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Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 20 lineup is more laptop-lite than phone


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Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 20 lineup is more laptop-lite than phone

On Wednesday, Samsung took to the “stage” at its virtual Unpacked event to unveil the latest additions to the Galaxy Note family: the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra.  Yes, much like it did with the Galaxy S20 lineup from earlier this year, Samsung has jumped from the Note 10 moniker all the way up…

Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 20 lineup is more laptop-lite than phone

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On Wednesday, Samsung took to the “stage” at its virtual Unpacked event to unveil the latest additions to the Galaxy Note family: the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra

Yes, much like it did with the Galaxy S20 lineup from earlier this year, Samsung has jumped from the Note 10 moniker all the way up to 20 to signify the line’s feature upgrades. Both the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra have improved cameras, enhanced S-Pen capabilities, higher refresh rates, and support for 5G. 

With different configurations available, pricing will vary, but expect the base model Note 20 to start at $999, while the Note 20 Ultra will start at $1,299. Both phones will go on pre-order on August 6, with in-store availability set for August 21.

While there aren’t that many differences between the two phones, here’s a rundown of their respective features sets.

A revamped design and display

The Note 20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch Quad HD+ edge-to-edge display (496 ppi), while the Note 20 has a 6.7-inch flat FHD+ display (393 ppi). Essentially, this means the Note 20 Ultra has a sharper, more boxy look than the curved Note 20 as you can see in the photos below.

Both phones make use of Samsung’s signature Infinity-O displays, resulting in minimal bezels all around. They also boast HDR10+ certification for dynamic contrast, and a 10-megapixel hole-punch selfie camera. There is a difference in refresh rates though — the Note 20 offers 60Hz while the Note 20 Ultra offers 120Hz.

Ah yes, that 120Hz refresh rate.

Ah yes, that 120Hz refresh rate.

Image: brenda stolyar / mashable

Though the Note 20 Ultra isn’t that much larger than last year’s Note 10+, which featured a 6.8-inch display, its “smaller” sibling, the Note 20, is certainly larger than the 6.3-inch Note 10. So, you can expect bigger phones all around.

And, as with the S20 lineup, Samsung’s revamped the design of the Note’s camera sensors. Unlike the pill-shaped modules on the Note 10 lineup (and prior Note models), the Note 20’s rear camera module is more rectangular and modern-looking.

As for color options, the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra will be available in Mystic Bronze and Mystic Gray. But the Note 20 will also have a Mystic Green variant, while the Ultra will be offered in Mystic White, as well. 

About that S-Pen…

Of course, the Note 20 would be nothing without its S-Pen. 

For this year’s lineup, Samsung didn’t completely revamp its stylus’ capabilities, but it did add a new feature called Anywhere Actions which allows you to move the pen and trigger quick actions like taking a screenshot or returning to the Home screen. 

That’s in addition to Air Actions, a feature introduced last year with the Note 10, which instead focuses more on camera shortcuts. Using the S Pen’s motion controls, you’ll be able to wirelessly launch the Note 20’s camera or even  switch between camera modes.

Improved latency and new features.

Improved latency and new features.

Image: brenda stolyar / mashable

Samsung claims the Note 20 features a 40 percent improvement in S-Pen latency as compared to the Note 10. That figure jumps up to 80 percent on the Note 20 Ultra, but we’ll have to test all of that out ourselves in our upcoming review. 

The company also announced a new live sync feature for the Samsung Notes app. Regardless of whether you’re using a PC, tablet, or phone, your notes will sync across all devices as long as you’re logged into your Samsung account.

Additional features include the ability to highlight or annotate specific parts of PDFs, and also look up specific parts of recorded audio based on the notes you jot down. So, all you have to do is tap on a particular word and the Notes app will automatically match it to that part of the recording. 

Far more intense cameras 

The Note 20 Ultra features a triple-camera setup that consists of a 108-megapixel wide-angle lens with f/1.8 aperture, a 120-degree 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens with f/2.2 aperture, and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with f/3.0 aperture.

Plenty of powerful camera sensors.

Plenty of powerful camera sensors.

