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.


Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

(View all)
Avatar
8 months ago
Oh, the irony of photographing a garbage dumpster. ?
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
8 months ago
No phone is worth $1400, Android or iPhone.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
8 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)
Avatar
8 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)
Avatar
8 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)
Avatar
8 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 12 Pro in Graphite and iPhone 12 in Blue Shown Off in Unboxing Videos

Monday October 19, 2020 8:20 am PDT by
While the iPhone 12 Pro does not launch until Friday, we now have an early unboxing video of the device courtesy of Twitter account DuanRui, providing a closer look at the shiny new flat-edge design and sleek Graphite color option. Ben Geskin re-uploaded the unboxing video to YouTube, which we've embedded below: Geskin has also uploaded an unboxing video of the iPhone 12 in Blue: ...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Pro Demand Higher Than Expected

Sunday October 18, 2020 10:39 pm PDT by
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a research note this morning detailing what he's seen with the volume of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pre-orders in the first weekend of sales. Kuo had previously indicated that Apple's estimated shipment allocations for the new iPhone models placed the iPhone 12 at the top with 40-45% of inventory allocation (up from 15-20%). However, ...

Apple's New MagSafe Charger and Cases Begin Arriving to Customers

Saturday October 17, 2020 10:10 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe charger and cases have begun arriving to some customers earlier than expected, and images of the accessories have started to surface on Twitter. The photos provide a first look at the products in real-world use. As of writing, some MagSafe cases are also available for pickup at select Apple Stores in countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany. Filip...

HomePod Mini Cable is Non-Detachable, Ends With USB-C Connector for Use With Included 20W Power Adapter

Friday October 16, 2020 12:45 pm PDT by
While not detailed in the tech specs, MacRumors can confirm that Apple's new HomePod mini features a non-detachable power cable that ends with a USB-C connector for use with the 20W power adapter included in the box. With the switch to USB-C, the HomePod mini could potentially be powered by a wider range of devices and peripherals, ranging from MacBooks to USB-C battery packs with enough...

Samsung Mocks Apple for Ditching Power Adapters With iPhone 12 Lineup

Thursday October 15, 2020 11:51 am PDT by
Samsung on its social channels is mocking Apple for removing the power adapter from the iPhone 12 lineup and other iPhone models, pointing out the fact that the Samsung Galaxy smartphones continue to ship with a power adapter. "Included with your Galaxy," reads a Samsung Facebook post that features a picture of a power adapter. Apple notably is no longer providing power adapters or...

New Google App Feature Lets You Hum a Song to Search for It

Saturday October 17, 2020 4:05 am PDT by
Google has added a new feature to its Search app that allows you to hum a song that's stuck in your head, and then use the company's machine learning algorithm to try and identify it. In the Google app or using the Google Search widget, tap the mic icon and say "what's this song?" or click the "Search a song" button. Then start humming the tune for 10-15 seconds. When you're done, the...

Brazilian Certifications Suggest iPhone 12 Mini Features 2,227mAh Battery and iPhone 12 Has 2,815mAh Battery

Friday October 16, 2020 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone mini has the shortest battery life out of all the iPhones in the iPhone 12 lineup due to its small size, but Apple has not provided public information about the battery's capacity. A regulatory filing from Brazil, however, suggests the iPhone 12 mini has a battery capacity of 2,227mAh. The same regulatory information says the iPhone 12 features a 2,815mAh battery, which is...

iPhone 12 Pro Pre-Orders Already Selling Out With Delivery Times Pushing Into November

Friday October 16, 2020 6:35 am PDT by
Apple today opened pre-orders for the 6.1-inch models of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro through its website and the Apple Store app, and estimated delivery times are already slipping into November for select configurations in the United States. Customers ordering a SIM-free/Pacific Blue/128GB version of the iPhone 12 Pro, for example, are already facing an estimated delivery window of...

Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Charger for iPhone 12

Monday October 19, 2020 11:54 am PDT by
Alongside the new iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a MagSafe charger that attaches to the back of the iPhones using magnets embedded both in the charger and in the iPhone. It allows for speedier charging and paves the way for a portless iPhone in the future. MagSafe chargers are shipping out and are in some Apple retail locations now, and we picked one up to check it out. Subscribe to the ...

Apple Offering Free AirPods With iPhone 11 Purchase in India as Part of Diwali Celebration

Friday October 16, 2020 12:35 pm PDT by
Apple today launched a new Diwali promotion in India that will see the company providing customers with a set of AirPods with the purchase of any iPhone 11 model. The new iPhone 12 models are not part of the promotion. Apple is offering the standard AirPods With Charging Case free with purchase, but customers can choose to upgrade to the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case or the AirPods Pro....