Galaxy S20 Ultra review in progress: Samsung's camera, battery and ultrafast screen so far

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The Galaxy S20 Ultra is the most advanced phone among Samsung's new phones.

Sarah Tu / CNET

of Galaxy S20 Ultra Is an interesting beast. As the most advanced Samsung's new Galaxy S20 phoneCompared to the Galaxy S20 Plus and the standard Galaxy S20, it has the largest screen size, the largest battery, and the most toys (scroll to the end for a full spec comparison). It is also the most expensive, starting at $ 1,400 for the 256GB version, starting at $ 1,000 for the S20, and starting at $ 1,200 for the S20 Plus.

Samsung's main pride in Ultra comes down to a 6.9-inch screen, a huge 5,000mAh battery, a 108-megapixel main sensor, up to 100 times the AI ​​auxiliary camera zoom, and a 40-pixel main camera. The core software and hardware of all S20 phones (including fast 120Hz screen refresh rate, Qualcomm 865 processor and 5G ready) remain the same (the basic S20 models are slightly more complex and support 5G levels below 5, Except Verizon).

My task this week is to test the filler in Ultra and determine if it can deliver on its , who it serves, and whether it is worth all this money in the first place. Testing is a process and good evaluation takes time. So now, here are some of my initial impressions, and as they appear, I will update with new observations. These are by no means my final thoughts, so I hope you will persevere in your search for final, rated reviews and specific buying suggestions.

Now, let's continue this show!

Also read: The first photos we took with the new camera of the Galaxy S20 Ultra

Quick Galaxy S20 Ultra Takeaway

  • Its 6.9-inch screen uses Samsung's Dynamic AMOLED 2X technology, which is bright and bright. Ironically, the screen has a lower pixel density than other S20 phones, but without Samsung ’s unit, I would not be able to compare them side by side.
  • The Galaxy S20 Ultra feels really heavy (7.76 ounces), and Galaxy Z Flip I reviewed earlier this week, It's tiring to hold it while watching the video.
  • The cosmic gray I got in the inspection unit reminded me of the process of modeling clay in the worst possible way. Buy or get a protective case in black.
  • When sliding the edge of the screen (such as when using Android 10's gesture navigation), you can feel the edges of Samsung's pre-applied screen protector. This is not the best feeling.
  • I like using the Edge display panel as an application shortcut bar, and I also like the ability to lock a and change its color, so it's easy to find on any screen.
  • From a design standpoint, it's not as sophisticated as the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, but the stronger (and less rounded) edges do make it easier for the cursor to be placed on the edge of the screen without your fingers falling off the edges.
  • Since the gray background of the universe is not as mirrored, fingerprint smudges are less noticeable.
  • The benchmark test once again proved my impression that the S20 Ultra can handle tasks very quickly.

Added: 120Hz screen life

The Galaxy S20 device supports a 120Hz refresh rate on the screen. This means that pixels are refreshed 120 times per , twice the standard 60Hz refresh rate. The goal is to smooth everything from scrolling and animation to smooth gameplay.

This feature is disabled by default and is not in the quick access bar, so you must turn it on yourself. Samsung envisions that you will always use it, rather than using it all the time, instead of switching it to a game before restoring it. The choice is of course yours.

Using 120Hz consumes battery power. How much exactly, I'm not sure. I worked on the S20 Ultra using the standard 60Hz setting for the first day and a half because I wanted to establish a baseline feel for this phone out of the box. Now I used the 120Hz setting to see if and how the difference was felt.

It's too early to say, but after a whole day (and playing a few rounds of racing) today, I will return to 60Hz tomorrow to see what the changes look like.

Ultra's huge camera bumps worry me

Samsung has redesigned all Galaxy S20 Ultra cameras and provided its first phone with the largest camera array among S20 devices. The module is inevitably large, if I look at it, it's about an inch by an inch and a half, and it rises from the surface. This is ugly, but more importantly, I worry about protecting the glass above the sensor.

When I put the phone back on the table or reposition it, I can feel and hear unevenness. If this phone falls from my hand and hits a sidewalk, the module may be the first thing to crack. Unfortunately, I understand this situation directly. when Galaxy Note 10 Plus After looking at the phone, I took my nose out of my pocket.

I expect to make the camera module feel flatter and protect it better when dropped. Broken glass on the sensor may photo quality.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The camera bump of the S20 Ultra is very loud and proud.

Sarah Tu / CNET

How about a 108 megapixel camera and 100x zoom?

I Start testing the Galaxy S20 Ultra camera nowBut this is just the beginning. The Galaxy S20 Ultra's main camera has a 108-megapixel sensor, but that doesn't mean that every photo you take will automatically be 108-megapixel. Without this setting, the image can be parsed to 12 megapixels, but each of these "superpixels" consists of 9 smaller pixels, which are called Pixel merge.

