Samsung annually presents flagship Note smartphones at a separate event in August. Quarantine realities have slightly adjusted the plans and this year Galaxy Unpacked 2020 exclusively in online format, but on time. On the other hand, there are many more novelties this year. Previously, the event was exclusively dedicated to the Note line. In the same year, they were added to the usual gadgets for presentations at IFA: smartwatches Galaxy Watch 3, flagship tablets Galaxy Tab S7 and S7 +, as well as new Bluetooth-headphones Galaxy Buds Live. Despite the online format of the event, the gg editors have already managed to get acquainted with the new products personally and make some first impression of them.
What’s new in Samsung Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra?
Like last year, the company launched two models at once: Samsung Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra. They are aimed at different audiences and differ not only in size. Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra is the “top” with the maximum mince that Samsung has at the moment. Samsung Galaxy Note20 is a more “compromise” and, accordingly, more affordable option. In short, the important differences are different screens. Ultra has a curved on the sides with a resolution of 3200×1440 and a refresh rate of 120 Hz, although only FullHD +, as in the flagship S20 line. The set of cameras, battery capacity, configurations for RAM, and built-in memory differ. And the dimensions, of course. In this case, the processor is used the same: Exynos 990.
Outwardly, the Note line always looks more “strict” than the S. This tradition continued this year. Samsung Galaxy Note20, Note20 Ultra received “chopped” top and bottom edges, due to which they look a little more “angular”. Both models will be available in several color options. They decided to abandon the gradient colors this year. At the same time, the rear glass, depending on the color option, can be either glossy or matte. Matte options look and feel very nice. But there are some nuances: Samsung Note20 Ultra will be matte only in bronze. Black and white are glossy. And the top configuration is only black. The Galaxy Note20 will also come with a matte “reinforced” polycarbonate back.
The Ultra model features a 6.9-inch, side-curved Dynamic AMOLED 2x display with 3200×1440 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate (at FullHD + resolution). Galaxy Note20 received a flat 6.7-inch Super AMOLED + with FullHD + resolution. I am sure that the version without bends will appeal to an impressive number of users. The only nasty thing about the Galaxy Note20’s screen is 60Hz. Using screens of 90 and 120 Hz, it is extremely difficult to switch back to 60. The front cameras are still a hole, but it is said to be smaller.
In terms of the layout of functional elements, everything is almost familiar. The buttons on the right, on top, are the tray and microphone. There is no 3.5 mm jack, only Type-C, there is also an external speaker and microphone on the bottom. The case is protected against dust and water according to IP68 standard. The location of the S Pen has changed. Last year, the stylus was placed closer to the right edge of the smartphone. This year – closer to the left. Apparently, the dimensions and design remained the same.
Although there were some innovations. The S Pen is equipped with Bluetooth LE, gyroscope and accelerometer, and supports remote control and gestures in the air. He knows how to recognize 4096 degrees of pressure and tilt. The company has significantly reduced the response time when drawing/writing with the S Pen: now the older model has Oto is 9 ms, the younger – 28 ms. In the previous generation, it was 40+ ms, if I’m not mistaken. From personal observation – the tip is slightly spring-loaded so that touching the screen feels soft and really looks more like a traditional pen with a notepad. Auto-recognition of handwritten text has become more accurate (again, based on personal feelings).
We have already mentioned the rear panel, now we will focus on cameras. In Galaxy Note20, Note20 Ultra, the main cameras are made in the form of large rectangular blocks in which the cameras themselves are placed vertically. In Note20 Ultra, this block protrudes very noticeably. Which is not surprising: a configuration similar to the Galaxy S20 Ultra is used with a huge 108 MP module and a periscope camera that provides 5x optical zoom. On the Galaxy Note20, the camera sticks out much less, and the configuration is the same as the Galaxy S20 +. The numbers for the cameras are in the table above, and we will deal with the camera capabilities in more detail in the reviews. In the new products, the company has focused on video capabilities. There is the possibility of video recording up to 8K @ 24p. Of the important features, it is worth mentioning the smooth operation of the zoom (without jerks, as we are used to seeing when switching between different modules) and an advanced sound recording system. The smartphone has 3 built-in microphones, and external wired and wireless models can also be used. Directly during video recording, you can switch the directivity of the built-in microphones and sources.
According to Samsung, the company has recently been focusing on the usability of its smartphones and is not chasing the numbers in its smartphones, in particular, the benchmarks. This is only partly true: the Note20 line for the US is equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ and, I suppose, it will still be in the top in benchmarks. The international version uses the flagship processor Exynos 990, which is already well known from the Galaxy S20 line. Yes, it is inferior in performance to the flagship Snapdragon, but its power reserve is more than enough for current applications and games. Who cares – a couple of screenshots with benchmarks.
There is a whole set of wireless interfaces, including Wi-Fi 6. And even more: the rumors were confirmed, smartphones received UWB (Ultra Wideband) support. The specifications of this standard were approved back in 2018. In short, this is a wireless ultra-wideband data transmission technology, which has a high data transfer rate, is able to locally determine the location of objects with an accuracy of 2 cm (in rooms, in particular), and has extremely low power consumption. Of the possible areas of application, the most obvious is IoT: automation and management of the smart home ecosystem, access turnstiles, and so on. Plus fast data transfer between devices – up to 480 Mbps. But there is one important feature: the data transfer rate drops very noticeably with even a slight increase in distance. Another feature that has been rumored and leaked is Wireless DeX. This is the desktop mode already familiar from the past flagships, but now with support for wireless connection. Can connect to any Miracast compatible TV/monitor. And as manipulators use either the keyboard and mouse or the screen as a touchpad.
Samsung Galaxy Note20, Note20 Ultra received 4300 and 4500 mAh batteries, respectively. Fast wired and wireless charging are supported, as well as reverse wireless charging for accessories.