Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • - What you are looking at here,

  • is the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.

  • And, there's a lot going on.

  • It is big, it has 5G, 108 megapixel camera,

  • four other cameras, a massive screen,

  • a high refresh rate, a 1399 dollar starting price.

  • It's just a lot.

  • (drum beat)

  • If there's a spec that you can think of

  • for a phone, this phone is trying to beat that spec.

  • The S20 Ultra goes big,

  • I mean you know, literally big, look at the phone.

  • And looking at it I think one thing is blindingly obvious.

  • Samsung feels like it has something to prove.

  • Let's see if it can.

  • The best word that I can come up with

  • to describe the S20 Ultra is, imposing.

  • It has this giant, giant camera bump

  • on the back which sometimes can be a problem on a table.

  • But look, the thing looks like a Galaxy phone overall.

  • Just kind of taken to the limit.

  • It is as large and nearly as heavy

  • as pretty much any phone that I've ever used.

  • It's a monolith.

  • It sees your puny attempts at using a phone one handed

  • and it laughs at you.

  • Now the main reason this phone

  • is as big as it is is so that you can have

  • this screen which is 6.9 inches diagonally.

  • And because this screen doesn't have

  • a face unlock sensor on it,

  • it can cover nearly the entire front of the phone.

  • Now I figured that I'd be annoyed

  • at having to go back to an in-screen fingerprint sensor

  • instead of face unlock, but I really wasn't.

  • The sensor is fast and accurate enough for me,

  • so I've got no complaints.

  • But the real reason I think that this screen

  • shows that Samsung has something to prove

  • with the S20 Ultra, is they finally added the option

  • to switch it to 120 hertz refresh rate.

  • Now, it comes outta the box at 60 hertz

  • to save battery but I hopped into settings

  • and turned it on right away

  • and never looked back because I think

  • it has enough battery life to handle it.

  • And 120 hertz really does make scrolling

  • and screen animations look better and smoother.

  • Samsung even says that it stopped bothering

  • with any variable refresh rate

  • based on the content of the screen nonsense.

  • It's just locked to 120.

  • Oh, by the way, you can't have both 120 hertz

  • and the phone's maximum 3200 by 1440 resolution.

  • But, I think the trade for 1080 by 2300

  • to get 120 hertz is totally worth it.

  • And of course, the screen looks great.

  • Looks great indoors, outdoors,

  • at different angles, with HDR content.

  • Samsung knows how to do this by now,

  • it's very good at it.

  • And again, because it's nearly seven inches diagonally,

  • it looks good 'cause it's just huge.

  • But, look.

  • Samsung has already done the make the phone bigger

  • than everybody else thing.

  • That's not actually what the S20 Ultra is about.

  • It's about being bigger in every way, not just size.

  • And there is no better place to start

  • talking about what that means,

  • than to just jump right into the biggest

  • number of all, the 108 megapixel camera.

  • (relaxing music)

  • So let's just get into it.

  • If you count the depth sensor,

  • there are five cameras on this phone.

  • And three of them have just silly megapixel counts.

  • The selfie camera is 40 megapixels.

  • The telephoto is 48,

  • the regular wide angle is 108 megapixels.

  • The only camera that isn't out of bounds

  • megapixel wise is the ultra wide which is 12 megapixels.

  • But the S20 goes further than that.

  • So similar to what Huawei did on it's phones,

  • the telephoto lens here actually hits

  • a prism and a mirror and redirects

  • the light across the body of the phone

  • into the sensor, like a periscope.

  • It means that the phone can get

  • real optical zoom all the way up to 4x,

  • and something really good up to 10x.

  • Then there's this thing that Samsung

  • calls Space Zoom, which pushes the zoom

  • all the way out to 100x.

  • That's one of the reasons that Samsung

  • went with a 48 megapixel camera on the telephoto,

  • so that it has more pixels to choose from

  • when it starts cropping in.

  • It also does this thing where it takes multiple photos

  • to help get data from all the sensors to help.

  • So how does all that tech work?

  • Well I tested this zoom against the iPhone 11 Pro,

  • and the Pixel 4 XL, both which have telephoto lenses.

  • And for fun, I threw in the Sony RX100 VII.

  • The Pixel 4 XL maxes at 8x zoom,

  • so I just compared it at that level

  • and I used a tripod for all of these photos

  • that you're looking at.

  • I think the RX100 wins, but you know,

  • it's a stand alone camera so of course it's gonna.

  • When you just look at the phones,

  • the S20 Ultra embarrasses the iPhone,

  • and I think it edges out the Pixel 4 too.

  • So far so good, but what about this Space Zoom thing?

  • Well, you can impress your friends

  • with little whoa moments by zooming

  • all the way into 100x, but truthfully,

  • I think they look like splotchy messes at that zoom level.

  • I was able to get some fairly nice

  • stuff at 30x, usually by propping

  • the phone on something stable.

  • But, it still looks like a phone photo to me.

  • Okay, but what about just regular,

  • plain old, non-zoom photos?

