Is it nonetheless value shopping for?

Patrick

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Samsung’s 2021 has seen combined fortunes at first look, with the Galaxy S21 collection delivering cheaper value tags throughout the board however reportedly seeing decrease gross sales. The corporate has additionally launched new cutting-edge foldables within the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3, though it’s too early to say whether or not these are a industrial success but.

One factor we aren’t seeing in 2021 is a brand new Galaxy Observe flagship, as Samsung confirmed earlier this 12 months that this wouldn’t be the case. As a substitute, these on the lookout for that Observe-like expertise are being pointed within the path of the Galaxy S21 Extremely and Galaxy Z Fold 3, with each now providing S Pen help.

There’s one different possibility although, and that’s final 12 months’s Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely. Samsung’s Observe collection is historically extra than simply an S Pen, because it’s additionally been probably the greatest telephones for energy customers. So, as the newest Galaxy Observe cellphone available on the market, how does the cellphone fare a 12 months after its launch? That’s what we’re in our Samsung Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely long-term evaluate.

Samsung Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely evaluate recap

Earlier than we supply on with our long-term evaluate, now’s pretty much as good a time as any to look again at what we considered the cellphone at launch. You possibly can learn the complete evaluate over right here and watch our video above. You can even try our six month revisit for the cellphone right here.

How has the Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely aged?

The Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely was among the many most feature-packed telephones of 2020, and time has principally been variety to it. There’s that slick 120Hz QHD+ OLED display screen, a stable Exynos 990 SoC (or Snapdragon 865 Plus within the US and China), 8/12GB of RAM, 128/256/512GB of storage, and a 4,500mAh battery. In different phrases, the core specs hold this cellphone respectable a 12 months later.

It’s additionally value noting that the Observe 20 Extremely packs a microSD card slot, which isn’t current on the Galaxy S21 collection. This can be a main promoting level for many who need probably the most native storage doable and people who lamented its loss on Samsung’s 2021 flagships.

One other level within the cellphone’s favor is that Samsung is promising three main OS updates for the gadget. The cellphone launched with Android 10 and acquired an improve to Android 11 thereafter, which suggests you’ll be able to count on Android 12 and Android 13 on the very least. Toss in 4 years of safety patches and the Observe 20 Extremely ought to age higher than different units from a software program perspective.

Transferring to primary efficiency, our evaluate unit incorporates the Exynos 990, and it usually saved issues operating and not using a hitch. Whereas there was some controversy concerning the processor at launch, between multitasking, net looking, and launching apps, on a regular basis utilization was a clean expertise. In truth, the one time I actually noticed any main lag exterior of video games was within the first couple of minutes after restarting the gadget. There’s additionally a delay of about two seconds between snapping 108MP pictures, however that is comprehensible given the sheer quantity of knowledge being processed at that time.

Try: The very best Samsung telephones

Gaming is a far more durable check of a cellphone’s internals, and the Observe 20 Extremely is a principally clean expertise. One among my go-to titles for pushing a cellphone is Nascar Warmth Cellular, owing to the massive variety of automobiles on observe without delay, however issues ran at a really fluid tempo. We additionally tried out Name of Responsibility Cellular and Genshin Affect, with the previous operating very easily. Genshin Affect was completely playable too however was vulnerable to decelerate at occasions, particularly when merely swiping the digicam round.

One other nice check of a cellphone’s capabilities is emulation, and we ran video games like Metroid Prime and F-Zero GX through the Dolphin emulator and its default settings. Sadly, the previous provided an especially erratic expertise, briefly grinding to a halt at occasions. The latter sport additionally noticed some stutter as properly, though it appears to be a barely extra constant expertise. We examined these video games on the Snapdragon 865-toting LG V60 (one other nice cellphone from 2020) and so they each ran at a a lot smoother, extra constant tempo with out-of-the-box settings.

The Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely is not the only option for gaming if you happen to’ve bought the Exynos 990 variant.

Our personal Eric Zeman famous that his Snapdragon unit ran scorching in his evaluate, however I haven’t felt this to be the case in any respect with the Exynos variant throughout my gaming periods. I’m unsure whether or not that is as a result of chipset distinction itself, the truth that some fashions have totally different cooling techniques, or system updates by Samsung. However, we’d undoubtedly recommend you get the Snapdragon 865 Plus variant if you happen to intend to play technically demanding video games and emulators on the Observe 20 Extremely.

