Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G review: Another name for overkill

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the world “ultra” as: “beyond what is ordinary, proper, or moderate; excessive; extreme.” Similar to “mega” and “uber,” ultra is a word we use to overemphasize something: ultra-fast, ultra-powerful, ultra-big. It’s an apt name for a device such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, a phone that tries perhaps too hard to win at everything.

Samsung’s mega flagship takes every spec to the Nth degree, with the biggest this and the fastest that. It packs every possible feature into a chassis so large it practically qualifies as its own zip code. Cramming the best of the best into one monster package doesn’t necessarily have the result you’d expect. Find out what we mean in our uber-detailed Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review notes: I used the S20 Ultra over a period of five days. The phone was running Android 10 with Samsung’s One UI 2.1 and the March 2020 security patch. The phone did not receive any updates during the review period.Show More

Setting the scene

The Samsung Galaxy S series is the Korean company’s bread-and-butter product line. These phones, which now come in three sizes, compete directly with the Apple iPhone, Google Pixel, and LG’s G/V series. Competition in this space is fierce. Every few months we get new models that seem to outgun the others with some new whizbang feature. This time around, Samsung focused on the camera.

The company says it totally rebuilt the Galaxy S line around new imaging technology. Samsung did this in order to convince consumers it’s time to upgrade. The average time between phone purchases has stretched to a record 26.2 months, meaning people hold onto their phones for more than two years before buying a new one. Samsung wants S8 and S9 owners to pony up and adopt the S20, so it gave them a reason to: ultra-levels of camera zoom. Beyond zoom, the S20 adds number of attractive camera features, such as the ability to take hyperlapse videos at night.

Combined with the fastest processor available, huge amounts of memory and storage, a dazzling display, and bountiful battery life, the S20 Ultra seemingly has it all. But does it really?

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Design: Less soul

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra on the boardwalk

After years of trotting out retread plastic designs — and losing out to Apple’s industrial aesthetic — Samsung got wise and upped the ante. Between 2015’s Galaxy S6 and 2018’s Galaxy S9 the company’s design chops grew in leaps and bounds. By the time the Galaxy S10 arrived in 2019, the company was delivering some of the best-looking, most finely-crafted handsets in the market. This year, Samsung appears to have scaled back some and the S20 is somewhat the lesser for it.

Judging a book by its cover

Maybe it’s the color selection, maybe it’s the utilitarian (and, let’s face it, ugly) camera module on the rear, I dunno. I simply find the design to be ultra understated. The all-screen slab leaves almost no room for individuality. Looking at its face, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G could be any other phone on the market. Nothing about the shape, other than perhaps its sheer size, helps it stand out. For a price that starts at $1,399, I expect some personality.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra face profile times square
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra camera modile profile times square
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra on book
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra laying on its side

The color selection is particularly disappointing. I enjoyed the palate of last year’s Galaxy S10. The Ultra is available only in Cosmic Black and Cosmic Gray. The word “cosmic” implies “out of this world.” There’s nothing cosmic about these shades. They’re the most conservative and boring, earthly options available.

It’s the details that matter

Samsung didn’t sell me on the S20 Ultra 5G’s looks, but it nailed the execution. Like its predecessors, the S20 Ultra 5G is a fine piece of hardware that exudes quality and craftsmanship. The front glass is slightly (and I mean slightly) less curved along the side edges than last year’s S10, but the rear glass has a steeper curve to it. The Gorilla Glass 6 panels are separated by a metal frame that’s thick on the bottom and top, and thin down the sides. These pieces are assembled tightly. The phone is sealed up and carries an IP68 rating, so you can accidentally dunk it in some water and it’ll survive the experience. I let it sit in a bowl of water for a few minutes and it emerged none the worse for wear.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra home screen
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra against the rocks
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra left edge 1
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra right edge

Controls, ports, and buttons on the S20 Ultra are what you’d expect to see from Samsung’s flagship. The screen lock/power button and volume toggle are on the right edge of the phone. The buttons have tight, but satisfying, travel and feedback. There is no dedicated Bixby button this year, thank goodness. The combined SIM/microSD card tray is located on top, while the USB-C port and downward-firing speaker are on the bottom.

