Samsung’s bi-annual smorgasbord of flagship products was held today, announcing (among many other things) the latest Galaxy Note phones. This year’s refresh is christened the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, following the naming conventions of the Galaxy S20 series in February. Both are packing giant screens, stylus pens, and 5G radios.
Let’s start with what the phones have in common. They’re both based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865+ platform, both with Samsung’s current tiny-bezel design language with a central “hole punch” 10MP front camera, both have triple rear cameras (though they aren’t identical), and both have a new stylus design with a “paper feel” when writing on the screen. The S-Pen now integrates with the mobile version of Microsoft Office.
Both phones get IP68 water resistance, wireless charging, 8K 120fps video recording with “pro” recording controls, an under-the-screen fingerprint reader, and Android 10.
The Note 20 is technically the lesser of the two phones, though it’s no slouch. At 6.7 inches in screen size, it’s massive even by current standards, and quite a bit bigger than last year’s 6.3-inch Note 10. Oddly it’s using “just” 1080p resolution. It’s also packing 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space, though strangely, there’s no MicroSD card slot. The rear is using “glasstic,” a smooth-finished plastic that seems very much out of place on a phone this expensive.
The rear cameras are a 12 megapixel primary and 12 megapixel ultrawide, with a 64 megapixel telephoto using 3x optical zoom and 30x “hybrid zoom.” The Note 20 uses a surprisingly spare 4300mAh battery, crammed into an 8.3mm thin body. The Galaxy Note 20 starts at an eye-watering $999.
Moving on to the top-of-the-line Note 20 Ultra, you get an even more massive 6.9-inch screen, which is upgraded to 120Hz and 1440p resolution, and covered in Gorilla Glass 7 from Corning. If you use the S-Pen with that screen, you’ll find that its latency is just 9 milliseconds, only a third of that on the standard Galaxy Note 20. The body is full glass on both sides, as was the standard for the line before now.
In terms of design, the Note 20 Ultra is a little sharper, with a more cylindrical look on the corners. The battery is upgraded to 4500mah—still seems kinda small for something this large!—and it uses 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There’s an upgraded 512GB model as well, and both get the MicroSD card slot that the standard Note 20 does not.
But the real draw for that upgraded Ultra is the camera. In addition to a laser autofocusing system—still very much a rarity among smartphones—you get the much-ballyhooed 108 megapixel sensor seen on the Galaxy S20 Ultra. The other two are both 12 MP, paired to wide-angle and “periscope” 5x optical zoom lenses. The maximum zoom factor on the latter is 50x using a hybrid optical and digital system.
The Note 20 Ultra starts at $1299 for the 128GB model. It’ll be available in white, black, and bronze colors, while the cheaper Note 20 comes in gray, green, and bronze. Both phones will land in primary markets, and with the usual carrier partners, on August 21st.