A Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G smartphone. Picture: Wang Gang/VCG via Getty Images
A Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G smartphone. Picture: Wang Gang/VCG via Getty Images

Samsung S20 Ultra

Cool factor 5/5
Usability 4/5
Value for money 3/5

Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra superphone is one of the most expensive handsets in SA, but is it worth it?

It is packed with the highest specifications available on a phone — a 6.9-inch screen with a 120Hz display, 8K video support, a 108-megapixel (MP) camera and a 100x Space Zoom feature. Its 120Hz screen refresh rate (a higher rate gives a smoother picture) and shooting of video with a resolution of 8K are world firsts for a smartphone.

But there are downsides. First, given its size, it’s not a pocket-friendly device.

The screen has an astonishingly high resolution of 3200x1400 pixels. However, you’ll have to choose between that resolution, or a 120Hz screen refresh rate paired with a 2400x1080 resolution. Samsung does not let you max out both settings at the same time, to preserve battery life. Presented with this choice, we found that a 120Hz screen is far superior for noticeably smooth scrolling, especially if used for games.

The phone is a powerhouse; it doesn’t stutter between apps or on the camera. However, the 128GB base storage is disappointingly small, given its 8K video capabilities and high-resolution images from the camera.

The camera has four lenses on the rear — a 108MP wide angle, 48MP telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide, and one for depth vision. The camera handles portrait shots, bokeh effects and wide-angle shots from between 24° and 120° fairly well, and the 40MP selfie-camera is impressive.

The S20 Ultra has an Exynos 990 processor, 12GB of RAM, 128GB of storage that is expandable up to 1TB, and a 5000mAh battery.

Top-notch specs aside, the S20 Ultra is let down by the software. Samsung may have been too quick to ship it — some of my pictures were noticeably out of focus or had poor exposure, an issue that was globally acknowledged. This is something that can be fixed with a software update. But at the time of our review, an update was not available in SA.

The S20 Ultra is a superphone that is more powerful than most PCs. It is aimed at a niche market and people who want to be seen carrying this beast around. It costs an eye-watering R26,999.

If you feel the S20 Ultra is trying to do too much, the regular S20 phones may be better suited.