Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs. Galaxy S20 Ultra Price & availability
The Galaxy S20 Ultra had an early head start on the Note 20 Ultra, which was originally released back on March 6 for $1,400. That price lands you 128GB of expandable storage and 12GB of RAM in either of two colors: Cosmic Black or Cosmic Gray. Though there was initially an upgraded for 512GB, it seems to have been phased out of Samsung's offerings.
Samsung released the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra much later, hitting store shelves Aug. 21 for $1,300 in a single configuration with the same 128GB of storage and 12GB of RAM. The Note 20 Ultra is available in three color options: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, and Mystic White — the latter two of which feature a glossy finish, while Mystic Bronze comes in a matte frosted finish.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs. Galaxy S20 Ultra Size, display and specs
As the "Ultra" names would suggest, there's a whole lot shared between these two phones, which stand as ostensibly two of the best Android phones currently on the market. They're built with the same main components and features, with only small differences. You get the same RAM and storage, SD card slot, fingerprint sensor, speakers, connectivity, IP68 resistance, and more. The Note 20 Ultra's display is a small step ahead with its dynamic refresh rate, but that should help get a little better longevity out of its 10% smaller 4,500 mAh battery.
|Category||Galaxy Note 20 Ultra||Galaxy S20 Ultra|
|Operating System||Android 10
One UI 2.5
One UI 2.5
3088 x 1440
120Hz refresh rate
3200 x 1440
120Hz refresh rate
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865|
|Memory||12GB LPDDR5||12GB LPDDR5|
|Rear Camera 1||108MP primary
|Rear Camera 2||12MP telephoto
5X optical zoom
4X optical zoom
|Rear Camera 3||12MP ultra-wide
|Security||In-screen ultrasonic fingerprint sensor||In-screen ultrasonic fingerprint sensor|
|Battery||4500 mAh||5000 mAh|
|Dimensions||77.2 x 164.8 x 8.1 mm||76.0 x 166.9 x 8.8 mm|
|Weight||208 g||220 g|
The differences are subtle, but the Note 20 Ultra has the upper hand.
There are subtle differences in the design, but you can see they were cut from the same cloth. The Note 20 Ultra is considerably more squared-off, whereas the S20 Ultra is more rounded. The Note's back glass is a matte texture as well, which makes it look nicer but is a bit more slippery than the glossy back on the S20. Otherwise, all of the ports and buttons are the same, leading to a very familiar layout. There are subtle differences in size, though, and surprisingly the Note 20 Ultra is the smaller of the two — only by a few millimeters, and about 5% in weight, but it's smaller.
Where there used to be a slight difference in software as well, the S20 Ultra recently received an update from One UI 2.1 to 2.5, bringing it up to speed with the Note 20 Ultra. With the update comes welcome additions like Wireless DeX, allowing you to cast either phone's display to a Miracast-compatible TV with a few simple taps.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs. Galaxy S20 Ultra Cameras
The cameras are mostly the same, but with two notable changes. The S20 Ultra has been criticized for its weak auto focus, and the Note 20 Ultra aims to address that with a new laser autofocusing system. The Note also has an entirely different telephoto camera, with a 5X optical zoom to the S20's 4X, and a wider aperture paired with larger pixels to ideally take better photos at 5-15X. The only potential downside is those long zoom shots, where the S20 Ultra's 48MP sensor will do better; but "better" is relative, as the camera's not shown to be very effective beyond 25X anyway.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs. Galaxy S20 Ultra Which should you buy?
Samsung set itself up for a weird situation when it priced the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra under the S20 Ultra because, frankly, at the full retail price there's little reason to buy the S20 Ultra. The Note 20 Ultra introduces improved autofocus for the camera, and a better zoom camera, which addresses the main concerns about the S20 Ultra. It's also subtly smaller, and a bit lighter, than the S20 Ultra. You also get the S Pen — for free! — which brings its own value to the equation.
It's worth noting, however, that while both phones have fluctuated a bit in price over the last few months, the S20 Ultra is currently $200 off at Amazon, which makes it $100 cheaper than the Note 20 Ultra. At that point, it becomes a bit more tempting, though you still may want to spend the extra money to get the improved autofocus system and S Pen.
The Note 20 Ultra is the better buy ... unless you want to save more and go with the S20+.
The only concern when choosing the Note 20 Ultra is the battery, which is 10% smaller than the S20 Ultra. However, the dynamic refresh rate reduces the Note 20 Ultra's display to as low as 11Hz when the UI elements are inactive, which helps offset the difference in capacity.
The question you need to ask yourself is whether you should be looking at the Galaxy S20+ instead. It's a little smaller than the Note 20 Ultra, but it's also less expensive — so if you don't need the S Pen, you can save even more money and get the same core Galaxy experience.
S Pen power
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
A better overall phone, even if you don't care about the S Pen
The Note 20 Ultra is just an evolution of the S20 Ultra, but if you were considering the latter then that's perfect. It's less expensive and includes an S Pen as a bonus.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Hard to recommend at its full retail price
Unless the S20 Ultra takes a price cut, it's going to be tough to consider over the Note 20 Ultra. Yes, it has a larger battery, but that's the only place it wins over the new Note.
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