Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review: Power-packed mobile

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review: Power-packed flagship phone

Prior to the S20 series launch in March 2020, there were a lot of conflicting reports in the media whether Samsung will continue with the numerical chronology by announcing S11 as the successor to the popular S10 series, or the company would make a leap to S20 range to match with the calendar year.

As it happened, Samsung went for the latter, and in order to convince the prospective consumer that the latest model has got not only a significant upgrade over the predecessor but also outrank the rival brands.

It came up with S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra with variation in configurations and offer multiple options as per consumer's need.

On paper, the new Galaxy S20 Ultra is the most beefed-up phone to date from Samsung. It has a high capacity RAM, storage and battery, powerful camera, latest processor, best display, and more, that can outrank almost every premium Android phone in the market.  But, does it really deliver the goods. Let's find out.

Design, build quality and display

As I said before, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is a massive upgrade over the S10 series in terms of spec-sheet and one can instantly feel the heavy-weight of the phone when held in hand. It is tall, wider and weighs almost a quarter of a Kg (220g to be specific).

It flaunts glossy shell with the metal-and-glass sandwich form factor. The company hasn't compromised in terms of materials used. The Galaxy S20 Ultra features aluminum-based chassis and is protected by Corning's latest and most durable shield Gorilla Glass 6 series on both the back and the front. This takes care of the daily wear and tear, avoid potential scratches from keys when kept in the pocket.


Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. Photo Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit)

Also, it comes with the IP68 rating, meaning the device survive water pressure up to 1.5 meters (around five feet) for close to 30 minutes.

On the back, the Galaxy S20 Ultra houses massive camera module, biggest I have seen on a phone. It protrudes a tad more than we see in a conventional mobile phone and thankfully, the company is offering a silicone-based transparent shell. It not only evens out the awkward protrusion but also saves us the time of wiping the fingerprint smudges off the back.

It also features a single-grille speaker at the base and I have to say, it is loud and is pleasant to the ears in terms of sound delivery be it acoustic or the vocals. The speaker shares the space at the base with a mic and a Type C port.

On the top, it houses a mic and a SIM tray. Whereas on the left, the phone has no buttons (Bixby assistant key gone for good) and has a clean smooth surface. On the opposite side, it has a tactile power and volume rockers, which respond fast to the finger press. 


Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. Photo Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

As far as the display is concerned, it is the best I have seen in the mobile phone this year. It was a feast for my eyes while watching movies on the massive 6.9-inch Quad HD+ (3200X1440p) Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display with HDR10+ certification. It offers near-accurate colours and when viewing contents, they come off crisp and sharp. I never felt the tiniest discomfort while watching multimedia contents even under bright sunlight.


Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra comes with top-notch super AMOLED display. Photo Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

It also supports up to 120Hz refresh rate, which comes handy while playing graphics-rich games, and browsing through the phone is superfluid.

Performance

In India, Samsung is shipping the Galaxy S20 Ultra with its in-house Exynos 990 (with 2.73 GHz Mongoose M5 x 2 cores + 2.50 GHz Cortex-A76 x 2 cores + 2.0 GHz Cortex-A55 x 4 cores) octa-core chipset. My review unit comes with a 12GB RAM+ 128GB (UFS 3.0) storage configuration backed by Android 10-based One UI 2.1.

The power-packed device worked fine without any fuss while doing daily chores such as taking a call, switching between multiple apps and calling.

And just for testing, I played the Asphalt 9- Legends Epic Arcade Car Racing Game for 20 minutes and I had a delightful experience, most importantly, it didn't overheat. Even during the camera session, the phone did get warm while using the 100X Space Zoom feature and 4K/8K video recording, but it never was overwhelming. 


Asphalt 9: Legends played on Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. Photo Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

On Geekbench 5.0, it scored 915 and 2801 points on single-core and multi-core tests respectively. And on 3D Mark-The Gamer's Benchmark, it got 6,548 and 5,170 points on Sling Shot Extreme- Open GL ES 3.1 and Sling Shot Extreme- Vulcan, respectively.

