Samsung Galaxy Note 20 review: lacking any real punch

Who is the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 for?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is a high-end smartphone that was launched on August 5, 2020. It is just accessible in a single 256GB/8GB reminiscence configuration. You can select between 4G and 5G fashions: the 4G model prices £849, whereas selecting up the 5G mannequin would set you again by £949.

I used this smartphone for greater than Three weeks after I panned it slightly vocally – that is one thing that I’m not going to cover from when it was first introduced. Hence, I attempted to method it with out any prejudice. However, objectivity is one thing that may be laborious to pin down in journalism – I bear in mind considered one of my professors when pursuing my Master’s diploma, saying that the aim is “to approach a matter as objectively as possible.”

This specific mantra makes it all of the extra necessary to observe in a evaluation, with out having to depend on my private feeling. There is a should be truthful in doing so, to take a step again and counterbalance your bias. And I’ve had time to reconcile with myself a few of the flaws of the Note 20 that I discovered unforgivable only a month in the past.

However, I did discover it slightly difficult to finish this text because the product didn’t encourage me. The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is an effective smartphone, make no mistake about it, however the complete lack of ambition doesn’t make it a superb flagship in 2020. Unless the stylus is a must have buy in your listing of standards, the Note 20 isn’t any extra related than a Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, and even much less so than the S20 Fan Edition.

What I like about Samsung Galaxy Note 20…

Its high quality OLED show regardless of the 60 Hz refresh fee

The distinction in vary between the fundamental Galaxy Note 20 and the Ultra model may be very clear from the outset.
Instead of sporting 4K decision, there are solely 2400 x 1080 pixels crammed into 6.7-inches of viewing real property whereas sporting a refresh fee of 60 Hz as an alternative of 120 Hz. This continues to be a selection that I can not perceive, particularly when you’ve gotten a 120 Hz refresh fee on the bottom Galaxy S20 mannequin.

The absence of curved edges is fully forgivable although. This is particularly so because it’s fairly trendy recently to “hate” curved screens, heaven is aware of why. All in all, the Galaxy Note 20’s show might clearly not be all that unhealthy, as it is a Samsung handset that we’re referring to!

The distinction ranges of an OLED show makes it a shocking performer whereas the brightness ranges might be pushed to the intense, permitting the weather on the show to at all times stay legible, even if you find yourself utilizing it below direct daylight. There is a small punch gap situated on the prime middle section of the show which doesn’t intrude an excessive amount of with immersion while you’re enjoying a sport or watching a video.

The OLED show on the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is good and well-calibrated, however I miss the 120 Hz refresh fee. / © NextPit

By default, the smartphone is calibrated in vivid show mode with the white steadiness set to the center. I discovered that the colours tended to veer barely towards blue tones, which could be a little chilly however you’ll be able to simply carry slightly extra heat through the settings.

So it is superb for a Samsung show. But, on the danger of getting booed within the feedback, I actually had a tough time having fun with the 60 Hz refresh fee for such a show, regardless of how good and well-calibrated it’s.

Solid efficiency, however the Exynos 990 continues to be beneath par

While we might have hoped for an Exynos 992 processor working proceedings for the Galaxy Note 20 beneath the hood, which is considerably an overclocked model of the S20 collection SoCs, Samsung determined to go forward with the Exynos 990 SoC. The processor is right here mated to eight GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256 GB of space for storing which can’t be additional expanded through a microSD reminiscence card slot.

This means there isn’t any Snapdragon 865 chipset – no less than not in Europe the place, earlier than the latest launch of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, you had to purchase a foldable smartphone from Samsung in an effort to take pleasure in Qualcomm’s processor, which is much extra highly effective than their very own Exynos chipset.

I’ll allow you to examine the benchmark scores of the Galaxy Note 20 with the Ultra mannequin (Exynos 990) and with one other Android mannequin geared up with the Snapdragon 865. Overall, we find yourself with stable efficiency figures. I am unable to severely listing the marginally lesser efficiency of the Exynos 990 in opposition to the Snapdragon 865 as a defect.

The navigation may be very fluid, even when multitasking. And essentially the most demanding of video games like Fortnite or Call of Duty Mobile are launched with graphics and FPS at most by default. We’re undoubtedly on a high-end chip, it doesn’t matter what our detractors say, together with me.

