Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs. Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: What’s The Difference?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra are now official – but how do the two phones compare? And, most importantly, which is the best phone of the two? Let’s investigate…

Samsung’s Unpacked 2020 event is the yearly landing pad for its new Galaxy Note phones. This year saw the release of a trio of Galaxy Note phones in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

To date, there have been plenty of leaks around the Samsung Galaxy Note 20. But now the dust has settled, we know exactly what we’re dealing with: two phones and two levels of spec – and Samsung’s Exynos 990 CPU for ALL regions save for the USA which gets Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865+ (Note 20 Ultra) and the Snapdragon 865 (Note 20).

You’re probably wondering what the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 looks like, right? Here’s a couple of official shots via Samsung for your viewing pleasure (the Note 20 is first, and the Note 20 Ultra is below).

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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Unboxing Video

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra – Specifications Compared

As always, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is a true flagship phone in every sense of the word. You have big upgrades across the board and plenty of added extras to get excited about. But first, let’s take a look at the specs for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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Galaxy Note 20 Color Options

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Colors: Mystic Gray, Mystic Green, and Mystic Bronze
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, and Mystic White

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 & Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Cameras

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Obviously, as with nearly all new phone launches, the camera arrays on the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra were one of the biggest updates. But unlike previous years, Samsung has shown plenty of restraint with its choice of cameras and sensors for the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra.

But before we get into the meat of the new camera on the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, let’s first look at the camera specs for both phones:

Galaxy Note 20 Camera Technical Specifications

  • Main Camera: 12-megapixel (F1.8, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, 1.8μm, 79-degree FOV, 1/1.76 inch image sensor)
  • Ultrawide Angle: 12-megapixel (F2.2, 1.4μm, 120-degree FOV)
  • Telephoto: 64-megapixel (F2.0, 0.8μm, 76-degree FOV)
  • Front-Facing Camera: 10-megapixel (F2.2, 1.22μm, 80-degree FOV)
  • Zoom: 3x hybrid
  • Super Zoom: 30x
  • Laser Auto-Focus: No
  • Video Capture: 8K

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Camera Technical Specifications

  • Main Camera: 108-megapixel (F1.8, OIS, 0.8μm, 79-degree FOV, 1/1.33 inch image sensor)
  • Ultrawide Angle: 12-megapixel (F2.2, 1.4μm, 120-degree FOV)
  • Telephoto: 12-megapixel (F3.0, 1.0μm, 20-degree FOV)
  • Front-Facing Camera: 10-megapixel (F2.2, 1.22μm, 80-degree FOV)
  • Zoom: 5x optical
  • Super Zoom: 50x
  • Laser Auto-Focus: Yes
  • Video Capture: 8K

As you can see, the Note 20 Ultra’s main sensor, a 108MP setup, is definitely superior to the 12MP sensor on the Note 20 model. This higher MP sensor will allow for more detail in shots and, as pointed out during the launch, is intended for use by professional photographers – or those that demand more from their phone cameras. With 108MP, the level of detail you’ll be able to get in shots will be immense, particularly when paired with the 1/1.33 inch image sensor.

What’s most interesting about the Note 20’s cameras, however, is that Samsung has actually dialed-back some of the specs from the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The S21 Ultra featured 100x zoom, but the Note 20 Ultra will only do 50x and the Note 20, 30x. Samsung did this for two reasons: 1) the S21 Ultra’s zoom just wasn’t good enough, and 2) it made the phone too expensive. Reducing the zoom to a more respectable level keeps the price down without impairing the camera’s overall performance.

The other key difference between the Galaxy Note 20 and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s camera has to do with optical zoom; the Note 20 doesn’t have it – instead, it uses a hybrid zoom. The Note 20 Ultra’s 5x optical zoom will ensure that photos taken using it will be clearer and crisper. Again, this is a small detail but it is something that will make a big difference – especially if you’re a camera nerd.

