• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is a new type of phone for Samsung, and one of the first in a new breed of super-premium handsets.

It feels more high-end than last year’s Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus did for example, and that phone sat at the top of the Samsung Galaxy S10 range.

The S20 Ultra offers remarkable cameras headlined by a 100x zoom feature, plus a massive 6.9-inch screen, up to 16GB of RAM, an enormous 5,000mAh battery, and basically every other super-premium feature you could imagine. So is this the ultimate flagship or is it a step too far?

Screen

Galaxy S20 Ultra Display

There’s an almost tablet-sized 6.9-inch screen on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. That’s not quite the biggest smartphone screen we’ve seen (the 7.2-inch Huawei Mate 20 X for example has it beat) but it’s close.

So this is a phone you’ll be using two hands with, but there’s no denying the screen’s quality. It’s a 1440 x 3200 one, meaning you get a crisp 511 pixels per inch. It also uses Samsung’s latest take on AMOLED (Dynamic AMOLED 2X).

Jargon aside, this leads to some of the best visuals you’ll find on a phone, and it’s helped by supporting HDR10+ and having a 120Hz refresh rate. The latter makes everything feel silky smooth, but disappointingly only works if you lower the resolution to FHD+.

Otherwise you’re getting 60Hz, which when the much cheaper OnePlus 7T and Google Pixel 4 can offer a 90Hz refresh rate is a shame.

Still, it’s a small issue with an otherwise incredible screen, and that large size makes it great for watching movies on.

Design

Galaxy S20 Ultra Design

The most obvious design detail of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is the massive camera bump on the back. We’ll get into the details of the camera below, but from a design perspective it’s not the most attractive feature – though certainly makes the snapper look impressive.

That aside you’re looking at a typical glass slab, with a metal frame sandwiched in the middle. There’s minimal bezel on the curved screen and just a tiny punch-hole for the camera, so it’s a good look, but one we’ve broadly seen plenty of times before.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is also chunkier than the rest of the range, at 8.8mm thick, while the standard S20 5G for example is only 7.9mm thick. It’s still a reasonably slim phone overall though.

One high point of the design is that it’s IP68-certified, meaning that you can submerge the S20 Ultra 5G in up to 1.5 metres of freshwater for up to 30 minutes, though note that Samsung doesn’t advice submerging it in a pool or the ocean.

Power

This is one monstrous phone, as it has both a top-end octa-core Exynos 990 chipset and either 12GB or 16GB of RAM. The latter is arguably overkill, but will certainly ensure the S20 Ultra 5G is future-proofed.

But even with a 12GB model, nothing is likely to slow this phone down. And of course, as the name suggests, it also supports 5G, so its data speeds can be lightning fast as well.

In every sense here the phone lives up to the ‘Ultra’ in its name, so if you want sheer power then it’s a strong choice – though you can get very close to this power on other, more affordable handsets, especially if you don’t need 5G.

Camera

Galaxy S20 Ultra Camera

The camera is the definite highlight here for a few reasons. First off, there’s the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G’s 108MP main sensor – a ludicrously high spec allowing for incredibly detailed shots.

Then it also has a 48MP periscope lens, allowing for 10x hybrid optical zoom and an insane 100x digital zoom. Get in that close and the quality drops way down, but it’s still hugely impressive, and the 10x zoom is genuinely useful for taking photos of far-away things.

There’s also a 12MP ultra-wide sensor and a DepthVision time-of-flight sensor for judging depth. Combined this is one of the best and certainly most exciting camera setups ever seen on a smartphone.

Performance isn’t always quite as good as the specs might suggest, but the Galaxy S20 Ultra is still capable of taking very good shots under almost any condition. And it excels at video too, with support for recording at up to 8K at 24fps or 4K at 60fps.

There’s also a very strong 40MP camera on the front of the phone. That’s an upgrade on the front-facing snappers on the rest of the S20 range, as are many of the other camera specs, so this is one of the key places where the S20 Ultra stands above its siblings.

Features

Most of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G’s features have been covered above, but it’s worth noting that it has a speedy in-screen fingerprint scanner, runs Android 10, and has Samsung’s One UI 2 interface over the top.

While we’d always prefer stock Android, we’re still a fan of this interface. It’s easy to use and while Samsung adds some apps to the mix it doesn’t feel overly bloated.

Battery life, memory and connectivity

There’s a massive 5,000mAh battery inside the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, but then the phone also has a huge screen to power. If you’re using 120Hz mode and lots of 5G then you might struggle to get a day, but with more careful use the phone can go a long time, even stretching into a second day.

When it comes time to charge, you can take advantage of super-speedy 45W fast wired charging or 15W wireless charging, and there’s also a reverse wireless charging mode, which lets you use the phone to juice up other devices at 9W speeds.

There’s a choice of 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of storage as well as a microSD card slot, so there’s plenty of space, and for connectivity options you’re looking at Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC (as well of course as 5G, 4G and Wi-Fi).

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is a formidable phone. Its cameras seriously impress – though the most exciting feature (that 100x zoom) probably isn’t something you’ll use much – it has more power than almost any other handset, a massive, brilliant screen, a big battery, lots of storage, and 5G.

It stands out even above the rest of the S20 range in most of those areas and leaves the majority of other flagships in its dust.

But it’s also stupendously expensive, and with the extra power and screen size arguably not being all that necessary, and the extra camera features being nice but inessential, this could be a tough sell for some people. It’s the best of the S20 range but it’s not the best value.

So if you simply want the best 5G flagship around then – at the time of writing – the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is it, but most people would probably be better off spending a bit less and opting for the S20 5G or S20 Plus 5G.

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Specifications

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm): 166.9 x 76 x 8.8
  • Weight (g): 222
  • Battery capacity (mAh): 5000
  • Colours: Cosmic Grey, Cosmic Black
  • Screen size (inches): 6.9
  • Resolution: 1440 x 3200
  • Pixels per inch (PPI): 511
  • Processor: Octa-core
  • Processor make: Exynos 990
  • RAM: 12GB/16GB
  • Internal storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
  • Expandable storage up to: 1TB
  • Camera: 108MP, 48MP, 12MP and ToF (40MP front-facing)
  • Operating System: Android 10

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