for innovation, we will have to go back

The Galaxy Note 20 uses the formula established by Samsung for almost ten years now. The smartphone, which comes with a larger Ultra model, seeks to offer an alternative to the Galaxy S20 in the high-end segment. Unfortunately for him, other than the presence of the S-Pen, there isn’t much more to offer.

Galaxy note 20

Since 2011, the Note range is one of the pillars of Samsung’s premium offering. At the time, the terminal offered a “huge” 5.3-inch screen with a stylus, in order to bring a display considered then gigantic to users. This champion of what were then called “phablets” has moved into the premium smartphone landscape. Samsung saw it then as an XXL version of its Galaxy S, often presented a few months earlier.

The history of the range has been punctuated by a few hiccups, especially with the Galaxy Note 7 exploding randomly, but the Notes have always faithfully accompanied Samsung for nine years. Nevertheless, the market has changed. Smartphones have gotten bigger and bigger, causing the Note to lose its main feature.

Galaxy note 20

Samsung has not abandoned its range, however, still betting on stylus use. In 2020, the firm unveiled the Note 20 (6.7 inches) and the Note 20 Ultra (6.9 inches) alongside the Fold 2. But the phone now appears to be anachronistic, no longer knowing where to stand. on the manufacturer’s offer.

Is it now worth paying a 1000 euros smartphone when the almost identical S20 + is available for roughly the same price? This is what we will see.

A correct technical sheet, but which no longer impresses

Objectively, the smartphone offers a very solid technical sheet. It holds its rank as a high-end product and comparison with other terminals sold at the same price. We will still note two things that make you tick. The first is the 6.7-inch display with a refresh rate blocked at 60Hz, while the Ultra model offers an adaptive refresh rate at 120Hz and the S20 offers absolute 120Hz.

Galaxy note 20
Dimensions 161.6 x 75.2 x 8.3 mm
Screen 6.7 “AMOLED 19.5: 9
2400 x 1080 pixels (393 ppi)
60 Hz
Processor Exynos 990 (7nm)
RAM 8 GB
Front sensor 10 MP (f / 2.2)
Rear sensors 12 MP f / 1.8
12 MP f / 2.2 ultra large
64 MP f / 2.0 telephoto lens
3x optical zoom
Storage 256
Drums 4300 mAh
Recharge 25W wired
15W wireless
security Ultrasonic footprint scanner under the screen
BONE Android 10 + One UI 2.5

The other small pitfall is the processor. Samsung has chosen to place an Exynos 990, its in-house processor, in the European version. The US version is equipped with a more powerful Snapdragon 865+. It’s a bit of a shame, but it won’t bother users who aren’t fixated on the power of their device.

Price and availability

The Note 20 has been available since August 21 on the official Samsung website and at partner resellers.

Galaxy note 20

It is sold at a price of 959 euros for the 4G version and 1059 euros for the 5G version. Note that Samsung also offers to pay for the smartphone via a credit of 40 or 44 euros per month depending on the model. Trade-in offers (up to a maximum of 450 euros) are also available.

A sober and chic design

While there is one segment where the Note 20 is a great success, this is the design. With this model, Samsung takes the main lines established with the S20 and continued with the Fold 2, especially at the level of the rectangular photo sensor and rounded edges. Here, Samsung has chosen an aluminum frame, available in three colors (Bronze Gold, green and gray) of the most beautiful effect. Note that we had the gray version for our test copy, officially called Mystic Gray. An example of sobriety that should appeal to the greatest number. Placed with the screen on the ground, the smartphone is very chic, very pleasing to the eye. Small regret, however, about the photo sensor, which sticks out a few millimeters and makes the terminal wobbly once it is placed on its back.

Galaxy note 20

We note the special care given to the frame of the smartphone in shiny aluminum and more particularly at the level of the buttons located on the right edge (volume and ignition). No fingerprint sensor, neither on the edges nor on the back. As on the S20, Samsung here uses a sensor located under the screen which works perfectly at the request of the user. One way to save space on the chassis, but also on the front.

Galaxy note 20

On the edges we find a USB Type-C port and no jack. You will either need to use a wireless headset or a USB Type-C headset. This is good, since Samsung includes suitable AKG headphones in the terminal box. While they are not amazing, they are still decent and comfortable.

Galaxy note 20

Note that unlike the S20 and Note 20 Ultra, this Galaxy Note 20 does not offer curved edges on its screen, which is therefore totally flat. It’s a bit of a shame, but it doesn’t drastically change the experience. We will still note the presence of the front 10 megapixel punch-shaped camera at the top of the display. Love it or hate it.

