Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note 20 Ultra: Which is BEST For You?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note 20 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra are the two most premium smartphones of Samsung till now. But which one is the best device for you? The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is still a powerful device, and it may be the better value for money for those who are looking for a lower priced premium smartphone than S21 Ultra.

So should you prefer the newer Galaxy S21 Ultra or half-year-old Note 20 Ultra?
let’s find out in this Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note 20 Ultra comparison.

Design and Build Quality

Let’s initially take a look at the design. I’m a big fan of the design of both of these. These are some of the best-looking smartphones out right now. I love the matte finish on these colors, although they are available in a few different colors.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note 20 Ultra: Design and Build

We’ve got some exclusive colors on the S21 Ultra from the Samsung website too, but the camera module is quite different. On the S21 Ultra we do have an updated design where it blends into the sides. Now that’s not to say that the Note20 Ultra looks bad. It’s not as refreshed as the S21 Ultra.

We’ve got premium materials on both devices, an aluminum frame with a glass back, and both devices are IP68 water and dust resistant. The S21 Ultra is heavier compared to the Note 20 Ultra. It’s also wider and thicker. The Note 20 Ultra is just a little bit taller however.

The S21 Ultra does have curved sides, which actually don’t dig into your hand as much as the squared off sides of the Note do, but the Note being thinner and lighter, I actually find it a little bit more comfortable to hold.

You might also like: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs iPhone 12 Pro Max

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note 20 Ultra: Display

Now let’s talk about the displays. The Note 20 Ultra has a slightly larger display, because it is taller at 6.9-inches vs 6.8-inches on the S21 Ultra. We also have Samsung’s Infinity-O design with the punch out and small bezels. I would say that the bezels are roughly about the same in both of these.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Display

Both displays do share a lot of similarities. We’ve got Dynamic AMOLED technology on both with a Quad HD+ resolution, and 1500 nits of peak brightness, which is absolutely awesome. Both devices do also support 120Hz refresh rate. However, there is a bit of a catch.

The S21 Ultra is the first Samsung device that can do 120 Hertz with Quad HD+ resolution at the same time. On the Note 20 Ultra, if you do activate 120Hz it automatically switches you down to FHD resolution. So it can’t do both at the same time, giving the S21 Ultra an edge.

We’ve got Gorilla Glass Victus on both devices. However, the Note 20 Ultra does have curved sides. On the he S21 Ultra, the edges are a little bit curved. I think this actually comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer more flatter displays, some prefer more curved displays.

Something that we have on both devices is an in display fingerprint sensor. However, we do have the newer Qualcomm Second Gen 3D Sonic Sensor on the S21 Ultra, compared it to the Gen One on the Note 20 Ultra. This is around 1.7 times larger, and it’s also 50% faster. With this, the S21 Ultra has less failures and this is another advantage that you get on the newer S21 Ultra compared to the Note 20 Ultra.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S21 Ultra: Camera Comparison

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note20 Ultra camera comparison
Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note20 Ultra camera comparison

Although they do share some similarities in cameras, there’s also lots of differences.

Primary Camera

We have a 108MP sensor on both devices with laser auto focus, which helps with focusing. Then we have a 12MP ultrawide camera on both, but the S21 Ultra has dual pixel auto focus on the ultrawide camera. Then we’ve got telephoto cameras. The Note 20 Ultra has a single 5x optical zoom Periscope camera. The S21 Ultra has two optical zoom cameras (3x and 10x).

In good lighting conditions or day-light, it’s very difficult to tell the difference between both of these. Both performs really good. The S21 Ultra maybe gets the slight edge for dynamic range. One area where I did definitely notice a difference was in low lights. The S21 Ultra does give you sharper and brighter images in low light compared to the Note 20 Ultra.

The Note20 Ultra a very large primary sensor, thus, sometimes when you are closer to a subject, things can started getting out of focus very quickly. And it also got a very shallow depth of field. Samsung has tried to address this on the S21 Ultra. So, if you do get within 30cm of a subject, it will switch on focus enhancer, which essentially switches to the ultrawide camera to keep more things in focus.

Ultrawide camera

For the ultrawide camera, again, I think both do a really good job, but the S21 Ultra has some better dynamic range. However, that that dynamic range can suffer with processing a little bit, because it boosts up the shadows.