Samsung Galaxy S20 benchmark outcomes in contrast:

  Galaxy Note 20 Galaxy S20 OnePlus 8 Pro Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme ES 3.1 6227 6187 7122


3D Mark Sling Shot Vulkan 6205 5285 6613


3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.0 7713 7462 8864


Geekbench 5 (Single / Multi) 569/2485 896 / 2737 887 / 3313

735 / 2508

GoMark Memory 16116 22045 27118


GoMark Disk 99506 36311 50083 98122

But it nonetheless ticks me off to assume that within the US, Galaxy Note 20 house owners are entitled not simply to the Snapdragon 865, however to its overclocked model, the Snapdragon 865+. In my opinion, it’s merely unfair to promote two totally different merchandise with totally different performances on the identical value by claiming that they’re comparable.

The versatile digital camera module

The Galaxy Note 20 is supplied with three cameras at the again. One will thus discover from prime to backside:

  • 12 MP ultra-wide-angle lens, 13 mm equal (f/2.2)
  • 12 MP wide-angle primary lens, 26 mm equal (f/1.8)
  • 64 MP wide-angle lens devoted to 3x zoom, 28 mm equal (f/2.0)

Also learn: Smartphone digital camera aperture information: What does F1.7 really do?

NextPit samsung galaxy note 20 camera
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 doesn’t have a devoted telephoto lens for its 3x zoom. / © NextPit

So as an alternative of a telephoto lens, right here we find yourself with a 64-megapixel sensor, with a excessive definition, and a wide-angle lens however can also be not the primary lens (while you take common images). The default primary lens is the 12-megapixel wide-angle sensor.

During the day below good lighting situations, the outcomes are clearly superb as Samsung has proven that they’re able to some slightly beautiful images prior to now. The colours at all times stand out slightly extra in comparison with the opposite producers, however it’s a selection that I recognize. We have a slightly broad dynamic vary, whereas the extent of element is greater than passable.

The footage are very brilliant, whatever the lens used and there may be consistency from one sensor to a different by way of colorimetry (beneath are three images taken in 0.6x/12 MP, 1x/12 MP, and 3x/64 MP, clockwise from prime).

samsung galaxy note 20 photo day1
The triple digital camera module of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is nothing particular, however it’s environment friendly and versatile. / © NextPit

In phrases of zoom functionality, the 64-megapixel lens supplies a hybrid 3x zoom with out affected by any lack of element, no less than in line with Samsung. In real-life use, I discovered that the promise was saved fairly properly. But as quickly as you transcend the bounds of “optical” magnification, issues do go unsuitable.

To carry out its hybrid zoom after which totally digital zoom as soon as goes previous the 3x mark, Samsung’s picture software program crops the 64-megapixel picture, enlarges, and reframes it. Needless to say, the 10x and 30x magnifications are unusable and are merely a advertising and marketing gimmick.

samsung galaxy note 20 photo zoom
The hybrid 3x zoom of the 64 MP lens presents good outcomes, however the degree of particulars degrades an excessive amount of to be of any use at 10x or 30x. / © NextPit

At evening, the primary 12 MP sensor does slightly poorly by itself, however the Night Mode does a good job of patching up any shortcomings. From a photograph that’s drowned out by digital noise, with zero spikes you find yourself with a much more legible rendering – which could possibly be deemed to be slightly easy, though the smartphone does gentle up the scene slightly properly.

The good factor is that the Night Mode works properly on all three lenses of the digital camera module. And it isn’t too aggressive. Yes, it does smoothen the picture, however it would not attempt to present what the attention is unable to see, not like different rivals in its class. It does sufficient to light up shadows and material with out burning out the brilliant areas. This helps it keep the impression of an evening shot, as an alternative of a photograph that was taken in broad daylight.

samsung galaxy note 20 photo night
The evening mode of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 limits the breakage in your evening pictures very properly. / © NextPit

What I do not just like the Samsung Galaxy Note 20…

Its tendency to overheat limits efficiency

This is one massive flaw within the Exynos 990 and one which I will not dwell on in order that this evaluation would not flip into yet one more one which no one will need to learn: overheating.
It is that this specific burden that the Exynos has been carrying round for a number of years. In considered one of my articles on the subject of gaming efficiency of smartphones, I instructed you about “thermal throttling.”

