Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review: flagship at maximum speed

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The novelty that will be discussed could be called S11, given that the latest model in the series is S10. However, the smartphone received a serial number of 20, which indicates at least a serious update to the flagship line, and at the very least – even a restart. What is the reason for such a “jump” in the name and what new things does the top Samsung device offer?

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

108 megapixels and “space” zoom

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra did not make any revolution in design, but in terms of photo and video capabilities, the flagship has something to say. The quad camera of the novelty consists of wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle, periscopic (telephoto) and time-of-flight modules. Depending on the mode, individual cameras can work alone, stand idle or work together. All this, coupled with AI and new software algorithms, opens up very interesting possibilities: here you can shoot video in 8K, and a new way to combine nine pixels into one. In addition, a 100x zoom is very interesting. More details about how Nonacell’s pixel combining technology works and how honest the zoom is in the device will be discussed in the photo test in the near future.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

In general, the new cameras stepped far ahead compared to all the company’s previous flagships, in which almost the same matrices were used for a long time. Interestingly, the Galaxy S20 Ultra now lacks a double aperture – a function that has long been one of the chips of a generation of flagships of the Korean giant.

The camera software has not undergone radical changes in the interface, but it is functional. In the usual Samsung user shell, there is almost everything that was in S10 and even Note10 +, only new modes have been added, including automatic shooting of a series of photos with the subsequent selection of successful frames. Interestingly implemented and zoom control.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

As for the shooting quality itself, we immediately note the significantly upgraded night mode, zoom (with reservations) and 108-megapixel mode (good only during the day and not on all scenes).

In night mode, the study of light sources and shadows has become much better
With artificial lighting, it removes even an ultra-wide module
The portrait module does not distort proportions and provides a natural viewing angle
In macro photography, the camera produces an optical bokeh effect.
In a room with a flickering light with a different color temperature, the noise canceler works aggressively. Perhaps this will be fixed with a software update.
The front camera makes a sharp picture and allows you to programmatically blur the background
In the 108-megapixel mode, the main camera shoots huge files, but the detail increases slightly
With a fivefold approximation, there are no losses in quality

The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a rich arsenal of settings for shooting video. This is an increase in the sensitivity of directional microphones as the zoom increases, and support for enhanced stabilization, and full 60 fps when shooting 4K. There is even an experimental bokeh effect for video: it works with varying success with both the main and front cameras.

The maximum number of basic functions and effects is available for quad cameras in Full HD and 4K resolutions. Still the best option in terms of quality is to shoot in 4K.

But the 8K mode is still difficult to recommend for daily use. When shooting in this format, the files are huge, and to see the difference, you need to have an 8K display. However, today Samsung already has 8K TVs, so the logic can be traced.

In 8K mode, almost all additional effects are disabled, and the number of frames is reduced to 24 fps. Achieving a good picture is obtained only in daylight and with not too dynamic scenes. We’ll also analyze the features of this mode in the photo review.

Aluminum, glass and 120 Hz AMOLED

At the first acquaintance, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is surprising in its size and weight ratio: it was possible to make the smartphone with a 6.9-inch screen relatively light and elegant. The base of the case consists of a solid aluminum frame and Corning Gorilla Glass 6 glass on both sides. The edges are slightly sloping, so the gadget seems thinner than it actually is. The display took up almost the entire front side. This was achieved not only due to the minimal frames, but also due to the fact that a small selfie camera and an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner are built directly into the screen.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

In addition to becoming the standard for the company with excellent color rendering, HDR10 compatibility, high contrast and a huge margin of brightness, the display received support for a 120 Hz scanning frequency. It’s worth turning on the option, as scrolling and animations become absolutely smooth. The sensor layer also contributes: its polling rate is 240 Hz. Their joint work is very effective: the changes are immediately noticeable even with the usual flipping of the menu with application icons, and if you scroll a page with text in 120 Hz mode, the outlines of all letters in motion remain perfectly sharp. In addition, the difference is significant when watching high fps videos and in games. Immediately you begin to pay attention to the dynamic effects that previously escaped the view due to the jerking and strobe.

And all would be fine, work the new scan mode in the standard QHD resolution for the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra display. But, as it turned out, when the option is turned on, the resolution decreases to FHD, and when switching to QHD, the image refresh rate returns to the standard 60 Hz. By the way, it seems strange that there is no built-in option to reduce screen flicker. However, users with sensitive eyes can solve the problem with PWM on their own by installing the third-party OLED Saver application.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Actual filling and advanced software

In Russia, the novelty comes with an Exynos 990 processor. The overall performance of this chip is comparable to the Snapdragon 865, and the Mali-G77 MP11 accelerator performs well in games. The processor includes a dual-core NPU, which is responsible for the functions associated with artificial intelligence. In addition, there is 5G support, it is implemented using a separate Exynos Modem 5123 chip. Among other things, the gadget is notable for a new type of RAM – LPDDR5, as well as the presence of a fast built-in UFS 3.0 standard drive. Of course, talking about any slowdowns or even microfreezes is not necessary.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

In the standard One UI 2 shell (Android 10), everything works perfectly even in multitasking mode. The captured 8K-videos play surprisingly smoothly, which can not be said about many modern laptops. The stock of productivity for everyday tasks is even in abundance. It is not for nothing that the DeX mode is provided, which makes it possible to use the smartphone as a mini-computer when connected to a monitor. Also available is a convenient synchronization function with Windows, which allows you to control the device from a PC.

