Time and again, Samsung has proved its mettle with its flagship duo - the Galaxy S-series and Galaxy Note. The Galaxy S20 Ultra is the top-of-the-line Android smartphone in the market today, with a 108 MP camera sensor but the photography experience could have been a notch higher. What used to be the brand's best feature has held it back with this one. But the phone isn't just about the camera as it brings a lot to the table.
There used to be a design element in the keypad phones. But the touchscreen phones - today's smartphones - all look alike. There isn't anything unique about the design that makes a phone stand out. A huge touchscreen slab dominates the front and the huge camera bump at the rear is a little uninspiring.
That said, incorporating a huge screen in a device that is still operational as a phone is challenging. The Galaxy S20 Ultra feels big, heavy and is slippery. Yet, it is well balanced and the curved edges make it comfortable to hold. But it isn't designed for single-handed operation and I had to use both hands. Neither does it fit in the pocket easily. One good thing is that the IP68 rating makes it dust and water-resistant. There are the regular buttons for power, volume control, and thankfully no Bixby button this year. Headphone jack is missing but a Type-C headphone is bundled in the box.
The 6.9-inch AMOLED display is bright, crisp... mesmerising. The 120Hz refresh rate support makes everything look fluid and free-flowing but can be experienced only at full HD+ resolution. The 60Hz refresh rate has been turned on by default but I was able to switch to the higher setting from the display settings. Watching graphics, streaming content, playing games and even reading, everything was a delight on this massive screen. Especially, the Samsung Global Goals app pushed vibrant looking graphics on the lock screen. Samsung Global Goals app is a great way to contribute to global causes as every in-app ad viewed earns money to be donated. Coming back to the display, no one comes close to what Samsung offers in its flagship devices.
Touted to be the biggest highlight of the S20 Ultra - its camera setup - is a mixed bag. The four-camera module camera setup at the rear has a 108MP wide-angle camera, 12MP ultra-wide camera, 48MP telephoto lens and a depth vision camera. The star - the 108MP - uses pixel binning to capture images at 12 MP resolution. There is an option to capture at 108 MP too but the file size is huge (35 MB or even more) and images were overexposed. However, it does give an option to zoom in the image and crop. Overall, the camera does a pretty good job in well-lit surroundings and even low lights by capturing sharp and vibrant images. However, I struggled with autofocus on this device and often ended up missing shots of fast-moving objects such as birds. The 100x zoom feels like a gimmck as the device stumbles even at 30x zoom, even when mounted on a tripod. This reminds me of how easily I captured some stunning shots using the HUAWEI P30 at 30x zoom. The ultra-wide camera and the telephoto lens are worthy of praise. The latter captured some impressive bokeh shots. The camera performance is incomplete without the neat user interface. Only a handful of options - single take, photo, video, and more are listed at the bottom. While I was able to switch between the 108MP from the photo mode itself, other modes including pro, panorama, food, night, live focus, pro video and others were accessible within the 'more' option.
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The flagship smartphone is powered by Exynos 990 processor paired with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. The overall performance was smooth while carrying out tasks such as browsing the web, using the camera, playing games, working on documents, emails, and more. The device tends to heat up after long sessions of camera usage and gaming. Samsung has added a 5,000mAh battery for this powerhouse that lasted me a day with heavy usage, which included a couple of hours of calling, web browsing, camera, gaming, emails, social network - and the brightness set to automatic. To get more juice, a reduced screen refresh rate will be helpful. A 25W adapter is bundled in the box that can fast charge the phone. While the phone also supports wireless charging, I was able to turn on fast wireless charging option from the phone's setting.
The most premium of the S20 flagship series, you do get some extras with the Ultra priced at Rs 97,999. While it is a great device, it isn't perfect with my biggest worry being the camera, which is erratic.
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