Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra – Which is Best for you?

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra

The Note 20 Ultra is official. So how does it compare to Samsung’s previous flagship, the S20 Ultra? Let’s find out in this Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra comparison. We’re going to break down all of the key differences.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Box contents:

1. Note 20 Ultra handset
2. AKG earphones
3. 25W USB-Type-C Charger
4. USB Type-C cable
5. SIM ejector pin
6. Paperwork
7. Tips for S-Pen

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Box contents:

1. S20 Ultra handset
2. AKG earphones
3. 25W USB-Type-C Charger
4. USB Type-C cable
5. SIM ejector pin
6. Paperwork

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra unboxing

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy S20 Ultra

SpecsNote 20 UltraS20 Ultra
Display6.9 inches, QHD+
Dynamic Amoled
120Hz refresh rate
6.9 inches, QHD+
Dynamic Amoled
120Hz refresh rate
ProtectionGorilla glass 7Gorilla glass 6
SoftwareAndroid 10, 
One UI 2.1
Android 10, 
One UI 2.1
CPUSnapdragon 865+
Exynos 990
Snapdragon 865
Exynos 990
GPUAdreno 650
Mali-G77 MP11
Adreno 650
Mali-G77 MP11
RAM typeUFS 3.1UFS 3.1
Fingerprint sensorIn displayIn display
Headphone jackNoNo
Rear cameras108 MP (main)
12 MP (telephoto)
12 MP (ultrawide)
108 MP (main)
48 MP (telephoto)
12 MP (ultrawide)
0.3 MP, (depth)
Front cameras10 MP, f/2.240 MP, f/2.2
Battery4,500 mAh5000 mAh
Fast charging25W Fast charging45W Fast charging
Wireless chargingYesYes
S-PenYesYes

Design and Build

So initially looking at the size and design, the Note 20 Ultra is a little bit slimmer, it’s a little bit shorter, but it’s a little bit wider. And that is because it’s got more squared off edges.

Now this is in line with the Note 20 series, which we’ve been seeing for many years and it’s something that looks really, really nice.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra design
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra design

Although it may not be as comfortable for some people compared to the curved edges on the S20 Ultra. But being the bigger overall device, which is also thicker and heavier, the S20 Ultra in my experience is less comfortable to hold.

Both devices do have curved glass on the back as well as somewhat curved glass on the front. The curves on the Note 20 Ultra are more significant compared to the S20 Ultra, which is a little bit more flat.

Now, personally speaking, I do prefer a more of a flat display to a curved display, although curved displays do look better. But the Galaxy S20 Ultra does have Gorilla Glass 6, whereas the Note 20 Ultra has Gorilla Glass 7, which is more durable, and it’s also more scratch resistant.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra design
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra design

In addition to that, it also comes in better colors compared to the very bland looking S20 Ultra, which just comes in a gray and a black. This is something that I’ve talked about before. It does make the device look very boring in my opinion.

The Note 20 Ultra does come in a black, a white, as well as a bronze, which in my opinion looks absolutely stunning. The bronze version also has a frosted back finish, which attracts less fingerprints.

So overall I do like the design better on the Note 20 Ultra. We do have aluminum frames for both devices, as well as IP68 water and dust resistance.

Also read: Samsung Galaxy 20 Ultra vs iPhone 11 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra – Display

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra - Display
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra – Display

Now let’s look at the displays. So both of these do have Samsung’s Infinity-O design, so we’ve got a punch out in the middle with very small bezels.

Although the bezels are slightly smaller on the Note 20 Ultra, which does give it a slightly higher screen to body ratio. Both devices do have Quad HD+ Resolution with a 120 hertz refresh rate.

You do get a slightly higher pixel density on the S20 Ultra because it is slightly taller, but honestly speaking, it’s very insignificant. And having that refresh rate does make things super smooth on both devices.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra display
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra display

As with the S20 Ultra, or the Note 20 Ultra, you cannot have 120 hertz with Quad HD+ resolution at the same time. It is going to switch to FHD+ when you are at 120 hertz.

This is to preserve battery life, but it’s one of the advantages that you get on the Note 20 Ultra is that it does have an adaptive refresh rate, which is going to switch to lower refresh rate, depending on what you’ve got on your screen and that should make it more power efficient.

In addition to that, the Note 20 Ultra also has a brighter display, it’s got a peak brightness of up to 1500 nits, which is 25% brighter compared to the S20 Ultra.

I believe that makes it the brightest smartphone display on any smartphone right now.