Must read | Samsung Galaxy A71 review: Reliable mid-range phone

Battery wise, it comes with a massive Li-Polymer 5,000mAh battery with 45W fast charging capability. During the test, it was able to fully power up the phone from zero to 100% in a little over 62 minutes.

As far as the battery life, it delivered a more than a day under normal usage. However, this aspect is very subjective, as it depends on how the user spends the day.
I, for instance, start using the phone from 9:00 am and go on till 11:30 pm. During the period, I browse through the news feeds on Facebook, Twitter and make Google search several times a day. In between, I receive at least five to 10 calls with an average of three to five minutes of talk time. I also did video calls for office meetings and personal calls with family members of 30 minutes a day.

As said before, I played a game and watched multimedia content for a maximum of one hour. 

Other notable aspects of the Galaxy S20 Ultra is that it comes with USB Power Delivery 3.0, 15W fast Qi/PMA wireless charging and 9W reverse wireless charging capability. Meaning, you can charge any phone that supports wireless charging by putting it on the back of the Samsung phone.

Must read | Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review: Fusion of retro and future

One qualm I have with the phone is the lack of IR-based facial recognition feature. It is a kind of damper for a phone marketed as the flagship phone that goes against Apple iPhone 11 Pro. But, it's not a dealbreaker as ultra-sound fingerprint sensor on the screen works fast and low False Rejection Ratio (FRR).

Camera:


Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra camera samples (DH Photo/KVN Rohit)

The highlight feature of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is the photography hardware. It boasts feature-rich quad-camera module-- with Ultra Wide 12MP (with f/2.2, 120-degree FOV)+ Wide-angle 108MP (with f/1.8, 79-degree, PDAF, OIS)+ Telephoto 48MP (with Phase Detection Auto Focus, f/3.5, 24-degree, OIS) + DepthVision, Super-Resolution Zoom up to 100X, Hybrid Optic Zoom up to 10X and can even record 8K resolution videos.


Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra camera samples (DH Photo/KVN Rohit)

Samsung's phone took pretty good pictures in the natural light conditions and I have to note, the device had some issues with focusing but was fixed in a subsequent software update. The portrait mode, the night mode, wide-angle photos are nice and par with rival Android phones in the market.


Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra camera samples in Night Mode (DH Photo/KVN Rohit)

As far as the USP feature-- 100X Space Zoom is concerned, it gets big thumbs up from me. Yes, the maxed-out zoom has more noise than a normal photo, but I was able to identify the species of a bird in the below picture (FYI: It is the Red-Whiskered Bul Bul perched on top of the fifty-foot Christmas tree). That's a win for Samsung.


Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Zoom feature in action (DH Photo/KVN Rohit)

That doesn't end there. The company has incorporated lots of fancy camera effects including  AR Doodle, AR Emoji Camera, AR Emoji Stickers, AR Emoji Studio, Dico Pic, 3D Scanner, Quick Measure, and more that can turn a sombre video or photo session into a fun activity.


Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra camera samples (DH Photo/KVN Rohit)

The Galaxy S20 Ultra houses a 40MP front-facing camera with an 80-degree wide-angle lens and f/2.2 aperture. It takes decent selfies, but have to say that camera smoothens the skin. However, I am not complaining about this aspect, as the phone makes the subject look pretty and worthy to be shared on the social media channels.


Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Zoom feature (From left-- normal, 10X Zoom, 30X Zoom and 100X Zoom)

Final thoughts

Samsung has packed everything in the Galaxy S20 Ultra that a premium phone should have. During the entire testing period, it did not exhibit any pressing issues as such and yes, the 100X Zoom is worth the hype. 

Considering the over-all aspects, I rank the Galaxy S20 Ultra right at the top against any rival Android phones in the Indian market.

Must read | Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus review: Well-rounded premium phone

Pros:

Excellent display and praise-worthy build quality

Powerful processor configuration

Long-lasting battery

Camera hardware lives up to the hype

Cons:

Face recognition could have been better if the phone wants to compete against Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra (12GB RAM+ 128GB storage) costs Rs 97,999 in India.

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