This is a mechanism that reduces efficiency by reducing the clock pace of the CPU cores and even shutting down its cores to cut back warmth build-up and forestall overheating. Almost all smartphones now flip themselves off after they get too scorching, for instance.

Except that the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 does warmth up method too quick than anticipated. So a lot in order that, and I haven’t got the instruments to measure the speed of overheating and due to this fact display it with certainty. In reality, I got here away with the impression that I needed to cease utilizing it after only a few minutes of gaming.

On Fortnite, which has a local FPS counter and with the graphics cranked up all the way in which to the utmost degree, I used to be simply working at 60 FPS however suffered heavy frame-rate drops as soon as I acquired previous the half-hour mark. The identical might be mentioned for Call of Duty Mobile, the place I felt slowdowns after 1 hour of play the place every thing else labored nice earlier than that.

Even while you replace the smartphone or obtain an app, the smartphone tends to warmth up actually quick. So once I actually wished to play CoD at evening on my method house from the workplace, I’d change to the Asus ROG Phone Three simply to keep away from any slowdowns and even worse – a complete shutdown.

The greatest option to get essentially the most out of your smartphone

Apple has been mocked lots prior to now for the ridiculous battery lifetime of its iPhone. But the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 frankly fares no higher by at present’s requirements.

But with a traditional, and even reasonable use of three hours of display time, the smartphone falls beneath the 15% remaining battery life mark in a matter of simply 12 hours. That’s a full day’s use, no extra, no much less. It’s a far cry from different rivals which are simply as costly.

samsung galaxy note 20 battery life
Even with reasonable use, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 doesn’t final all day. / © NextPit

On the PC Mark benchmark that we use at NextPit, which simulates an unrealistic however slightly intensive utilization sample, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 held slightly greater than 10 hours out of the three assessments, which have been spaced 4 or 5 days aside from one another, that I used to be in a position to launch throughout my Three weeks of use (10:30, 9:43, 10:11).

When it involves charging, Samsung supplies a 25W charger. That’s not a lot, particularly while you examine it to some smartphones that now supply 40W and even 65W chargers. Starting from a 20% cost, it took me greater than an hour (1 hour 10 minutes) to achieve 100% battery life. That’s not unhealthy for a 25W charger, however much more reasonably priced fashions are in a position to do a lot better.

This is a very massive flaw for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20. What makes it much more disappointing can be the overheating issues which are associated to the SoC. The overheating happens solely after a slightly intensive use with resource-intensive video games. Here, the battery life lags behind even with a extra standard utilization sample in comparison with what an everyday consumer would have put it by means of.

The S-Pen is simply one other gadget

I can totally perceive the curiosity of getting a stylus and I don’t in any method query the love that some customers have for this accent.

And I don’t deny both that Samsung has improved its recipe as soon as once more for the reason that earlier technology Galaxy Note 10. The S-Pen is one of the best of its sort available on the market and on the Android platform.

But I’ll be trustworthy, I barely used it after my first few days into the evaluation. In reality, I even forgot it even existed, and so uncommon have been the conditions by which I used to be prone to want it every day, aside from the evaluation.

NextPit Samsung Galaxy Note 20 notes
The S-Pen just isn’t a robust sufficient promoting level for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 for my part. / © NextPit

Screenshots, feedback, animated scribbles, written notes: every thing might be copied as textual content on the contact of a finger. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) works very well and it is fairly cool to have the ability to flip your handwritten notes into PDF paperwork to ship them by e mail.

I’ve tried it just a few instances to take notes throughout on-line keynotes when I’m normally ready for the abstract press launch (however shhh, hold it right here between us). The skill to make partial screenshots was additionally fairly cool to reap the benefits of.

samsung galaxy note 20 s pen
The S-Pen is a superb accent and stuffed with options, however I discovered it forgettable. / © NextPit

But “Air Gestures”, that are gestures made with the S-Pen that Samsung launched final yr on the Note 10, are nonetheless of little curiosity to me. What pursuits me even much less can be to take images by casting Expelliarmus and Avada Kedavra spells with a ‘magic wand’ in entrance of my show.

