Hands-On With Samsung's New S20 Ultra: Is It Worth $1400?

Samsung in February announced its most expensive non-foldable smartphone to date, the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which has a starting price of $1,400, which is $300 higher than the starting price of Apple's $1,099 iPhone 11 Pro Max.



Apple is often criticized for its high price points, but this year, Samsung went above and beyond matching Apple's expensive smartphones. We recently picked up one of Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra smartphones to see if it's worth the $1,400 price point.

First off, the S20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch OLED display that looks fantastic. Out of the box, it's set to 1080p with a 60Hz refresh rate, but you can bump that up to a 120Hz refresh rate for super smooth scrolling. If you want to use the QHD setting with a higher resolution, you'll be limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, likely due to battery life concerns.

s20ultradisplay
The Galaxy S20 Ultra includes 12 to 16GB RAM (16GB for the highest-end option priced at $1,600), 128 or 512GB of storage (again for that $1,600 model), an SD card expansion slot, a Snapdragon 865 processor (Qualcomm's latest and fastest chip), an in-display fingerprint sensor, and a 5,000mAh battery, which offers impressive battery life.

Samsung has also outfitted the Ultra with some impressive cameras, though some of what's new is a little bit gimmicky. There's a 108-megapixel wide-angle lens that can take some great photos, but 108-megapixel images are massive in size and aren't super great when you're taking a bunch of photos and using smartphone storage.

s2ultra108mp
The lens uses a large sensor that lets in a lot of light to create natural depth of field effects, but we've had some trouble getting the camera to focus properly due to some bugs that Samsung has yet to address.

There's also a 100X Space Zoom feature that's impressive on the surface because it lets you zoom in super far, but a 100X zoom photo isn't actually usable because it's so grainy and unclear. The more modest 30x zoom, though, is quite good.

galaxys20ultrazoom
You can do 8K recording on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, but with the lack of focus tracking, the huge crop factor, and the large file sizes, it's not really worth it because 4K video is more than suitable and it offers better focusing tools. We're going to do a full camera comparison with the S20 Ultra and the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ later this week, so make sure to check back for that video.

The S20 Ultra, like the entire S20 lineup, comes with 5G connectivity, which is major selling point. Most people can't really take advantage of 5G networks yet because they're still in the early stages of rolling out, but people who own S20 smartphones will be ready to take advantage of 5G when it's ready.

s20ultrafull
Right now, 5G is kind of hit or miss. The fastest 5G, mmWave, is limited to some urban areas and suffers from interference from buildings and trees, while 600MHz 5G, designed for rural areas, isn't a whole lot faster than LTE at the current time. 5G is going to get better and it's going to get better quick once 5G is standard across all smartphones, but for now, it's not an entirely necessary feature.

It's not really fair to compare Samsung's February 2020 smartphones with Apple's September 2019 smartphones as Apple is working on upgraded iPhones with specs that better match those found in the S20 lineup, but until those new iPhones come out in fall, Samsung's S20 lineup, and the S20 Ultra in particular, is one of the most powerful smartphones on the market.

Many people may buy their smartphones on plans that split the payments across 24 months and also offer regular upgrades with trade-in, but $1,400 is still a lot to pay even over many months. So is the Galaxy S20 Ultra worth it? No, not for most people.

galaxys20ultraback
Just like the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ isn't for every user, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is aimed at those who want the best of the best in terms of specs. We wouldn't recommend the ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ to the average user over the iPhone 11, and the Galaxy S20 Ultra is also not for the average user, which is why Samsung is selling it alongside the $999 S20 and the $1,200 S20+.

What do you think of Samsung's S20 Ultra? Would you shell out that amount of money for a smartphone? Let us know in the comments.

