100X zoom and 108-megapixel photos are mostly gimmicks
Expensive for the value
The S20 Ultra is Samsung’s answer to all of them. And for the most part, it’s a very good answer. It’s fast, powerful, beautiful, and has a battery that lasts. It’s also, of course, very expensive: you’re paying for 5G and a big screen in that $1,399.99 starting price, but you will be able to find both of those things for much less money in other Android phones. To me, the main justification for that expense is the all-new camera system.
Unfortunately, all-new is very close to too-new, and the S20 Ultra’s cameras feel like the latter. Samsung’s new hardware for its cameras may give it an edge someday, but right now, it hasn’t fully wrangled all of those pixels with its software. That means that while it’s very competent, it’s also very inconsistent.
It’s worth waiting to see if Samsung can update its camera software to resolve the focus and face issues. I’ve asked for comment on if one is coming and will update this review if and when it does. Until then, Samsung has certainly proved that it can make a fast, powerful, imposing phone. It also proved that, once again, it can get caught assuming that powerful hardware is enough.