Galaxy note 20

Impossible to talk about the Galaxy Note without mentioning its stylus. As usual, theThe S Pen is stored in the chassis (on the lower edge) and can be removed with a simple touch of the finger. During our test, it happened that in a pocket, the stylus of our Note 20 comes out of the phone by itself, reacting to any pressure. Even though this situation is very rare, the risk of loss is real. One of the other drawbacks of the stylus is also its thicker frame, which is 8.3mm thick. It’s not huge, but more than average. The same goes for the 194 gram weight (take off 30 grams for the stylus) which makes it a bit heavy compared to other products of the same size.

Galaxy note 20

The result is a very successful smartphone in terms of its design and pleasant to use despite its heaviness. We particularly like the brushed aluminum of the rear cover, pleasant to the touch. In addition, this material has the merit of not attracting fingerprints, unlike plastic. One-handed use with the stylus is a pleasure. Samsung knows its stuff and absolutely does not disappoint on this point. It will be natural for you to draw or write on your device with the phone in one hand and the stylus in the other.

Galaxy note 20

A good screen, which does not add anything new

The Galaxy Note 20 comes with 6.7-inch Super AMOLED panel made by Samsung. A large size, but that doesn’t really impress anymore, many other models blithely exceeding 6 inches. Likewise, it is no longer the “XXL” counterpart of the S line, the Galaxy S20 + also adopting this same screen format. The Note 20 is therefore no exception today in this segment. It is no longer a “phablet”, but a smartphone like any other. The screen resolution is 2400 x 1080 pixels (20: 9 ratio) and it has a refresh rate of just 60Hz. Too bad for a smartphone in this range, especially since the Ultra model offers an adaptive rate at 120 Hz. Finally, note that the edges are very small, but existing, which leads us to a screen / front ratio of 89% . It’s a lot, but within the current standard.

Galaxy note 20

We ran a probe over our screen to determine what it was really worth. On this point Samsung does not disappoint with a high quality slab. AMOLED obliges, we have an infinite contrast. The blacks are deep and the whites are brilliant. This can be seen in particular when watching videos where the dark scenes remain very readable. Respect for colors is also present with a Delta E of 2.4, which is exemplary (below 3, the result is excellent). Only reds and yellows are a bit of a letdown, but overall a color displayed on the screen will be true to what it is in real life. The temperature of the screen is also controlled with an average of 6700 K, very close to the 6500 K of the video standard. In effect, this means that on a blank page, the display does not pull towards red or blue. It is possible to adjust the temperature of the panel in the options, by cooling it to reduce visual fatigue, for example. Finally, we must add to this a maximum brightness that can easily exceed 600 cd / m². This means that your display will remain readable even if you use it on a bright day.

Galaxy note 20

Samsung knows how to make screens and still proves it today. The Note 20 is a success on this score and objectively we don’t have much to fault it. The only downside is in the refresh rate stuck at 60 Hz. If this is not dramatic, it is still a shame that the manufacturer deprived this model of this innovation, especially since it is present on the other phone in the range. 120 Hz is also a major argument in buying a premium smartphone in 2020 and its absence could deter many people.

Read also – Samsung Galaxy S20 review: the smallest of siblings is not to be taken lightly

The audio part is also almost perfect for a smartphone, with clear and precise sound. The terminal has two speakers. One of the located on the lower edge while the other is included directly below the screen and has no visible output. When watching video, our palm may rest on the right speaker, but the sound is not muffled, the second more than compensating. Likewise, being located under the screen, it gives a natural sound, the source being at the same level as the image.

Galaxy note 20

Correct performance

The hope of having a smartphone equipped with a Qualcomm processor for everyone flew when the smartphone was announced on August 5. Finally, the Note 20 uses the usual Samsung Galaxy pattern: a Qualcomm Snapdragon (865+) processor for the United States, and an Exynos SoC for the rest of the world. Here, this is the Exynos 990, engraved in 7 nm, which equips the Note 20. The same as the S20. It comes with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. Let’s face it: only the more knowledgeable will see the difference between the two processors. Benchmark level, the Exynos 990 delivers excellent results. It is placed just behind the Note 20 Ultra, which has 12 GB of RAM and therefore has a little more “potato”.