You also get Samsung’s laser auto-focus on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Laser auto-focus isn’t new; the LG G3 had it many, many moons ago. The idea is that laser auto-focus is faster than standard AF and, because it is driven by smart algorithms, it should technically make taking pictures in all kinds of lighting super-easy, as it will automatically calibrate everything on the fly. All you’ll have to do is take the shot, basically.

Both phones will be able to shoot video in 8K too, and Samsung has seriously upped its game with respect to video editing abilities. Both the Note 20 and the Note 20 Ultra come with a raft of manual tools and software additions that can be used when capturing footage. Just remember: shooting and capturing video in 8K will pretty much devour your phone’s storage!

Analysis – What’re The Main Differences?

As you can see, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is bigger, has a higher quality OLED panel, and a superior camera – it uses a triple-lens setup fronted by a 108MP sensor, whereas the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 uses a 64MP.

With respect to memory, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has 12GB of RAM while the standard Note 20 model has 8GB. You also get more storage options with the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (256GB and 512GB) as well as SD-card support.

And because the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is bigger than the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, you also get a bigger battery too – though not by much, it’s only 4500mAh vs 4300mAh, so there shouldn’t be too much difference between the two phones with respect to battery performance.

I was expecting a slightly lower price for the Galaxy Note 20. It does not have a 120Hz display and it doesn’t have 12GB of RAM, instead, it uses 8GB. It also uses the Snapdragon 865, not the 865+ CPU which is found inside the Note 20 Ultra (if you’re in the USA). As specs go, this isn’t bleeding-edge.


To my eyes, the Note 20 looks like a £799.99/$799.99 phone; it doesn’t feel or look like it should cost $1000 – and I think Samsung has missed a trick here. Had it priced the Galaxy Note 20 more aggressively, more in line with its level of spec and hardware, it could have caused Apple a lot of headaches come Q4 2020.

How so? Well, the iPhone 12 range will be made up of four phones; two of which will likely retail for less than $799 each. The Note 20 Ultra’s price is fine; it has killer specs and only certain people ever go for that kind of trim – you have to REALLY like phones to spend $1299 on one!

I think the Note 20, priced at $799.99, would have made an excellent new addition to the phone market right now. Pricing it inline with handsets from OnePlus and OPPO would have definitely scored Samsung a ton of new converts; at that price, contract deals for the phone would have been less intimidating, and this, in turn, would have driven sales through the roof.

I know Samsung is a premium brand, and when I look at the Note 20 Ultra, I get it – I can see that it is a monster. But the basic Note 20? It just feels like a slight rehash of the Galaxy S20 with an S-Pen. I honestly do not think the Note 20 is worth $999; I’d much rather pick up the OnePlus 8 or OnePlus 8 Pro – they have better spec and cost less.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the true flagship. It packs in all the latest specs and hardware, as well as one of the most potent camera setups we’ve seen so far this year – a triple-lens camera fronted by a 108MP sensor is pretty darn impressive.

You will pay for all this additional hardware and spec, however, so if you do want to go for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, be prepared to be forking over A LOT of money – easily north of $1200/£1200 to buy it outright. Go with the maximum storage, and you’ll be looking at even more.

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If you’re in the US, you’ll get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865+ CPU regardless of which handset you go for. Elsewhere in the world, meaning everywhere apart from the USA, you’ll be getting the Exynos 990 version. And that kind of sucks because that chipset has already caused a fair amount of controversy for Samsung on account of it not being able to hold a candle to the 865+.

Price & Release Date

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 will start from $999/£999 and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra will start from $1299/£1299. Both phones will get a release date on August 21 in the UK and the USA, as well as other regions.

Samsung, however, is now taking pre-orders for both phones, so if you want to be one of the first people to own the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, get your ass over to Samsung’s site now and get your phone pre-ordered.

Alternatively, you can view all the latest deals for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 range here – it pulls in 1000s of potential offers and is completely customizable.

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He has written for Den of Geek, Fortean Times, IT PRO, PC Pro, ALPHR, and many other technology sites. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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