Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely ongoing assessment: 7 standout and not-so-great options at present


The Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely is arresting, however costly. This is what we expect to date.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

I am not gonna lie: reviewing the Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely 5G throughout a pandemic is bizarre. Usually, I hit the road early within the day and depend on the cellphone as my lifeline from morning ’til night time, capturing photographs of all the things and something, actually residing with the system and studying its rhythms. One of the best factor ever is with the ability to naturally use a cellphone’s options within the second the place they make sense.

Issues are completely different now. A number of my standard actions are shuttered, and now that I am working and residing an hour from CNET’s San Francisco workplace and its plethora of attention-grabbing structure, avenue scenes and nightlife, discovering pure methods to make use of the Be aware 20 Extremely as a substitute of the always-open laptop computer that now appears like a literal extension of my physique is extra of a problem. For instance, when following a house exercise on the Be aware 20 Extremely — which has a beautiful 6.9-inch show — I saved questioning why I wasn’t simply utilizing the 13-inch laptop computer display screen as a substitute to comply with the strikes. And the standard night time scene close to the place I stay? A not-very-photogenic streetlight.

So here is one of many large questions I am trying to reply by the point the Be aware 20 Extremely assessment interval is full: How does a tool constructed for energy customers, who’re energetic in society, match right into a world already modified by the coronavirus pandemic?

That is to not say I am not having fun with my time with the Be aware 20 Extremely. I am having a blast attending to know the ins and outs of this energy cellphone. I’ve already fallen in love with the signature bronze shade of the $1,300 (£1,179, AU$1,894) flagship system, and the truth that its matte end deters fingerprints.

It is glossy and exquisite — till you get to the huge digital camera bump —  but it surely’s additionally huge, awkward for my smaller arms to maneuver and perplexing with regards to sure design choices. That is an ongoing assessment, so my impressions might change and deepen as time goes on. Preserve studying for my observations to date, and for extra on the usual Be aware 20, which prices $1,000 (£849, AU$1,499).

Galaxy Be aware 20 (128GB, $999)

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Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely (begins at 128GB, $1,299)

Order from Samsung | Verizon | AT&T | Xfinity Cell | T-Cell | US Mobile | Finest Purchase 

 Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

That Be aware 20 Extremely digital camera bump means enterprise.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Be aware 20 Extremely: 7 issues I like proper now

Shade: I can see why Samsung made mystic bronze its signature colour and swapped a shiny end for a glossy, refined matte sheen. It is lustrous and understated with out being boring, and much much less of a grease entice. No less than it seems that method.

Informal pictures: Taking photographs is enjoyable. Pictures are vivid and 5x optical zoom retains image high quality excessive sufficient to make me maintain utilizing it. Extremely-wide angle photographs are at all times an amazing device to have within the picture arsenal to offer dramatic impact. Sure, the Be aware 20 Extremely continues Samsung’s prevalence to oversaturate some photographs and 108-megapixel pictures can produce blended outcomes. Total, I am pleased with most photographs.

Zoom pictures is wanting higher: I am glad the Be aware 20 Extremely steps again from the Galaxy S20 Extremely’s 100x “house” zoom. My greatest shot at 50x AI-assisted zoom was one I lucked into. It seems good, however even with a stabilizing power like a tripod, the picture jumps like loopy.

Display high quality: 6.9-inches and, as at all times, is vivid and sensible. This was glorious for studying the information, watching movies and scrolling by photographs. See the flipside to brightness under. Because the bezel’s so slim, I maintain by accident urgent the perimeters of the cellphone, however the picture itself is terrific, even on the default FHD+ setting of two,326×1,080 pixels (it goes as much as WQHD+, which is 3,088×1,440 pixels). 

Stylus tips: My favourite Galaxy Be aware instruments return to life, like taking a very exact screenshot utilizing the S Pen, utilizing the magnifying device to learn on-line menus and too-small font (so easy), and simply making a display screen recording or GIF of a portion of the show. There are a couple of extra in addition to, like writing on high of a PDF you possibly can import into the notes app (sure!) and annotating a display screen. You too can double-click the S Pen button to erase what you have written. It is not new this yr, but it surely’s a favourite.

Selfie shutter button: Taking a selfie utilizing the S Pen is a breeze while you press the stylus button with one hand with out having to stay your arm out at an ungainly angle or fear about dropping the cellphone. Face tone filters for selfies are good so as to add some heat or step on the breaks if an image is oversaturated. 