Also keep in mind that 108 megapixel images can easily take up twice the space of photos taken with a camera in standard mode, often many times larger. For example, I might take a 12 MB pixel snapshot with a size of 3 MB, and the 108 MB pixel version stores the scene as 24 MB, which increases the storage by 8 times.

In order to take 108 megapixel photos, you need to select this option. I think when should I use it and when should I not use it. Compared to the same photo taken in standard mode, some of the photos I took in bright daylight and low light conditions look brighter and more saturated in 108, losing shadows and details. They are not always my favorites and seem less obvious in some ways because the shadows seem to be flattened, at least in my test photos so far.

A test photo. (This is a 12-megapixel image.)

Jessica Dolcourt / CNET

What's impressive is the details you see when cropping to a specific part of the image, such as the center of a flower or small details on the lens. What remains unclear to me is when to get the details and when not to know. When I zoomed in (on laptop screens and mobile phone screens), some of the photos I took at close range were actually 108 noiseier than in the standard photo mode. The 108 megapixel option can cause poor close-up and macro shooting. Fortunately, I have a whole day of photography to solve this problem.

I will also continue to try 100x zoom, which uses AI algorithms to magnify long distances. Samsung calls its function a space zoom, and Ultra is the only new S20 that can reach 100 times. I have taken some distant architectural features with 10x, 30x and 100x zoom. Seeing the progress is neat, but at this point, it is difficult for me to think that I really want the full 100x zoom. Within this range, the camera cannot be shaken for handheld shooting.

I did see the benefits of 10x and 30x zoom in places where the distance between the physically closed position and the subject is not possible-such as at rock concerts-but for those 100x zoom lenses, monopods, tripods or other stabilization Agent is required.

Use the 108 megapixel camera setting to do deep work in the center of the flower.

Jessica Dolcourt / CNET

Battery life: evolving power source

If a 5,000 mAh sound is made cell phone battery Sounds great, you are right. It makes the S20 Ultra heavier, but I've gained 100% confidence that my phone will be able to afford the benefits of most of the things I throw at it. At least more than 4G data, and use a 60Hz screen. Today, I will pay close attention to the battery to understand the possible loss caused by the 120Hz refresh rate.

As for 5GThese faster speeds consume battery power faster than 4G, but we can't quantify it yet. At this point, the Galaxy S20 Ultra has not been fully calibrated American telephone and telegraph co. 5G network, I have been testing on AT & T SIM. AT & T and Samsung assured me that 5G will be available when Ultra goes on sale. I am trying to use a T-Mobile SIM card to understand how this may change battery life.

At the same time, the S20 Ultra continued to run, and even after hours of hotspot checks on my laptop, it retained considerable battery power, streamed Netflix videos, and uploaded dozens of photos and videos over the cellular network. I have no worries about running out of battery. Battery testing will take time, especially for our lab tests, but so far everything has gone smoothly.

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100x zoom for Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra makes monitoring easier


Will still show up in Galaxy S20 Ultra tests

  • Photos, photos, photos (especially 108 megapixels and spatial scaling solutions in the real world)
  • Ultra's camera makes single-shot cameras more
  • Battery level with 120Hz screen
  • Battery Life Lab Consumption Test
  • Daily availability
  • Higher processing performance

Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra specifications

Samsung Galaxy S20

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Display size, resolution

6.2-inch dynamic AMOLED 2X

6.7 inch dynamic AMOLED 2X

6.9-inch dynamic AMOLED 2X

Pixel density




Dimensions (inches)

2.72 x 5.97 x 0.311 inches

2.9 x 6.37 x 0.30 inches

2.99 x 6.57 x 0.35 inches

Dimensions (mm)

69.1 x 151.7 x 7.9 mm

73.7 x 161.9 x 7.8 mm

76.0 x 166.9 x 8.8 mm

Weight in ounces and grams

5.75 ounces; 163 grams

6.56 oz; 186 g

7.76 ounces; 220 grams

mobile application

Android 10

Android 10

Android 10


12 megapixels (wide-angle), 64 megapixels (telephoto), 12 megapixels (ultra-wide)

12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight camera

108-megapixel (wide-angle), 48-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight camera

Front camera

10 mega-pixel

10 mega-pixel

40 mega-pixel

Video capture





64-bit octa-core processor (up to 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz)

64-bit octa-core processor (up to 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz)

64-bit octa-core processor (up to 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz)



128GB, 512GB

128GB, 512GB




12GB, 16GB

Scalable storage

Up to 1TB

Up to 1TB

Up to 1TB


4,000 mAh

4,500 mAh

5,000 mAh

Fingerprint sensor

In screen

In screen

In screen





Headphone jack




special function

5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate waterproof (IP68)

5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate waterproof (IP68)

5G enabled; 100x zoom at 120Hz refresh rate; waterproof (IP68)

Off-contract price (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

Released earlier this week and frequently updated with new information.

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