Samsung’s made selecting a premium phone tougher than ever with the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, two very equally priced telephones with related specs launched inside six months of one another. Both have S Pen assist, nice zoom cameras and 120Hz refresh price screens, and on paper it is arduous to inform which one is the better purchase. To discover out, I used them facet by facet for 2 weeks evaluating them in 5 totally different classes: shows, design, cameras, battery and efficiency.

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The S21 is the flagship Android phone to beat. It has an excellent, 6.8-inch show, Snapdragon’s newest 888 chip and a strong digital camera with a 3x and 10x optical zoom. It now has S Pen assist like the Galaxy Note, however the stylus would not include the phone itself, and there is nowhere to place it in case you get one (except you purchase a particular case).

Read the S21 Ultra assessment.

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This is the phone to purchase for these searching for the most fluid S Pen expertise because it has low latency and Bluetooth assist, so you should use gestures or management your phone with the stylus. And its specs are virtually as spectacular as the S21’s with a quick processor, nice cameras and 8K video recording.

Read the Note 20 Ultra assessment.

The S21 Ultra feels simpler to make use of one-handed

Both telephones have a curved AMOLED display screen, with the 6.9-inch Note 20 Ultra simply edging out the 6.8-inch S21 Ultra by way of dimension. The S21 Ultra is the heavier of the two telephones, however I discovered it simpler to make use of one-handed as the digital camera is balanced better in comparison with the domino-style digital camera module on the Note 20 Ultra.

Both telephones are coated in the strongest model of Corning’s glass, Gorilla Glass Victus, however since neither survived our drop check, I’d extremely suggest getting a case for them. 

Better show choices on the S21 Ultra 

For issues like gaming, scrolling net pages or watching movies, each shows will look unimaginable. They have a variable, or adaptive refresh price of as much as 120hz, which implies it is altering the refresh price relying on what you are doing, like the next price for gaming, or a decrease price when the phone is standing by. But the S21 Ultra helps the highest WQHD Plus (1440p) decision in 120Hz whereas the Note 20 Ultra solely helps full HD (1080p) with the adaptive refresh price. To get the highest decision on the Note 20 Ultra, you may have to drop to 60Hz or the commonplace refresh price.

S21 Ultra vs. Note 20 Ultra

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Both telephones even have a fingerprint reader hidden beneath the show, and whereas I did not discover that a lot distinction between the two, anecdotally the S21 Ultra’s sensor felt sooner to authenticate and unlock the phone.

The S21 Ultra takes the digital camera crown 

The S21 Ultra takes the already super-close zoom on the Note to the subsequent stage with two telephoto cameras: One that may optically zoom to 3x and the different 10x, providing extra flexibility for photographers who need to get nearer to the topic with out bodily shifting nearer. The Note 20 Ultra, against this, has just one telephoto digital camera with a 5x optical zoom.

I additionally observed that Samsung has improved the picture processing of zoom pictures taken utilizing hybrid (optical and digital) zoom, which is something past the attain of the telephoto digital camera. Looking at the similar 50x photograph taken on each telephones, the S21 Ultra’s picture is clearer and retains extra element in comparison with the Note 20 Ultra. You can rise up to 100x on the S21 Ultra, however I by no means discovered myself utilizing this excessive zoom as a result of the picture appears fairly mushy.

zoom-sutro-s21ultra-50x

A comparability of 50x hybrid zoom on the S21 Ultra (left) and Note 20 Ultra (proper).


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General pictures of landscapes and surroundings look nice on each telephones and I could not actually inform them aside. The essential wide-angle digital camera makes use of a 108-megapixel sensor on each telephones which is helpful for cropping after the reality, or making actually giant prints, however I discovered the common 12-megapixel pictures have been nice as properly. Both telephones use a way known as “pixel binning” on these common photographs that helps to retain numerous element and good dynamic vary.

S21 Ultra vs. Note 20 Ultra camera

The S21 Ultra is on the left and the Note 10 Ultra is on the proper. Spot the distinction?


Lexy Savvides/CNET

In low mild, I choose the S21 Ultra, though evening mode photographs look extra processed with larger distinction and fewer noise than pictures taken on the Note 20 Ultra in the similar mild. Video high quality is nice on each, particularly when filming at 4K. To my eye, the dynamic vary is a contact broader on the newer phone, however I’d be very pleased with both. The S21 Ultra has a bonus in that it might probably movie on the telephoto digital camera at 4K/60, whereas the Note 20 Ultra can solely use digital zoom at this decision and body price. Both telephones movie in 8K at 24fps. You can see many extra photograph and video samples in the video on this web page.

Samsung's made selecting a premium phone tougher than ever with the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, two very equally priced telephones with related specs launched inside six months of one another. Both have S Pen assist, nice zoom cameras and 120Hz refresh price screens, and on paper it is arduous to inform which one is the better purchase. To discover out, I used them facet by facet for 2 weeks evaluating them in 5 totally different classes: shows, design, cameras, battery and efficiency.


