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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G Smartphone Review

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is a powerhouse of a smartphone bursting with premium specs but all of the 'bells and whistles' do come at quite a cost. Is the over £1k asking price really justified? Let's find out as we put, amongst other things, the 100x digital zoom and quad-camera to the test.


|  Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra in Camera Phones
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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
 

Quick Verdict

If you're the type of person who needs a smartphone that offers the best and is always looking for more in terms of performance, battery and, well, most other features you look for in the smartphone you're going to love the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. However, it comes at a price that most probably won't be able to afford. Yes, the camera is great as is the screen and battery life but when you think you've got to pay the equivalent of a 2-week holiday away for the privilege, you've got to really want the 'biggest and the best'. If you can afford the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, you won't be disappointed. For everyone else, you do have the Galaxy S20+ and S20 to look at, too. 

+ Pros

  • Great screen 
  • Good image quality 
  • Zoom up to 10x is excellent 
  • Fast charging

- Cons

  • No headphone socket
  • Forget the zoom after 10x
  • Expensive 
  • Size
 

 

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is most-definitely a premium smartphone and it's one of the first flagships we've seen launched in 2020. Some of the top features include a 108MP wide-angle lens built into the rear quad-camera with optical image stabilisation, a huge 6.9-inch display and brilliant battery life. Samsung, who has made the camera the main focal point of this release, has also introduced a new camera mode, better low light performance and the ability to capture videos with less camera shake. Did we also mention 8K movie capture is built-in? 

It's quite obvious that you get a lot of bang for your buck but is there enough to persuade even those who want the 'best of the best' to part with over £1000? 

 

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G Features

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
 

The Samsung Galaxy S20 range updates the popular S10 line-up and if you're wondering why Samsung went with 'S20' instead of 'S11' have a look at our hands-on preview of the new smartphone family (it's all to do with a new journey for smartphone technology). Back to the S20 range and Samsung have really focused on ramping up the camera specs as well as introducing 5G support for the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+ and the S20 Ultra. Battery life has also been improved as this is the third area Samsung believes consumers judge a smartphone's performance on before making a purchase. 

There's a new camera system that tackles several consumer issues and it also makes it easier to capture content than ever before. 

According to Samsung, more than 100 million photos are shared on Instagram every day and by 2022, they also expect 4x more video to be uploaded to social media than this time last year so getting the camera technology right is incredibly important. As a result, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has improved rear cameras, more zoom options (hybrid/optical/digital up to 100x), better low light performance, a new camera mode, video capture with less shake (Super Steady Stabilisation) and an option to shoot movies in 8K. 4K, FHD and HD modes are also available along with a Pro video mode (new), Hyperlapse video and 33MP images can be saved from 8K video - handy for video thumbnails for those who create content for YouTube. 

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
 

Samsung has also worked hard to improve the overall aesthetics of the Galaxy S20 range, starting with basic adjustments such as making bezels smaller than ever before, reducing the space the front camera takes up in the screen and introducing a rear camera unit housing that's part of the S20's signature design. 

To ensure Samsung smartphone users are capturing the best photos they can, Samsung has introduced higher-resolution sensors (1.7x-2.9x larger than the sensor on the Galaxy S10) to the Galaxy S20 range and the image sensor technology has been improved. For example, on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, 9 pixels are combined into 1 to allow more light into the camera which in-turn helps you produce better photos. You can also switch to a high-res mode which adjusts the position of the pixels on the sensor so more detail is captured in the image. 

As for the smartphone battery, this is rather huge at 5000mAh and fast wireless charging is supported. You also get fingerprint sensors, facial recognition and IP68 dust and water-resistant rating. Memory-wise, the Galaxy S20 Ultra has either 12GB/16GB RAM and 128GB/512GB of memory. The memory capacity of all three smartphones in the range can also be extended to 1TB with a microSD memory card. 

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is available now priced at £1340 on Amazon UK

Key Features

  • Rear Quad Camera: Ultra-Wide 12MP, f/2.2, Wide-Angle 108MP, f/1.8, OIS, Telephoto 48MP, f/3.55, OIS and DepthVision 
  • Front Camera: 10MP f/2.2 
  • Space Zoom - 10X Hybrid Optical Zoom and up to 100X Super Resolution Zoom 
  • 6.9-inch Quad HD+ infinity-O display
  • 8K, 4K, FHD, HD video
  • Super Steady Stabilisation
  • Pro video/photo modes
  • New single take mode
  • 5000mAh battery
  • 12GB/16GB RAM and 128GB/512GB memory
  • Fast wireless charging, fingerprint sensors
  • IP68 dust and water-resistant rating
  • 166.9x76.0x8.8mm dimensions 
  • 220g weight

