Galaxy S20 worth the upgrade? That depends on Samsung’s camera and battery life

The Galaxy S20 Ultra’s digital camera efficiency might make all of the distinction. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

“Whoa. This is the Galaxy S20 Ultra?” I used to be so stunned, I mentioned it aloud. Tuesday at Samsung’s Unpacked event was the primary time I used to be in a position to see Samsung’s largest and baddest Galaxy S20 machine with my very own eyes. Due to unfortunate circumstances outside of my control, I needed to skip the standard journalist briefing session. So it wasn’t till I held the S20 Ultra on Tuesday at Samsung’s Unpacked occasion that I used to be in a position to type my first concrete opinion.

The S20 Ultra is an enormous, heavy phone with a hulking camera module that reminded me of The Rock. CNET Senior Editor Lynn La went even additional, calling the array “chonky” and grotesque”

And this $1,400 phone actually looks like a ton of bricks. The black shiny model I dealt with did not look almost as refined because the Galaxy Note 10 and even as final yr’s Galaxy S10 (now pleasantly discounted!). If I hadn’t identified the backing was product of glass, I would not have instantly been in a position to inform. I turned on the 120GHz display characteristic and famous the smoother scrolling. Nice, however for me, nonessential. I picked via the settings submenus, ready for an exciting new characteristic to leap out.


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It was starting to daybreak on me — the MVP options that may make or break the Galaxy S20 Ultra aren’t ones you’ll be able to check in an artificially lit demo room, regardless of how spacious. The high quality of these utterly redesigned cameras and longevity of the Ultra’s 5,000-mAh battery can solely be examined utilizing the phone in the actual world. And that may take time. (The identical is true of 5G speeds, however since these are solely pretty much as good because the community energy wherever you stay, I’ll give it a go for now.)

Dissecting the S20 Ultra’s eye-popping digital camera specs is straightforward sufficient in concept. There’s a 108-megapixel digital camera, 100x “space zoom” and 48-megapixel “folded zoom lens.” It was straightforward to level on the good props across the room, like a tray of fancy yogurt parfait and journalist associates to rapidly gauge how effectively every digital camera characteristic carried out. That’s positive (and needed) in a closed demo house, however you do not actually understand how good the pictures are till you begin taking photos of scenes in the actual world.

Camera worth does not come right down to the picture high quality alone, both. You additionally must consider how straightforward it’s to make use of the characteristic accurately, edit pictures and share them. For instance, after testing the “Single Take” mode that captures as much as 10 pictures and 4 movies with a single button press, I used to be beginning to get a definite impression that utilizing this mode means you may spend loads of time deleting all the additional pictures you do not need.

Testing the zoom characteristic is very essential. As I pointed the S20 Ultra across the room and dialed in on 30x, 50x and 100x zoom, I wasn’t instantly impressed with what I noticed. But I additionally wasn’t pointing at something significant, like an ornamental cornice on a palace, an egret wading within the ocean or a stunning performer on stage. 

Comparing the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s zoom capabilities to these of the Huawei P30 Pro will probably be important, as effectively. That phone’s periscope lens makes use of the same know-how to create 5x optical and as much as 50x digital zoom. I keep in mind being impressed by its means to seize far-off objects extra faithfully than not. The identical goes for the Pixel 4 and 4 XL’s “super zoom” sensors.

Battery life is the ultimate ingredient right here. 5,00Zero mAh is concerning the largest capability round, however we additionally must consider what number of sources the phone’s monumental display actually makes use of, how 5G may change the battery equation (that may fluctuate by community) and the way a lot the 120Hz display utilization might additionally drain battery life in comparison with the usual 60Hz display settings.

I’m excited to study the solutions to those questions. Pretty quickly when somebody asks me if the Galaxy S20 Ultra is definitely worth the cash, or value an improve from the Galaxy S10, I’ll have a transparent reply to inform them.


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