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An Honest Review of the Samsung Note 20 Ultra

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Alyssa loves trying out new products and services and sharing her honest opinions with the world. She is a budget-conscious wife and mom.

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It was the spring of my senior year of high school. I remember walking into my computer class and seeing my best friend at the time sitting in his chair, new cell phone in hand. He was diligently texting on his state of the art flip phone. At that time, cell phones were just becoming popular and he was one of only a few in my graduating class to actually own such a device. Fast forward sixteen or so years and almost everyone owns a cell phone, although they are now referred to as smart phones.

My first cell phone was a Nokia prepaid phone. It was a delightful birthday gift and I spent a lot of money on cards to give me extra minutes. My first real, adult purchase came a month later when I upgraded to an LG flip phone from Verizon. I felt very grown up exiting the store that day. It was a good little phone, lasting me a solid three years until one fateful, rainy day when I was juggling a grocery cart, a curb, and my car keys. The phone slipped from between my shoulder and ear, promptly landing in a parking lot puddle.

I've owned many different phones over the years, some trendy and cool, others practical and inexpensive. My first smart phone was a Blackberry. Nothing made me feel more grown up, independent, and responsible than that device. I was blonde, 21, and a full-fledged career-woman. Upgrading from the original to the new, touchscreen Blackberry was a direct boost to my ego. Nothing could stand in the way of my ambition, dreams, and goals.

Much has changed since then. For the past several years, my husband and I have enjoyed the Samsung Galaxy phones. The Note series, in particular, is our favorite. We both enjoy everything the S Pen has to offer. Before upgrading to the Note 20 Ultra, we had Note 9 phones. They were good devices and had many amazing features. After almost two years, they were still going strong, although we each noticed our battery life draining much faster than normal. In the midst of the holiday season, we decided to check out the sales offered. Best Buy had a great deal and we decided to upgrade.

Walking into the store, we knew exactly what we wanted. We were in and out in a short amount of time, opting to activate the phones and move our data over at home. Activation was a relatively simple process through Verizon's website and Samsung's app, Smart Switch, made moving data over to the new phones easy and painless. My husband and I have the Samsung Galaxy Watches from 2018. They paired perfectly with the Note 20 Ultra.

Left: Note 20 Ultra. Right: Note 9

Left: Note 20 Ultra. Right: Note 9

Unboxing and Specs

I don't think anyone truly cares about the packaging, but there's something to be said about the sleek, black box. It just looks fancy and cool, giving you a little extra boost of excitement. Inside the box, you get the 25-watt adapter that allows for super fast charging and a USB Type C to USB Type C cable. Of course you also get an ejector tool for the SIM and MicroSD tray. The phone itself is very nice. It's a little bigger, but there isn't a dramatic difference in size from the Note 9. The side and volume keys are now all located on the right hand side of the phone and the S Pen is on the left, things that took a little time to get used to. Good news for those of us who don't care for Bixby, that key is now completely gone. If you are someone who does utilize that feature, you can easily hop into settings and designate the side key for Bixby.

The front-facing 10 MP camera is in the top center. Flip the phone over, and you'll see one of the biggest selling points of the Note 20 Ultra: the 12 MP ultra wide camera, 108 MP wide-angle camera, and the 12 MP telephoto camera. It does stick out, so you'll want to look into getting a quality phone case right away.

Another important thing to know is that the Note 20 Ultra does not have a standard audio jack. If you enjoy using headphones or earphones, you'll have to go wireless or get a USB C to Jack adapter.

Note 20 Ultra Specs:

  • 6.9" screen
  • Battery: 4500 mAh
  • Storage: 128 GB or 512 GB
  • OS: Android 11.0, One UI 3.0
  • Three Color Options: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, Mystic White

Battery Life and Charging

Battery life on the Note 20 Ultra is amazing. My husband's phone starts out at 100% in the morning and by the time he gets home in the evening, he still has 85-90% left. I'm on my phone throughout the day, completing a variety of tasks: I'm always taking photos and videos to upload to Instagram; check emails; research online; browse through Pinterest; and I spend about an hour reading on my library app before I fall asleep. With all that activity, my battery never dips below 70%.

