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Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra: All about the zoomies

News Corp Australia

SAMSUNG'S new Galaxy Note20 Ultra is guaranteed to give you the 'zoomies'.

That's what we call it when our dog races around the house, zooming in and out, trying to round up his next capture, usually our ageing lapdog.

You can get the same sort of feeling playing in the park with Samsung's new flagship power phone.

With a 5 times optical zoom - and a digital zoom of up to 50 x  - the two kookaburras perched high in the tree above you are easy prey for a photo capture.

Sure, the image result is not something you are going to blow up in a poster on your wall, but it will impress friends following your social feed.

But it's not just the zoom that makes the camera so good on the Note20 Ultra.

It's well, everything.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test. Mark Furler



The wide angle lens is superb, the 8k video camera is class leading, and the pro settings in photo and video mean you can do a whole lot more than your standard point and shoot.

Like the S20 you have great live focus options for both video and photo, meaning you can blur the background and then adjust the effect afterwards.

In pro video mode, you can not only adjust your ISO (speed) but also your aperture, white balance, focus mode and where you microphone records the sound from.

You can record from all directions (omni), from the front, rear, or via a USB or Bluetooth device. You can also adjust the speed of your zooming in and out, allowing for more cinematic effects.

In pro photo mode you can also adjust your tint, contrast, saturation, highlight and shadow.

Samsung's Note 20 Ultra has a decent zoom on it.
Samsung's Note 20 Ultra has a decent zoom on it. Mark Furler



We tested the camera at the beach, on walks, during sunsets over a picturesque dam, and with portraits of our pooch.

The results were stunning - not always - but most of the time.

How you might see the kookaburras with a standard phone.
How you might see the kookaburras with a standard phone.



The new laser focus sensor has resulted in less 'hunting' when trying to focus but as expected, if you have the camera zoomed at much beyond 10 times it will struggle to capture a sharp image of anything moving.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test. Mark Furler



The camera's zoom works best when there is ample light and objects are stationary.

That said, it's no slouch when it comes to sucking in all available light during a seven second exposure (hand held) of a starry night using 'night mode'.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test. Mark Furler



This is not a camera that will replace a top of the range DSLR with a full zoom lens which can capture fast-moving sport action.

However, the combination of three quality cameras means you have far more to work with in your pocket than the average phone.

It has a better zoom than the top of the range iPhone 11 Pro Max but the bokeh effect portrait options are still better with Apple's flagship.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test. Mark Furler



Samsung's 12 megapixel ultra wide camera is beautiful to use for landscapes, while the 108 megapixel  wide angle camera means you can take huge images which you could blow up for framed print on your wall.

The 12MP telephoto lens does have the 100 times zoom that the S20 Ultra has but to be honest I found myself pretty much staying in the 5x to 20 times range.

Of course, the Note 20 Ultra is more than just a camera.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test. Mark Furler


With it's S Pen, it's a power-packed tool for creativity, where it be sketching up a new fashion design idea or jotting down notes for the supermarket run.

Because of the faster refresh rate, the S Pen writes faster. There's also lower latency meaning you feel like you are writing in real-time.

New handwriting auto-straighten and PDF importing features are welcome additions.

Some of the cool things you can do with the S Pen include being able to take a photo with the S Pen button, making notes on everything, adding little messages to your photos, or using it for more precise control in photo and video editing.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra put to the test. Mark Furler



The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra's 6.9 inch screen is the best I've used with stunning visuals and very fast 120 Hz refresh rate.

  A fair bit has been said about the design with some not loving the 'bulky' camera housing.

I actually like it a lot. The camera is the standard feature of the Note20 Ultra so it only makes sense for Samsung to show it off.

The Mystic Bronze colour of the phone we reviewed is very classy, and similar to the rose gold look of Apple's products.

The curved screen can be a little annoying at times, resulting in some accidental app launches and the like but after a few days, you get used to it again and certainly appreciate it when watching movies or videos.



For a phone with a big price tag, the speaker is a little underwhelming though most people are providing going to use wireless headphones or earphones in this price market.

Prices for the Samsung Ultra 20 start at $1894 and go well beyond $2000 for the top of the range 5G model.

There are plenty of other cheaper alternatives out there including the iPhone 11 or 11 Pro, Samsung Galaxy A51, Google Pixel 4A, One Plus 8 or 8 Pro or the Oppo Find X2 or Neo versions, all of which have good cameras.

The Note20 Ultra has a 4500 mAh battery which is slighly smaller than the S20 Ultra's 5,000-mAh battery, but we found it more than adequate even during a long day of phone use, video and photo shooting and watching Netflix at night.

So should you buy one? If you're looking for a phone that does everything and money is no object, definitely. It will be one of the top phones of 2020, without a doubt.