Now let’s talk about the dual pixel auto focus. Having this on the ultrawide camera doubles it up as a macro camera too. This allows you to get some really interesting and close-up shots, which you won’t be able to do on the Note 20 Ultra. Not only that, there is also a focus in handsome mode.

Periscope camera

And then we’ve got the zoom cameras. At 3x you will be getting better results on the S21 Ultra because that is where the optical zoom camera kicks in.

At 5x, optical zoom, you will be getting slightly better results on the Note 20 Ultra because that is where it’s optical zoom camera kicks in, but at 10X, and anything above, the S21 Ultra really does shine. At 10x, a much sharper image is on the S21 Ultra because it is using that dedicated optical zoom.

At 30x, the S21 Ultra again giving you a much cleaner and sharper result, actually pretty usable here. Then the Note20 Ultra does max out at 50x zoom, where you still get better results on the S21 Ultra. But the S21 Ultra can go all the way up to 100x.

Front camera

For selfies we have a high resolution camera on the S21 Ultra but generally speaking, you will be shooting at around 10MP. And one new feature that I’m so happy that Samsung has bought to the S21 Ultra is the ability to choose either natural or bright selfies.

Samsung devices tend to brighten up selfies quite a bit, which I’m personally not a fan of. They have definitely improved this and I do prefer the skin tones on the S21 Ultra compared to that of the Note20 Ultra.

However, the Note20 Ultra did give sharper results from and sometimes colors was a bit more accurate on the Note20 Ultra. Although for skin tones, I did find S21 Ultra better, and I’m hoping that software updates will tune the selfie camera a little bit more of the S21 Ultra.

Videos

Talking about video, both smartphones can shoot great quality videos. They can both film at up to 8K 24 frames per second, but the S21 Ultra can film at 4K 60 fps across all the cameras. On the Note20 you can only film 4K at 60 fps from the front facing camera and the primary rear facing camera.

You’ve also got lots of new software features on the S21 Ultra like updated Single Take mode as well as Director’s view, which lets you preview the different lenses before you switch to them and also lets you record from two cameras at the same time. This is something that we don’t have here on the Note20 Ultra.

Performance and Software

We have the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or the Exynos 2100 on S21 Ultra. On the Note 20 Ultra we have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ or the Exynos 990. Now this is a little bit complicated, but I will try to break it down in the best way possible.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

As you guys may already know, Samsung has different chipsets based on different locations. The Qualcomm version is noticeably better in terms of performance as well as battery life, compared to the Exynos version. Samsung has also made lots of improvements to the Exynos 2100. But generally speaking, both of these are excellent in terms of performance.

Obviously, the S21 Ultra with the newer chipsets will be better in terms of performance. The claimed differences are around 25% better CPU performance and up to 35% better GPU performance. The S21 Ultra is going to be a better performer in this section, compared to the Note 20 Ultra.

Both of these do have Samsung’s OneUI on top of Android 11. The Note20 Ultra has now been updated to OneUI 3.0, which kind of brings it in line with the S21 Ultra. One of the things that you will have to bear in mind is that the S21 Ultra will be getting updates longer compared to the Note 20 Ultra because it is the newer device.

Battery and Charging

One of the other differences that you will find, based on the chipset, is battery life. Both of these have excellent battery life. The S21 Ultra does have a larger battery size compared to the Note 20 Ultra, but as always it’s not just about numbers. It does come down to usage.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note 20 Ultra

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ version of the Note 20 Ultra will give overall better battery life compared to the Exynos S21 Ultra. However, the S21 Ultra Exynos version does give you better battery life compared to the Note 20 Ultra Exynos version.

I have actually covered the differences between the Exynos and the Qualcomm Note 20 Ultra in my in-depth Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review.

Both devices do support 25W wired charging but there’s a catch. You do not get the charger out of the box on the S21 Ultra. Samsung actually made fun of Apple for not including it and just a few months later they are now not including it with the S21 Ultra.

So you may have to go and get that separately, if you don’t already have one at home. If you do pick up the Note 20 Ultra, then it is likely to come with a charger out of the box.

Both devices do have the same speed (15W) of wireless charging, and both devices also have reverse wireless charging, wireless power share, where you can charge other devices on the back of these.

