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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review: whip-smart OS and futuristic camera tech

The Samsung S20 Ultra 5G in Cosmic Grey

The Samsung S20 Ultra 5G in Cosmic Grey   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra makes visual magic by combining 108MP, 100x zoom and 8K video

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra was announced, it seemed to be a smartphone that offered a memorable, long-haul experience for its buyer (one who has a pretty penny to spare). So when the review device finally arrived after the lockdown eased up, I was eager to find some flaws with this seemingly ostentatious device. The Samsung A and M series always tend to win hearts for their budget-minded devices, but obviously, the Galaxy whole series promises something ‘a cut above’, especially to loyal brand fanatics.

The Galaxy S20 Ultra weighs a comfortable 220 grams — comfortable considering its 6.9-inch screen size — and the finish is grip-friendly. I prefer to keep phones like this case-free simply because I do not want to hinder the sheen. The box does come with a transparent polymer case, for those who prefer the extra layer of carefulness. And with an original MRP of ₹1,03,000, the Galaxy S20 Ultra does offer some extras.

The display of the smartphone is stunning, offering a near bezel-less, full-frontal screen. And hats off to Samsung’s Eye Comfort Display which minimises the amount of harmful blue light. I found the display still sharp and bright but without the usual ache-inducing side effects. The default screen refresh rate is 60Hz, so if you want the throttle of 120Hz, you would have to go into settings to adjust accordingly.

  • Dimensions & weight: 166.9 x 76.0 x 8.8mm; 220g
  • Display: 6.9” Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X; Infinity-O Display (3200S20 5G440); 511 ppi; HDR10+ certified; 120Hz refresh rate support
  • Charging: Improved wireless charging speeds with Fast Wireless Charging 2.0; Fast Charging compatible on wired and wireless; Wireless PowerShare
  • Audio: UHQ 32-bit &DSD64/128 support; PCM: Up to 32 bits, DSD: DSD64/128
  • Camera intelligent features: Scene Optimizer; Shot suggestions; Flaw Detection
  • Security: Knox platform: real-time monitoring and protection; Virus, malware prevention. (Powered by McAfee); Secure Folder: a secure space on the device to isolate and protect content such as apps, photos, movies, and private files

While the Galaxy S20 battery is 4000mAh and Galaxy S20+ battery is 4,500mAh, the battery of the Galaxy S20 Ultra is a behemoth 5000mAh. With the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20+ supporting a maximum of 25W super fast charging, you can look forward to 45W super fast charging with the Galaxy S20 Ultra — it means a great all-day battery, considering the device sports a 120Hz refresh rate.

The battery is a major plus for the device, and so is Galaxy S20 series’ LPDDR5 RAM which helps load apps faster. Being significantly faster than the previous generation (LPDDR4X), Samsung’s LPDDR5, claims to reach a pin speed of 6,400 MB per second. S20 series’ RAM offers a 20% power reduction — unlike the 17% with the LPDDR4X — which means your frequently used apps get more mileage and practically no lag. This smart engineering on Samsung’s part is probably why the phone does not overheat.

The ultimate test for the aforementioned is obviously a heavy session or two of Fortnite. I was quite pleased with the smooth graphics, courtesy Samsung’s own HDR10+ format, and the refresh rate which kept the fun going. The sound of the Galaxy S20 Ultra is also impressive, and the in-box earphones by AKG are also pretty decent, though I would recommend pairing the device with the Galaxy Buds+ to get the full experience going.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review: whip-smart OS and futuristic camera tech

Samsung’s Knox platform offers many security bump-ups. While the face recognition is quick, the fingerprint sensor requires many taps which is frustrating, as not everyone is down for face recognition unlock on their devices.

A lot of smartphones with numerous cameras tend to keep the front camera uniform within a given series while bumping up the specs of the rear, but the Galaxy S20 Ultra has made sure you get a boost in the 40 megapixel front camera while the other S20 devices have a 10 megapixel.

A new level of zoom

A glance at the rear camera system is the phone’s main identifier but Samsung has managed to make sure that its camera system is thankfully not gimmicky. The rear system comprises a 12 megapixel ultra-wide, a 108 megapixel wide-angle, a 48 megapixel telephoto and a depth-vision camera. Then there is the space zoom which has a hybrid optic zoom of 10x and the super-resolution zoom of 100x, the latter being the hotseller for the device itself… and it works. While going out and about to test the zoom in a park or during a trip is not possible now, I found using it during terrace shots was quite insightful. I had taken a photo of a restaurant balcony about 0.85 kilometres away and found I was able to zoom in on the details of what sat on said balcony ledge. I am looking forward to test this feature out more as the lockdown eases further.

The rear camera system of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G

The rear camera system of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

One of my favourite additions to the S20 series is Single Take. With all the lockdown birthdays, anniversaries and other moments worth recording in many mediums, the Single Take lets you capture moments in an all-in-one format. Blowing out the candles on a cake became a breeze to record; I was able to get a time-lapse video, a normal video and about five photos of that specific moment, cutting down the need for a re-do. This is where Samsung’s AI and Machine Learning capabilities shine, as the system learns how to help the user record the best of a given occasion without fussing with the device. However, there are moments when you have to be a little patient with Single Take on the rare occasion it glitches.

Video-wise, I was quite pleased with the 8K resolution capabilities (with 24 frames per second), as minute details come up crisp, but I am yet to fully experiment with the video facilities.

Samsung lovers and even those new to the Samsung ecosystem may find themselves dazzled by the promise of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, and rightfully so. With the influx of smartphone releases this summer, this one is a competitive device, which is sure to find many homes.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is available for ₹97,999, at all major online and offline authorised retailers.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this review had mentioned the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, which was the device reviewed by The Hindu; this device is not available in India as of yet but the specs, pricing, availablity mentioned above is the same as those of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. In India, Galaxy S20 Ultra is 4G compatible.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 4:11:48 AM |

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