Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Which is better?
A showdown between Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra will help you decide between two premium flagship phones that are pretty stellar and somewhat similar. As you’ll see in our review of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, it’s the most Note-like phone in the Galaxy S series, as it’s the first in that family to support the S Pen.
But if you take a closer look, there are a lot of crucial differences between the S21 Ultra and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, from the cameras and the design to the processor and the price. Our review of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra shows that it is still a formidable phone, but it has been surpassed in some ways by the new Samsung. We compare these two phones side by side to help you decide which one is right for you.
Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Price
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is priced at $ 1,199, $ 200 less than its predecessor. On paper, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the more expensive of these two phones, with a retail price of $ 1,299.
However, with discounts, you can find the Note 20 Ultra for as little as $ 1,049, which is discounted at $ 250. We would check our best Galaxy S21 deals and Galaxy Note 20 deals pages for the latest sales.
Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Design
Newer doesn’t always mean better. I prefer the design of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. That’s because the Note 20 Ultra is thinner, lighter, and smaller. The camera bump on the S21 Ultra blends better into the phone’s back with Samsung’s contour design, but I prefer to hold and use the Note 20 Ultra.
The S21 Ultra also comes in more colours, including Phantom Silver and Phantom Black, Phantom Navy, Phantom Titanium, and Phantom Brown via Samsung.com. The Note 20 Ultra comes in only Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, Mystic White.
If you want to use an S Pen, the Note 20 Ultra is the obvious choice because there is nowhere to put the S Pen in the S21 Ultra unless you are looking for a case. And that adds even more bulk to a heavy device.
Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Display
The Galaxy S21 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra displays are pretty similar, and both phones feature dynamic AMOLED displays that can scale from 10 Hz to 120 Hz for smoother performance. The Note 20 Ultra’s screen is slightly larger at 6.9 inches than the 6.8 inches on the S21 Ultra.
Both displays are sharp and surprisingly colourful with ultra-wide viewing angles, but the S21 Ultra forges ahead with its highest average brightness of 821 nits. The Note 20 Ultra reached 662 nits in our lab.
However, the Note 20 Ultra’s display was slightly more colourful, registering 86.1% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut than 81.4% of the S21 Ultra. The Note 21 Ultra’s panel also proved to be a bit more accurate, achieving a Delta-E score of 0.24 (0 is perfect); the S21 Ultra scored 0.35.
Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Cameras
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the camera you want if you are looking for the most powerful zoom. It includes two telephoto zoom lenses, which can achieve 10x optical and 3x hybrid zoom and up to 100x digital Space Zoom.
Now, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra isn’t far behind in this department, boasting a 5x optical zoom and a 30x Space Zoom, but it just doesn’t go that far. Additionally, the S21 Ultra has a zoom lock feature that can help capture more stable shots.
Both the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra feature a super-sharp 108MP primary camera and a 12MP ultra-wide camera. However, the S21 Ultra is designed to offer better low-light performance and improve its portrait mode.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra also has a sharper front camera at 40MP than 10MP on the Note 20 Ultra. When it comes to image quality, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is better in almost every respect.
With this one fruit bowl, the S21 Ultra produces a brighter image, so oranges, in particular, look more vibrant. The apple in the S21 Ultra shot is almost too bright as it loses some definition on the skin compared to the Note 20 Ultra, but overall the S21 Ultra produces a more pleasant photo.
Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Performance
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra packs a newer Snapdragon 888 processor, while a Snapdragon 865 chip powers the Note 20 Ultra, so it’s no big surprise that the S21 Ultra offers better performance. But it is not a big gap.
For example, in our After a video editing test, which involves transcoding a 4K video clip to 1080p with the Adobe Premiere Rush application, the Galaxy S21 Ultra took 1 minute and 2 seconds to complete the task. The Note 20 Ultra needed a little more than 1:16.
On Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance, the S21 Ultra scored 3400 in the multi-core portion of the test, compared to 3294 for the Note 20 Ultra.
However, the Galaxy S21 Ultra may be the best option for gamers, as it scored considerably higher in the 3DMark Wild Life graphics test. It averaged 33 frames per second, while the Note 20 Ultra managed just 24.9 fps. Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: battery life
The Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra will help you get through a full day on one charge, mainly if you use 60Hz display mode on each phone. But the S21 Ultra has a higher endurance overall.
In Tom’s Guide’s battery test, which consists of continuous web browsing over 5G with 150 nits of screen brightness, the Galaxy S21 Ultra lasted 11 hours and 25 minutes in 60Hz display mode. That’s good enough to put this device on our best phone battery life list. With the adaptive display mode on, up to 120Hz, the runtime was reduced to a good 10:07.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra didn’t fare as well in our tests, lasting 10:26 in 60Hz display mode and 7:59 with the adaptive method. That’s a pretty significant drop.
The S21 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra offers 25W fast charging, but only the Note comes with a charger in the box.