Cellphone calls: Who makes use of a cellphone anymore? I do! Lots! Particularly now that I take a variety of work calls whereas out on a stroll. Each name has sounded nice in my space, however in fact your state of affairs might range relying on the service the place you reside.

7 Be aware 20 Extremely options I am retaining an in depth eye on

Battery life: After an uneven first day, the Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely’s 4,500-mAh battery is behaving extra like what I would anticipate for a flagship cellphone — whew. On my heaviest day of use to date, it was at 35% after 12 hours (which included an hour and a half of Google Maps navigation) and slowly drained to 16% by 7am. This was utilizing the default 120Hz display screen setting utilizing adaptive brightness and no battery optimization setting. I’ve now turned that on, so we’ll see the way it goes.

That digital camera bump: It is laborious to disregard and is frankly a little bit of an eyesore. With no case, I consistently fear about dropping it and cracking the digital camera array, which might undoubtedly be the very first thing to hit, or else laying it down and dragging or transferring the system in a method that scratches the digital camera. This has occurred to me earlier than and ruined each ultrawide picture thereafter, so belief me after I say that is no idle concern.

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First Look: Be aware 20 and Be aware 20 Extremely


It is heavy: After an particularly grueling day, I wished to veg out watching Netflix earlier than drifting off to sleep. After 10 minutes, my hand grew heavy attempting to carry up the cellphone. I switched to my cellphone stand, propping the Be aware 20 Extremely on the stand and in flip placing the stand on my stomach. It wobbled and swayed each time I laughed. It even fell off as soon as. I lastly put the stand and cellphone on my nightstand and flipped to my aspect to observe, till I acquired a crick in my neck and referred to as it quits after about an hour. Nice sound and picture high quality, although.

The S Pen placement: It might be one thing I merely have to get used to, however to date, the transfer from the appropriate aspect of the cellphone to the left is not working all that properly for me. There’s nothing inherently flawed with the design, however for some cause reaching for it appears like a chore. Did it transfer to accommodate the digital camera {hardware}? We’ll see if I heat as much as the adjustments because the assessments go on.

Nighttime display screen brightness: With the lights out, Android’s Wind Down mode on and the brightness slid to its lowest setting, the display screen is simply too vivid to induce sleepiness. It is extra more likely to rev me up throughout middle-of-the-night wakeups than lull me again to sleep. I would like to see a extra aggressive midnight setting. 

Wired headphones do not come within the field. My colleague Patrick Holland embraces this — and possibly for you, it is not an enormous deal as Samsung transitions customers towards wi-fi earbuds like its Galaxy Buds Dwell (aka Galaxy Beans). However the Galaxy Buds stay value $170 and Samsung spent years touting the $99 worth of the wired headphones that got here within the field. So for those who did not care all that a lot about wi-fi headphones (for instance, they at all times fall out of my ears or decide up wind noise outdoors,) you are mechanically shedding the $99 worth of the bundled headphones, plus the $170 or nevertheless a lot you wind up spending on one thing else. So for those who do not have already got headphones you wish to use, your value of possession simply went up.

It could possibly get a little bit toasty. My CNET colleagues and I’ve seen the Be aware 20 Extremely appeared to each generate and dissipate various warmth — this has been a each day incidence. Nothing out of the unusual, simply an emanating heat that telephones (and laptops and different electronics) can get after they’re working laborious. On a sizzling summer season day, this hasn’t been probably the most nice sensation in my pocket and hand, however positively not a dealbreaker.

What is going to we check subsequent?

  • Extra S Pen gestures. I’ve tried them out, however have not but discovered my groove.
  • Night time pictures — time to scout out one thing worthy of photographing in an unforced method, which is harder when streets are near-deserted and bars and eating places function a bustling to-go enterprise.
  • Professional video mode. Possibly a neighborhood squirrel will do one thing attention-grabbing.
  • Gaming with this mix of display screen, battery life, weight and razor-thin bezels.
  • Be aware app tips. I’ve skilled some, however have to spend a little bit extra time to essentially get used to them.
  • UWB Level to Share: Utilizing Google’s Close by Share, it is meant that can assist you switch recordsdata to different Samsung units geared up with this characteristic. That could be a bit difficult to check out with my work-from-home mandate and social distancing pointers in play — keep tuned.