There is no headphone jack. Samsung eliminated the headphone jack on the Note 10 series last year, and that absence is carried over here. A pair of USB-C headphones is included in the box, but you’ll likely be better off with Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds Plus true wireless headphones.

The camera module is hideous. I know because my 13-year-old daughter is repulsed by it.

The camera module bugs me. Not just because it’s huge, but because the framing for it is made of plastic. If you touch it with your fingers you’ll notice it has a cheap, hollow feel to it. Ick, Samsung. To be fair to Samsung, however, the camera modules of the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max and Google Pixel 4 XL are just as hideous. I know this because my 13-year-old daughter is repulsed by all three.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra close up

As for size and usability, this phone is not for everyone. It’s basically the same dimensions as the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, which means it’s enormous and requires two hands most of the time. The S20 Ultra 5G doesn’t fit well in pockets, despite its slippery surfaces, and more or less requires a case for protection, which will only make it bigger.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra in the hand with tracks

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is ultra all right. It’s ultra-big and ultra-fine. It’s also not for everyone, as clearly it will be too much phone for some.

Display: Damn!

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra at rest

The display almost makes up for the S20 Ultra 5G’s lackluster design. Almost. It’s a stunning screen that is the best you can buy on any phone right now.

Samsung gave its flagship a 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O screen with multiple resolution and refresh rate options. Out of the box, it’s set to Full HD+, or 2,400 by 1,080 pixels. You can improve that to Quad HD+, or 3,200 by 1,440 pixels, or downgrade to HD+ at 1,600 by 720 pixels. Whichever you choose, you’re getting the same 20.5:9 aspect ratio. The sharpness of the display is simply outstanding, even at the medium setting. You will notice a slight degradation if you drop it down to HD+, but the Quad HD+ setting is eye-popping in its clarity.

You can choose screen refresh rates of either 60Hz, which is what most screens use, or 120Hz, which is better for gaming and such. Lemme tell you, the 120Hz setting gives the screen a luscious smoothness that has to be seen to be believed. Even without the ability to combine the high pixel count and high refresh rate at the same time, you’ve got a screen that simply dominates every other panel on the market.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra app drawer

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G has a screen that simply dominates every other panel on the market.

Color is excellent. Of course the screen is HDR10+ certified, which means the right content will deliver incredible dynamic range. I checked out some HDR10 movies on Netflix and came away really impressed.

Samsung ensures that you can manage almost every factor of the screen and its performance. Choosing the full resolution or the doubled refresh rate will impact battery life, but you can tweak brightness, the blue light filter, color profile, and all the other typical settings.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G has an ultra-amazing screen.

Ready. Set. Perform

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra right profile

Samsung gave the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G the fastest engine and the biggest fuel tank, fully expecting the combination to deliver the speed and stamina people demand. It doesn’t quite make it to the finish line — in some scenarios.

Processor: Let’s get snappy

First, the processor. The S20 Ultra 5G is one of the first phones to ship with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor on board. It comes with 12GB of RAM, but you can opt for 16GB if you have $1,599 to spare. Our review unit had the stock 12GB. Running 3DMark, AnTuTu, and GeekBench, the 865 absolutely destroyed every other phone currently in these tests’ respective databases. The S20 Ultra bested 99% of all other devices tested, and delivered particularly stunning results when compared to last-generation Snapdragon 855 hardware. Wow.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra GeekBench
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 3D Mark
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra AnTuTu

More importantly, the phone felt fast all the time. No matter what content or app you throw at the S20 Ultra 5G, it devours the calculations and offers buttery smooth performance. I noticed a slight, slight slowdown when I bumped the S20 Ultra 5G to the full resolution or faster refresh rate. That’s a lot of information for the processor to crunch, however, and the phone does an admirable job.

