(Pocket-lint) - Samsung has two versions of the Samsung Galaxy Note - the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the regular Galaxy Note.
As fans of the series will recall, in 2019, Samsung offered two sizes of this phone, taking the Note 10 smaller while pushing the Note 10+ as the larger size model. In reality, it was the Note 10+ that was the true successor to the Note crown, while the "normal" model slipped into a smaller and more affordable position.
That gap between the Note 20 and the Ultra model has become wider in 2020. Here's how they compare.
- Note 20 Ultra: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm, 208g, Gorilla Glass 7
- Note 20: 161.6 x 75.2 x 8.3mm, 192g, polycarbonate back
Never has so much been written about design when it comes to two phones in the same family. In the past, Samsung has often offered much the same design between regular and plus models. That changed with the launch of the S20 Ultra - and the Note 20 Ultra is different to the regular Note 20 too.
While the difference in size is to be expected because the displays are a different size, the design itself is quite different too. The Note 20 Ultra has flattened ends and squared corners, while the Note 20 has softer curved corners.
The Note 20 also moves to a plastic back - or "glasstic" as Samsung calls it - rather than glass. This is quite a move, considering that Samsung has been using glass for its rear panels for some time. It also means the Note 20 is positioned quite differently to the Note 20 Ultra with the Ultra being the more premium model when it comes to build quality.
- Note 20 Ultra: 6.9in, 3088 x 1440 pixel (496ppi), 120Hz
- Note 20: 6.7in, 2400 x 1080 pixels (393ppi), 60Hz
While the displays are a different size, there's a big difference in technology too. The Ultra gets a 6.9-inch AMOLED display with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate and Quad HD+ resolution. It's pretty much as flagship as you can get.
The Note 20 display has the same display as the Note 10 Lite. That's a 6.7-inch AMOLED Full HD+ at 60Hz and flat - so missing Samsung's signature flagship curved edges.
It's a pretty big difference, although there will be many who don't mind the lower resolution or refresh rate. What's important is that it still offers the S Pen features on a display that's big and that's a hallmark of the Galaxy Note family.
What is different to previous years is that the Note 20 isn't getting that smaller display like the Note 10 offered, which was 6.3 inches.
- Note 20 Ultra: Qualcomm SD865 Plus or Exynos 990, 8GB/12GB RAM, 128GB/256GB/512GB storage, 4500mAh
- Note 20: Qualcomm SD865 Plus or Exynos 990, 8GB RAM, 128GB/256GB storage, 4300mAh
When it comes to the core hardware, we return to some sort of parity between the two Note models. Both are powered either by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus or the Exynos 990, using Qualcomm in some regions and Exynos in others as we've previously seen from Samsung.
The Ultra comes with 8GB of RAM in the LTE model and 12GB RAM in the 5G model, while the Note 20 sticks to 8GB in both, reinforcing a different positioning of these phones. Storage options differ depending on LTE or 5G too.
The Note 20 LTE comes in one model with 256GB storage, while the 5G model is offered in 128GB and 256GB options, all region dependant. The Note 20 Ultra comes in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage options in the 5G model and 256GB and 512GB storage options in the LTE model, again region dependant. Only the Ultra offers microSD support for storage expansion.
When it comes to batteries, the Note 20 Ultra has a 4500mAh capacity while the Note 20 has a 4300mAh capacity. There's not a huge difference here, but with a smaller display, the Note 20 isn't really disadvantaged in the battery department.
- Note 20 Ultra
- Main: 108MP f/1.8
- Ultra-wide: 12MP f/2.2
- Zoom: 12MP f/3.0 5x, 50X SpaceZoom
- Note 20
- Main: 12MP f/1.8
- Ultra-wide: 12MP f/2.2
- Zoom: 64MP f/2.0 3x, 30X SpaceZoom
If you're a Samsung fan, then the cameras in these respective devices might look familiar. On first glance they are similar to the load-out on the S20 Ultra and S20 models, although the 48-megapixel zoom of the S20 Ultra has been swapped out for a 12-megapixel zoom, now giving you 50X zoom, rather than the 100X zoom of the S20 Ultra, with 5x optical.
The regular Note 20 also gets a respectable camera load-out. It has a system very similar to the Galaxy S20, with a 12-megapixel main sensor with big pixels. It also offers zoom, but only 30X digital - which is 3x optical. It uses the 64-megapixel sensor here to enable the 8K video capture (as it did on the S20), while the Ultra uses the 108-megapixel sensor for 8K.
Both phones also offer an ultra-wide camera, which is the same. They also both have the same front 10-megapixel selfie camera.
What's clear here is this is an area where Samsung doesn't appear to be dropping the Note 20 too far. Sure, it's not the same as the Ultra, but then increasing the resolution just so you can combine pixels back to 12-megapixels doesn't automatically make for a better camera - a lot will comes down to the computation behind the lens and that's pretty much the same in that regard. This separation of cameras is similar to what we've seen on the S21 and S21 Ultra models too.
The two Galaxy Note 20 models are radically different this year, with Samsung aiming to open a wider gap between these two devices than it did in 2019. That might be a reflection of how the Galaxy Note 10, or the Galaxy Note 10 Lite, was received.
The Note 20 picks up some of what the Note 10 Lite offered but sticks to some of the premium aspects in the core hardware and the camera. This is reflected in the price of the handset somewhat. Even without the top specs, that larger display is much more useful for the S Pen.
The Note 20 Ultra is rather more predictable. It is the true flagship with a high price to match and the best of everything Samsung has to offer. At its heart, that's what the Galaxy Note should be - but with so many big screen - affordable - phones around, we suspect that's what's driven Samsung to make the regular Note 20 a little more ordinary.