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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G review


No limits. No compromises. The Samsung Galaxy, as designed by Jurassic Park’s John Hammond. We’ve spared no expense.

The S20 Ultra is Samsung out to show it is the undisputed king of smartphone {hardware} – no matter price. It takes every thing we have come to count on from a Galaxy telephone, then provides it a shocking excessive refresh charge display screen and a set of cameras that might embarrass a digital SLR.

Throw in an absurdly quick CPU, 5G connectivity, extra reminiscence and storage than your desktop PC, and a colossal battery, and you have got the blueprint for what flagship telephones are going to appear like for the subsequent few years. Only you may put an S20 Ultra in your pocket right this moment.

But when a vanilla S20 appears nearly as highly effective on paper, and lands some £400 cheaper, is the Ultra a flagship too far?

DESIGN & FEATURES: SLIM WHEN YOU’RE WINNING

It’s immediately recognisable as a Galaxy telephone, with Samsung’s acquainted mixture of glass and steel, however the S20 Ultra feels a bit conservative within the styling stakes.

The bezels have shrunk even additional to the sides of the telephone, however the display screen itself would not curve as prominently any extra. Even the black and gray color decisions are pretty humdrum. Then once more, in order for you design evolution, you may at all times choose up the folding Galaxy Z Flip.

There’s additionally no escaping simply how massive the S20 Ultra is. A 6.9in display screen makes it each taller and chunkier than an iPhone 11 Pro Max, and you may wrestle to make use of it one-handed until you have bought mitts like Andre the Giant. At least the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor has been bumped greater up the display screen to make it simpler to achieve than it was on the Galaxy S10, however the tech can nonetheless be a bit sluggish to choose up your digits. Optical scanners on different telephones handle it sooner.

The much-maligned Bixby button has been ditched, and whereas the three.5mm headphone port has gone together with it, you do at the very least get a pair of USB-C headphones within the field. IP68 water resistance retains you protected from an unintentional dunking, too.

It’s the chunky digicam bump that units the Ultra other than different S20 fashions, taking over a large quantity of area on the again of the telephone, and bulging prominently out from the glass. You’ll positively wish to put money into a case to assist it mix in higher.

CAMERA: ZOOM FOR THE MOON

That digicam bump is there for a superb motive: it holds no fewer than 4 lenses, for those who rely the depth sensor that is onboard purely to offer portraits a satisfying bokeh blur.

The numbers are undeniably spectacular: the 108MP principal snapper is joined by a 48MP telephoto good for 100x hybrid zoom and a 12MP wide-angle. There’s additionally a 40MP front-facer for selfie capturing. It’s a combo that ought to wipe the ground with each rival, and is the most important motive to purchase an Ultra over a vanilla Galaxy S20.

It’s not all that clear lower, although. The principal digicam’s 108MP sensor is bodily larger than anything you may discover in a telephone proper now, and makes use of algorithm-based cleverness that ends in 12MP photographs. During the day, it takes brilliantly detailed and vibrant images with expertly judged publicity and well-balanced HDR. There’s additionally the standard picture processing we have come to count on from Samsung, with considerably aggressive sharpening that may counteract the element gained from the excessive pixel rely. More troubling is the overblown pores and skin smoothing and dramatic shifts in white steadiness when the sensor detects a face – one thing that does not occur within the guide mode.

Inconsistent focus looking out will also be a problem, although Samsung is reportedly engaged on a software program replace that guarantees a repair. Low-light images are an actual enchancment over the earlier technology, however brute-forcing issues with a large sensor hasn’t made sufficient of a leap to beat Google’s wonderful Night Sight or Apple’s Night Mode. Colours lean too far in the direction of heat hues and noise will increase quite a bit, so whereas usable, they are not the perfect round.

More spectacular is the ultra-wide digicam, which matches the principle sensor for publicity and color, and would not have as a lot of a fish-eye impact as some rivals. The front-facing digicam is a slam-dunk, too, taking detailed selfies that present few of the smoothing problems with the principle sensor.

Zoom is the true head turner right here, with the 48MP telephoto’s lens utilizing a periscope-style setup that permits for 4x optical, 10x ‘hybrid’, utilizing a mix of a number of photographs, and as much as 100x with sensor cropping. At between 5x and 10x, it’s arms down probably the greatest telephone cameras round, with an uncanny skill to make the efforts of an iPhone 11 Pro Max look positively amateurish.

Beyond that, as much as 30x photographs are usable, however clearly processed and pretty artifact-heavy, whereas 100x images are frankly not well worth the space for storing they take up. Not solely does the viewfinder shake a lot on this zoomed view it is close to not possible to concentrate on a distant topic, any pictures you do take have the readability of a 200s-era webcam. 100x zoom is a gimmick, and never a motive to purchase the telephone.

The digicam app does at the very least make it straightforward to swap between every digicam and zoom stage, with a neat Single Take mode that makes use of each sensor concurrently to seize a number of stills and video of a topic. The enormous pixel rely additionally permits for 8K video recording, however with so few methods to look at your clips again at full decision, it is higher used for pulling nonetheless photographs out of your footage.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra image gallery

DISPLAY & SOUND: SMOOTH OPERATOR

It would possibly lose the eye-catching curved edges of earlier Galaxy telephones, however the S20 Ultra’s display screen is in any other case higher in each manner.

The 6.9in, 3200×1440 AMOLED delivers impeccable brightness, ultra-vibrant colors, and unbeatable viewing angles. Bezels are thinner than ever, and HDR10+ movies look chic, with infinite distinction and amazingly vivid highlights.