Galaxy note 20

Comparing it with a smartphone equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor, namely the Galaxy Z Fold 2, it is true that the Note 20 is slightly less powerful. However, once again this plays out very little and in everyday life the user will not see a big difference. The Note 20 is still one of the most powerful devices on the market today.

The product thus never experiences any slowdowns, whether in classic use or in game. All the most greedy softs of the PlayStore run perfectly, despite a heating which is felt on the back cover. It’s not inherently bothersome or disabling, but it’s there, and it’s a bit unpleasant to the touch.

Galaxy note 20

Such power is useful in multitasking, which can be used with the stylus. Again, Samsung knows how to do it, no slowing down or stuttering spoiling the experience.

Galaxy note 20

Last important point, the product is sold either in 4G or in 5G. This network is not yet available in France, but it could be nice to have a compatible smartphone when it is deployed.

Software designed around the stylus

On the software side, Samsung is releasing its Note 20 under Android 10 with the One UI 2.5 overlay. While it is still possible to install a third-party launcher, Samsung has focused its software part around the use of the stylus. The S Pen, in fact, has been improved with a latency time reduced to 9 ms. In use, this means that we have the impression of writing with a real pencil, so natural does it become in use.

Galaxy note 20

The software environment also serves this stylus part, with, for example, the appearance of a dedicated sub-menu which is automatically displayed on the screen as soon as the stylus is taken out. It is then entirely possible to select the “note” or “drawing” part or simply take a screenshot. This menu is obviously customizable. It comes in handy in everyday life when you want to quickly access an app. What’s more, when the phone screen is off and you pull out the stylus, you can immediately take notes on the screen, without unlocking. Very handy when you need to write very quickly.

Galaxy note 20

The stylus also offers “contactless” use with Air Action. This allows, with the S Pen in hand and the dedicated button held, to perform certain actions without touching the screen, such as capturing or rewinding. The technology is interesting, but in reality it is of little use and, above all, impractical.

Galaxy note 20

One UI still has a whole bunch of cool options, like the ability to adjust the screen temperature for greater viewing comfort, or a side panel for quick access to an app or a contact. Samsung’s software suite, like Pay or the Galaxy Store, are obviously part of the game. It is worth remembering that Google applications are also preinstalled, which is no longer the case with all manufacturers.

Galaxy note 20

Finally, it is necessary to point out a particularity in the marketing of Samsung. The Note 20 Ultra is sold as a “gaming” smartphone, with Samsung teaming up with Microsoft on the xCloud. By purchasing the product, the brand is indeed offering three months of Game Pass membership. This is not the case on the classic model. However, it is still possible to enjoy streaming Xbox game service, but no benefits are offered. You will have to pay your subscription like everyone else.

A camera that does not spark

The photo part of Note 20 is correct, but not at the level of what Samsung offered with the S20 +. The module consists of three sensors: a classic 12 megapixel sensor (f / 1.8), a 12 megapixel wide angle (f / 2.0) and a 64 megapixel telefoto (f / 2.2), i.e. the same than the classic S20. The front camera is 10 megapixels

Galaxy note 20

In fact, the Note 20 takes good photos, even giving quite interesting results outdoors during the day as well. only in night mode.

Galaxy note 20
From top to bottom: photo taken during the day, photo taken at night without night mode, photo taken at night with night mode.

The presence of a wide angle (x0.5) is appreciable, as is that of an X3 optical zoom. Note that a digital zoom X30 is also present, but unusable, the photos being too noisy, even after software processing:

Galaxy note 20

Here is some examples of photos taken with the Note 20:

Galaxy note 20
Galaxy note 20
Galaxy note 20
Galaxy note 20
Galaxy note 20
Galaxy note 20
Galaxy note 20
It is of course possible to change the format of a photo

Finally, on the software side, we don’t have much to report. We find all the usual options, from filters to the possibility of changing sensor and format.

Galaxy note 20

A little weak autonomy

The smartphone has 4300 mAh battery, which is a bit tight for a screen of this size and such a powerful processor. Unsurprisingly, the phone does not work miracles at this level. On a normal day (a bit of browsing, playing, taking photos or calling) it drops below 35% battery power when it comes to bedtime. On a busy day, charging will be mandatory in the evening. You can cut battery life a bit by turning off the screen’s alway-on mode or turning on the dark mode, but that doesn’t save more than an hour or two.

Galaxy note 20

The Note 20 is, however, compatible with 25-watt fast charging. During our test, we were able to fully charge our terminal in one hour and twelve minutes. A controlled load which comes to compensate a little for this rather tight autonomy.

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