Saturday, December 4, 2021

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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Review: Decent Specs At Too High A Price

Samsung’s Note series has always been a “fan only” device. Meaning that unless you’ve already been sold into the idea of having a “phablet” with its own pen intact, there isn’t a reason to actually consider getting one.

So far Samsung has made plenty of strides to make the Note series appealing to the masses, especially with the S pen and the extra features you get using it on the device. And no doubt about it, they are some great features. The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 follows in that stride with a stylish and note feature that remains a great appeal, but at the same time Samsung seemed to have sacrificed other areas instead.

This would have been fine… if it weren’t for the fact that this is a premium flagship smartphone with a premium flagship price that starts at RM3899 and upwards.

Design

Straight off the bat, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 actually feels sturdy and great. Which is fine at first, until you realise that the device is actually made mostly of plastic. Under normal circumstances, this is a fine trade off as sure, a cracked glass smartphone is way worse than a scratched plastic smartphone. But then you remember the price tag and wonder if having a mostly plastic smartphone justifies the price. Maybe the features make it worth its while? Let’s get on to that soon.

In the meantime, as mentioned, having a plastic design instead of glass is a fine tradeoff; it’s less of a brick now compared to the S20 as it has rounded edges, and it’s a lot lighter and sturdier. The camera module does stick out a little but doesn’t feel as unappealing as before. It’s a great upgrade overall which I really like.

There are some other interesting changes to the design though, an odd choice to make especially since I foresee only Galaxy Note fans getting their hands on this one. They changed the location of the S pen on the bottom of the device from the right to the left. So you will need to get used to that.

As for the display, in comparison to the Ultra 5G, you’re getting a more flat, non-curve (or waterfall edge) option which in my very humble opinion, is a lot better. Unfortunately, in comparison to the Ultra 5G, you’re getting a 60Hz screen with no option to get it any higher than that. If you think about it, this isn’t a big issue considering even at 60Hz the display does a pretty good job, helps with battery life and is still impressive. Until, again, you remember how much this device costs.

It’s these strange downgrades that, in general, doesn’t devalue the functions and ability of the device and what it can deliver. But the downgrades should mean a lower price tag which definitely doesn’t seem to be the case. If so, then the features and internal hardware should make up for it in some way. Right?

Features and Performance

The main feature of the Galaxy Note series is in its pen and note style of use. Again, the Note 20 Ultra is meant to be the superior option as it has 9ms latency. The normal Note 20? 26ms. Still pretty fast, but notable if you were to test out both devices.

Even so, I enjoyed using the pen as the screen does its best to imitate paper with some haptics that give off such a feeling. Sure, it isn’t the same but I think Samsung did a great job here. Accessing the pen’s features is as easy as ever, and learning to use the pen so you don’t have to physically touch the device to access the camera, flip options and more.

Honestly, this remains a great attraction of the Galaxy Note series and the Galaxy Note 20 does not disappoint.

But then we get to its performance. Remember that we Malaysians are the “unlucky” ones to be utilising Samsung’s own chipset, the Exynos 990. It performed great overall, with everything moving smoothly and being able to access my needed apps quickly wasn’t an issue. The problem came from the fact that it got hot really quickly, where even some time using the note had my hand feeling significantly warmer. Eventually, I had to put the phone down to continue using it.

It’s not the kind of heat that will burn you, of course, but it remains uncomfortable. Samsung really needs to invest in a better cooling system for their devices.

You do get 256GB of storage which is great and more than enough, but take note that it cannot be expanded further.

Camera

Just as how I know Samsung screens will deliver, I have the same thoughts with the camera. Sure, it’s not S20 level with some crazy 100x Zoom but it’s decent and takes great photos and that’s all I ever need honestly. Sure, it can only support up to 3x hybrid optical zoom but that 3x zoom looks AMAZING and that’s good enough for me. Sometimes less is more in this case.

Being the vanilla Note 20 it doesn’t come with a huge 108MP main camera, but a 12MP camera. Again, it’s not a bad exchange! Photos still look amazing when shot right and you will be satisfied with most of the shots you take. But I will bring up that price tag again, because we have another significant downgrade that’s not reflected in the price.

Battery

samsung galaxy note 20

Sure, the Note 20 has a slightly smaller battery capacity than the Note 20 Ultra, with 4300mAh compared to the latter’s 4500mAh battery. But thanks to the Note 20’s smaller size, lower resolution, and lower refresh rate, the device lasted more than a day which is definitely impressive.

Everything else about its battery capabilities are impressive as well. It took about an hour to fully charge the device using its 25W USB Charger, which is not bad overall. It also supports 15W wireless charging and Samsung’s 4.5W Wireless PowerShare technology means you can also use it for reverse charging so overall this is a great device.

Conclusion

samsung galaxy note 20

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 comes with some significant downgrades that aren’t necessarily as bad as it seems. The device still works well and functions as need be, even with issues such as overheating still plaguing it after all this time. But here’s an obvious problem I can’t let go; it’s still too expensive.

See if this is a more budget friendly option in comparison to the Note 20 Ultra, I would totally recommend this device and can see more people taking this opportunity to try out the Galaxy Note series. But as it is, it’s hard to justify getting the device with said specs at such a high price. The downgrades are too significant; if it had been a 90Hz screen instead of 60Hz it would have been fine, if it had been a 48MP main camera instead of 12MP it would have been fine. But the downgrades are just too obvious and it’s not reflected on the price at all.

Maybe we will see the device getting a sale in the next year or so which would make it worthwhile. But until then, it’s a decent Galaxy Note with decent specs yet too high a price tag to justify getting it.

As such, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 gets a 3 stars from me. You can find out more about the device on Samsung’s official website!

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