What I have in my hands for review is the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G. The last I ever touched a Samsung smartphone was the Samsung Galaxy S7. With the implementation of 5G technology, improved camera system, and major revamp with OneUI 2.0, I’d be going through a full 3 generation gap. I’m expecting big changes from Samsung with the S20 Ultra, so let’s get straight to the nitty gritty.
|Display||6.9-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz Refresh Rate|
|Storage||128GB (up to 1TB microSD Expansion)|
|Camera (Rear)||108MP Wide|
10X Hybrid Optic Zoom
|Video||8K / 30fps|
|Misc||5G, Wireless Charging, Reverse Wireless Charging|
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is a mammoth of a phone. It doesn’t just have big numbers on its spec sheet, but it’s even bigger physically. It has a big screen, a thick body and camera bump. That being said, I felt that the device has just the right amount of chunkyness. For me, at least. It has the right amount of heft, feels nice when I hold it, and it fits nicely in my pocket.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a very sleek and minimalist design to it. Every button is well placed and it does its job perfectly. You have the SIM card slot on the top, with the USB Type-C port on the bottom part of the phone. Right beside the USB-C port, you’ll find the speaker grill and one of two microphones. Even when I’m holding the phone upright by resting it on my pinky finger, it doesn’t hurt my finger at all. It’s the small things that really gives the phone extra plus points.
The phone feels very nice in the hands, as it has full rounded edges on the sides of the phone. The device can get quite slippery at times, but that can easily be remedied by putting the transparent casing (provided in box) on the device.
OneUI 2.0 definitely improved a lot compared to when I last got in touch with Samsung’s OneUI. Changing from screen to screen, transitions feel more natural, icons and folders look way better, and it makes navigating through the phone a much more pleasant experience.
Once you go 120Hz, there is no turning back. I first got to try 120Hz refresh rate on a phone with the ROG Phone 2. Ever since then, I didn’t know how to use phones that had refresh rates less than 120.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G’s display had it and I absolutely fell in love with it. Not only do you get a large 6.9-inch crystal clear Super AMOLED screen, you get a buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate to go with it. The display is bright, and the colour reproduction is vividly natural. It kind of feels like being served a juicy chicken chop, together with a generous serving of gravy wedges, and a side of salad to perfect the meal.
The bezel on the sides are so thin, it gives a really immersive viewing experience when you’re using the phone. That being said, I do have fat hands. So when I’m holding the phone, it does occasionally register my palms for side gesture touches. I tried fixing this by reducing the sensitivity of the side touches in Settings, but to no avail.
I’m a big fan of Always On displays, and I’m glad the S20 Ultra’s AOD has a wide range of customisations to go with it. You can choose for it to be static, or have it animated the way you like it. You can even double-tap on the clock and swipe left or right for weather and music controls.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is a pleasant device to use as a daily driver. It’s nice to hold, with snappy performance, and a great camera. But, it does have its annoyances here and there.
I did mention that I love the S20 Ultra’s big display. However, even with my big hands, one-hand usability is quite poor. I’ve almost had to always use two hands to handle the phone. Or maybe it’s my fault that I don’t have bigger hands. But for someone with smaller hands, I can already see them having trouble using the device with one hand, and keeping it in their pocket.
The camera bump on the back of the phone can also get quite annoying. I understand that there’s a lot of sensors and features built into the phone’s camera system. But, it just feels so thick that it sometimes feel out of place, like it shouldn’t be there. When you place the phone on a flat surface, the phone would wobble because it’s lifted one side up by the camera bump.
Apart from that, I must say the vibration engine on the S20 Ultra is excessively strong. When a message comes in, the vibration sound is louder than the notification itself. So, when someone starts spamming me on WhatsApp or Messenger, the phone turns into a Toyota AE86 and starts drifting.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G does an excellent job of handling whatever you’re doing on the phone. Be it gaming, taking photos, videos, or just fumbling through an app, it gets the job done nicely. Navigating through the phone feels smooth, transitions feel very natural, thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate. Apps launch super fast, even switching between apps is a breeze.
However, I must say after prolonged use, the phone can get quite hot on the bottom top part of the device. It only takes a little while for the heat to dissipate, but it can be pretty uncomfortable to hold when it does get heated up.
There is also this weird animation lag that happens when you unlock the screen. Once you place your finger on the fingerprint sensor, it takes a while for it to scan your fingerprint and unlock the device. Then the phone displays a laggy animation before sending you into the home screen.