Tag: Samsung

Top Rated Comments

coolfactor Avatar
12 months ago
Oh, the irony of photographing a garbage dumpster. ?
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
12 months ago
No phone is worth $1400, Android or iPhone.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SDJim Avatar
12 months ago
Spec wars. A bunch of big numbers thrown around, thinly disguised as a value proposition in order to inflate the margins of cheap electronics.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Anonymous Freak Avatar
12 months ago
tl;dr: Betteridge's law of headlines ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headlines') applies here: No, it is not worth $1400.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CausticSoda Avatar
12 months ago
No, of course not! Only Apple is allowed to take customers for a ride. Boo to the Samsung Apple copiers, blah blah blah. Yawn! Let's stop pretending these companies are not all the same.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ThomasJL Avatar
12 months ago
Samsung is the worst of all the Apple copycats. Why? Because Samsung first makes commercials that (rightfully) harshly make fun of Apple’s bad design choices such as removing the headphone jack and including a notch. And then afterwards, Samsung copies those exact same bad design choices! Look at this S20, for example, with no headphone jack and the inclusion of a notch.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iP12 charge airpods feature 2

Hidden iPhone 12 Hardware Feature Could Still be Unlocked

Thursday January 14, 2021 2:51 am PST by
All iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models purportedly have a hidden reverse wireless charging feature, according to an FCC filing. The feature has not yet been activated, but could yet be unlocked for an upcoming Apple accessory. The FCC filing suggests that iPhone 12 models contain the hardware for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) to accessories: In addition to being able to be charged by a...
google maps detailed street level e1611052089473

Google Maps Gains Enhanced Street-Level Detail in Four Major Cities

Tuesday January 19, 2021 2:34 am PST by
Google Maps has quietly been updated to include significantly more detailed street-level information in a handful of key cities around the world. Upon zooming in, Google's maps for Central London, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York now benefit from shapes and widths that match the scale of roads more accurately. Meanwhile, enhanced graphical representations of sidewalks, crosswalks,...
macbook pro flexgate

Apple Extends 13-Inch MacBook Pro Backlight Repair Program

Sunday January 17, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Apple this week extended its worldwide 13-inch MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program, authorizing coverage for eligible notebooks for up to five years after the original purchase date or up to three years after the start date of the program, whichever is longer. The previous cutoff was four years after the original purchase date. Apple launched the program on May 21, 2019 after...
lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
airpods max sim ejector

AirPods Max Headband Removable With Just a SIM Ejector Tool, Hinting at Interchangeable Headbands

Tuesday January 19, 2021 8:25 am PST by
It is possible to remove the headband of AirPods Max with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a different colorway. Image via Prelook In December, MacRumors revealed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attatched and available for sale separately....
macbook pro screensaver table

Some M1 Macs Affected By Fast User Switching Screensaver Bug

Monday January 18, 2021 1:57 am PST by
A growing number of user reports online suggest some of Apple's M1 Mac models are susceptible to a Fast User Switching bug that spontaneously activates the screensaver and leaves the user unable to dismiss it. In macOS Big Sur, Fast User Switching allows users to quickly switch between user accounts without having to completely log out. Based on posts in the MacRumors forums, Apple...
Top Stories 43 Feature

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and iPhone Rumors, Best of CES 2021

Saturday January 16, 2021 6:00 am PST by
This week was sure a busy one in the Apple world, with a flurry of announcements out of CES early in the week followed by a rash of Mac- and iPhone-related rumors later in the week. The new rumors this week included details on updated MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro models, as well as a few other tidbits, so make sure to read on below to get caught up! Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to...
shot on iphone 12 apple

Apple Highlights Photos Shot by iPhone 12 Users: Portraits, Cityscapes, and More

Tuesday January 19, 2021 6:05 am PST by
Apple today shared a gallery of photos shot by customers using the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, with scenes including cityscapes, landscapes, portraits of people, and more at day and night. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by "NKCHU" in China (top) and shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by Rohit Vohra in India (bottom) iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 models have a dual camera ...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple Car Production Again Linked to Kia Motor's US Plant in Georgia

Tuesday January 19, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Hyundai intends to transition the company's Apple Car involvement to its Kia brand as part of an internal arrangement that could see production move to the U.S., according to a new report today. On Sunday, Korea IT News reported that Apple and Hyundai are seeking a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, and that the electric vehicles could be made at a Georgia factory...