As always, Samsung allows you to empty out the memory and clean things up to give the phone a performance jolt.

Battery: Live long and prosper

Then there’s the 5,000mAh battery. The S20 and S20 Plus have 4,000 and 4,500mAh batteries, respectively. The biggest phone gets the biggest battery and Samsung claims it will deliver two days of battery life. Again, this depends.

On a day when I set the phone to the faster 120Hz refresh rate at Full HD+ resolution, with the screen brightness and battery to adaptive mode, the 5,000mAh pushed from morning to night with no problem. There was a small reserve left in the tank, definitely not enough to get it through even half another day. I had to charge it that night. I got the same results when I set the phone to the full Quad HD+ resolution at 60Hz.

It’s clear to me that if Samsung allowed owners of the S20 Ultra 5G to use both the full resolution and the faster refresh rate at the same time that the battery would die a much quicker death.

If you go with the conservative Full HD+ resolution and 60Hz refresh rate, the battery definitely shows more longevity.

Things are different if you go with the Full HD+ resolution option and 60Hz. At this conservative setting, the battery definitely shows more longevity. I coaxed it through a full day and most of a second before it gave out completely. This is likely the setting that most people should use most of the time. (Stinks that the screen won’t dynamically shift from 60Hz to 120Hz when you start playing games.)

Last, charging the phone. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra supports 45W wired charging and 25W wireless charging. Unfortunately, only a 25W charging brick comes in the box. You have to pay extra for the faster charger. The phone ingested current like a champ. I found it boosted the battery by 50% after just 27 minutes plugged in, and after just 35 minutes on a charging pad. A full charge took about an hour. Considering the size of the battery, that’s really good.

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Camera: Space Zoooooooom

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra against metal door

The camera should be — and is — the number-one selling point for this phone. It’s a monster of an imaging system and is more advanced than just about anything we’ve seen before. The basics are these.

Samsung gave the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G a quad-camera system on the rear. The standard lens boasts a 108MP sensor at f/1.8. By default, it shoots 12MP images, binned down by a factor of nine from the full pixel count (nona-binning). It is joined by an ultra wide-angle 12MP camera at f/2.2, an optical telephoto 48MP camera at f/3.5, and a time-of-flight camera to help process depth information. Some of the features Samsung boasts about include 100x zoom and 8K video capture.

The main sensor is a beast. Few phones have shipped with such a high megapixel count (see the Xiaomi Mi Note 10), but you can be sure more are on the way. The idea behind such a sensor is two-fold: First, to allow more light and, second, to offer incredible detail. This sensor is what powers the S20 Ultra’s good low-light performance. While the base setting is to take 12MP shots, you can opt to shoot the full 108MP at any time. The full resolution shots are indeed impressive in their detail and the noise isn’t as bad as I expected it to be.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample point 5x sample

Most standard daytime shots look nearly perfect. All the beach/boardwalk shots below are spot on in their accuracy. In fact, the ice cream shot is better than real life, as the shadows are more or less eliminated in just the right way to allow for detail. Zoom in on the balloons in the boardwalk game and you’ll see plenty of detail, though some noise too. My Pixel, by way of comparison, didn’t capture so much detail.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample boardwalk games

I really like what’s possible with the wide-angle shooter. There’s so much you can do, such as the Times Square shots I captured down below.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G photo sample NYC

Even the low-light shot from the bar turned out well. It was incredibly dark in there. The clarity is quite impressive, and the colors are perfect with little noise.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G photo sample bar

There are some really neat new camera modes available to the Samsung Galaxy S20 family, including Single Take, Night Mode, Night Hyperlapse, and more. Here are some Night Mode samples with the dark shots taken in normal mode and the second taken with Night Mode on. You can see the difference it makes. It’s rather like seeing in the dark, though there’s a bit of noise.