  • Well, Samsung is doing some weird tech stuff here too.

  • So, by default the 108 megapixel sensor

  • makes 12 megapixel images because the hardware

  • automatically combines nine pixels into one big pixel.

  • It's a process called binning.

  • And combined, those binned pixels

  • are about as big as what they would've been

  • on a lower megapixel sensor.

  • Which does help this camera avoid

  • some of the usual problems that you get

  • with high megapixel sensors.

  • Like bad low light, and noise.

  • It mostly works.

  • See, in order to make all of this pixel binning

  • stuff happen, Samsung still has to do a lot in the software.

  • Now, generally I think the S20 wants to smooth out

  • lighting especially on faces,

  • it wants to keep things bright,

  • and it wants to shift towards less red tones.

  • And those are often really good instincts for photos.

  • So, for example, I think the shot of Alex looks great.

  • And this purple plant thing,

  • it's intense in just the right way.

  • But then, Samsung sometimes steers

  • the S20's tuning just a little too far.

  • So, compared to the iPhone, or the Pixel,

  • this photo of me is just plain

  • over smoothed and over brightened.

  • It is actually super weird.

  • As soon as the S20 camera sees a face,

  • it brings up the shadows too much

  • it smooths skin too much, and it tries way too hard

  • to adjust the white balance and often gets it wrong.

  • Turn your head 45 degrees where

  • it doesn't see a face, and it's fine.

  • Turn on pro mode, and it's fine again.

  • Turn on Bixby Scene Optimizer,

  • and well, okay Bixby makes it worse, but still.

  • In a lot of lighting conditions

  • I got good photos of faces but

  • in challenging conditions it got rough.

  • Samsung tells me that it's looking into it,

  • but there's no setting that you can change

  • to change the default behavior

  • of what this thing does with faces.

  • The weirdest part though,

  • none of this applies to the selfie camera.

  • Which is great.

  • Now Samsung also let's you take full on,

  • 108 megapixel photos,

  • and there's yet more camera tech involved in this

  • like re mosaicing but the bottom line

  • is you need a lot of light to get a decent photo

  • at that resolution.

  • And even then, my 108 megapixel photos

  • were noisy enough in the fine details when I cropped in,

  • that I never really saw the point.

  • Now, when it comes to low light photos,

  • Samsung is doing better than it ever has,

  • partly because the sensors are so big here.

  • But it still has a lot of work to do

  • to catch up to the Pixel 4.

  • And on portrait, again, better than it ever has,

  • but it still has a lot of work to do

  • to catch up to the iPhone.

  • The selfie camera though, which is 40 megapixels,

  • is my favorite camera on this entire phone.

  • It doesn't do the same bad over smoothing on faces,

  • I just really like it.

  • Finally, I hate to tell you this,

  • but as usual with every phone that we try,

  • the ultra wide camera is the worst

  • of the three cameras in terms of quality.

  • Things kinda just get over sharpened

  • as a result of a meh sensor.

  • I guess the iPhone kind of beats the S20 here,

  • but nothing is really good.

  • Now as for video, the headline feature

  • is that you can shoot and edit in 8K,

  • and I dunno, I think that's kinda gimmicky

  • but I do like that you can pull a still photo out.

  • More important to me is the slightly improved

  • video stabilization 'cause I have pretty shaky hands,

  • but you should know that that still doesn't

  • work in 4K and definitely not in 8K.

  • Last and you know what, definitely not least,

  • is I saw this thing hunting for focus a lot.

  • Especially when I was shooting video.

  • I also really like this new feature

  • called single take which does as many

  • of Samsung's weirdo camera modes as possible

  • in one long shot.

  • It's fun, but I wouldn't depend on it

  • for anything important 'cause the quality

  • is like, not that good.

  • So, that's a lot.

  • It's a lot of camera which makes sense

  • 'cause this camera bump is so huge right?

  • I mean, okay.

  • Where do I think it all lands?

  • Well, I think Samsung

  • has a little bit more work to do

  • on it's photo algorithms.

  • I think it's gonna take a minute

  • for them to learn how to take all of these huge

  • megapixel counts and turn them into something

  • that really works in every single context.

  • Especially with faces.

  • (relaxing music)

  • Now the S20 phones are the very first

  • main stream 5G phones.

  • There have been a few before,

  • but they've never been the default

  • and with the S20 line they are.

  • Now you should know that only the S20 Ultra

  • and the S20 Plus support the super high speed

  • millimeter wave-5G that you can really only get

  • at like a few street corners.

  • But, all of them support the slightly slower,

  • but much more widespread mid band 5G.

  • So, okay, here's the state of 5G in New York City.

  • On T-Mobile's mid band, I was able to pull

  • anywhere from like 45 down,

  • which is not much faster than LTE,

  • up to 120 megs per second in a pretty good spot.

  • That's real fast.

  • But it's not as fast as what I could get

  • on Verizon's millimeter wave,

  • where I saw download speeds hit over 1300 Mbps.

  • Which is incredible.