Note 20 Ultra vs S21 Ultra: S-Pen

One of the reasons why the Note 20 Ultra has a smaller battery compared to the S21 Ultra is because it has an embedded S-Pen. The Note series is known for the S Pen, and it’s something that I find super useful. However, this year Samsung has also bought S Pen support to the S21 Ultra. You can actually use the S-Pen from the Note20 Ultra on the S21 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra S Pen

But there’s a few important things to note. Firstly, of course for the S21 Ultra, you will have to buy that S-Pen separately. It is a little bit larger, and because there isn’t really any space in the housing of the S21 Ultra to have the S-Pen you will have it bundled with a case.

Now that case is obviously going to add more size to the already big S21 Ultra, something you have to bear in mind. On the Note 20 Ultra, the S-pen that is included, does have Bluetooth, but the S-Pen of S21 Ultra doesn’t support Bluetooth. Now there will be the S-Pen Pro, coming on later in the year, that does have Bluetooth.

Connectivity, RAM and Storage

We’ve got stereo speakers on both as well one in the earpiece, and on one bottom firing. They both sound absolutely great. Both devices also have support for Ultra Wideband technology. This will allow you to do things like use your smartphone as a touchless key for your car, as and when other products are available.

The S21 Ultra is the world’s first smartphone to support HyperFast Wi-Fi 6E, which can be up to four times faster compared to standard Wi-Fi. But you will need a specific route for that.

Finally, let’s talk about the storage and the price. Both of these are available in three different storage options, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. However, the Note20 Ultra does get a big, big advantage here. It has a micro SD card slot.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs S21 Ultra

You can get around 1.5TB on the Note 20 Ultra, something you can’t do on the S21 Ultra, because that micro SD card has been discontinued. If you are somebody who absolutely needs a microSD card then clearly the Note20 Ultra is going to be the choice for you.

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note 20 Ultra: Price in India

RAM / ROMS21 UltraNote20 Ultra
12GB + 256 GB₹105,999₹104,999
16GB + 512GB₹116999₹115,990
Indian Pricing of Galaxy S21 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note 20 Ultra: Conclusion

Both of these phones share so many of same features that it doesn’t make sense to upgrade from the Note 20 Ultra to the S21 Ultra if you already have one. But improvements in the camera, software and display was enough to sway me to choose the S21 Ultra if I was looking for the best overall Galaxy experience.

Having said that, the Note 20 Ultra is not a bad device. It comes at a lower price, and you might get a good deal for it. It is still a really good device. If you pick it up right now, I don’t think you’ll have any regrets. It’s a very capable device, and it also has a micro SD card slot, and you’ll also get a charger out of the box.

But anyway, that’s what I think. What do you guys think? Do drop me a comment below and let me know your thoughts. I hope you enjoyed this Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note 20 Ultra comparison and found it useful. If you did, then don’t forget to give it a share.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note 20 Ultra: Specifications Comparison

SpecsGalaxy S21 UltraGalaxy Note 20 Ultra
Display6.8 inches, QHD+, 120Hz
Dynamic AMOLED 2X
6.9 inches, QHD+, 120Hz
Dynamic AMOLED 2X
SoftwareAndroid 11, One UI 3.1Android 11, One UI 3.0
RAM12GB, 16GB12GB
ROM128GB, 256GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB
SoCExynos 2100
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Exynos 990
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
GPUMali-G78 MP14
Adreno 660
Mali-G77 MP11
Adreno 650
Front camera40 MP, f/2.210 MP, f/2.2
Rear cameras 108 MP, f/1.8 (wide)
10 MP, f/4.9 (periscope telephoto)
10 MP, f/2.4 (telephoto)
12 MP, f/2.2 (ultrawide)
108 MP, f/1.8 (wide)
12 MP, f/3.0 (periscope telephoto)
12 MP, f/2.2 (ultrawide)
Video Features8K@24fps,
4K@30/60fps,
1080p@30/60/240fps,
720p@960fps,
HDR10+, stereo sound rec., gyro-EIS & OIS
8K@24fps,
4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps,
720p@960fps,
HDR10+, stereo sound rec., gyro-EIS & OIS
BatteryLi-Ion 5000 mAh, non-removableLi-Ion 4,500 mAh, non-removable
ChargingFast charging 25W
Fast Qi wireless charging 15W
Reverse wireless charging 4.5W
Fast charging 25W
Fast Qi wireless charging 15W
Reverse wireless charging 4.5W
SensorsFingerprint (under display, ultrasonic), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometerFingerprint (under display, ultrasonic), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer

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