Efficiency doesn’t imply a lot with out battery life, and one other one in every of Eric’s gripes in his authentic evaluate was the middling endurance. A interval of some comparatively heavy utilization (YouTube, YouTube Music, downloading/putting in video games) yielded below six hours of screen-on time on the adaptive refresh price, which isn’t dangerous for the battery capability. The cellphone nonetheless delivers a full day at this tempo and you’ll swap to 60Hz if you happen to want longer battery life. In different phrases, you’re getting stable endurance, however it’s a drop down from units just like the Galaxy S21 Extremely.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with the S Pen in its slot.

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

It should be stated that the S Pen help right here continues to be one of the best you’ll get on any latest Samsung cellphone, together with the Galaxy S21 Extremely and Galaxy Z Fold 3. The truth that you’ve bought a devoted slot for the stylus is clearly extra handy, for starters. Then there’s the Bluetooth connection right here (lacking from the usual S Pens seen on the opposite units), enabling a number of additional remote-like options.

Associated: The last word information to the Samsung S Pen

The most important draw back to utilizing the S Pen on the Observe 20 Extremely is that it nonetheless feels approach too cramped. For instance, utilizing the Samsung keyboard’s handwriting recognition to jot down messages is painful just because there’s so little area obtainable. It isn’t a lot better with the Samsung Notes app, both. It actually looks like anybody eager to comfortably write greater than a brief grocery record ought to in all probability get a Samsung pill or the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It doesn’t assist that the cellphone wobbles on a flat floor too, however extra on that in a bit.

In truth, I’d argue that the actual energy of the S Pen for most individuals is the distant performance. Whether or not you’re utilizing it as a distant shutter button whereas the cellphone is on a tripod, controlling media playback whereas your cellphone is related to a giant display screen, or just navigating via your gadget through accessibility options, it’s turn out to be a reasonably versatile software for non-writing duties.

The front of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and an S Pen.

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Particular point out ought to go to the 120Hz QHD+ OLED display screen, because it’s nonetheless attractive a 12 months later. In saying so, the lack to run on the increased 120Hz refresh price at QHD+ decision was a minor oversight in 2020 and is just a little obvious now. You’re nonetheless getting a high-quality show regardless, however having to decide on between decision and smoothness is just a little disappointing when a number of 2020 and 2021 flagships let you could have one of the best of each worlds.

One other fairly fascinating omission is that you may’t pressure 120Hz on a regular basis. It’s an adaptive or 60Hz affair right here. I get that the cellphone’s battery would possible run down very quickly flat if 120Hz was on on a regular basis (even for pictures and different related content material), however giving individuals the choice is best than deciding for them. Even a 90Hz mode can be a very good compromise between a excessive refresh price and saving juice. Nonetheless, these on the lookout for a slick, expansive display screen will likely be proper at residence.

A premium, however tall design

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra camera bump.

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Among the finest issues concerning the Observe 20 Extremely at launch was its design, and this stays true 12 months down the road. The flat, polished steel edges on the highest and backside and the steel body usually each make the cellphone really feel very sturdy but premium. I don’t personally look after glass backs nevertheless it’s an anticipated function for contemporary flagships, which is greater than will be stated for the usual Galaxy S21 and, notably (pun supposed), the vanilla Galaxy Observe 20.

There are, nevertheless, two design-related choices which might be nonetheless a bit powerful to swallow in spite of everything this time. For one, there’s the sheer measurement of the cellphone. It isn’t fairly as large because the LG V60, nevertheless it’s actually shut. This measurement and weight (208g) imply that the cellphone feels unwieldy at occasions, similar to if you’re studying in mattress. The Observe 20 Extremely suits in my denims pocket simply effective, however these with tracksuit pockets and the like would possibly wish to be careful.

See additionally: The very best Samsung Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely circumstances you will get

The opposite lamentable design alternative was the sizeable digicam bump on the left facet of the cellphone’s again. Digicam bumps alone aren’t an issue for me, as I’m okay with just a little protrusion if the cameras take nice footage. However the bump’s location implies that the cellphone will certainly wobble anytime you faucet your finger within the top-left quadrant of the show whereas the cellphone is flat on its again.