There’s nonetheless a lot to see because the Be aware 20 Extremely begins to settle in as my each day cellphone for the following week. Preserve checking again as this assessment develops day-to-day. And maintain studying for our authentic impressions on the Be aware 20 Extremely and customary Be aware 20. And scroll to the very finish for all of the specs.

The Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely jogs my memory of a determine straight from Greek mythology. With its glossy profile, resplendent bronze end (for its signature colour), and thick digital camera bump on the again staring out like a set of compound eyes, it does not take way more than a look to see this new cellphone for energy customers could be very a lot siren-meets-cyclops.

The Be aware 20 and Be aware 20 Extremely’s seems are only the start of the story — and there is way more under — together with one genuinely stunning change. However earlier than we go there, it is necessary to grasp the context into which these telephones are coming to mild. The Galaxy Be aware 20 telephones are accessible for preorder now and are anticipated to reach by the official sale date, Aug. 21. The Be aware 20 begins at $1,000 (£849, AU$1,499) and the Be aware 20 Extremely begins at $1,300 (£1,179, AU$1,849).

The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world on its head, endangering lives, launching a international recession and throwing into query the necessity for a premium cellphone whose most cost-effective mannequin prices $1,000, which is $50 greater than final yr’s entry-level Galaxy Be aware 10. However whereas Samsung asks us to contemplate the deserves of a 5G system with juiced-up cameras and a few options higher suited to the boardroom than the lounge, Google has simply launched an glorious $349 no-frills cellphone that appears extra consistent with these lean and uncertain days.

The timing is coincidental, however unlucky. Telephones can take greater than a yr to cycle by the pipeline, so when Samsung’s designers and engineers have been plotting the Be aware 20 refresh, the characteristic roadmap was properly established. The Be aware line has at all times stood for software program and specs that went above and past. Whereas most of the options and updates, like new S Pen gestures tuned to working PowerPoint shows, will make sense for a post-pandemic world, the state of COVID-19 circumstances at present types a weak argument for the “regular” actions that advantage such a tool.

That is not to say that the Be aware 20 and 20 Extremely will not have a spot within the who’s who checklist of 2020 telephones, although it is too quickly to know. I spend all day on my laptop computer, however nonetheless typically attain for my cellphone as a second and even most popular display screen to learn in mattress, on the sofa or on the kitchen desk after I desire a change of tempo. I exploit cell funds greater than I ever did earlier than, as retailers in my space eschew money in favor of touchless transactions. And battery life continues to be of the utmost significance as I reconnect with associates and coworkers throughout hours-long walks with simply my cellphone as a solution to get contemporary air. Samsung, too, says cell utilization has been up throughout this time.

The distinction is that, with out an finish to the pandemic in sight, it feels more durable to get on board with a cellphone whose major options really feel much less compelling on the outset by dint of the occasions. In fact, I hope the Be aware 20 and Be aware 20 Extremely win me over after I get to check out the assessment items. I hope Samsung’s trade-in and yearly improve applications entice its loyal prospects to improve to a tool that will properly ship the sort of core performance, long-term battery life and pleasing extras that may make a cellphone enjoyable to make use of for years.


The Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely has a vivid, huge 6.9-inch show.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

I am prepared for the Galaxy Be aware 20 and Be aware 20 Extremely to persuade me, or no less than attempt their hardest — top-heavy digital camera bulge and all. (Psst. Samsung additionally introduced the Galaxy Z Fold 2 on Wednesday. Though it is positive to value much more than the Be aware 20, its potential to remain open whereas folded has me genuinely excited to see extra.)  

Galaxy Be aware 20 vs. Be aware 20 Extremely: Stunning variations

Samsung eased us into the thought of a extra entry-level Be aware cellphone in 2019, however this yr, there is a large gulf between the usual Galaxy Be aware 20 and the Be aware 20 Extremely. (Scroll to the top for the total specs comparability.)

Be aware 20 Extremely: What you might want to know

The Extremely has a 6.9-inch curved display screen, a extra squared-off form and all of the perks, together with the higher-powered digital camera tech, help for Google’s Close by Share by its UWB Share (extremely large band) characteristic and a microSD card slot as much as 1TB. The display screen has an choice to flip right into a 120Hz refresh fee, the place every pixel refreshes 120 occasions per second, making scrolling liquid-smooth. (We’ll must see how this impacts battery life.)