Display of Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Display of Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Although the S20 Ultra is very bright, and it is going to be absolutely fine to use outdoors. You’re just going to get that edge on the Note 20 Ultra, and I would say that the Note 20 Ultra does get the win for the overall better display.

Fingerprint sensor

Both displays do have an Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner which works pretty much the same. We were hoping for the 3D Sonic Max from Qualcomm on the Notes 20 Ultra, but unfortunately this isn’t here.

The Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner, generally it’s fine. I tend to assign one fingerprint twice, just to make it a little bit more accurate and faster.

Galaxy S20 ultra vs Note 20 Ultra: Cameras

Now let’s take a look at the differences in the camera department of Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra.

Front camera

Within that display we also have the punch out for the front facing camera. And the S20 Ultra actually has a higher resolution, 14 MP versus 10 MP.

Now the S20 Ultra generally still shoots at 10 MP unless you actually force it to go to 14 MP. And that is because it uses pixel binning, so it combines four pixels into one to give you 10 MP.

That’s the way you’ll be able to get the best out of the front facing camera on the S20 Ultra. So both seem to take very similar selfies, but we do have some differences for the rear facing cameras.

Rear cameras

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra - Camera
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra – Camera

So firstly, I do think that the Note 20 Ultra has a much better looking camera module. It’s also smaller, although it might look like it’s got a slightly larger bump, overall the device is thinner.

We have an ultra wide camera, we’ve got a primary camera, as well as an optical zoom camera, which uses Periscope technology.

Ultra-wide camera, as far as we can see is pretty much the same and we’ll see how much it has been improved because I did have some issues with dynamic range on the S20 Ultra.

The primary camera is also the 108 MP sensor from Samsung with optical image stabilization (OIS). However, Samsung now have a laser auto focus sensor on the Note 20 Ultra.

On the S20 Ultra, we did have that auto focus issues. So it looks like Samsung has taken this feedback on board for the Note 20 Ultra. And they have given us a dedicated laser auto focus sensor.

Now, when it comes to the Periscope zoom cameras, the S20 Ultra does have a high resolution, 48 MP.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra

But once again, as I mentioned, if you are shooting, you’re going to be shooting at 12 MP, so that doesn’t really matter.

But the Note 20 Ultra firstly, does have a wider aperture, and it also has better optical zoom up to five times compared to four times on the S20 Ultra.

And guess what? We no longer have the 100x Space Zoom, which was plastered on the S20 Ultra. So the 100x zoom, I mean, it was a cool feature, but realistically speaking the results were just not usable.

And having that plastered on the camera itself actually took away from the fact that the S20 Ultra actually does have really good zoom, at 10x, even up to 30x.

Now Samsung have once again taken that feedback on board, we don’t have anything plastered over the cameras and they’ve limited that zoom to 50x, which does mean that they’ll be able to optimize it more for that level compared to the S20 Ultra.

The S20 Ultra does have that additional Time of Flight sensor, which is used for depth information. Now I’m really not sure how much of an impact this is going to have on portrait shots.

Video shooting

Now for video, both devices can film at up to 8K, 24 fps from the primary camera. However, we do have some software improvements on the Note 20 Ultra, as well as some audio improvements.

So we’ve got an updated Pro Video app, which is going to give you a lot more control over zoom. You can do some more cinematic zoom, rather than just jumping from one point to another. You’ve also got more control over your audio.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra audio of video

So you’re going to be able to select the direction that you want the audio in, you’ll be able to plug in an external mic, and you’ll also be able to use Bluetooth to connect your Galaxy Buds live and have the mics from there feed directly into the Note 20 Ultra wirelessly.

So overall you are getting a few more advantages on the Note 20 Ultra in the way of cameras.

Which one has better Performance?

Now let’s talk about the chipsets, what’s powering these devices. We don’t have consistent chip sets across the board. So the S20 Ultra has either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, or the Exynos 990.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs Exynos 990
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs Exynos 990

There is definitely some inconsistency between these two. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 is fast, and it’s also more power efficient. For the Note 20 Ultra, you still get the Exynos 990 in certain regions, such as the UK, and some parts in Asia.

But if you’re in the U.S. you will be getting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+, which is 10% faster and 10% more power efficient compared to the 865, which is already superior compared to the Exynos 990.

So you’re going to have even more of a bigger gap between the regions when it comes to the Note 20 Ultra, which really does not make any sense to me.

When it comes to storage, the S20 Ultra is available in a 128 GB version. The Note 20 Ultra is once again, disjointed, because you do get a base of 128 GB in the U.S. but here in UK for example, it starts with the base of 256 GB, and you can get up to 512 GB.

