Here is how Samsung's latest flagship phone stacks up to its predecessor
Samsung has revealed the new Galaxy S20 and S20 Ultra smartphones, at its online Unpacked product launch event.
Launched after leaking widely online, the new phone comes with all of the usual Note hallmarks, including a large screen, powerful processor, impressive camera, and S Pen stylus. New for the Note 20 is a bronze-gold color option, plus green, white and black.
Here is how the new $1,000 Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and the new $1,300 Note 20 Ultra compare to their predecessors, the Note 10 and Note 10 Plus:
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs Galaxy Note 10: Design and dimensions
The biggest difference between the designs of the regular Note 20 and Note 10 is the new phone's larger screen. At 6.7 inches it is 0.4in larger than the 6.3-inch panel of the Note 10.
The new Galaxy Note 20Samsung
This of course makes the phone larger too, with the Note 20 measuring 161.2 x 75.2 x 8.3mm, compared to the Note 10 which is 151 x 71.8 x 7.9mm. Weight is also up noticeably, from 168g to 194g. Any hopes that Samsung might make the regular Note 20 more manageable for those with smaller hands will quickly fade away when you see quite how large this smartphone is.
The rest of the design is very similar to before, with the display taking up almost all of the front, and featuring a central hole-punch front camera. There is also a triple-lens camera system on the back, like before, but the lenses and the housing itself are considerably more pronounced.
Samsung has switched the Note's power and volume buttons from the left to the right edge, while the S Pen stylus and USB-C port remain on the bottom edge.
As for the larger Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Note 10 Plus, these share exactly the same design as their smaller siblings, apart from the new model once again getting a larger rear camera module.
The Note 20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch display, up slightly from the 6.8 inches of the Note 10 Plus, but the same as the Galaxy S20 Ultra from earlier this year. The Note 20 Ultra measures 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm, compared to the fractionally smaller Note 10 Plus, at 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9mm. The Note 20 Ultra is heavier, weighing 208g compared to 196g of the Note 10 Plus.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs Galaxy Note 10: Display
Although much larger than the Note 10, the new Note 20's display has a similar resolution as before, of 2400 x 1080, compared to 2280 x 1080.
Both phones also have the same 60Hz refresh rate, which for the Note 20 is a little disappointing, given how the Galaxy S20 from earlier in 2020 has a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz, making the interface smoother. All models of Note 10 and Note 20 use OLED panels.
The larger 6.9-inch Note 20 Ultra has a resolution of 3088 x 1440, up fractionally from the 3040 x 1440 of the 6.8-inch Note 10 Plus.
Note 20 in new Mystic Green colorSamsung
The biggest change here is the Note 20 Ultra's 120Hz refresh rate, double that of the Note 10 Plus, but the same as the six-month-old Galaxy S20 Ultra.
As with the design, there is very little to tell apart the Note 20 and Note 10. We like how the Note 20 Ultra has an enhanced refresh rate, but it's disappointing that the Note 20 misses out on what is quickly becoming a staple feature for flagship, $1,000-plus smartphones. We will be interested to see if Apple fits 120Hz panels to its iPhone 12, due this October.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs Galaxy Note 10: Camera system
It is difficult to compare the two camera systems of the Note 10 and Note 20, as some hardware specifications have increased while others remain the same, and some have even decreased.
The Note 20 has the same 12-megapixel main image sensor as the Note 10, but loses that phone's dual-aperture system, instead sticking with a single, static f/1.8 aperture lens. The ultra-wide lens of the Note 20 is of a slightly lower resolution than the Note 10, down from 16MP to 12MP, with the same f/2.2 aperture.
The biggest change is with the new Note's telephoto lens, which is up from 12MP in the Note 10 to 64MP in the Note 20. It is capable of 3X lossless zoom, up from 2x with the Note 10. Those extra pixels also mean 8K video recording is possible with the Note 20, although we doubt many owners will have much of a use for that just yet (and we dread to think how much storage those videos eat up).
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Note 20 color optionsSamsung
Around the front, the new Note 20 has a single, 10MP camera with an f/2.2 lens, making it the same (on paper at least) as the front camera of the Note 10.
The Note 20 Ultra, meanwhile, gets a big camera upgrade. Just like the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the new Note 20 Ultra has a 108-megapixel main sensor, with an f/1.8 lens with optical image stabilization, compared to 12MP and f/1.5 on the Note 10 Plus.
The phone's wide lens has the same 12MP sensor as the Note 10 Plus, while the ultra-wide image sensor is down from 16MP to 12MP, with a narrower aperture of f/3.0 compared to f/2.2.
The front camera of the Note 20 Ultra appears to be the same as the Note 10 Plus's, at 10MP and f/2.2.
Although Samsung hasn't changed much with the camera sensor (apart from adding the 108MP sensor of the Galaxy S20 Ultra to the Note 20 Ultra), hardware only tells half the story. We're keen to see how Samsung has improved the new Note's computational photography abilities.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs Galaxy Note 10: Hardware specifications
Battery size is up significantly for the Note 20, from 3,500mAh with the Note 10, to 4,300mAh. This should help offset extra power drain caused by the larger display and more powerful processor.
There is less of a difference between the Note 10 Plus and Note 20 Ultra, with battery capacity increasing marginally from 4,300mAh to 4,500mAh.
Both models of Note 20 are powered by the Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, an improvement over the 855 chip of the Note 10 and 10 Plus. RAM remains unchanged on both models, meaning 8GB for the Note 20 and 16GB for the Note 20 Ultra, the same as their predecessors.
Storage has actually been reduced for the Note 20, from 256GB to 128GB, while the Note 20 Ultra has the options of 128GB and 512GB. The Note 10 Plus was offered with 256GB and 512GB.
Biometric security is the same across the Note 10 and Note 20 ranges, with an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor beneath the display, while waterproofing is the same too, at IP68. Finally, wireless charging is also included across the Note 10 and Note 20 family.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs Galaxy Note 10: S Pen
The S Pen stylus of the Note 20 has lower latencySamsung
Lastly, the S Pen stylus has less latency than before, which should help make writing on the screen feel more natural.
The stylus has also gained some new software features with the Note 20. These include the ability to sync hand-written notes between the phone and other devices using Samsung Notes, as well as Microsoft Outlook and OneNote. That way, anything written in those apps on your Note 20 can be instantly synced to the same apps on your computer, tablet or other device.
The Note 20 also lets you sync audio recordings with written notes. You can then tap on a word in your written notes to hear the audio recorded at the moment the word was written. These features don't sound like they rely on hardware changes, so there is every chance that Samsung will bring them to the Note 10, too.
Is the Galaxy Note 20 worth upgrading to from the Note 10?
For now, it is difficult to say that the new Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are must-buys for Samsung fans. The Note 20 has a much larger screen and battery compared to the Note 10, but we wonder if that will put off as many consumers as it entices. The Note 20 also gets a fairly average (for a flagship) amount of RAM and less storage than the phone it replaces, plus it sticks to a 60Hz refresh rate for another year.
Meanwhile, the Note 20 Ultra gets an improved camera system, but one that (on paper at least) is very similar to that of the months-old Galaxy S20 Ultra.
The S Pen is, as ever, unique to the Note family, but apart from lower latency and a few software tweaks, the experience is likely very similar to before.
Overall, and despite the bold new color options, this feels like a case of evolution over revolution.
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