Samsung Galaxy Note20 vs Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra Camera Photo Quality Comparison

We’ve tested 2 flagship Samsung phones from latest Note 20 series based on Android OS platform with enormous zoom up to 50x (Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra model only). Are we impressed or disappointed?

Samsung Galaxy Note20 vs Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra Main/Tele 1x 2x 3x 4x 5x 10x Camera Zoom Photo Quality Comparison

Image quality comparison – pixel-peeping analysis of indoor performance under good LED lighting conditions of two latest and greatest Samsung Note series models from year 2020. Who is the best? Who is the winner? Watch this video to find out!

About Video: Many phone camera comparison reviews only show downscaled images e.g. when viewed on screens with limited size and resolution (FHD/QHD/4k) it is hard to clearly see the details down to the pixel level and exact amount of difference in quality. For this very reason, the examples below are enlarged by a factor from 2 (200%) to 8 (800%) depending on the scene and initial optical zoom ratio, so that it becomes easier to see the difference, even on small mobile phone screens.

With the latest trend in phones getting bigger and bigger every week, the boundary between different classes and sizes is practically disappearing. In fact, S20 Ultra is actually bigger, thicker and heavier phone than Note20 Ultra.

Minor hardware differences is all that is left to make Note series still stand on its own, but question does it still justify its presence on the market reverberates louder than ever before. Slower fast charging rate, 10% lower battery capacity and minor CPU clock differences do not provide rock solid arguments in mobile arena these days.

Granted, Plus refers to extra size, while Ultra to extra performance (or is it the opposite?), should we expect Note20 Ultra Plus in the upcoming months? Remains to be seen, but honestly we feel completely lost. To be fair, Samsung is not the only manufacturer from Asia that suffers from the “Note series crisis” syndrome and vanishing differences.

Samsung already did an excellent job in its S20 Ultra model regarding camera system and there wasn’t much left to be changed or upgraded in Note20 Ultra series. At least on paper. If we ignore minor hardware and physical differences, both S20 Ultra and Note20 Ultra look and feel the same in your hands when using camera app.

IMPORTANT: Samsung Galaxy Note series latest models are officially branded as Note20, however, on many websites it is erroneously marked as Note 20 (notice the separation space between “Note” and “20” keywords!).

This is confusing both for end-users and search engines, and we are not sure why Samsung created such a mess in the first place. Alternative labeling would be a simple Note 20 or Note N20 marking, but Samsung opted for the shortest possible one.

Camera Specifications: Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

Photo Resolution: 12 MP 4000×3000 pixels (native 4:3 ratio)
Main Camera System: 108 MP 1/1.33″ / 0.8 um pitch nonacell sensor with f/1.8 aperture / 26 mm focal length / 79 degrees field of view
Tele Camera System: 12 MP with f/3.0 aperture and 120 mm focal length (approx. 4.6x optical zoom)
Wide Camera System: 12 MP with 1.4µm f/2.2 sensor and 13mm focal length 120 degrees field of view
Tele Zoom Range: 5x Optical / Up to 50x combined Hybrid / Digital Super Resolution Zoom

Camera Specifications: Samsung Galaxy Note20

Photo Resolution: 12 MP 4032×3024 pixels (native 4:3 ratio)
Main Camera System: 12 MP 1/1.76″ / 1.8 um pitch with f/1.8 aperture and 26 mm focal length / 79 degrees field of view
Tele Camera System: 64 MP with 1/2.0″ / 0.8 um pitch sensor with f/2.0 aperture and 27 mm focal length
Wide Camera System: 12 MP with 1.4µm f/2.2 sensor and 13mm focal length 120 degrees field of view
Tele Zoom Range: 3x Hybrid Zoom / Up to 30x Super Resolution Zoom

Camera Review Conclusion: Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

CONS

  • Very expensive
  • 2x ~ 4x zoom photos have serious QUALITY ISSUE* !!!
  • 10x ~ 50x zoom photos take few seconds to process and require steady hand

* Assuming this is not a hardware problem – SAMSUNG must fix this ASAP !!! This is unacceptable for a phone in this price range

PROS

  • 1x and 5x zoom photos are of excellent quality with great details and balanced noise
  • Overall, better camera hardware than Note20 with more details and dynamic range
  • Overall great contrast, natural colors, slight warm white balance tone

Camera Review Conclusion: Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

CONS

  • Above 4x zoom quality starts to suffer against Note20 Ultra

PROS

  • Much lower price than Note20 Ultra
  • Flat Screen Design (no curved edges) – could be a big plus for some users
  • Overall good colors, solid dynamic range (but less than Note20 Ultra)
  • Medium details at 1x zoom 1:1 pixel level, noticeably lower quality than Note20 Ultra
  • At less than 1:1 pixel peeping levels – 1x zoom images really do look great!
  • Does not have a “bug” at 2x / 3x / 4x zoom levels like Note20 Ultra model
  • 10x zoom photos are over-processed with sharpening, noise reduction and strong contrast

IMAGE QUALITY ISSUES with Note20 Ultra 😱🙀

If you watched entire video, you could clearly notice that Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra has some serious image quality issues with 2x / 3x / 4x zoom range. Photos clearly (pun fully intended) appear soft and out of focus, and phone with inferior camera system like Samsung Galaxy Note20 (non-ultra) appears superior on occasion and literally wipes the floor with it. Naturally, that shouldn’t be the case, since Note20 Ultra does have a more advanced camera system overall.

The most logical explanation is that our test unit was faulty.

Interesting enough, changing cameras back and front couple of times, restoring camera app’s settings to defaults, selecting Zoom presets on the app’s sidebar, manual zooming, and other voodoo stuff like lens cleaning on the back side did not help! And apparently, we are not the only ones that have noticed this issue – take a look at Samsung’s official support forum. While our Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus (S20+) unit did not display any image quality issues, some users reported same problem with it, as well.

EXIF - Zoom and Focal Length Values Example - Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra (SM-N985F)

EXIF – Zoom and Focal Length Values Example – Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra (SM-N985F)

Another possible explanation is that internally tele camera system is not selected / engaged until you reach 5x Zoom setting, and the result is just a digital crop and upscale of 1x zoom image. Examining EXIF data “Focal Length In 35mm Format” value is always fixed to 25 mm for zoom less than 5x, but “Digital Zoom Ratio” is different (e.g. 2x/3x/4x respectively), but this does not prove anything, because data is the same in both sharp and blurry (out of focus) images. It is probably the way Samsung engineers decided to store data about zoom, but it is kind of illogical in our opinion, because at 5x (and higher) zoom levels “Focal Length In 35mm Format” parameter is properly stored as 123 mm (which is close enough to specified 120 mm value).

And, finally, another possibility is a firmware or physical issue with lens focusing motors or focusing chips but whatever the cause may be, hopefully, it can and will be fixed with future software upgrades. If not, sending your phone to repair service might be the only proper solution to fix it.

This is absolutely unacceptable for a phone that costs $1300 USD / 1250 EUR (regular versions at release date).

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