I’d fairly see a big horizontal digicam bump or Xiaomi’s phone-spanning housing on the Mi 11 Extremely. This fashion, you keep away from the wobbling whereas nonetheless delivering nice digicam {hardware}. Hopefully, the Galaxy Observe 22 (if it’s certainly within the works) addresses this challenge.

What concerning the Observe 20 Extremely digicam expertise?

The viewfinder in the Note 20 Ultra camera app.

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

The Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely shipped with a really versatile digicam system in 2020, and it’s nonetheless a flexible expertise a 12 months later. In truth, you would argue that the combo of a 108MP principal digicam, 12MP ultra-wide lens, and 12MP 5x periscope digicam continues to be higher than some 2021 flagships.

Associated: The very best digicam telephones you will get

The 108MP digicam was a little bit of a multitude on the Galaxy S20 Extremely owing to focusing points, however the Observe 20 Extremely does go some method to assuaging these issues. The addition of laser autofocus and in-camera prompts do offer you a greater alternative to get a pointy shot that’s completely in focus. However the giant sensor measurement leads to a shallow depth-of-field, which will be nice in some conditions but in addition implies that you’ll want to often transfer the digicam again a bit to maintain issues sharp.

Photos are shot at 12MP through the primary digicam and are usually detailed through the day, normally taking a slight flip in the direction of the saturated look. The colours are additionally constant between all three cameras, which isn’t at all times a given on different telephones. Try the gallery under for a collection of pictures.

The one actual draw back to the first digicam (and usually) in comparison with more moderen units is that it could actually falter just a little in sure backlit HDR scenes. You possibly can observe this discrepancy within the picture comparability under, displaying the Observe 20 Extremely versus the Vivo X60 Professional Plus. The Samsung cellphone undoubtedly options extra element on the Lego mannequin (I tapped to deal with it in spite of everything) nevertheless it comes on the expense of a blown-out background. This doesn’t occur typically in any respect although, and the cellphone nonetheless prioritized what I tapped on within the first place, however it could’ve been cool to see the background tamed a bit.

You can even shoot on the full 108MP decision too, and this may make a notable distinction to resolvable element in splendid circumstances. So those that like to crop and pixel-peep photographs after the actual fact will wish to give this a strive. Nonetheless, darker components of the scene can see extra noise. You additionally lose out on the flexibility to take super-fast burst pictures, however the shot-to-shot delay of as much as two seconds isn’t terrible given the calls for on the {hardware}.

The Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely continues to be a really succesful digicam platform one 12 months down the road.

It’s additionally value noting that the cellphone’s evening mode is a reasonably transformative affair in virtually absolute darkness, nevertheless it usually doesn’t go overboard like different OEMs relating to the brightness of the scene total. Samsung additionally does a well-balanced job of noise discount in these conditions, eradicating grain with out smearing away particulars.

Transferring away from the first digicam, the 5x periscope digicam stays a top-notch shooter in the present day as properly. You’re getting a wholesome quantity of resolvable element in good lighting when capturing at 5x and 6x, permitting you to crop in just a little extra if want be. Element stays respectable offered that you simply avoid something above 10x for probably the most half. Transfer past this and issues begin to resemble a messy oil portray, with no element, blurry edges, and blown-out whites.

The ultra-wide digicam is maybe the one space the place Samsung is lagging behind on paper in 2021. It’s nonetheless a reasonably nice wide-angle snapper, however the lack of autofocus is just a little disappointing in the present day. This omission means you lose out on macro pictures through this digicam in addition to some flexibility by way of focusing — tapping elsewhere on the display screen solely modifications the publicity.

When it comes to video high quality, Samsung has usually been on the head of the Android pack in delivering a elegant expertise. The Observe 20 Extremely nonetheless delivers a full-featured expertise on this regard, providing 8K/24fps video recording, Tremendous Regular stabilization, 120fps gradual movement, 960fps tremendous gradual movement (interpolated from 480fps), and extra.

It’s not all cutting-edge for video although, as Tremendous Regular video nonetheless produces the jelly impact in additional demanding eventualities, whereas 120fps video doesn’t fairly attain the 4K heights of recent rivals just like the OnePlus 9 Professional or Sony Xperia 1 III. However the basic expertise continues to be nice in 2021.