When I ran the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G through benchmarking apps – 3DMark and GeekBench 5 – here are the results:
- Marvel: Super War
- Arena of Valor
- Call of Duty: Mobile
- AFK Cats
- Rummy Pop
Gaming on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is absolutely brilliant. With the powerful GPU in the device and the high refresh rate on its large beautiful display, the gaming experience is fantastic. I play MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games mostly, like Marvel: Super War and Arena of Valor, and they look phenomenal. Just turn the graphic settings to the highest with high frame rate mode on, and you’re good to go. You can see the fine details, and pinpoint exactly where you want your skills to be executed.
Samsung also has the Game Launcher app, which consolidates all game apps into one place and provides additional game information. It shows you recommended games, daily play time, how many other Galaxy gamers are playing the same game as you, and etc.
The speakers on the Galaxy S20 Ultra are pretty loud. My volume is only at 30%, but I’d already have my wife who’s next to me, staring at me while I watch cat videos on Facebook. Audio quality wise, there is very little bass on the S20 Ultra. But, it does handle the mids and highs pretty well, so dialogue from videos can be clearly heard. If you pump the volume up past the 65% mark, it starts to get distorted a little.
There are two speakers on the S20 Ultra, one on the earpiece and another right beside the USB-C port. It produces okay amounts of stereo sound effects when it’s in landscape mode, but I still think audio from the S20 Ultra is best enjoyed while in portrait mode.
Another thing I appreciate about the S20 Ultra’s design is when I’m gaming, the bottom firing speaker is positioned right above my hands. That way, my palms don’t muffle the audio coming out of the device when I’m gaming or watching a video.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G takes great photos and videos with its penta camera system. You’ll get the:
- 108MP wide-angle camera
- 48MP telephoto camera
- 12MP ultra wide-angle camera
- 2 x DepthVision cameras
Photos are bright with great resolution captured. You can still see the details even after zooming in. On top of that, videos are smooth thanks to the OIS (optical image stabilisation) feature on the camera.
There are also additional features like Single Take, which helps you take multiple styles of shots with just the click of a button. I found that feature pretty useful, especially when I’m taking photos of my cat.
Unfortunately, the 100x Space Zoom feature didn’t work as well as I expected. Yes, it does get me 100x closer to my subject, but it’s not as clear as I’d hoped for it to be. You’d get better performance up to 30x zoom. Despite that, the camera UI does have this small viewfinder section in the camera UI that lets you see which area you’re zoomed into. I thought that was a pretty neat feature to be included in.
Sometimes and only sometimes, when you’re trying to take a photo, there’s an approximate 1-second shutter lag after you click the shutter button.
Check out some of the photos I took with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G below:
Seeing how we are stuck in the MCO (movement control order) period, I can’t bring the S20 Ultra out for a test in the real world. So, what I did was to emulate my daily life using a smartphone with two settings – Wi-Fi only, and Mobile Data only.
Here’s what my daily routine looks like in MCO:
- Wake up at 10am.
- Scroll social media and eCommerce apps till 11am.
- Get ready and go to work at my PC till 12.30pm.
- Play games and surf social media while having lunch till 2pm.
- Resume work at 2pm.
- Listen to music from my phone with the Galaxy Buds+ while I work till 5pm.
- Chill on the couch and surf social media and watch YouTube videos till 7pm-ish.
- Have dinner while playing games till 8pm.
- Netflix from then till 12pm.
- Surf social media and eCommerce sites till 1am then sleep.
- NOTE: Replying WhatsApp messages, taking calls, and replying emails are done throughout the entire day.
I start my day at 10am on a fully charged 5,000mAh battery. On Wi-Fi only, I am able to end my day at 1am with 35% battery. If I am solely on mobile data, I end my day at 1am with about 6% left right before I sleep. I’d say that the S20 Ultra’s battery performance does fairly well. That’s more than 12 hours of usage, and it still gets you through the day till you’re in bed.
It is worth mentioning that GPS tracking isn’t even used that much as Google Maps and Waze have been taken out of the picture with MCO going on. So if this review was done pre-MCO, I’d probably be surfing social media and gaming less, and more on using navigation apps instead.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is a smartphone that has a lot going for it. It’s a big device with plenty of features, but can sometimes be bogged down with said features. For the price of RM4,999, you’re getting a flagship device with 5G connectivity, best in class processor, a buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate with a crystal clear display, and an amazing 108MP penta camera system that does both photos and videos superbly well. Wouldn’t it be ULTRA enough for you?