The month of August has a special meaning among Samsung smartphone fans since 2015. It indicates the release of the new flagship from Samsung Galaxy Note series, the most powerful and versatile mobile phone of the year.
I should start by stating that I am a big fan of Note Series mobile phones since its first release in 2011, and I have actively used many of them as my main phone since 2015. My “first” was a Note 5 that I still keep as a back-up phone. I had to replace its screen and change its battery once, but it still has adequate performance for ordinary users. Currently, I own a Note 10+ since December 2019, and I am more than satisfied with its performance, look & feel, and capabilities.
As a longtime Note Series mobile phone user, I’ll be giving you in this review my hands-on experience on overall Note 10+ experience so far, and my opinion whether or not the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is worthy to upgrade from Note 10+.
It’s no surprise that every year Note Series phones come with a different set of colors with different fancy names. It is a personal taste, but last year’s “Aura” colors -especially Aura Glow- were catchier than this year’s “Mystic.”
I would wish the color was the only physical difference with Note 10+, but it’s not. As Peter Parker principle “With great power comes great responsibility” states, with great camera features come massive camera bump. It is impossible to miss it. I believe over time we will get used to it but did I mention it’s huge?
Other than color and excluding the rear camera settlement, both phones have similar form factors. They both feel premium in your hand, and if you are not a phone expert, it is unlikely that you would differentiate which one is which just by looking to the screen.
Screen size, is it necessary?
We all love Samsung phone displays and they are arguably the best in the mobile phone industry. The biggest screen difference between both phones is the 120Hz refresh rate that comes with Note 20 Ultra.
Yes, 120Hz makes things appear smoother but do you really need it? It is debatable… Unless you are into mobile gaming, I don’t believe the 120Hz refresh rate will be a game-changer for you. In addition, the battery impact of continuous 120Hz usage is still a question mark.
The second difference of the displays is of course the size. Note 20 Ultra screen is 0.1 inches larger than its predecessor. Yes, every inch counts but 0.1 of an inch actually does not make any difference.
S Pen is the signature feature of all Note Series mobile phones. Even the most phone-illiterate people would understand a phone is a Note just by seeing the S Pen. It is what makes a flagship phone a Note phone.
Over time, S Pen also evolved along with the phone, of course. Nowadays, it is not only used to take some on-screen notes but also to execute some tasks remotely.
There are two main differences between Note 20 Ultra and its predecessor:
1- Latency: The new stylus latency has been decreased by almost 80% compared to the previous version. 9ms is a huge leap forward but, if you youse your S Pen only to take notes and screenshots, Note 10+’s 42 ms also is more than enough.
2- New Placement: For the end-users, it doesn’t make any difference if it’s on the left or right side of the phone. Of course, the new placement will feel weird for the veteran users, but it is just a matter of days to get used to the new location.
Nobody would have guessed 15 years ago that the primary feature of a mobile phone will be its cameras. Our “smartphones” are certainly more camera than phone. This being the case, it’s no surprise to see some new but arguably useful features every year.
Also, phone manufacturers like to use big numbers to impress potential customers: 108 MP, 50x Super Resolution Zoom, etc. But the question here is: are those big numbers really provide what they are promising and are you ever going to use these features? The answer is “no” for most of the users.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Note 20 Ultra cameras are worse than its predecessor. It is surely superior especially considering its 5x optical zoom, but one thing for sure that Note 10+ rear camera placement was neater and better looking.
Performance issues are always the main motive while changing my phone. I was never one of those people who upgrade their phones every year. That being said, if you currently own a Samsung Note 10+, I don’t see any reason for most people to buy a Note 20 Ultra.
Only one year old and still at its peak performance, Note 10+ features and looks remain more than satisfactory in 2020. The new Note has some hardware improvements, but in my opinion, they are not convincing enough to upgrade from the last year’s model. But if you own an older model, you should definitely give it a try!
So, I will continue to use my Note 10+ at least another one more year.