A feature I particularly love about this phone is how quickly it charges. In the settings, under Device Care, Battery, More Battery Settings, there are three charging options: Fast charging, Super fast charging, and Fast wireless charging. This allows you to control how fast your phone will charge. When I first got the phone, I had it set to super fast charging. It took about 20 minutes total for my phone to fully charge. I now have it set at fast charging and depending on how low my battery is, it can take up to an hour to fully charge.

Camera Quality

With the first photo I took, I could immediately tell a difference. The pictures and videos on the Note 20 Ultra are exactly what you'd expect: clear, crisp, and simply beautiful. There's no blurring and the camera focuses almost instantly. With my long hair, this was an issue with my Note 9. When I would try to get a yoga or fitness photo or video, the camera would randomly blur, no matter what I did. The Note 20 Ultra does not do this. My cameras also don't get dirty as easily. With my previous phone, little messages would pop up about dirty lenses. I haven't gotten that with my new phone. The quality of screenshots within videos is incredible, so much so, that instead of pulling out my pen to snap a bunch of photos, I find myself taking a video and using the screenshot feature.

There are many features built into the camera. The front-facing camera has four dimensions to choose from as well as filters built-in to enhance photos and videos. The rear cameras offer five dimensions and if you want to zoom in, you can easily get a crisp close up. There are plenty of settings to choose from depending on the subject of your photo or video:

  • Pro
  • Panorama
  • Food
  • Night
  • Live focus
  • Live focus video
  • Pro video
  • Super slow-mo
  • Slow motion
  • Hyperlapse
  • AR Doodle

My favorite is single take. You set the timer anywhere from 5 - 15 seconds and then tap the shutter button down. Move around the subject and get as many different angles as you can in the time allotted. The camera then saves a variety of captures for you: photos, videos, and gifs. It's pretty cool and often gives a better photo result than the traditional point and shoot.

There are many ways to customize the camera for whatever you need. The pen will still take photos if you like that method best, which definitely comes in handy, especially for selfies. You can even scan QR codes right from the camera, too.

Display and Processor

The image quality of the display is incredible. The Dynamic AMOLED offers vibrant and rich colors while also being easy on the eyes. The display settings give you a lot of options for customization as well. You can easily turn your entire phone to dark mode full-time or on your schedule. You can also choose your motion smoothness, opt for a blue light filter, decide between a vivid or natural screen mode, and choose your preferred screen resolution.

The processor is also quite fast and if you unlock the developer options, you can make the transitions between screens and apps smoother. One of the first things I do when I get a new Samsung phone is hop on YouTube to find videos explaining all the features. My favorite channel is Jimmy is Promo. He has a variety of videos with everything you need to know about your new phone.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I love this phone. It takes amazing photos and videos, the battery lasts through all my daily activities, it's fast, and the mystic bronze matches my rose gold smartwatch. The sound quality of music and videos is awesome. Quite frankly, it does everything I need it to better than my previous phone. If you're in the market for a new phone, this is a great one and I highly recommend it!

One money-saving tip I can share is to check Best Buy for deals. My husband and I have saved a lot by purchasing our phones there instead of at Verizon. If you're curious about our phone cases, they are both from SUPCASE. My husband has the more durable Unicorn Beetle Pro, while I opted for the Unicorn Beetle.

© 2021 Alyssa

Comments

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 06, 2021:

Thank you!

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 06, 2021:

Thank you Pamela!

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on January 06, 2021:

Hahahaha! Thank you, Bill! I'll take it!

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 06, 2021:

Nice. A thorough review.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 06, 2021:

This is an excellent article that sure gives the highlights of the Samsung Note. This sounds like a very good phone. When I was in high school there were no cell phones, so that speaks to my age. You have some great memories.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 06, 2021:

Oh my God you're young!!! Your memories of high school had me howling. No, no, it's a good article, great review, but I didn't fully appreciate what a pup you are until that moment. :) Happy Wednesday, Alyssa!

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