So it kind of seems like because UK and other regions are getting an inferior chip set, they’re kind of giving double the storage as a base to make up for it. That’s kind of what it seems like to me right now. I don’t know what’s going on.

This is UFS 3.1 storage vs UFS 3.0 storage, so it should be faster storage, we’ll see how much of an impact that has.

And for RAM, we do have 12 GB as a base on both devices, but you can get up to 16 GB of RAM on the S20 Ultra. Not sure how much of an impact that’s going to have on the day to day.

Both devices do have a micro SD card slot, so you can expand the storage on both of them which is great.

Software comparison of Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra software
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra software

For software we do have Android 10 with the One UI skin on top. Now being the newer device, the Note 20 Ultra is going to be getting updates longer compared to the S20 Ultra.

Samsung have also said that they’ll be giving software updates for up to 3 years on the Note 20 Ultra. So there is an advantage that you’re getting here.

The Note 20 Ultra also has an ultra wideband chip, something that you don’t have on the S20 Ultra.

This will allow you to quickly share files with other devices that also have an ultra wideband chip, and eventually they’re saying it will be able to do things like unlock your car. This new Samsung beast also supports Samsung Dex feature and you can connect it wirelessly.

Here is an advantage that you get on the Note 20 Ultra. Another advantage that you get on the Note 20 Ultra of course, is that it has an S Pen. And this gives you many many more possibilities and a lot more productivity benefits.

I’m somebody who absolutely loves the S Pen and Samsung have also improved the S Pen compared to what we had on the Note 10+. The latency is now improved by 80%, so it’s just down to 9 milliseconds.

That’s similar to what we’ve got on the Apple Pencil. And it is very, very smooth to write on. And you do get a bunch of features such as being able to import an annotate PDFs, have better handwriting recognition as well.

These are features that you of course don’t have on the S20 Ultra or pretty much any other device out there that’s not a Note.

Audio and Voice

For the speakers the good news is we do have stereo speakers on both devices, which are tuned by AKG. We’ve got one in the earpiece, and one button (indistinct). They do sound very very good.

The bad news which you should be expecting by now is there is no 3.5 millimeter headphone jack.

I’m really not sure when the best time is just to kind of not talk about that anymore, and only talk about it when we do have a 3.5 millimeter jack. Because it has just become the norm now.

Battery life and charging

Now moving onto the batteries, the Note 20 Ultra actually has a smaller battery compared to the S20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Charging test

Now, how that’s going to affect battery life is going to vary depending on whether you get the Qualcomm Snapdragon version or the Exynos version.

The S20 Ultra in my experience, has had pretty good battery life, better battery life on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 version.

Now the Note 20 Ultra, you do have the improved display, which does have the adaptive refresh rate, so in theory, that should give you better battery life.

And if you are one of the lucky ones that gets the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ chipset, then that should make it even more power efficient.

Galaxy S20 Ultra Battery and charging
Galaxy S20 Ultra Battery and charging

Now, both devices do support 25W charging, and you do get a 25W charger out of the box. But the S20 Ultra, you can get an external 45W charger.

This is sold separately, but it is available. This is something that’s not supported on the Note 20 Ultra.

I’m not sure why this is. Personally speaking 25W is pretty fast anyway, you get around 50% in half an hour, which is sufficient for most people.

Maybe Samsung felt that the 45W charger just wasn’t being sold enough so they’ve kind of taken it out. I’m not too sure.

Samsung's Wireless Power Share Technology
Samsung’s Wireless Power Share Technology

Both devices do have wireless charging, and they both also support wireless PowerShare where you will be able to charge other devices on the back of these.

Price and Conclusion

Now finally, let’s talk about the price. The Note 20 Ultra is actually coming in cheaper, compared to what the S20 Ultra came in at.

VariantsNote 20 UltraS20 Ultra
12+ 128GBN/A₹97,999
12+256GB₹1,04,999N/A

So right now, having a quick look around it is going for around about ₹7,000 in the India, which is about a 15% drop but no doubt this is going to drop even further as time goes on.

So you might be able to get a better deal on the S20 Ultra. However, I would still be tempted to go towards the Note 20 Ultra because of all of those improvements, and the fact that you will be getting those updates for a longer period of time.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra

That’s what I think anyway. What do you guys think? Are you happy with all of the improvements that we’ve got now on the Note 20 Ultra?

Definitely drop me a comment below and let me know your thoughts. If you like my Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Ultra comparison, consider sharing this article.

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