When leaks started happening late last year, many people were on the edge of their seats. I was one of them – scouring for every bit of information. We also covered a lot of those leaks, by the way. Then, the Unpacked event happened and we were presented with the new Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.
The new Galaxy S20 Ultra is an entirely new lineup. It is placed above the Galaxy S20 and the Galaxy S20+ in the hierarchy. This is a technological showcase with the latest cutting-edge technologies built into this smartphone.
And here’s our in-depth review of the new Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.
To start, the box itself is pretty simple. The only thing we need to pay attention to is the “S20 Ultra 5G” at the bottom.
Digging out everything, we get the 25W charger, the USB-C to USB-C charging cable, the AKG USB-C earphones, and also a silicone case.
We have also done an unboxing video if you want to take a look at that.
The Galax S20 Ultra has a new design language. Because of its beefy specs and especially beefy battery, there are many components to cram into the phone. That’s why the Galaxy S20 Ultra is rather thick.
When I held the Galaxy S20 Ultra for the first time, the thickness felt like the ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom from a few years ago. The camera bump is also thicker than the phone itself but still is protected by the lip of the silicone case.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra is only available in two colors Cosmic Black and Cosmic Grey. We have the Cosmic Grey version with us here and I have to say – it looks really good.
For whatever reason though, Samsung moved the volume and power buttons to the right side of the phone and removed the dedicated Bixby button. I guess no Bixby button is a norm now. The power button does have some extra gestures as well – which can be tuned in the settings menu.
Connectivity & Ports
Samsung has packed in a bunch of connectivity options this time. First off, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra only comes in 5G variant for Malaysia. While 5G is still not ready for prime time yet, this phone is future-proofing that part already.
Then comes the ports. The Galaxy S20 series does not have an audio jack anymore. There’s only a USB-C port at the bottom for charging. Of course, there’s still wireless charging if you want to use that feature.
The new Galaxy S20 Ultra still has a nano SIM card slot with a microSD card slot. Moreover, the new Galaxy S20 Ultra is also IP68 dust- and water-resistant, like its predecessors.
UPDATE: It supports eSIM too!
One of the biggest upgrades this time around is its display. This time, Samsung is using the Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. I presume that the “2X” here means it’s double the refresh rate compared to the last generation?
Yeah, Samsung upped the ante by skipping 90Hz entirely and jumped straight to 120Hz refresh rate. I personally think this is a nice-to-have feature but not necessarily a must-have. The Samsung Galaxy S20 series can go up to 4K @ 60Hz or 1080p @ 120Hz.
It also has the Infinity-O notch, which is a tiny cutout for the selfie camera.
Out of the box, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is using the “vivid” color profile. I turned it back to “natural” because that looks more pleasing to me.
Another thing that I realized during our first hands-on session with the Galaxy S20 Ultra is the lack of curves around the edges. I find it rather surprising as Samsung, the creator of curved screens, opted for a flatter screen this time around while its rivals are curving to the point where we need snail’s eyes to see the whole screen.
Oh, by the way – the Galaxy S20 Ultra does come with a pre-installed high-quality film screen protector out of the box.
The biggest upgrade of all – the cameras. It was teased for a long time that Samsung is going to revolutionize camera photography with the new Galaxy S20 Ultra. And now we know why.
Let’s start with the specs first:
- Quadruple rear-facing cameras
- Main: 108MP f/1.8; PDAF, OIS
- Periscope: 48MP f/3.5; PDAF, OIS, 10x hybrid optical zoom
- Ultra-wide: 12MP f/2.2
- 3D TOF camera
- 40MP f/2.2 selfie camera with PDAF
To look at the pictures, please watch our review video at the top of this article.
The pictures – I am rather impartial about the colors. It’s really punchy and I love the details that come out of this phone’s camera. Moreover, this is the first smartphone camera that can take 108MP pictures with HDR enabled! That’s insane!
Of course, you can also zoom all the way in with the 100x digital zoom. This is a feature that is exciting to see but I honestly don’t think I’ll use much. Samsung says that the 100x camera picture is enhanced and cleaned by AI technology – which we can definitely confirm as the texts look great with 100x zoom.
The ultra-wide angle camera is now using a 120° lens instead. It’s slightly tighter than its predecessor’s 123° ultra-wide angle and has way less distortion.
