twitter and Instagram felt so quick and responsive that I really didn't want to fall back on the 60 Hz default setting. Unfortunately, this setting drained the battery considerably on days when I recorded a lot of content (which I will discuss later).
As for the Ultra's built-in fingerprint sensor, well … if there was a way to test my patience, it would be.
Every time I pressed my finger at the bottom of the display just above the print outline, I was told that it was not recognized. Most of the time I had to enter my PIN.
Ultimately, I switched back to face recognition instead, which worked much better and faster.
Excellent performance and excellent battery life
] The Ultra has a Snapdragon 865 processor and is available in various configurations. You have the option between 12 GB RAM and 128 GB internal memory or you can expand up to 16 GB RAM with 512 GB memory. There is also a microSD card for up to 1 TB of additional storage space.
But of course this more powerful configuration also raises the price to $ 1,600 … which makes me wince a little. Considering the amount of memory that is recorded in 8K video, the latter of the two storage options is certainly the best choice.
With 5,000 mAh, the Ultra has a powerful battery. But it is definitely a hit if you take a lot of photos and videos or if the refresh rate is set to 120 Hz.
On Saturday I took the phone off the charger at around 11:30 a.m. I sent some messages all day with apps like messenger and telegram and used Google Maps a few times. But I mainly used the phone to test the camera. When I got home at 6 p.m., the phone was 31 percent charged.
The next day, I wasn't busy with video recording, but I took a lot of photos. I pulled the Ultra out of the socket around noon that day, and by midnight it was 11 percent.
This 12-hour battery life corresponds to that of the iPhone 11 Pro Max with a 3,969 mAh battery.
With the display set to 60 Hz, however, the battery lasted about three to four hours on a typical working day. So if I used it for apps like Slack, Gmail, Telegram, Messenger and social media scrolling, I would say I have about 15 to 16 hours a day.
While that's damn good for the amount of photos and videos I've taken, it's important to note that the battery life gets even longer when you shoot with the Ultra 4K and 8K videos. In this case, you should probably keep the lower refresh rate.
An intensive camera with appropriate image processing.
On the back of the Ultra is a quad camera setup with:
108-megapixel wide-angle lens with 1: 1.8 aperture
120-degree 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens with 1 : 1.8 2.2 aperture
48 megapixel telephoto lens with 1: 3.5 aperture
time-of-flight sensor for depth
The sensors are up to three times larger than that of the S10, which means that they can absorb more light for better details and clarity regardless of the brightness of the surroundings.
At the weekend I compared the photos I took with the Galaxy S20 Ultra to those on the iPhone 11 Pro and came to the conclusion that I preferred the Ultra.
But that doesn't mean that it has no errors. Like the faulty autofocus and the tendency to oversaturate photos. It is also difficult to identify motifs and sharpen them clearly.
The size of the phone made it even more difficult. When shooting with one hand, I often couldn't tap the screen to focus the camera.
I had to put down everything I was holding or take the extra step of (sometimes violently) tapping the display to make sure it focused on the topic.
Below are some examples of the fight