Image: brenda stolyar / mashable

If that at all sounds familiar, it’s because that massive 108-megapixel wide-angle lens was first introduced with the Galaxy S20 Ultra back in February. And, while the Note 20 Ultra also features Space Zoom — a combination of optic zoom technology with software-based, AI-powered digital zoom — it’s not the same 100x lossless zoom as seen on the S20 Ultra. Instead, you’ll have up to 50x Space Zoom and 5x optical zoom with optical image stabilization (OIS).

As for the Note 20, it also packs a triple-camera setup on the back complete with a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens (f/2.2), a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens (f/1.8), and a 64-megapixel telephoto lens (f/2.0). Its zoom capabilities are much less ambitious, however, with up to 30x zoom possible using the telephoto lens.

The Note 20 Ultra features a 108-megapixel sensor.

The Note 20 Ultra features a 108-megapixel sensor.

Image: brenda stolyar / mashable

The new sensors on both Note 20 models are a huge upgrade from their predecessors. Last year’s Note 10 and 10+ both featured a 12-megapixel main lens and telephoto lens, along with a 16-megapixel ultra-wide lens. The 10+ went a step further with the addition of a VGA-resolution “DepthVision” time of flight (ToF) lens. 

In terms of the Note 20 lineup’s video prowess, both phones have the ability to record in 8K (24fps) with a 21:9 aspect ratio. There’s also a Pro Video mode which allows you to shoot videos at up to 120fps with more control over zoom speed, exposure, lighting, and audio. And with multi-source mic control, you can record multiple audio sources, select the output, and even cut out background noise.

Again, whether or not any of these features work well remains to be seen. You’ll just have to sit tight and wait for us to put these phones through the right tests.

What’s under the hood?

Remember how we mentioned support for 5G? Well, that’s made possible by Qualcomm’s latest chip, the Snapdragon 875+, which is found in both the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. And, now for the good news: In addition to sub-6 5G (that’s the “slower” version), both phones are also compatible with the mmWave band, meaning you’ll be able to take advantage of ludicrously fast speeds. Of course, that’s if 5G is even live in your area right now.

There are also different memory and storage options to consider depending on which model you’re looking to purchase. The Note 20 is only available in one configuration: 8GB RAM /128GB storage. Whereas the Note 20 Ultra comes with 12GB RAM and a choice of either 128GB or 512GB of storage space.

As for battery life, there’s not all that much difference between the two handsets. The Note 20 packs a considerable 4,300mAh battery, while the Note 20 Ultra improves upon that slightly with a larger 4,500mAh battery. Both are compatible with Samsung’s Wireless PowerShare feature, which allows you to power your other devices by placing them on the back of the phone.

We'll see if we can actually find that 5G, though.

We’ll see if we can actually find that 5G, though.

Image: brenda stolyar / mashable

The Note 20 series is also compatible with Samsung DeX, a desktop-like experience that enables users to connect their phone to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. With this feature, users will be able to wirelessly connect either Note 20 phone to a Samsung Smart TV. So, you no longer have to worry about finding a compatible cable or dongle to cast your phone to your TV.

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Samsung also upgraded support for its Link to Windows feature, which allows you to mirror your Note 20 to any Windows 10 PC. That way, you don’t have to take your phone out to access all your apps, photos, and messages. 

The last feature worth noting is Nearby Share which is exclusive to the Note 20 Ultra since it has Ultra Wideband Technology (UWB) built-in. It’s basically the equivalent to Apple’s AirDrop, allowing users to share content and files with any other UWB-enabled Galaxy device. 

So far, so good..?

We'll definitely put these two through their paces.

We’ll definitely put these two through their paces.

Image: brenda stolyar / mashable

The Galaxy S20 lineup may still be relatively fresh in our minds, but that hasn’t stopped Samsung from moving on to its latest and greatest mobile offering… and bringing some of those familiar specs along, too. Regardless, the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra still represent a fairly major upgrade over their predecessors, setting a new high-water mark for the entire Galaxy family. 

Of course, we’re going to have to put the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra through their paces to determine whether or not they’re even worth the upgrade from your current device (Galaxy or not). 

For now, you can look forward to pre-ordering the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra on August 6, with nationwide retail availability set for August 21. 

Be sure to check back for our full reviews of the Note 20 lineup very soon.

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