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Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. Note 20 Ultra



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S Pen is better on the Note 20 Ultra

Many followers of the Galaxy Note collection might have been involved once they noticed the S21 Ultra would assist the S Pen, as a result of it might probably sign the finish of the Note household of telephones. 

The S21 Ultra could also be the first non-Note phone with stylus assist, however the S Pen would not do fairly as a lot as it might probably on the Note 20 Ultra, no less than not simply but.

Both telephones allow you to draw on the display screen, take notes, annotate screenshots, convert handwriting to textual content or straighten your handwriting in the Samsung Notes app. The S Pen on the Note 20 Ultra additionally has Bluetooth assist, which helps you to use air gestures to open the digital camera or take pictures remotely, to call only a few examples. The phone may also ping you in case you go away the S Pen behind someplace. And the Note may also retailer the S Pen inside the phone, not like the S21 Ultra — you should purchase a separate case with a storage slot for the stylus, however in case you’re something like me, you’d nonetheless lose the S Pen no matter the case.

S21 Ultra vs. Note 20 Ultra

Lexy Savvides/CNET

I could not discover a lot of a distinction by way of the efficiency of the S Pen when utilizing it on the two telephones facet by facet, however artists might be able to inform the distinction, because of the 9ms latency on the Note 20 Ultra. Samsung will launch an S Pen Pro later in 2021 that provides Bluetooth assist to convey it extra in step with the performance on the Note. 

Note 20 Ultra: smaller battery, barely longer life 

The S21 Ultra has a 5,000-mAh battery in comparison with 4,500 mAh on the Note 20 Ultra, however a bigger capability battery would not routinely imply you may get extra juice out of the phone. Usage patterns, 5G connectivity, processing energy and show brightness all play an element in general battery life; I did not see an enormous distinction in battery life between the two telephones. 

Both telephones made it comfortably by means of a full day of use with juice to spare. At the finish of the day of heavy utilization operating each telephones at 120Hz, the WQHD Plus display screen (on the S21), filming 4K video and gaming, I used to be left with anyplace between 10 and 15% battery on the Note, and round 10% on the S21 Ultra. Anecdotally, I felt that the Note 20 Ultra had better standby time general once I wasn’t utilizing the phone. You can take a look at our full evaluations of the S21 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra for outcomes from our official battery check.

S21 Ultra vs. Note 20 Ultra

Lexy Savvides/CNET

The base storage stage on each telephones begins at 128GB with the choice to go as much as 512GB on each, or an intermediate 256GB tier on the S21 Ultra, however solely the Note 20 has the choice to develop with a microSD slot. The S21 Ultra additionally misses out on the charger in the field, in addition to MST assist in Samsung Pay. 

Depending on the place you reside, you may both get a Snapdragon or Samsung’s personal Exynos processor. I’ve solely examined the Snapdragon 888 on the S21 Ultra and 865 Plus on the Note 20 Ultra, so cannot touch upon Exynos efficiency, however each telephones by no means left me wanting when it got here to trimming 8K movies, gaming or operating a myriad of apps at a time.

The Galaxy S21 wins, however not by a lot

In the finish, I discovered that these telephones share so lots of the similar options that it would not make sense to improve from the Note 20 Ultra to the S21 Ultra if you have already got the (barely) older phone. But enhancements in the digital camera, S Pen assist and a extra balanced one-handed really feel was sufficient to sway me to decide on the S21 Ultra if I used to be searching for the greatest general Galaxy expertise.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. Note 20 Ultra specs

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Display dimension, decision 6.8-inch AMOLED 2X, 3,200×1,440 pixels 6.9-inch; 3,088×1,440 pixels
Pixel density 515 ppi 496ppi
Dimensions (inches) 2.97×6.5×0.35 in. 6.49×3.04×0.31 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 75.6×165.1×8.9mm 164.8×77.2×8.1mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 8.07 oz.; 229g 7.33 oz., 208g
Mobile software program Android 11 Android 11
Camera 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 10-megapixel (3x telephoto), 10-megapixel (10x telephoto) 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing digital camera 40-megapixel 10-megapixel
Video seize 8K 8K
Processor Snapdragon 888 Snapdragon 865 Plus
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 512GB
RAM 12GB, 16GB 12GB
Expandable storage No Up to 1TB
Battery 5,000 mAh 4,500 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen
Headphone jack No No
Special options IP68 ranking, 5G-enabled, 100x Space Zoom, 10W wi-fi charging, 10x optical zoom 120Hz display screen refresh price, 5x optical zoom, 120Hz show; UWB sharing, S Pen stylus; 5G connectivity; Wireless PowerShare; water-proof (IP68)
Price off-contract (USD) $1,200 (128GB), $1,250 (256GB), $1,380 (512GB) $1,300 (128GB), $1,450 (512GB)
Price (GBP) £1,149 (128GB), £1,199 (256GB), £1,329 (512GB) £1,179
Price (AUD) AU$1,849 (128GB), AU$1,949 (256GB), AU$2,149 (512GB) AU$1,849 (4G) and $AU$1,999 (5G)