Galaxy Note 20, an "Ultra" experience at a lower price | Review

Galaxy Note 20, an Ultra experience at a lower price | Review
At the end of August we reviewed the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, a top-of-the-range smartphone with very high-level technical specifications. We have also awarded him our award, for the undoubted qualities at the service of all those looking for a smartphone with a high-end stylus. Note 20 Ultra is one of the best smartphones available today. But how does the little brother Galaxy Note 20 fare?

Let's say immediately that it is not an easy product to place on the market, since although it can be considered a top of the range, there are not a few differences compared to the model Ultra. What we need toa> find out is whether the 350 euros less, a gap that however becomes around 250 euros on the market, is enough to justify the sacrifices you will have to face.

Differences between Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra

Let's immediately list the differences between the two smartphones. Note 20 has a 6.7 "screen, slightly less wide than the 6.9" of the Note 20 Ultra, a difference that is realized in a few millimeters less in height and width, and a fraction of a millimeter more in thickness. The 0.2mm thickness is due to the fact that the Note 20 does not have a curved screen. This difference is aesthetic but also functional: not everyone likes the curved screen, which sometimes leads to unwanted clicks, so this double soul of the Note 20 is welcome.

However the screen changes even more in depth, in fact, a Super AMOLED Plus model with FHD + resolution (2400 × 1080) was used on the “base” Note 20, far from the QuadHD + resolution of the Ultra model. In addition, the refresh rate also changes: the 120 Hz of the Ultra model gives way to a classic 60 Hz screen.

Significant differences also for the camera sector, which sees the replacement of the 108 MP wide-angle sensor of the Ultra with a 12 MP sensor, and the telephoto lens is combined with a 64 megapixel sensor, superior in terms of resolution compared to the 12 MP of the Ultra model. The 12MP F / 2.2 main sensor remained the same on both. If the other differences sound like a general deterioration, for the graphics sector the feeling is not the same: the wide-angle has a sensor of "only" 12 MP, but with twice as large pixels, and the aperture value on the Tele is better. Too bad only for the lack of Laser autofocus, present on the Ultra instead, and for the optical zoom limited to 3X (compared to 5X). However, we will see a few shots later.

The battery is only 200 mAh less (4300 vs. 4500 mAh), the rear surface is in opaque plastic on the base model, while it is in glass on the Ultra. The RAM memory goes from 12 to 8 GB, while the storage space is 256 GB, and a 512 GB version is not available. Probably the most important feature for some, the base model does not allow memory expansion via Micro SD.

Everything else remains the same, from connectivity to the SoC used. We leave you below a table with the main technical specifications.

How the user experience changes

As we have seen, the technical differences are not few, but how many of these really impact on the experience of everyday use?

The screen of the Note 20 is a very good screen, the resolution "only FHD +", is far from a negative point. In relation to the diagonal of the screen, the pixel density is almost 400 PPI, a value that we now know is more than enough to offer a high-level experience and beyond which it is practically impossible to see real differences. The Ultra model raises the pixel density value close to 500 PPI, as mentioned, a value perhaps higher than necessary. A benefit of the lower resolution is related to the higher performance, considering that the adopted Exynos SoC is the same on both models. Furthermore, the impact on the battery is also lower. Perhaps the 120 Hz is instead to be considered an unpleasant lack, since this refresh rate was adopted to offer a better experience with the stylus, to reduce latency and make the interaction even more direct. If you have used an Ultra, you will notice this difference, otherwise you will consider the experience with the nib to be equally excellent. Either way, it's an unfortunate shortcoming.

RAM reduction is not a problem; 8 GB are still sufficient today, even for a demanding use of the smartphone. It seems rather that the quantity of 12 GB of the Ultra model was chosen to differentiate the two products, rather than the result of a real need. The same can be said for the battery: the 200 mAh less on the base model represents a marginal difference, and considering the less demanding screen, the autonomy results obtained on the Note 20 are even better than those obtained with the Ultra. The difference is still limited, however, you will arrive safely until night, with still 20% autonomy.

We like the choice of the flat screen. This writer is among those who don't like the curved screen, while we are less enthusiastic about the plastic back cover. Not only does it feel cheap, but it is also more slippery.

Finally, as far as the inability to expand the storage space is concerned, we cannot make a definitive judgment: 256 GB is not few, and probably the lack of a Micro SD card reader won't be a problem for many. However, Samsung's decision is hardly justifiable, as this seems like a choice made only to forcibly move those who need a lot of memory to the Ultra model.


The camera is of a high standard, despite the differences from the Ultra model. Unfortunately we didn't have the Note 20 Ultra available during the test for a direct comparison, but we assure you that you will not be giving up much. Probably the main difference is the optical zoom that goes from 5X to 3X.

We show you some photos below. The shots are excellent in all those conditions where light is not a problem, while the situation worsens in the absence of light, with noisier and less detailed shots. It is not an unusual situation, but still common to all smartphones.

From left to right we show the same subject shot with the three lenses, therefore wide angle, main sensor and telephoto. We notice how for wide-angle and main sensor the shots are sharp and of high quality, while the telephoto shows the side a little with a less defined image.

Above a couple of selfies with, on the right, the 'group selfie' option that widens the shooting range.

These are a couple of shots in low light or high contrast conditions. The result is not great, but still discreet. Below instead we leave you other shots; as you can see, in good light conditions, the results are very convincing.


The software with Samsung customization, the stylus, the performance in general and the user experience it is not unlike that of the Ultra model, except for what has been told so far. We therefore avoid repeating what has already been described in detail in our review of the Note 20 Ultra, which we invite you to read.

The main defects of the Note 20, or more than defects compared to the Ultra model, are the refresh rate 120 Hz screen and plastic back cover, bad choice compared to the glass of the big brother. The limited RAM memory, the inability to insert a Micro SD card and the slightly less capacious battery are venial sins.

As for the photographic sector, the Note 20 Ultra certainly offers something more, but if not buy the smartphone only to take pictures, even the basic version is able to give great satisfaction.

In short, then, the Note 20 5G is as good as the Note 20 Ultra. Despite the various differences, the user experience remains of the highest level. 350 euros of difference, or even 250 euros if we consider the prices of the various shops, still represent a high absolute value, which you can save by buying the Note 20 base. Prefer the Ultra only if you find it at a price closer to that of the basic model, or if you want the best in the photographic sector.

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