All of the Galaxy S20 series of smartphones can record up to 8K 24fps videos. We have a sample of that video right here.
The Galaxy S20 series also has the new Super Steady which combines both OIS and EIS to produce gimbal-like stability and motion. It does have gimbal-like motion, but it uses the ultra-wide angle camera – which means there is no autofocus.
We have also included a sample video of the Super Steady in the review video at the top of this article.
Software – Android 10 with Samsung One UI 2.1
It goes without saying that the latest flagship smartphone will come with the latest software. There are some UI differences here and there, but generally very minor.
One thing I find funny is the Edge Panel on the Galaxy S20 Ultra is nearly invisible. The Edge Panel is more transparent than before and since the screen isn’t as curved as before, I genuinely couldn’t find the Edge Panel at first.
Samsung also added a new feature called “Music Share”. Here’s the gist of it. Imagine you’re driving with your Galaxy S20 series of smartphones connected to your car’s Bluetooth and playing music. Through the power of Bluetooth 5.0, other devices can piggyback off your phone and play their music without having to re-pair the Bluetooth connection.
That sounds handy… but I can’t get it to work with the Galaxy S10+ or the Xiaomi Mi 9. Perhaps this is a Galaxy S20-only feature.
Performance & Gaming
It’s no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy S series of smartphones always come with the company’s cutting-edge technology when it comes to performance. This time, the Galaxy S20 Ultra has:
- 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with Infinity-O notch
- Up to 3200×1440 @ 60Hz or 2400×1080 @ 120Hz
- Exynos 990 chipset
- 2x Exynos M5 @ 2.73GHz
- 2x Cortex-A76 @ 2.5GHz
- 4x Cortex-A55 @ 2.0GHz
- 12GB LPDDR5 RAM
- 128GB of UFS 3.0 internal storage (expandable via microSD)
- 5,000mAh battery
- Supports up to 45W, 25W charger included
So let’s take a look at the benchmarks first. I’ve broken the benchmarks into two parts – the first one is at 1080p @ 60Hz to compare with other devices because that’s what most people will use, and secondly will comparing the Galaxy S20 Ultra itself with different resolutions and frame rates.
Comparing the Galaxy S20 Ultra with other devices
No surprise – this flagship device is topping the benchmark charts.
Comparing the Galaxy S20 Ultra with different resolution and frame rates
This is interesting. Look at VRMark. This is where the benchmark starts to fail as the score scales according to the refresh rate of the device. The higher the frame rate, the higher the score.
To remedy this, I added another VRMark column – the ability to keep running at its maximum frame rate. It is here we can finally see tangible differences between resolution and frame rate – and the Galaxy S20 Ultra can’t maintain 120fps at 1080p, just like the ASUS ROG Phone 2.
Battery & Charger
Samsung also upped the ante by including a massive 5,000mAh to the Galaxy S20 Ultra. It is one of the reasons why this phone is thick – but that’s okay. I rather have a thicker phone than to carry a power bank anyway.
At 1080p 60Hz, the Galaxy S20 Ultra can last for more than 12 hours in our battery test with Bluetooth turned on, which is surprisingly good.
When we compared the battery life with different resolutions and refresh rates, that 5,000mAh isn’t going to last long – especially while running at 1080p at 120Hz. The ASUS ROG Phone 2 actually performed worse with its 6,000mAh battery at 1080p 120Hz.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra uses the Galaxy Note10+’s charger (review). Inside the box, it comes with a 25W charger but Samsung has once again stated that the Galaxy S20 Ultra supports 45W charging.
Since we do not have the official 45W charger from Samsung, we’ll only be testing the 25W charger. That’s plentiful since the 5,000mAh is going to last through the day and I only charge my phone when I sleep.
Anyway, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra takes about an hour to charge from 15% to 100%. That’s pretty good considering that the charging speed is quite consistent throughout the entire hour.
Wrapping up the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review
Alright, so we’ve talked a lot about the phone. At the end of the day, the new Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is going to be the smartphone that Samsung is showing off their technological prowess to the world.
For the price of RM4,999, you can be at the cutting edge of smartphone technology. 100x zoom, humongous battery, great performance, and also a fantastic user experience with Samsung One UI.