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The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the new home for the S Pen as it takes over from the Galaxy Note series. This new flagship can be yours from a starting price of RM5,099. However, the last phone to carry the Galaxy Note name, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is still on sale at a more “wallet-friendly” price.
This does beg the question, is the Galaxy S22 Ultra a significantly better phone than the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra? Can the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra provide a similar experience for a lower price? Let’s compare both devices so that you can decide which “Note” is the one to get.
Similar “Note” design
The Galaxy S22 Ultra has all the design cues of a Galaxy Note series phone, starting with the boxy rectangular form factor with rounded edges on both sides. There are some changes though, notably the quad-camera layout with the Galaxy S22 Ultra having individual bumps for each camera lens.
This design choice raises durability concerns as the metal ring for each lenses could be easily scuffed and dinged. On the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the camera array is protected with a single tough and scratch-resistant glass.
Besides that, there are no other major design changes, making the 2-year old Galaxy Note 20 Ultra still looking quite modern for 2022.
Beautiful QuadHD+ AMOLED displays
If size matters, then the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s 6.9″ display will be more appealing than the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 6.8″ unit, though it will be hard to tell the difference. Both phones can output a Quad HD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. But only the Galaxy S22 Ultra is capable of doing both together, while the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can only do 120Hz in Full HD resolution or 60Hz in Quad HD+ resolution. But in the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s defence, Full HD on a mobile phone screen size is plenty sharp and in return, offers better battery life. The Galaxy S22 Ultra counters with a dynamic refresh rate that can go down to 1Hz to optimise battery life.
Samsung also increased the peak brightness of the Galaxy S22 Ultra to 1750 nits. There is also a new algorithm called Vision Booster that analyses the bright pixels and compensates how they affect the dark pixels around them, boosting details in darker scenes when viewing under bright lighting conditions like in direct sunlight. But during Samsung’s presentation, it seems that this feature only benefits media content with a bright subject and dark background, so using the phone for anything else under the sun will see little improvement. Given the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra already has one of the brightest displays on a smartphone with a peak of 1500 nits, the difference is probably negligible.
Ignoring the brightness difference, both phones use one of the best AMOLED displays on the market, producing sharp images, vibrant colours and deep, inky blacks for all your entertainment consumption.
Lastly, the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s display is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ compared to just Glass Victus on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. But Samsung failed to mention how much tougher the Glass Victus+ is than the Glass Victus, which leads me to believe that the improvements are minor.
Snapdragon 8 gen 1 vs Exynos 990
This might be one of the biggest differences between these two devices. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the first smartphone in Malaysia to run on Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 while an aging Exynos 990 powers the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Despite being almost two years old, the Exynos 990 is still a capable flagship chip that is more than sufficient for today’s day-to-day applications. On top of that, the Note 20 Ultra also supports microSD card expansion via a hybrid slot.
To be fair to the newer hardware, it will handle heavier tasks like graphic intense games and video editing much better while consuming less power from the battery. So if you want the latest powerhouse that’s ready for whatever you throw at it, the latest Snapdragon chip is one of the best at the moment.
Large batteries with fast charging
In this department, the Galaxy S22 Ultra takes the crown with a 5000mAh battery that supports 45W fast charging compared to the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s 4500mAh battery with a slower 25W fast charging rate. As they say in the automotive world, “there is no replacement for displacement”. The bigger battery of the Galaxy S22 Ultra paired with the more efficient 4nm Snapdragon processor and adaptive refresh rate for the display should provide an impressive battery life.
However, the Galaxy S22 Ultra doesn’t come with a charger in the box and the 45W USB power delivery (PD) charger from Samsung will set you back RM199. But you’re not limited to just Samsung’s USB PD charger as there are cheaper alternatives from reputable third-party brands.
On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra gets an upper hand by including the 25W charger in the box for a hassle-free experience.
Versatile cameras with 108MP main sensor
The Galaxy S22 Ultra sports a quad-camera system with a 108MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens, and two 10MP telephoto cameras with 3x and 10x optical zoom. Space Zoom is available which allows up to 100x digital zoom via AI Super Resolution technology. On the front, there is a single 40MP camera for selfies and wefies. It also has an all-new image neural processing engine (NPE) for better night time photography and videography.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra by comparison comes with a similar configuration, but instead of two telephoto units, it has a single 12MP telephoto unit with 5x optical zoom. It also has Space Zoom but is only capable of up to 50x digital zoom. However, both the 50x and 100x digital zoom capabilities are nothing more than a gimmick because the digitally zoomed-in images often lack detail. For selfies, the previous Note gets a smaller 10MP front-camera. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra also boasts some impressive low-light photography despite lacking the new “Nightography” features on the S22 series.
So, the only compelling reason to choose the Galaxy S22 Ultra is if night time photography is something you do a lot with your smartphone. Otherwise, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra already has a capable camera which is more than good enough for most users. It still has the versatility of telephoto and ultra-wide-angle lenses.
S Pen with a few new tricks
The S Pen on the Galaxy S22 Ultra receives some new upgrades, but they don’t significantly improve the S Pen experience that has been well established in the previous Galaxy Note models. The significant change Samsung made to the S Pen on the S22 Ultra is the reduction of latency to 2.8ms down from 9ms on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. I personally don’t see a difference in this department between my Galaxy Note 9 and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as is, so the lower 2.8ms shouldn’t bring much noticeable difference when writing.
The rest of the improvements are in software, like Samsung Notes, which are not specific to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Samsung will eventually trickle these new features down to the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as well. There is no reason why the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s hardware cannot handle the new Samsung Notes features.
Another department where the Galaxy S22 Ultra triumphs over the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is in software support. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is almost two years old at this point, with it receiving two major OS updates already. Referencing the Galaxy S10 series which received its third and final OS update, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is expected to receive Android 13 as its last update. Compare that to the newer Galaxy S22 Ultra which is expected to receive four major OS updates in total, which will be up to Android 16.
However, something to note is that third-party apps and developers will continue to support older OS for longer, so your favorite apps will stay up-to-date on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra even after it stops receiving software support from Samsung. For example, TikTok requires a minimum of Android 4.4 KitKat which was released in 2013.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is definitely a powerhouse, no questions about that. With all the features and tech that Samsung has managed to cram into the armour aluminium chassis, it truly makes the Galaxy S22 Ultra the last word in cutting-edge mobile technology. But the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was also regarded the same, thus will not have any issues keeping pace with the Galaxy S22 Ultra in everyday use and then some. The Galaxy S22 Ultra 256GB comes in at RM5,499 while the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra undercuts that price by coming in at RM4,099 for the 12GB RAM and 256GB storage variant. With RM1,400 separating these devices, which is the better value for you?
If you want to take beautiful night time shots, a bigger battery that can be topped up quickly, the latest Snapdragon processor, and receive 4 new OS updates, then the Galaxy S22 Ultra will be a worthwhile upgrade. The OS support commitment will also be my reason if I was to upgrade from my current Galaxy Note 9.
For the rest who don’t see much value in these features, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can provide the same flagship experience for RM1,400 less. A bonus would be retaining the Note moniker for Note fans.
Let us know if you would upgrade to the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and why in the comments.
For those interested, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is available for pre-order starting from the 10th February 2022 via Samsung Malaysia online store, telcos, and online retailers. Here are the official retail pricing for the Galaxy S22 Ultra in Malaysia:
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G 128GB – RM5,099
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G 256GB – RM5,499
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G 512GB – RM5,899
You can find out about the pre-order goodies and details here.