Some minor annoyances

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra front camera semi macro

David Imel / Android Authority

Samsung’s newest Observe smartphone has held up fairly properly to this point then. However there are undoubtedly just a few areas for enchancment that bothered me throughout my testing.

The fingerprint scanner isn’t nice

The Observe 20 Extremely’s in-display fingerprint sensor isn’t one of the best expertise round. There have been fairly just a few occasions when the cellphone refused to unlock with my print. It really works far as a rule and it’s quick sufficient when it does work, however the failed unlocks happen simply sufficient to be just a little annoying.

It doesn’t assist that Samsung makes unlocking the cellphone a little bit of a chore out of the field. You usually should work together with the display screen or hit the ability button to get the fingerprint icon to point out, except you could have the always-on show enabled. Don’t have the always-on show energetic? Then you definitely’ll have to allow the lift-to-wake gesture as a substitute. Why not allow this selection out of the field or one thing related? To be truthful, you’ll be able to nonetheless scan your finger with out the fingerprint icon showing on the display screen, however that you must know exactly the place to put your finger.

One UI will be complicated out of the field

Samsung’s pores and skin undoubtedly has just a few questionable default behaviors for anybody coming from a distinct cellphone model. For one, the ability button prompts Bixby by default. I’m actually not a fan of assistants being tied to the ability button on the expense of all power-related performance — in order that was one of many first settings I modified. One other annoyance for anybody coming from a non-Samsung model is that you may’t set Google Uncover as your left-most display screen inside the default launcher, one thing that you are able to do on later Samsung telephones.

Learn extra: Every little thing that you must find out about One UI

Yet one more default alternative I hate in One UI is the truth that an upward swipe from a UI aspect on the backside of the display screen launches Samsung Pay. This makes for a irritating expertise if you happen to’re utilizing gesture navigation and it’s one other function I shortly disabled.

Lastly, performing the again gesture typically prompts the Edge Panel as a substitute. It’s because the gesture doesn’t apply to the top-right facet of the display screen close to the Edge Panel, forcing you to make use of the top-left facet or the decrease half of the display screen. This limitation is comprehensible, however the sheer measurement of the cellphone implies that you aren’t at all times going to be holding it by the underside half.

Charging wasn’t quick in 2020, and it’s slower now

The Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely gives 25W charging speeds, topping up in roughly 75 minutes in my very own expertise. Eric, however, famous a top-up time of 70 minutes. Both approach, even a 50 to 60 minute charging time would’ve considerably narrowed the hole to rivals with out sacrificing battery well being an excessive amount of. In spite of everything, sub-one-hour charging occasions have been a factor for at the least two or three years now.

Samsung Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely long-term evaluate: The decision

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra camera bump means the phone isn't perfectly flat when on its back.

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

The Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely was priced at a fairly eye-watering $1,300 at launch, though it was nonetheless $100 cheaper than the Galaxy S20 Extremely. Samsung’s late 2020 cellphone has since seen a reduction to across the $950 mark, making it value a glance if you happen to worth the S Pen expertise in a premium flagship. Options like water resistance, wi-fi charging, a periscope digicam, a excessive refresh price OLED display screen, and three years of OS updates spherical out an awesome cellphone that’s nonetheless principally nice a 12 months later.

Must you truly purchase it in 2021 although? Properly, if you happen to don’t look after the S Pen slot or microSD enlargement then the Galaxy S21 Extremely is a no brainer over the Observe 20 Extremely. Samsung’s early 2021 flagship retails for ~$1,000 on the likes of Amazon as of late, providing water resistance, wi-fi charging, a excessive refresh price OLED, and three years of OS updates too. It additionally brings just a few enhancements like 120Hz at QHD+ decision, two telephoto cameras, an even bigger battery, and a quicker chipset. And the S Pen help continues to be welcome, even when storing it’s one other matter altogether.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra display

Samsung Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely

Larger, higher, and pricier

Samsung’s Galaxy Observe line has at all times been for the ability customers, and 2020’s fashions are not any totally different — particularly the Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely. This ultra-premium cellphone is Samsung’s most refined gadget in 2020.


Do you assume the Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely continues to be value shopping for a 12 months later? Tell us within the ballot above and within the feedback.

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