After which there’s that digital camera bulge. Full disclosure: I have never had an opportunity to see both Be aware 20 in individual right here in California, however my New York colleague, Richard Peterson, was capable of deal with and videotape each units, and try to reply my laundry checklist of questions. 

Attending a digital briefing and poring over our footage, it is clear that from one angle, the Be aware 20 Extremely seems glossy and horny. From one other, it is unpleasantly top-heavy in a method that makes my thoughts leap to a case as a necessity to guard the Be aware 20 Extremely’s digital camera mount. The truth that the digital camera array protrudes so removed from the physique makes this space way more prone to breaks, cracks and scratches when dropped or dragged alongside a floor — for instance, for those who lay the cellphone on its again. 

We’ll put the Be aware 20 Extremely’s new Gorilla Glass Victus shielding on each side to the check, however I’ve banged up sufficient cellphone cameras throughout my profession as a reviewer to counsel avoiding that danger in any respect prices.

The mystic bronze colour sports activities a matte end, whereas mystic black and mystic white are shiny glass.

That digital camera mount on the Be aware 20 Extremely is severe enterprise.

Richard Peterson/CNET

Be aware 20: Did somebody say plastic?

The usual Be aware 20 has a 6.7-inch flat display screen with no curved sides (a staple on the Be aware line for years). However here is the clincher — it has a plastic again, which Samsung prefers to name polycarbonate. There is not any microSD card slot (identical as final yr) and small options are lacking. There are stepped-down digital camera specs (together with no professional video mode), a much less superior display screen expertise with no 120Hz refresh fee choice, a smaller battery capability (4,300 mAh versus 4,500 mAh), much less RAM (8GB versus 12GB), and no UWB sharing.

Embracing pastel, the Be aware 20’s mystic inexperienced, mystic bronze and mystic grey tones all include a matte end. It makes use of a steel body and Gorilla Glass 5 on the entrance, not the newest Gorilla Glass Victus.

The Be aware 20 shares the identical core specs because the Be aware 20 Extremely. The 10-megapixel selfie digital camera, new S Pen gestures and Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor are a part of each telephones. 

However again to the Be aware 20’s plastic backing: That feels out of character for a cellphone household that is usually about showcasing the perfect of the perfect Samsung has to supply. With out having reviewed the cellphone but, a $1,000 cellphone with a plastic again appears laborious to swallow. Possibly I am going to change my thoughts.

Be aware 20 cameras: 108MP, professional video mode, 8K video seize

The digital camera array is the place Samsung needs the Be aware 20 telephones, and particularly the Be aware 20 Extremely, to shine. It is taken a step again from the ostentation of the Galaxy S20 Extremely, which boasted a 100x Area Zoom characteristic and a major digital camera able to capturing a 108-megapixel picture, concentrating as a substitute on the thought of cropping in for extra element. 

Be aware 20 vs. Be aware 20 Extremely digital camera

Galaxy Be aware 20 Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely
Essential digital camera 12-megapixel (F1.8, Twin Pixel AF, OIS, 1.8μm, 79-degree FOV, 1/1.76 inch picture sensor) 108-megapixel (F1.8, OIS, 0.8μm, 79-degree FOV, 1/1.33 inch picture sensor)
Ultrawide angle 12-megapixel (F2.2, 1.4μm, 120-degree FOV) 12-megapixel (F2.2, 1.4μm, 120-degree FOV)
Telephoto 64-megapixel (F2.0, 0.8μm, 76-degree FOV) 12-megapixel (F3.0, 1.0μm, 20-degree FOV)
Entrance-facing digital camera 10-megapixel (F2.2, 1.22μm, 80-degree FOV) 10-megapixel (F2.2, 1.22μm, 80-degree FOV)
Zoom 3x hybrid 5x optical
Tremendous Zoom 30x 50x
Laser auto-focus sensor No Sure
Video seize 8K 8K

Samsung nonetheless gave the Be aware 20 Extremely an 108-megapixel digital camera choice — you faucet it to show it on while you need the total decision. In relation to zoom, the Be aware 20 falls again to 50x zoom, with the Be aware 20 settling in at 30x. 