I might discover using the S-Pen to be much more related on a bigger show like a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, for instance. Hence I don’t deny it of its qualities. It’s an adjunct that has its usefulness and a few fascinating options below the best situations. And it is rather apparent for all to see that Samsung has completed numerous work on it.

But this stylus is much too forgettable for me. If that is the important thing argument to carry house the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, I’ve as a lot use for this S-Pen as I’ve for my assortment of White Pepper fountain pens collected throughout my school years.

Its plastic design

I’ve been bitching lots in regards to the plastic again of the Galaxy Note 20 when it was first launched. After testing it, I’ve calmed down a bit, and the smartphone stays elegant total. I do remorse the truth that the perimeters should not as angular as on the Note 10.

But we’re taking a look at a clear flagship design, the place there may be nothing protruding. The grip is slightly commendable whereas the metallic edges carry a premium contact to compensate for the “Fairphone 3” impact of the PLASTIC again! Matte plastic will little question have fewer fingerprints to catch, after all, whereas making room for wi-fi charging, this I admit.

NextPit Samsung Galaxy Note 20 back
Not essentially a deal-breaker, however the plastic again of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 did not enchantment to me. / © NextPit

But it’s plastic all the identical on the finish of the day, and on a smartphone sells for a whopping €1,000 ($1,167)! Calm down Antoine, it isn’t so unhealthy. And in fact, it actually is not. Yes, I exaggerate once I discuss in regards to the Fairphone Three impact. We’re not there but both. The design would not look low-cost. I simply remorse that we did not get a extra premium materials at this value level. Especially when, as soon as once more, Samsung did place the glass on the again of its primary Galaxy S20 mannequin.

I additionally give Samsung a thumbs up for the thinness of its digital camera module on the again. The latter has the advantage of not taking over an excessive amount of area.

Its value, which has no relevance

“Yes, the price of Galaxy Note 20 will drop quickly. A recommended retail price of £849 will appeal to operators, who will then be able to offer their customers a device with probably spectacular margins. But you’ll probably be able to get the smartphone for £200-£300 less within a few months.”

This is what my colleague Stefan wrote final August in his tackle the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 which had simply been launched. And he wasn’t unsuitable, fairly the opposite.

Except for the truth that the worth of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, even when it have been to drop to £650, is now not related at present. Because this week alone, Samsung introduced the discharge of its Galaxy S20 Fan Edition with Snapdragon 865 at £699 for the 5G model.

samsung galaxy s20 fe back
When in comparison with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition, the Galaxy Note 20 has misplaced all relevance. / © Samsung

So why select the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, which is dearer and with a much less highly effective processor? The query shouldn’t even be mooted for my part, therefore it doesn’t want a solution. I sincerely doubt that the addition of a stylus will make the distinction between the Galaxy Note 20 and the S20 FE.

I discovered that the Note 20 was already irrelevant when it was launched, being little greater than an S20 with an S-Pen however with some key options lacking, similar to a 120Hz refresh fee. But subsequent to the just lately introduced Galaxy S20 FE, I can inform you with out hesitation that the Note 20 has completely no place in Samsung’s catalog.

The advertising and marketing across the 50x zoom is slightly foolish

The Galaxy Note 20 follows within the doubtful footsteps of the S20 in February. Samsung marketed the smartphone to come back with a “30x spatial zoom”; with a 1.06x optical zoom – we’d assume that the digital camera {hardware} needs to be equivalent to the S20.

To get hold of a digital/hybrid magnification of 30x from the 1x optical zoom of the 64MP primary sensor, the magnification should be multiplied by 30. Now, every time a magnification is carried out, the picture decision is split by the sq. of the magnification. Basically, if I’ve a 64MP sensor, a 30x zoom divides the decision by 302 or 30×30, or 900.

With 30x zoom, we find yourself with 71 “kilopixels”. This corresponds roughly to the QVGA decision of 320×240 pixels. 1995 referred to as and desires its decision again.

NextPit samsung galaxy note 20 30x space zoom
Honestly, overlook the 30x zoom ‘characteristic’. / © NextPit

Of course, this isn’t new by way of promoting. Also, Samsung just isn’t the primary producer to undertake such methods. But it would not appear to get any higher. I want the corporate would drop this sort of advertising and marketing lingo.

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