Samsung unveils Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra with tweaked designs, improved S Pen, and more

Galaxy Note20 Ultra_Back Front

Today at its annual Unpacked event, Samsung revealed the new Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. Despite the phones leaking repeatedly over the past couple of months, nothing about the phones was made official until today. I’ve got all the details you need to know below, so let’s dive in.

Design wise, the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra look pretty similar. The Ultra is definitely more boxy with less intrusive bezels, while the standard Note 20 tries to strike a balance between a more squared-off look and the friendly rounded corners of the Galaxy S20 series. These design choices play into the phones’ purposes: the Ultra is for the spec nerds and ultimate power users, while the standard Note is for more traditional users who want a bit more power out of their smartphone.

Both phones take advantage of new “Mystic” finishes which add a frosty finish to the back glass. I typed that sentence thinking both phones had glass backs, but I just realized Samsung opted for a polycarbonate backplate on the standard Note 20. Yes folks, in 2020, for a thousand dollars, you can get a Samsung Note phone made of plastic. The Ultra does have actual glass, though, which – thank God. I’m really not sure why they found it necessary to cut costs by giving the Note 20 a plastic build.

Luckily, the screens aren’t covered in plastic. They use the new Gorilla Glass Victus which is supposed to greatly improve scratch resistance. Speaking of screens, the Note 20 Ultra comes with a massive 6.9-inch WQHD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. Meanwhile, the Note 20 has a 6.7-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display. Weirdly enough, it only comes with a 60Hz refresh rate. I thought we were passed flagship Samsung phones with 60Hz panels, but I guess I was wrong.

The only obstruction on the screens is a small cutout for their respective selfie cameras. You’ll find a fingerprint scanner beneath both of them for security.

It’s worth pointing out the improvements to the S Pen since you use it to draw on the screens. Samsung has managed to get the latency between the tip of the pen hitting your screen and your device reacting to just 9 milliseconds. That’s the same latency Apple touts on the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. Early hands-on pieces say that you can immediately tell just how low the latency is when you start drawing.

Samsung has also given you a few new ways to wave your S Pen in front of the Note 20 to make it do stuff. I’m not sure how many people actually use this feature but I guess it’s enough for Samsung to warrant adding new features.

Spec time!

Let’s start with the Note 20. Samsung packs the device with a Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. There’s a 4,300mAh battery for power which supports Samsung’s Fast Wireless Charging 2.0. You also get Android 10, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, no headphone jack, and 5G connectivity (both sub-6GHz and mmWave). There are also stereo speakers powered by Dolby Atmos technology. I’m not sure how much that will improve the sound of the speakers, but hey – that’s what reviews are for.

Meanwhile, the Note 20 Ultra takes things up a notch. You get the same chipset and general feature set for connectivity, but it also gets 12GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage. There’s also a larger 4,500mAh battery and a microSD card slot, something the Note 20 lacks.

Getting into the camera section of the Note 20 series, you’ll find even more differences.

Starting with the Note 20, there’s a main 12MP camera with super speed dual pixel autofocus, an f/1.8 aperture, and OIS. Then there’s a 12MP f/2.2 lens alongside a 64MP f/2.0 telephoto shooter. It ships with Samsung’s Space Zoom for up to 3x hybrid optic zoom and up to 30x super resolution zoom. You can capture video in up to 8K resolution at 24 frames per second. Meanwhile, there’s a single 10MP selfie shooter on the front with 4K 60fps video support.

Moving onto the Note 20 Ultra, Samsung is throwing in its now infamous 108MP main shooter with PDAF, an f/1.8 aperture, and OIS. Paired to it are two 12MP lenses, one ultra-wide and one telephoto. The former sports an f/2.2 aperture while the latter has an f/3.0 aperture. This Note ships with Space Zoom as well but throws in support for up to 5x optical zoom and up to 50x super resolution zoom. It also sports laser AF, 8K 24fps video, and a 10MP selfie camera.

Historically speaking, Samsung has had good cameras on its phones. But as of late, they’ve lagged behind the iPhones and Pixels of the world in terms of quality. Hopefully, with the Note 20 series, Samsung gains some momentum and truly delivers an iPhone 11 Pro/Pixel 4 competitor.

As far as extra features are concerned, the Note 20 series sports UWB technology. This allows users to point their Galaxy devices at other similarly equipped Galaxy devices and share content. It’s like AirDrop but for Galaxy phone owners. It’ll work in conjunction with Google’s new Nearby Share feature which just started rolling out. Over time, it’ll become much more advanced by acting like your key to your car or home, much like Apple’s CarKey feature on the iPhone.

Samsung has also built upon its partnership with Microsoft by syncing its Samsung Notes application with OneNotes. By this, I mean you can sync notes created in Samsung Notes with OneNote, not vice versa. That’ll be handy for when you take a note on your lock screen, a feature powered by Samsung Notes.

Rounding things off, Samsung includes the ability to play over 100 Xbox games right on your Note 20 or Note 20 Ultra using Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The service will be available starting September 15th on a variety of Samsung devices so you won’t have to necessarily buy a Note 20 to take advantage of it.

The Galaxy Note 20 will be available in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Gray, and Mystic Green while the Note 20 Ultra will come in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, and Mystic White. They’ll both start shipping on August 21st. Preorders are now live for both phones.

Price time. The Note 20 starts at $999.99 while the Note 20 Ultra starts at a whopping $1,299.99. Whether either of those prices is worth it depends on just how good the phones are, so be sure to stay tuned as I’m sure plenty of reviews are in the works.

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