Galaxy S20 Ultra ongoing review: Camera, battery and design tests so far

The Galaxy S20 Ultra is probably the most superior of Samsung’s new telephones.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The Galaxy S20 Ultra is right here and testing is underway. Over the approaching days, I’ll be throwing every little thing I can at Samsung’s new beast of a tool, which is designed to face out from the gang with its 6.9-inch display, huge 5,000-mAh battery and fully redesigned digital camera system. The specs are spectacular on paper — however I need to share what the S20 Ultra is like to make use of in actual life.

This is an ongoing overview, so I’ll replace it continuously with new observations as they come up. It takes time to get used to a brand new gadget, and for one of the best and worst options to settle in. These are in no way my remaining ideas, so I hope you may stick round for the ultimate, rated overview and particular shopping for recommendation.

Remember, too, that the Galaxy S20 is probably the most superior of Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 phones. There’s additionally the Galaxy S20 Plus and commonplace Galaxy S20, each cheaper and smaller than the Ultra, with totally different digital camera sensors and smaller batteries. The core software program, nevertheless, is identical throughout all three S20 telephones.

Now, let’s get this present on the highway! 

Read additionally: Our first photos with the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s new cameras

The digital camera bump makes me nervous

In redesigning the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s cameras, it gave the phone the largest digital camera array of the S20 gadgets. The module is inescapably giant, about an inch by an inch and a half if I eyeball it, and it rises from the floor. It’s unpleasant, however extra importantly, I fear about defending the glass over the sensors.

When I set the phone down on its again on a tabletop, or reposition it, I can really feel and listen to the bump scrape throughout the floor. If this phone have been to fall out of my fingers and hit the pavement, that module would in all probability be the very first thing to crack. Unfortunately, I do know this situation firsthand. The identical factor occurred when the Galaxy Note 10 Plus took a nosedive out of my pocket after I completed reviewing the phone.

I’m relying on a case to make the digital camera module really feel extra flush, and higher shield it throughout drops. Broken glass throughout the sensors can downgrade photograph high quality.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The S20 Ultra’s digital camera bump is loud and proud.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Galaxy S20 Ultra: Heavy, huge, not a fan of the design 

The very first thing you may discover concerning the Galaxy S20 Ultra is how huge and heavy it’s. The 6.9-inch display is brilliant and sensible, with Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED 2X tech. Ironically, the display’s pixel density is a tad decrease than on the opposite S20 telephones, however with out having these overview models from Samsung, I can not but evaluate them aspect by aspect.

The phone itself is heavy — over half a pound — and I really feel that heft. Since the huge battery and digital camera module are seemingly chargeable for the added weight (along with the glass front and back), it is a trade-off that I could be keen to make for battery life and phenomenal pictures… if the picture high quality proves to be price it (I’m nonetheless testing!).

Samsung gave the Galaxy S20 curved screens on either side, however dialed down the radius of the curve, making the perimeters extra squared off than in previous designs just like the Galaxy Note 10. Oddly, this design makes the sting of the included display protector really feel scratchy towards my thumbs after I use the phone. It’s noticeable, and barely jarring. You can pull off this display protector in the event you like, or exchange it with one other considered one of your selecting. 

The S20 Ultra solely is available in black and grey, not cloud pink or cloud blue like the opposite S20 telephones. I obtained the grey overview unit, and it could be my least favourite coloration in a phone. It jogs my memory of modeling clay. Not the top of the world, however I undoubtedly desire a case to cowl it up.

How about that 108-megapixel digital camera and 100x zoom?

I immediately began testing the Galaxy S20 Ultra camera, but it surely’s only the start. The Galaxy S20 Ultra’s principal digital camera has a 108-megapixel sensor, however that does not imply that each photograph you’re taking will mechanically be 108 megapixels. Those photos simply take up twice the house of a photograph taken with the digital camera on commonplace mode.