Samung Galaxy S20 Ultra photo sample no nightmode 2
Samung Galaxy S20 Ultra photo sample nightmode 2
Samung Galaxy S20 Ultra photo sample no nightmode 1
Samung Galaxy S20 Ultra photo sample nightmode 1

Single Take is the best of the bunch. When you press the shutter button and record three to 10 seconds of video, it slices and dices the results and gives you up to nine different photo types, including video, AI best shot, boomerang, and such. It takes practice, and isn’t always perfect, but it opens up a new realm of possibility when you’re looking to snag more than a single still photo at the press of a button.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample pink land rover
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample 2x sample
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample family portrait
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample wood texture
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample dune with sign
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample Casino pier
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample lifeguard chairs shaded
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample rock wall
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample beach

Let’s talk zoom. Samsung says the phone is capable of delivering 1oox zoom. That’s technically true, but it’s not the selling point you think it is. Using a combination of the lenses, optical zoom, and digital cropping, Samsung is able to create a range of zoom options. You can capture shots at 0.5x, 1x, 2x, 4x, 5x, 10x, 30x, and 100x using simple on-screen buttons. Alternately, you can drag the slider up and down to find the right amount of zoom for the shot. You can see the progression in the samples below.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G photo sample point 5x zoom
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G photo sample 1x zoom
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G photo sample 2x zoom
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G photo sample 4x zoom
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G photo sample 10x zoom
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G photo sample 30x zoom

Clearly some of these are more usable than the others. The 30x, for example, borders on worthless, and the 100x (below) is clearly no use. No matter what I was shooting, there was never a scenario where the 100x shot turned out well. Don’t get me wrong, though. If you look at the 0.5x shot and the 100x shot and realize they came from the same phone, you have to agree it’s impressive to some degree.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G photo sample 100x zoom

100x zoom on the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G

It’s important to spell out the differences. The phone is able to capture 4x optical zoom thanks to the periscoped 48MP telephoto camera. Everything beyond that is hybrid, which means a blend of optical and digital crop. Samsung says it is using AI to help reduce the unavoidable shakes in your hands that are obvious at 100x, but I can’t say it does a particularly great job of it. I would set your expectations for “okay” zoom at 30x and nothing more.

Then there’s 8K video capture. Sure, the phone can capture and even trim 8K video directly on board, but almost no one can watch it. The vast majority of TVs sold today are Full HD or 4K. A few high-end 8K TVs are now rolling out to consumers, but they cost thousands of dollars and aren’t ready for mainstream use just yet. That means the only thing you’re doing with 8K video is chewing up your device storage. For now, at least. You could argue that this capability future-proofs the S20 Ultra to some degree.

The phone is able to capture 4x optical zoom thanks to the periscoped 48MP telephoto camera.

Video I shot with the phone does look amazing. All you need to do is set it to 4K at 60fps and sit back and enjoy. It’s sharp, colorful, properly exposed, and on-point when it comes to white balance. You’ll be impressed. I really like one of the newer features that allows you to seamlessly switch from recording with the main camera to the selfie camera so you can add yourself to a clip. This worked really well. Video also supports live focus mode, or bokeh. Just like still images, this uses the ToF camera to help judge depth and create a portrait-like effect when capturing video. It’s not perfect, but it can add a cool look to your footage.

The selfie camera is a 40MP job that bins down to 10MP. You can see in these samples that it does a fine job. The addition of the a time-of-flight sensor means depth information is more accurate. See how clearly I stand out from the background in the portrait sample below.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Photo Sample beach selfie
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G photo sample selfie

At the end of the day, what I can tell you is that the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G has one of the most flexible and finest cameras available on any smartphone today.

Odds and ends

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra right rear profile 1

Samsung solved some pain points with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, and I appreciate that.

First up is a feature called Music Share. This is meant to get around the in-car Bluetooth tangle. You know the drill. You’re in the car with your phone paired to the stereo. You passenger wants to play their tunes via the car’s speakers. To do that, however, you’d have to unpair your phone, pair theirs, and such. A total pain. Music Share is essentially Bluetooth passthrough. Your friend pairs their phone with your S20 Ultra 5G, and can then control the car stereo (or any Bluetooth speaker). It does require that the second device is running Android 10. I tested this on my personal car and it worked very well. Thanks, Samsung!