The device copes with games flawlessly. There is a convenient game mode and a special profile of increased productivity. For example, in PUBG, a smartphone provides a perfectly smooth picture with a 120-Hertz refresh of the screen – all this combined with the maximum graphics detail setting and the active Ultra preset (responsible for the frame refresh rate in the game).

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

It is amazing how comfortable the device is in everyday use. The fingerprint scanner integrated in the display always works, provided that your hands are clean. The face unlock system is also up to par: the algorithms even work with bespectacles and recognize the owner of the gadget in low light. NFC payment also works clearly.

The proprietary system allows you to use full-screen navigation gestures instead of buttons, change themes and fine-tune AOD screensavers on the display off. In addition, One UI 2 gives a lot of attention to the security and privacy of the user. There is encryption of data on the drive, a secret storage with different locking methods, as well as the second line of protection after Google, which provides a Samsung account. It has its own service for finding and blocking a stolen device and other useful functions.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

In multimedia scenarios, stereo speakers were pleased. The sound is decent, given that the stereo pair is composed of a main speaker at the end and an auxiliary emitter combined with a spoken one.

No need to search for sockets

The model supports literally all current charging technologies, among them very fast charging from a 45-watt charger and fast 15-watt wireless charging standard Fast Qi. In addition, there is support for USB Power Delivery 3.0 and reverse 9-watt wireless charging, which allows you to power other devices from the smartphone, say, the same Galaxy Buds +.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Included with the test device was the proprietary Super Fast Charge charger: with it, from 0% to 100%, the device was charged in just 1 hour 5 minutes. By the way, in order to get a really fast charge, it is not necessary to charge it from the mains. For the same period, the smartphone is charged from the company’s power bank standard Super Fast Charging. Moreover, such a 10,000-milliamp “can” is enough for one and a half charges, despite the losses due to the accelerated power mode.

The autonomy of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is highly dependent on the scenario of its use. An hour of playing PUBG with an average screen brightness takes up 19% of the charge, and an hour of watching Full HD videos on YouTube via Wi-Fi is only 7%. In everyday use with AOD turned on, without heavy games and video recording, the smartphone on average shows about 7-8 hours of active screen. This is enough for one working day with some margin for the next. If you use the gadget to the fullest, say, shoot a lot of video in 4K (and even more so in 8K), and also play in maximum performance mode, then the on-screen time can be easily reduced to 4 hours. In such a scenario, the above-mentioned power bank directly begs for the owner’s arsenal. On the other hand, most users are unlikely to be so heavy on the smartphone, so its autonomy can be considered high.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

AKG sound and futuristic covers

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra does not have a 3.5 mm jack, but music lovers need not worry: the AKG comes with great-sounding wired headphones. The headset is equipped with a special USB Type-C port, inside of which there is a dedicated DAC. The latter operates in 32-bit mode with a sampling frequency of 384 kHz. In addition, when pre-ordering a smartphone for a promotion, there is a chance to get Samsung Galaxy Buds + as a gift – one of the best wireless headsets on the market, created in collaboration with the same AKG. The previous version of these headphones was already mentioned in the Galaxy Fold review , and the “plus” one has improved autonomy and a large number of microphones.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

It is hard not to mention the line of branded covers. Due to the bulging square block of cameras, using the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra without a case is scary, and the complete set of transparent silicone looks very simple – it does not match the flagship. However, the manufacturer took care of everything: the arsenal of special stages is impressive. The user can choose the optional silicone pad with anti-slip soft-touch coating, and a “reinforced” case with two built-in stands for adjusting the tilt, and a book cover.


The latter is automatically paired with a smartphone and displays animated notification icons and other information on a diode screen disguised inside the cover. Through the settings, the gadget allows you to compare all kinds of animations with certain contacts in the address book and bind various icons to notifications of individual applications.


Moreover, the vendor was so confused that he even provided full access to the built-in icon editor: in a creative outburst, anyone can draw their own unique indicators from scratch. Thus, when the smartphone is on the table in silent mode, you can understand who is calling or by orienting from which application the notification came from the unique unique pattern on the cover book.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra


6.9“, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 1440×3200, HDR10 +, 511 ppi
CPU Exynos 990
GPU Mali-G77 MP11
12 GB
128 GB
5000 mAh
wide-angle – 108 megapixels, ultra-wide-angle – 12 megapixels, portrait – 32 megapixels, telephoto – 48 megapixels, front – 40 megapixels
IP68, optical stabilization at the wide-angle sensor and telephoto module, ToF-camera for 3D-scanning, AR-line, digital bokeh

Test results

508 564
901 single-core
2790 multi-core
PUBG (max)
48-60 fps
up to 14 hours of YouTube online viewing
more than 5 hours of playing PUBG
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra


Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has absorbed almost all the useful features of its predecessors and appeared with a significantly improved display and cameras. Due to the fact that many things were well implemented in previous flagships, the novelty does not make a splash, although in fact it is a concentrate of almost all the most modern Samsung technologies in one device. In addition, the device has yet to open up with the arrival of 5G in Russia, but for now, it is possible to evaluate new speeds with this model only in some countries.

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