In order to snap a 108-megapixel shot, it’s essential to choose the choice. I observed that pictures taken on this mode look brighter and extra saturated than the identical photograph I soak up commonplace mode. They’re not at all times my favourite, and in some methods appear much less distinct as a result of the shading seems to be flattened out, no less than in my take a look at pictures to this point.

What is spectacular is the element you see when cropping in to a particular a part of the picture, like the middle of a flower or a small element on a shot. I must preserve testing totally different situations, however I like what I see to this point. I believe that there are particular occasions to make use of the 108-megapixel possibility in all its glory, not essentially on daily basis.

One take a look at photograph of many. (This is a 12-megapixel picture.)


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The identical goes for the 100x hybrid optical zoom, a mix of optical and digital zoom, which Samsung calls Space Zoom. I took some faraway photographs of architectural options at 10x, 30x and 100x zoom. It’s neat to see the development, however at this level I wrestle to consider a time I’d really need the full-fledged 100x zoom. At this vary, the digital camera will get too shaky for handheld photographs. 

I do see a profit to taking 10x and 30x zoom in locations the place you’ll be able to’t bodily shut the gap between your place and the topic — like at a rock live performance — however for these 100x zoom photographs, a monopod, tripod or different stabilizer is a should.

galaxys20ultra-flower-108crop

A deep crop on a flower heart utilizing the 108-megapixel digital camera setting.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Battery life: A powerhouse within the making

If the sound of a 5,000-mAh phone battery sounds superior, you would be right. It makes the S20 Ultra heavier, however already I’m reaping the advantages of 100% confidence that my phone will be capable to face up to most issues I throw at it. At least over 4G knowledge.

5G speeds are recognized to empty battery reserves quicker than 4G, however that is not one thing we have been in a position to quantify but. At this level, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is not fairly calibrated to AT&T’s 5G community, and I’ve been testing on an AT&T SIM. AT&T and Samsung guarantee me that by the point the Ultra arrives on retailer cabinets, 5G might be good to go.

In the meantime, the S20 Ultra was absolutely charged yesterday at 11:37 a.m. I used it to add over a dozen pictures and a brief 8K video I shot (170MB). I’ve hotspotted my laptop for greater than three hours (the largest drain by far), and left it unplugged in a single day and not using a cost. I nonetheless had 50% reserves left after I awakened. Battery testing will take time, however to this point, it is easy crusing.

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Next up in Galaxy S20 Ultra testing

  • Battery toll on streaming video
  • Photos, pictures, pictures
  • 120Hz display refresh price
  • Battery life lab drain checks
  • Day to day usability
  • Processing efficiency

Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra specs

Samsung Galaxy S20 Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Display dimension, decision 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Pixel density 563ppi 525ppi 511ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 2.72 x 5.97 x 0.311 in 2.9 x 6.37 x 0.30 in 2.99 x 6.57 x 0.35 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 69.1 x 151.7 x 7.9 mm 73.7 x 161.9 x 7.8mm 76.Zero x 166.9 x 8.8mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.75 oz; 163g 6.56 oz; 186g 7.76 oz; 220g
Mobile software program Android 10 Android 10 Android 10
Camera 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight digital camera 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 48-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight digital camera
Front-facing digital camera 10-megapixel 10-megapixel 40-megapixel
Video seize 8K 8K 8K
Processor 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.Zero GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.Zero GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.Zero GHz)
Storage 128GB 128GB, 512GB 128GB, 512GB
RAM 12GB 12GB 12GB, 16GB
Expandable storage Up to 1TB Up to 1TB Up to 1TB
Battery 4,000 mAh 4,500 mAh 5,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen In-screen
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack No No No
Special options 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh price; waterproof (IP68) 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh price; waterproof (IP68) 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh price; 100x zoom; waterproof (IP68)
Price off-contract (USD) $999 $1,199 $1,399
Price (GBP) £799, £899 (5G) £999 (5G) £1,199 (128GB), £1,399 (512GB)
Price (AUD) AU$1,349, AU$1,499 (5G) AU$1,499, AU$1,649 (5G) AU$1,999

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