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The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra Is A Great Work Phone, So We Turned It Into An Entertainment Device Instead

Is it a good gaming phone?


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The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra Is A Great Work Phone, So We Turned It Into An Entertainment Device Instead
There's really nothing much we can add on about the Samsung Galaxy Note series.

It is arguably one of the best smartphones in the market, and Samsung is not shy about marketing it as the ultimate work phone.

You can expect the Samsung Galaxy Note series to be stuffed with the best of everything inside its almost-seven inch frame: the fastest processor, the most advanced camera system and the most canggih features.

This year's iteration, the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra, is no different as it is still Samsung's most powerful smartphone, like you'd expect the Note to be.


However, the one thing that has changed is Samsung's direction for the Note20 Ultra.

You see, while the Galaxy Note series has always been known as the workhorse in Samsung's line of smartphones, the Korean company is trying to rebrand the Galaxy Note series as more of a lifestyle smartphone.

During the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note series back in August, Yoonsoo Kim, President of Samsung Malaysia Electronics, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has redefined the meaning of work and play.

Kim wants the Samsung Galaxy Note20 and the Note20 Ultra to be the one device people turn to for work and play, the 'master of all' device, in short.


So, that got us thinking: what if we turn the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra into an absolute entertainment device? 

What if we forget about its crazy processing power, its revolutionary S-Pen and the top-of-the-range camera system (click here to read more about its features) and 'relegate' it to being just a Facebook/YouTube machine.

We did exactly that. 

We got a hold of a Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra (in the gorgeous 'Mystic Bronze' colour nonethless) and used it as our go-to entertainment device for two weeks.

Here are some of our thoughts:

#1 It is a pretty solid gaming phone


The top-of-the-range Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra is powered by an Exynos 990 chipset and 12GB of RAM, so it could pretty much handle any thing you throw at it.

The performance of the Note20 Ultra, we can confirm, is top notch. There were no noticable lags when we were using the phone, and switching between heavy apps was fast and fluid.

We encountered no problems switching out of the game we've been playing to reply a text message, and jumping back into the game again without so much of a hiccup.

To really put it to the test, we opened all the apps we have downloaded in the background, and we proceeded to jump in and out of them to try and make the smartphone show us some weakness but to no avail.  


On top of the solid internals, the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra is pretty solid to hold as well, thanks to the premium material they used to make the phone (it is, after all, a flagship device).

We're not sure if it's also due to the thickness of the aluminium Samsung used to build the exterior, but after an hour of 'Asphalt Legends', the phone doesn't get too hot too hold. In fact, it doesn't even get hot that much at all. 

So, if you're one of those who like to game all day every day, the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra doesn't need a time out; you can just go on and on for hours on end.

We know, because we tried.

#2 Gorgeous, gorgeous screen 


Eventhough this writer is an iPhone user, even he knows that Samsung makes one one of the best -- if not, the best -- smartphone screens in the market.

The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra is no different, as the 6.9-inch screen is extremely bright and vibrant. We felt that every colour we see on the screen pops out a little more, so we went and tested it out by watching 'Coco' on the Note20 Ultra.

The verdict? It's beautiful! It's like watching a movie at one of those Onyx halls at GSC, but on the palm of your hands. It really is that stunning.

Also, the screen is bright enough that you can use it under direct sun light without cranking the brightness to the max. 


But the thing we really love about Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra is its refresh rate. Coming from an iPhone 11 Pro Max with a low refresh rate (ugh!), the Note20 Ultra's 120hz refresh rate is, really, a sight to behold.

You can see, with your own naked eyes, just how smooth the screen is and just how incredibly fast the touch response is on the phone. 

We found ourself suffering from high refresh rate withdrawal syndrome when we returned the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra and settled back to our iPhone. You know what you need to do, Apple!


OK, here comes the most important question: considering how incredibly vibrant and incredibly fast the refresh rate on the the Note20 Ultra is, can its 4,500mAh battery last the entire day?