But the true story is the silky clean 120Hz refresh charge. Turn it on and animations all of the sudden move like water, with each single little bit of movement changing into a lot simpler on the attention. Even scrolling by way of your Twitter feed is all of the sudden a deal with for the eyeballs. You simply must make just a few sacrifices within the course of.

The display screen cannot change refresh charge on the fly, so you have to choose between 60Hz and 120Hz. Clever scaling means you will not discover 120Hz forces you right down to a Full HD+ 2400×1080 decision, however having a display screen replace itself twice as usually was at all times going to have an effect on battery life.

Sound high quality is not fairly on the identical stage, however the S20 Ultra’s stereo audio system nonetheless get lots loud. The earpiece handles extra of the excessive frequencies, whereas the down-firing loudspeaker takes care of bass and mids. Crank issues too far and the again of the telephone begins to vibrate a bit, although.

BATTERY LIFE: HERTZ HURTS

How a lot time the S20 Ultra can spend away from a plug socket is right down to you. If you may’t get sufficient of beautiful 120Hz, count on a 25-30% larger battery drain over the usual refresh charge. Throw in some 8K video recording into the combination and it is attainable to be out of juice in twelve hours.

That’s regardless of the colossal 5000mAh battery, which contributes to the S20 Ultra’s important bulk. It has to energy the most important telephone ever seen in a Samsung telephone, in addition to that separate 5G modem, so heavy customers may very well be rationing energy to get by way of the day. Drop right down to 60Hz although, and it is fairly straightforward to final from breakfast to bedtime. It’s no endurance runner, however given how a lot energy is on faucet, it is hardly a disappointment both.

The bundled charger can handle a full top-up in a bit underneath an hour, however third-party 45W adaptors can go even sooner for those who’re in a rush. 25W wi-fi charging is about as speedy because it will get, too.

PERFORMANCE: IT’S A G THING

A brand new telephone technology wants new silicon, so each Galaxy S20 will get Samsung’s octa-core Exynos 990 CPU (at the very least right here within the UK – worldwide variations are rocking a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chip as a substitute).

It’s paired with a large 12GB of RAM and 128GB of built-in storage, however up your price range and you’ll have a handset with an nearly ridiculous 16GB of reminiscence and 512GB of room for apps, video games and media. A microSD card slot leaves room to develop, too.

Unsurprisingly it is an actual powerhouse, displaying no indicators of slowdown at any level and working something you care to throw at it easily. You can pin three apps to reminiscence in order that they by no means have to reload, but it surely’s so fast to multitask that there is little motive to do it.

Benchmark figures counsel the Exynos model is not fairly as blazing quick because the Snapdragon S20 Ultra, however there’s not a lot in it. Will you discover the odd stutter when taking part in probably the most demanding of 3D video games? Maybe, however this nonetheless places 99% of different Android handsets to disgrace within the efficiency stakes.

Mobile information can be super-fast, so long as you are on a 5G community. And in an space with 5G protection. And are standing in the correct path, or the wind is blowing the correct manner. It’s been practically a yr because the UK bought its first 5G service and the networks are nonetheless flakey, displaying 200Mbps on a Vodafone 5G SIM on sure streets however dropping to barely higher than 4G speeds just some toes down the street. Early adopters in cities with 5G protection will love the velocity will increase once they get them, but it surely’s nonetheless not but a motive to purchase a brand new telephone.

OS & SOFTWARE: A FAMILIAR FEELING

Galaxy flagships used to show up with very totally different variations of Samsung’s customized Android interface than the telephones that got here earlier than them. Not the S20 Ultra: it is working the identical mixture of Android 10 software program and One UI 2.zero pores and skin that the Galaxy S10 debuted in an replace final yr.

That means present Galaxy homeowners will not have to spend hours relearning shortcuts and memorising app icons, however there are just a few new additions. Focus Mode disables distracting apps whilst you get on along with your day, and Link to Windows reveals telephone notifications in your Windows PC.

Samsung digital assistant Bixby would not have a devoted button any extra, however remains to be lurking within the background, whereas a brand new Samsung Daily display screen sits to the left of the house display screen instead of Google Now. There’s a shocking lack of pre-installed Google apps, too – you may want to go to the Play retailer to get staples like Google Drive, Keep notes or Play Music.

After just a few years of dialling again the overbearing Touchwiz UI, this seems like a little bit of a backwards step, however you may at the very least disable and conceal quite a lot of the superfluous Samsung options you will not be utilizing on the every day.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S20 ULTRA VERDICT

As a tool purpose-built to show Samsung nonetheless guidelines the roost with regards to Android handsets, the S20 Ultra definitely will get the job achieved. It reveals you do not want a flowery folding display screen to stake a declare as probably the most spectacular telephone on the planet proper now, too.

Impressive, sure – however not good. The excessive refresh charge display screen saps battery, and the 100x zoom is not all that helpful. At launch, picture high quality is a bit inconsistent, particularly with regards to face detection. Oh, and it is eye-wateringly costly.

Samsung’s extra mainstream fashions have similar efficiency, 5G connectivity and an equally beautiful show, however price considerably much less money. The Galaxy S20 and S20+ would possibly arrive with diminished digicam {hardware}, however are nonetheless certain to ship flagship-level photograph high quality, and so needs to be greater than sufficient telephone for most individuals.

Still, for anybody that merely has to have the most effective, the S20 Ultra is nearly as good because it will get.


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