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
15 months ago
Oh, the irony of photographing a garbage dumpster. ?
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
15 months ago
No phone is worth $1400, Android or iPhone.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SDJim Avatar
15 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
15 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
15 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
15 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

siir apple event april 20

Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
Siri has apparently prematurely revealed that Apple plans to hold an event on Tuesday, April 20, where the company is expected to reveal brand new iPad Pro models and possibly its long-awaited AirTags trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Upon being asked "When is the next Apple Event," Siri is currently responding with, "The special event is on Tuesday, April...
apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...
tim cook toronto star

Tim Cook Says Apple is 'Not Against Digital Advertising' Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch With App Tracking Transparency

Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, Apple will be requiring apps to receive a user's permission to track their activity for targeted advertising purposes, as part of a privacy measure known as App Tracking Transparency. Ahead of App Tracking Transparency being enforced, Apple CEO Tim Cook has participated in a privacy-focused interview with the Toronto Star, telling the...
a13 bionic mockup

Apple Made Sudden Security Changes to its Chips in Fall 2020

Monday April 12, 2021 8:15 am PDT by
Apple made unusual mid-production hardware changes to the A12, A13, and S5 processors in its devices in the fall of 2020 to update the Secure Storage Component, according to Apple Support documents. According to an Apple Support page, spotted by Twitter user Andrew Pantyukhin, Apple changed the Secure Enclave in a number of products in the fall of 2020:Note: A12, A13, S4, and S5 products...
HomePod G4 Feature

Bloomberg: Future HomePod May Feature iPad Connected Via Robotic Arm to Track Users Around The Room During FaceTime Calls

Monday April 12, 2021 3:50 am PDT by
In a report outlining a possible Apple TV with a combined HomePod and camera, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that Apple is exploring a future high-end HomePod speaker that could include an iPad connected via a robotic arm that tracks and follows users around a room. From the report: The Cupertino, California-based technology giant, is also mulling the launch of a high-end speaker with a touch ...