The answer is...yes! During the entire two weeks we get to keep the phone, we've used it to replace our iPad as the go-to entertainment device, which means that we used the Galaxy Note20 Ultra for all our video, Netflix, social media stalking and gaming needs.

We start the day with a full charge, and we put it through the paces for the entire day, and by the time we log out at around 10pm, we still have around 20 to 25 per cent of battery life left.

Normally, we would take all these smartphone makers' claim of 'full day battery life' with a pinch of salt, but Samsung managed to back up their claims with the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra, so well done, Samsung.  

#3 Sound system is adequate

When it comes to the sound system on the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra, well, it's a hit and miss, but we'll start with the hit first.

The Note20 Ultra boasts a front-facing speaker via the earpiece, and a set of stereo speakers at the bottom.

For the most part, the speakers were adequate when we were using it; the sounds were sharp, and it is loud enough for your normal gaming and video-watching needs.


But when we went a little bit louder, we started hearing a little bit of a break in the audio, maybe because we're not meant to go that far while watching a video? We're not really sure. 

The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra's sound system is, therefore, adequate: it's not the loudest smartphone with the most impressive audio performance out there, but it is not the worst either.


Now that we've covered what we like about the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra, it is time for us to take a look at some of the downside. 

These downsides may differ from person to person, but during our review, we found that there are certain drawbacks about the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra.

#1 The camera bump is awkward

The elephant in the room -- and this is a pretty big elephant -- is that the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra's camera bump is a little bit over the top.

The huge camera module at the back, which raises up almost half a centimeter, is used to house the Note20 Ultra's impressive camera tech, so it is understandable that it's overly big when you need to pack so much stuff into one small space.

While the camera bump isn't that noticeable when you're holding the phone upright, it becomes an entirely different matter when you hold it horizontally (aka your gaming stance).


The size of the camera bump is a little bit intrusive, and makes it hard and awkward to hold after a while. We often found ourselves trying to find the best way to hold the phone and keep our grip stable, but the camera bump makes that a little bit harder to do.

Putting the phone flat on the table doesn't work either, as it rocks quite a little bit when you're tapping the screen due to the giant bump.  

Simply put, there's no optimum way to hold the Note20 Ultra when you're gaming; you either spread your middle and ring finger to let the hugh bump rest between those fingers and risk a finger cramp, or you just rest your fingers on the camera bump and get use to wiping those finger smudges off after every gaming session.
 

#2 We need more speakers!


Like we mentioned above, the speakers on the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra does a good enough job...until you turn your phone sideways to play a game.

The main speakers, the one that boasts the surround sound system, is located on the bottom left of the phone, which is also the prime location where you rest the phone on your palm when you're holding the phone horizontally. 

It becomes a problem when you're gaming, because your palm would block the speakers and the sound will come out muffled. Often times, the awkward position of the speakers would force us to turn the volume on the phone a little louder, just so that we can hear footsteps better in 'PUBG Mobile'.


In this case, the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra would benefit from having speaker grilles on both sides of bottom of the phone, just like the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Of course, this problem can easily be solved by using a pair of earphones while you're gaming, but if you're one of those who prefer to do it the old school way, you may have to compromise on the sound a little bit.

Verdict

There's really no surprise here, because as expected, the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra is a solid gaming and entertainment device, just because it is equipped with Samsung's latest and greatest tech. 

The gorgeous giant screen, the premium build quality and the high refresh rate make the Note20 Ultra one of the best smartphones-slash-entertainment devices on the market.

But there's just one setback: the price.


The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra starts at RM5,199, which is a pretty steep price to pay if you're looking for a smartphone just for your gaming needs.

The Note20 Ultra shouldn't come cheap, so it should not be on top of your list if you're just looking for a gaming smartphone.

Instead, if you're one of those people who need all the power you can get on your smartphone, or a smartphone that can keep up with your busy schedule, the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra comes highly recommended.

The gaming and entertainment bit is just a bonus.

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