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Music Share 2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Music Share 1

Similar to Apple’s AirPlay, a new function called Quick Share makes it easy to pass files back and forth. You turn this tool on via the quick settings menu. The software prefers Samsung users, but this lets you curate a list of people who can blindly send you stuff. The other option is “everyone” which is not an option as far as I am concerned. I checked it out with another Samsung device hand and it worked flawlessly for sending photos and videos back and forth.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Quick Share 2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Quick Share 1

The phone supports 5G from AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless, but we were unable to test this feature. None of the carriers supplied a 5G-capable SIM card. We did use the phone in areas that provide T-Mobile and Verizon 5G coverage, but didn’t have any luck catching a signal with regular SIM cards, even though the status bar read “5G.”

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G settings
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G tests

Interestingly, Samsung adopted Google’s Duo video chat app and baked it into the native dialer of the S20 Ultra 5G. The button is simply there and, when touched, initiates a Duo video chat with contacts who also use Duo. I had trouble getting this set up. You have to open the Duo app separately from the app drawer to get it to sync with the dialer the first time. After that, be sure you use a number that’s associated with your Google account. Once I cleared a few hurdles such as these, it worked.

Samsung took aim at gaming phones. Along with the use allotment of RAM and 120Hz refresh rate, a new feature allows S20 Ultra owners to suspend up to five apps in the RAM. The idea is to spare people the burden of waiting for enormous games such as Fortnight to reload when you return to the action. It does, in fact, work as designed. Moreover, the screen supports touch response at a rate of 240Hz during gameplay. This means the display can capture your taps and swipes more accurately.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G multitasking RAM

On the security front, you’ve got a Face ID clone, an in-display fingerprint reader, and the usual collection of PIN, pattern, and password options. I found the facial recognition tool to work really well, but it wasn’t perfect. Same is true for the fingerprint reader. While it is easy to train, the reader is placed just a bit further up the display and I had a hard time locating it consistently. Shame Samsung didn’t adopt the latest fingerprint reader from Qualcomm, which is much larger.

The phone ships with Android 10 and Samsung’s One UI 2.1. It’s the best version of Samsung’s software, but even so I think some people will find it’s too much, or they won’t like the look. For starters,  you can’t add Google’s home feed to the home screen panels. Instead you’ll have to put up with Samsung’s version thereof. Also, Bixby is the default personal assistant, not Google Assistant. You’ll have to change that in the settings. At least Samsung offers gobs of room for customization.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra specs

Display 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED
3,200 x 1,440
20:9 ratio
120Hz refresh rate at 1080p
60Hz refresh rate at 1440p
HDR10+ certified
6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED
3,200 x 1,440
20:9 ratio
120Hz refresh rate at 1080p
60Hz refresh rate at 1440p
HDR10+ certified
6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED
3,200 x 1,440
20:9 ratio
120Hz refresh rate at 1080p
60Hz refresh rate at 1440p
HDR10+ certified
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 or Samsung Exynos 990 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 or Samsung Exynos 990 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 or Samsung Exynos 990
RAM 12GB 12GB 12 or 16GB
Storage 128GB 128 or 512GB 128 or 512GB
MicroSD Yes, up to 1TB Yes, up to 1TB Yes, up to 1TB
Battery 4,000mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
4,500mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
5,000mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Cameras Rear:
– Wide-angle: 12MP, 1/1.76″, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm
– Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, .8µm
– Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom, Super Resolution Zoom up to 30x

Front:
– 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, AF

Rear:
– Wide-angle: 12MP, 1/1.76″, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm
– Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, .8µm
– Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm
– VGA time-of-flight sensor

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom, Super Resolution Zoom up to 30x

Front:
– 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, AF

Rear:
– Wide-angle: 108MP, 1/1.33″, ƒ/1.8, .8µm
– Telephoto: 48MP, ƒ/3.5, .8µm
– Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm
– VGA time-of-flight sensor

