The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is everything you want in a smartphone these days. But is it worth it?

For years now, Samsung has always been about innovation and constantly bringing new technology to smartphones. We’ve seen it with the Galaxy S10+ as well as the Galaxy Note 10+. However, Samsung has ultimately decided to drop the ‘+’ from its name and sticks ‘Ultra’ at the back instead.

And just like before, it demands attention in the biggest way possible. This includes a bigger screen, bigger camera specs as well as a bigger price tag of RM4,999. This makes the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra the most expensive Android smartphone to date, and it doesn’t ‘fold‘.

Design

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
The Galaxy S20 Ultra is only available in either Cosmic Black or Cosmic Grey.

Right off the bat, you’ll find that the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is huge. Your eyes will be drawn straight to its sleek curved glass that pushes its bezels to the very minimum. This allows it to fully utilise the space to give you more screen time. At the top, you’ll find a small punch-hole that houses the selfie camera.

Due to its sheer size, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is a rather large device. If you have slightly smaller hands, you’ll find it difficult to use it single-handedly. While it does look beautiful, it doesn’t seem to have the same experience as its predecessor; that was easy and seamless. The Galaxy S20 Ultra, however, will take some getting used to.

Display

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
The Galaxy S20 comes in three sizes with the Galaxy S20 Ultra coming in at 6.9-inches.

At 6.9-inches, it’s also the largest non-foldable android device to date. The screen itself is a dynamic AMOLED 2x Infinity-O touchscreen display with HDR10+ certification. The Galaxy S20 Ultra also comes with a better refresh rate at 120Hz. This makes scrolling, streaming, and gaming a lot more enjoyable.

That’s not all though. You can also switch between the motion smoothness, which depends on your screen resolution. Opt for the FHD+ that gives you 120Hz refresh rate or the WQHD+ but with a 60Hz refresh rate. Dark mode is also available, thanks to Android 10.0 and Samsung’s very own One UI 2. And as usual, the Always-On Display feature is back.

Camera

As smartphones become more ingrained into our daily lives through artificial intelligence and robotics, so does its cameras. For years now, the biggest flagship smartphone upgrades have always been its camera systems. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra rises to the challenge and deservedly so.

But first, a breakdown on what the camera system in the device is like. It has a 12MP ultra-wide lens, a 48MP telephoto lens, and a whopping 108MP wide-angle lens. There is also a DepthVision camera for all your live focus shots and 3D effects.

As a whole, the camera system on the Galaxy S20 Ultra is sublime. The high-resolution 108MP wide-angle lens allows you to zoom up to 10x with its Hybrid Optic Zoom feature. That’s not all though; you can also zoom up to 100x thanks to its Super Resolution Zoom enhanced by camera AI. Dubbed as the ‘Space Zoom 100x’, it’s safe to say that Samsung delivers that.

However, the quality of the picture does drop significantly when you zoom up to 100x. This is to be expected as its virtually impossible to hold the camera perfectly still to capture a good shot. This can be still be achieved with a gimbal or a tripod. With all that said, the overall performance of the camera is still pretty amazing as it should be.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
The camera system is capable of capturing plenty of detail in every shot. (Image credit: Lifestyle Asia KL)

A good limit to it would be between 10x – 30x zoom to ensure the quality of photos stays the same. Aside from that, there are also a host of features to play around with, most notably is the ‘Single Take’ feature. This allows you to capture moments in both photo and video as well as some pre-edited pictures.

Night mode shots are also a lot clearer while still maintaining its quality and brightness. The camera system is capable of taking multiple shots at once, merging all into one stunning picture with less blur and noise. Another reason why night mode is much better on the Galaxy S20 Ultra is because of larger sensors and artificial intelligence (AI). Shoot sharper and clearer images without having to worry about not having enough lighting.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Night mode shots look much brighter with more visual details. (Image credit: LSA KL)

Video recording also has another breakthrough in smartphones with the help of Samsung. It brings 8K video shooting to the phone, which is a step over the current 4K video recording trend. Essentially, this allows you to shoot crisp, crystal-clear videos in super stunning quality. You can even pull 33MP stills from the video, still maintaining its sharp looks. AI also comes into play here with optical image stabilisation (OIS) to ensure your footage remains super smooth and stable.

The only major downside I can find with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is the protruding camera bump. For all the good it does, it offers a big drawback as well in terms of design. It also leaves an unfortunate unbalance to the device, making it hard to leave it on the table without wobbling. While it shouldn’t be enough to deter potential buyers, investing in a good quality case is more than necessary now. 

Experience

Having used it for a little over a week, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra lives up to its reputation. It’s a beast in its own right, giving you the greatest Android smartphones experience possible. It uses the latest in software processors alongside 128GB of internal storage space and 12GB of RAM. This allows the Galaxy S20 Ultra to be a multitasking machine, allowing you to switch between various heavy-duty apps with ease.

Samsung also ensures it offers a fluid and dynamic experience with its own One UI 2. This makes using the device a lot easier, which in turn will increase productivity. Notifications pop-ups are less invasive while taking up less space while Samsung also creates a new look for Dark Mode with AI assistance.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
The Galaxy S20 Ultra comes with Quick Share, a feature that allows you to share files across to five friends nearby without needing any pairing.

Another notable feature of the Galaxy S20 Ultra is its 5G capabilities. Unfortunately, Malaysia doesn’t have the infrastructure for 5G connectivity just yet. Be that as it may, it’s still a good inclusion from Samsung as its already gearing up for the fifth-gen wireless technology that could help to usher in the fourth industrial revolution.

The battery stands at 5,000mAh, which is essential to run a device of this magnitude. Power Share is also available as well as wireless charging, which is to be expected of course. Audio is crisp and clear with the help of AKG; this made watching videos on Netflix a lot more enjoyable. Of course, the significantly larger screen works great here.

Verdict

It’s hard to determine just how great the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra really is. It doubles as both a smartphone and a laptop in a single device that fits into your pocket. At RM4,999, it’s Samsung’s most expensive smartphone to date. For all it’s worth, it becomes hard to justify as to why it’s worth paying a small fortune for a smartphone. Then again, that has been the trend for quite some time now and it definitely isn’t stopping anytime soon.

When it boils right down to it, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is a great smartphone, there is no doubt about it. Its camera system is a joy to behold; its display screen is perfect for mobile streamers and gamers, and its easy usability makes it an all-round exceptional Android device.

All images courtesy of Samsung unless stated otherwise.

Wi-Liam Teh
Senior Writer
Wi-Liam is a geek at heart with a penchant for tattoos. Never without a drink in hand (preferably whisky, gin, or Guinness), he is also a writer by day and a keyboard warrior by night. On his day off, he masquerades as a streetwear and sneakerhead enthusiast while his bank account says otherwise.
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