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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Review

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Quick verdict: Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra is a high-performance phone with a great screen and some of the best battery life we've seen from a Samsung flagship in some years.

  • Gorgeous large display
  • Good battery life
  • Great overall performance
  • Camera is inconsistent
  • It's heavy in the hand with a huge camera bump
  • It's very expensive

6.9 inches

Display size

1440 x 3200px

128GB, 256GB, 512GB

Internal storage

48MP + 108MP + 12MP

Rear camera

5,000 mAh

Battery size

Finder rated as Good vs similar phones

Details

Display

Display Size
6.9 inches
Resolution
1440 x 3200px
Pixels per inch (PPI)
508.56 ppi

Camera

Rear camera megapixels
48MP + 108MP + 12MP
Rear camera aperture size
f/3.5 + f/1.8 + f/2.2
Video recording
4K
Front camera megapixels
40MP
Front camera aperture size
f/2.2

Physical Dimensions

Dimensions
166.9mm x 76mm x 8.8mm
Weight
220g

Connectivity

NFC
Yes
Wi-Fi
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Network category speed
Category 20

Power, storage and battery

Processor
Octo-Core Processor
RAM
12GB/16GB
Operating system
Android 10
Internal storage
128GB, 256GB, 512GB
External storage support
Up to 1TB
Battery capacity
5,000mAh

Device features

Headphone jack
No
Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Water resistance rating
N/A
Wireless charging
Qi
Launch price (RRP)$1,999
Launch date2020-03
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Samsung's position in the global phone sales market has long been anchored by its high-cost premium smartphone ranges; early in a given year we'll see premium Galaxy S phones and later in that same year Note-branded equivalents with a few tweaks. Samsung's slightly upset that equation recently with the inclusion of foldable phones such as the Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Flip, but that's serving a slightly different market so far.

The Galaxy S20 Ultra is 2020's early year flagship phone with a price point to match. It brings some exceptional camera quality, a very fast Exynos processor (on the model tested) and the largest battery Samsung has dared to put into a phone to date.

Still, that price point weighed heavily on me going into this review. What amounts to essentially two grand or more for a phone is a big ask in an era where so many mid-range phones provide very good performance. Can Samsung really justify the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra's asking price?

The answer will depend on what you want out of a phone, of course, but in the main Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra hits most of the sweet spots you'd want out of a flagship device. The display is huge but it's one of the best I've ever used, the battery life is a leap ahead of last year's disappointing S10 phones and performance is up there with the industry's best.

However, Samsung's claim that it has the best camera hardware on any phone doesn't quite stack up in real-world testing. It's an issue that may get better with software tweaks and it's easily Samsung's best camera to date, but not everything it touches turns to photographic gold.


Design

Design

  • Enormous 120Hz display
  • Huge camera bump
  • Only two colour styles
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Camera

Camera

  • Space Zoom is a gimmick
  • Single Take works well
  • Low light results are wildly inconsistent
  • Room for software improvement
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Performance

Performance

  • Exynos 990 runs well
  • 12GB of RAM gives room for lots of apps
  • Samsung OneUI is nicely configured
  • 5G ready for future networks
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Battery life

Battery life

  • 5,000mAh is a new high water mark for Samsung
  • Battery is good for a full day's usage
  • 120Hz doesn't use as much power as you might think
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Verdict

Verdict

  • Big
  • Powerful
  • Expensive
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Should you buy it?

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is a beast of a phone with a heap of potential. From its large and brilliant display to that 108MP camera sensor, from Samsung's slick OneUI to its massive 5,000mAh battery. Samsung has definitely stretched itself to pack all of that into a phone.

However, there are some catches. It's super expensive, but then that's seemingly par for the course for flagship phones these days. The camera hardware is impressive, but Samsung does need to refine the software results that pass through those lenses. At launch it doesn't feel like it's as good as Samsung seems to think it is. The same is true for battery performance, because while Samsung has thrown plenty of power at it, it's not shy about using it throughout the day.

Most of those issues could be fixed with software updates, of course. Samsung has produced a great phone without a shadow of a doubt and reasserted its place in the smartphone hierarchy. However, it's not hard to see how it could be even better.

Pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra will go on sale in Australia from 6 March. It's available either as a 12GB RAM/128GB ROM model for $1,999 outright or as a 16GB RAM/512GB ROM model for $2,249 outright.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is also available on contract terms through Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Woolworths Mobile:


Alternatives

Within the Samsung family, you could save some money and pick up the Samsung Galaxy S20+ or Samsung Galaxy S20, although you wouldn't get the same camera specifications or battery capacity either.

You could also consider the Samsung Galaxy Note10+, especially if you like the S-Pen stylus that comes with it.

In the high-performance Android phone competitor space, you could opt for a more pure Android experience with the Google Pixel 4XL or go all out on a gaming phone with the Asus ROG Phone II.


Specifications

Display

Display Size
6.9 inches
Resolution
1440 x 3200px
Pixels per inch (PPI)
508.56 ppi

Camera

Rear camera megapixels
48MP + 108MP + 12MP
Rear camera aperture size
f/3.5 + f/1.8 + f/2.2
Video recording
4K
Front camera megapixels
40MP
Front camera aperture size
f/2.2

Physical Dimensions

Dimensions
166.9mm x 76mm x 8.8mm
Weight
220g

Connectivity

NFC
Yes
Wi-Fi
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Network category speed
Category 20

Power, storage and battery

Processor
Octo-Core Processor
RAM
12GB/16GB
Operating system
Android 10
Internal storage
128GB, 256GB, 512GB
External storage support
Up to 1TB
Battery capacity
5,000mAh

Device features

Headphone jack
No
Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Water resistance rating
N/A
Wireless charging
Qi

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