Hybrid optical/digital zoom at 10x
Super Resolution at 100x

Front
– 40MP sensor, ƒ/2.2, .7µm, AF

Connectivity 4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, DSS, TDD/FDD, SA and NSA, no mmWave)
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, DSS, TDD/FDD, SA and NSA, mmWave)
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, DSS, TDD/FDD, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Operating System One UI 2.0
Android 10
One UI 2.0
Android 10
One UI 2.0
Android 10
Water resistance IP68 IP68 IP68
Security Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Color Cosmic Grey, Cloud Blue, Cloud Pink Cosmic Grey, Cosmic Black, Cloud Blue Cosmic Grey and Cosmic Black
Dimensions and weight 69.1×151.7×7.9mm
163g
73.8×161.9×7.8mm
186g
76×166.9x8mm
220g

Does the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G cost too much?

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra in the foreground

Hell yeah it does. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G costs a whopping $1,399 for the 12GB/128GB model and $1,599 for the 16GB/512GB model. Those prices are absurd — particularly if you’re paying in full up front.

Carriers in the U.S. allow you to break up the cost in monthly payments spread over two years. That means $58.29 per month over 24 months for the entry-level model (ha! “entry-level”) and $66.62 per month for 24 months for the ultra Ultra model. Looked at another way, that’s $2 per day to own this phone. I know people like to compare things to the cost of a cup of coffee, and $2 doesn’t sound like a lot, but people typically don’t buy a cup of coffee every single day for two years straight.

It’s hard to say with a straight face that the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is value for money.

It’s hard for us to say with a straight face that the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is value for money. It’s ludicrously expensive and not meant for people on a strict budget. The one saving grace here is that Samsung itself, as well as carriers, are offering discounts and deals on the phone. If you can score a few hundreds dollars off the S20 Ultra 5G with a trade-in or other deal, then it makes a lot more sense.

The Ultra compares to prices of the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max, as only Apple is charging prices as high as Samsung. Google’s Pixel phones and LG’s G/V series phones are more affordable, topping out at $999. Even more affordable? Phones such as the $599 OnePlus 7T.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G?

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra in the park

You know what the answer is going to be: It depends. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G offers pretty much every feature any phone owner could want. It has a gorgeous screen, classy hardware, wicked performance, good battery life, and capable cameras. It’s also huge, heavy, and as pricey as they come.

Who should buy the S20 Ultra 5G?

People with the cash and the desire to own the most advanced phone on the market. If you’re totally turned on by the thought of the 108MP camera with 8K video capture, fluid 120Hz display, and 5G, then this is the phone for you. Moreover, the Ultra is the phone to get if you really want to splurge and adopt 16GB of RAM with 512GB of storage. Bonus if you live in a 5G market. It’s the top dog, the king of the hill, the phone to beat.

Who shouldn’t buy the S20 Ultra 5G?

Most people. The S20 Plus offers nearly every feature for $200 less. You lose out on some zoom, but that’s not a big deal. The smaller screen and smaller battery mean the S20 Plus itself is smaller, lighter, and easier to use. You don’t need 16GB of RAM, and can supplement the storage with a microSD card. In other words, save your money. You get 98% of the features in an all-around easier-to-manage and more-affordable package.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G. (Okay, maybe the name could be a little bit shorter.) But it offers an incredible array of features in a slick package. I simply think the package is ultra big and, well, ultra pricey. If you want the ultra-mate phone, you’ll pay the ultra-mate price.

This concludes our Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!

Samsung Galaxy S20
The latest and greatest from Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Plus, and Galaxy S20 Ultra are super-premium 5G smartphones from the South Korean company. No matter what you’re looking for, the Galaxy S20 line likely has something to suit your needs.

  • $999.99 at Amazon
  • $999.99 at Samsung
  • £799.00 at Samsung
  • £799.00 at Amazon
  • $1199.99 at Verizon
  • $999.99 at AT&T
  • $999.99 at Sprint

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