It is attention-grabbing to see Samsung backtrack like this, however the firm appears to be responding to suggestions that the S20 Extremely was too costly and its 100x zoom wasn’t ok or helpful sufficient to justify the worth.

The Be aware 20 Extremely has 5x optical zoom, which ought to make photographs taken in that vary crisper and clearer than utilizing digital zoom alone. We’ll quickly see.

Quicker autofocus within the Be aware 20 Extremely can be designed to provide it an edge over the usual Be aware 20, so you possibly can snap photographs of squirmy pets, amusing facial expressions and flapping hummingbirds quicker, with out lacking the shot. 

A professional video mode packs in additional handbook instruments and choices for capturing footage, which ought to make aspiring moviemakers comfortable. This has been considered one of Samsung’s weaker areas for a number of years, in comparison with the most recent iPhone. As with the Galaxy S20 Extremely, each telephones help 8K video seize. Simply bear in mind, it will make video recordsdata huge on and off your cellphone.

Writing is one factor Galaxy Be aware telephones do greatest.

Richard Peterson/CNET

The Be aware 20 telephones get new S Pen stylus and be aware app tips

What would the Galaxy Be aware be with out its stylus? For loyalists, scribbling, navigating and annotating are a part of the cellphone’s attraction. So is the truth that the Notes app means that you can do all the above. Listed below are the latest options for each Be aware 20 fashions.

New S Pen gesture navigation: Pointing the pen tip away out of your physique (and at a distance from the cellphone), press and maintain the stylus button whereas making considered one of 5 new gestures to return, go residence, open a current app or take a screenshot with Good Choose. You too can squiggle the pen to seize all the display screen.

The S Pen is extra responsive on the Be aware 20 Extremely when the 120Hz display screen choice is on.

Handwriting recognition will get higher with instruments together with autostraighten. 

Samsung Notes will get stay auto-syncing in the end. It will retailer a be aware within the cloud so that you can entry from every other system — so long as you are signed right into a Samsung account.

Connect and time-sync voice recordings. You may get your voice be aware to sync with what you write so it will play again from the time you point out the phrase.

Import a PDF to annotate or spotlight. As a substitute of printing out a web page or downloading it to signal after which add or ship out once more, you possibly can merely mark your signature and export it again once more.

Different Be aware 20 options and goodies

  • UWB help for sharing recordsdata like a digital key. Level to share with different Samsung units utilizing UWB. 
  • Xbox Recreation Go Final offers you entry to over 100 video games you possibly can play on the fly. 
  • Samsung’s Microsoft partnership: Drag-and-drop and syncing from Home windows units and apps to your Samsung cellphone, together with notes and reminders.
  • Samsung DeX, the imaginative and prescient for changing your laptop along with your cellphone, now allows you to join to a different display screen wirelessly to view your content material, say in your TV display screen in your front room. 
  • You may pair a Galaxy Be aware 20 with the brand new Galaxy Buds Dwell to activate noise cancellation. Within the taped demo I noticed, you continue to hear a variety of static and distortion, but it surely did lower out interfering conversations.

Be aware 20 and Be aware 20 Extremely specs

Galaxy Be aware 20 vs. Be aware 20 Extremely

Samsung Galaxy Be aware 20 Samsung Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely
Show measurement, decision 6.7 inches; 2,400×1,080 pixels 6.9 inches; 3,088×1,440 pixels
Pixel density 393 ppi 496 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.36×2.96×0.33 in 6.49×3.04×0.31 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 161.6×75.2×8.Three mm 164.8×77.2×8.1mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.84 oz, 194g 7.33 oz, 208g
Cell software program Android 10 Android 10
Digicam 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Entrance-facing digital camera 10-megapixel 10-megapixel
Video seize 8K 8K
Processor Snapdragon 865 Plus Snapdragon 865 Plus
Storage 128GB 128GB, 512GB
Expandable storage No As much as 1TB
Battery 4,300 mAh 4,500 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen
Connector USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack No No
Particular options S Pen stylus; 5G connectivity; Wi-fi PowerShare; water-resistant (IP68) 5x optical zoom, UWB sharing, S Pen stylus; 5G connectivity; Wi-fi PowerShare; water-resistant (IP68)
Value off-contract (USD) $1,000 $1,300 (128GB); $1,450 (512GB)
Value (GBP) £849 £1,179
Value (AUD) AU$1,499 AU$1,849

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