 

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G Handling

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
 

Does the overall design of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus make you go 'wow'? No, it doesn't. Does the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra look any different to other smartphones currently available? No, not really but with a sleek modern design, minimal bezels and a punch-hole selfie camera sitting in the screen rather than in a protruding top bezel it most certainly is a premium flagship that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other premium smartphones available. Colours are a bit muted in comparison to what we've seen in the past, too, but many do like a simple black or grey smartphone so perhaps these colour options are just best sellers. Another design talking-point that's actually a big part of the S20's signature design is the rear camera unit which is pretty big and doesn't do anything to be discreet. We're still not sure if we like it but it's not like you're staring at it every day as your eyes will firmly be on the amazing screen. 

The 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O screen offers various resolutions and refresh rate options (including 120hz) and it's incredibly sharp. Colour is excellent and at the moment, we don't think you can get a better screen on a smartphone. 

"The display on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is excellent and we don't think there's a smartphone on the market (currently) that can offer a better one," ePHOTOzine.

Of course, a big screen means a big smartphone and when Samsung says 'Ultra' they mean it as even though it doesn't feel overly big, you can't fit it in your pocket and you will need to use both hands to operate it most of the time. It also likes to slide off surfaces (it is constructed from Gorilla Glass 6 which sandwiches a metal frame) so do be careful with it and fit a case if you can (although, this will make the smartphone even bigger). Those who are used to the S10 might find the S20 Ultra a big jump but if you've previously used the Samsung Galaxy Note series, you'll be OK with the size. 

Buttons and ports are where you expect them to be with power/volume controls on the right and the USB-C port on the bottom alongside a speaker. A SIM/Micro SD slot is found on top of the smartphone but there's no headphone jack so you're going to need an adapter or wireless headphones. 

 

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
 

We mentioned that Samsung has made the camera the main selling point of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (and other S20 smartphones) and on paper, it's easy to be impressed with what's on offer which is a quad-camera system with image stabilisation, 8K video and up to 100x zoom. 

The rear camera comprises of:

  • Ultra-Wide 12MP, f/2.2, 13mm equivalent
  • Wide-Angle 108MP, f/1.8, OIS, 26mm equivalent
  • Telephoto 48MP, f/3.55, OIS, 103mm equivalent
  • DepthVision lens

You also have up to 10x hybrid optical zoom and up to 100X Super-Resolution Zoom (selectable at the bottom of the camera app) while on the front is a 10MP f/2.2 selfie camera. 

The standard lens on the rear camera unit has a 108MP sensor with an f/1.8 aperture to offer better low light performance and detail in 12MP images (thanks to pixel binning). You can capture images with all of the 108MP if you want to but as we've seen previously with smartphones that offer a similar feature, it's not really worth it.

The zoom is used as a selling point of the Galaxy S20 Ultra as with the combination of optical and digital zoom along with the selection of lenses built-in, you can capture images at 0.5x, 1x, 2x, 4x, 5x, 10x, 30x and 100x. Anything up to 4x is optical zoom as the 48MP telephoto lens is used then everything after this is a combo of optical and digital. You can click on-screen buttons to change the zoom or use a slider and Sansung says AI helps reduce shake at the longer end of the zoom range but as you'll see, it doesn't do a great job. 

We'll look at image quality and the 'space zoom' in more detail under the performance section of the review. 

"Along with the display, the camera is a big selling point for the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and rightly so, as it's impressive," ePHOTOzine. 

The camera app is very familiar and even if you're not a Samsung smartphone owner, you'll be able to navigate it with ease. There's a big line-up of modes including Night, Hyperlapse, Panorama, Portrait, Pro and a new 'Single Take' mode which is a bit like burst mode as it uses AI to capture content for up to 10 seconds which is then processed and saved in various formats. It's actually a pretty cool feature that's time-saving and can capture images you might not have thought of. You might find it a bit weird at first but once you get used to how it works, you'll like it. 

 

Single Shot
Single Shot

 

Battery life - The 5000mAh battery is impressive but you won't get 2-days of use out of it on one charge in a real-world scenario if you change the refresh rate, screen resolution and spend all of your time taking selfies. Keep the settings a little lower and the battery will obviously last longer. Fast charging is supported (faster charger sold separately), though, and this took the Galaxy S20 Ultra from 48% charged to full in around 30 minutes. 

Benchmark stats - Geekbench 5 scores are 953 single-core, 2866 multi-core. 

 


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