"I’m not buying the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. I’ve already talked about how, compared to the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the Note 20 Ultra looks unexciting. Yes, I know switching from a Galaxy S20 Ultra to a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra isn’t something most regular consumers will do. My main pet peeve is that Samsung will be breaking the tradition of each Note flagship being better than the Galaxy S flagship launched in the same year.
However, while I am not excited by the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, I have to say I’m mighty disappointed with how the Galaxy Note 20 is shaping up. Last year was the first time Samsung launched its latest Note flagship in two sizes. The Galaxy Note 10 had a few limitations, such as the lack of expandable storage and just a Full HD display, but it was otherwise an excellent compact flagship, especially for consumers buying into the Note ecosystem for the first time.
You would assume that the Galaxy Note 10’s successor would bring plenty of upgrades. But if the rumors are to be believed, Samsung has also made a few questionable decisions for the Note 20’s spec sheet despite reportedly setting the same price tag for it as the Note 10 commanded last year.
Less of an upgrade, more of a sidegrade
As we have opined before, the Galaxy Note 20 is looking more like a Galaxy Note 20 Lite than a proper flagship. First, there’s the fact that it misses out on an amazing new feature that debuted with the Galaxy S20 series earlier this year. I’m talking about the 120Hz display. The Galaxy Note 20 reportedly has a 60Hz panel. That’s despite having a larger battery than the smallest Galaxy S20 and the Note 10 that would easily handle the extra power draw that results from a higher refresh rate.
Samsung is also doing something we thought it would never do again: The company has reportedly used a plastic back for the Galaxy Note 20. Nope, it’s not removable like the plastic back on Samsung’s old phones like the Galaxy S5 or Galaxy Note 4. If it’s not removable, the only advantage of a plastic back is that it won’t break upon impact like a glass back would. That’s an important advantage in my eyes, but for others, it will make the Galaxy Note 20 feel a lot less premium than a €949 smartphone should in 2020.
Of course, the Exynos 990 is also a major reason why the Note 20 will be disappointing, though this applies to the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as well. A recent rumor said Samsung has optimized the 990 to the point that it’s better than the Snapdragon 865+, but we have been served underwhelming Exynos chips two years in a row, so you will forgive me if I don’t believe the Exynos 990 won’t be as problematic as it is on the Galaxy S20 smartphones. Samsung seems unable to make good processors anymore, and it’s shameful that the Snapdragon variants of its flagships continue to be exclusive to select customers.
The Galaxy Note 20 will be a good phone, but that’s not enough for €949
Despite the rumored shortcomings, the Galaxy Note 20 will still be a good phone. Those who purchase it will appreciate features like the camera’s zooming capabilities, big battery and super fast charging, Samsung’s excellent software, and the ever-versatile S Pen (now with reduced latency and enhanced functionality).
However, compared to the Galaxy Note 10, the Galaxy Note 20 isn’t bringing a whole lot of upgrades, and it will also miss out on the 120Hz display that you find on even the smallest Galaxy S20 model. It’s more of a sidegrade in my opinion, and I don’t think that’s good enough for a phone that’s expected to cost between €949 and €1099 (depending on whether you get the LTE or 5G variant).