Samsung Note20 Ultra… thoughts from an Apple Fanboy
For as long as there have been smartphones there has been an ongoing debate, on one side you have those who love Google’s Android and on the other side, you have those who love Apple’s iOS. I don’t get the debate, for me the best phone is the one that works best for the user. The idea that one is a better choice over the other comes down to personal preference and nothing else. Being an Apple or Android lovely doesn’t mean that you are better than someone else, nor does it mean that someone else is better than you. It is that debate that has brought in research like this;
Mac Daily News reported as did other sites that using iPhone users are 76% more attractive on dating apps, for me if the type of phone someone uses helps decide how attractive someone is then you should review what characteristics you look for in a partner.
Since the iPhone 3G came out I have been an Apple iPhone user, and since 2011 that has included using MacBook Pros and iPads. Even this article right now I am writing on my iPad Pro 12.9” with Magic Keyboard, and despite the haters, I love this setup. If it could run multiple desktops as my MacBook Pro can, I would consider it as my primary device.
For a large part of 2020, I found myself getting bored with iOS and iPhones. I found their innovation was stale and found that nothing really exciting was happening. Even iOS 14 to me didn’t bring about anything exciting. Yet Android 10 and 11 seemed to be making great strides in their OS and the phones themselves seemed impressive. The Samsung S20 was an interesting device that tempted me. Then I saw the release of the Note20 Ultra, I decided to take a leap and go from iPhones to Samsung for 12 months. So in October, I went into Optus and renewed my contract, this time with a Samsung Note20 Ultra 5G. And I thought I would share what I have thought of the device after 3 months.
General OS Usage;
The phone OS is fine, the layout is easy and it is simple enough to use. I do find like macOS that most of the type I just bring up the search box and type in what I want. All I had to do was swipe down type in what I wanted and it would then open up into it. Last time I used Samsung for a few months to test was back with a Samsung S4 and it a horrible experience, a hard to manage UI that had bugs.
Though now thanks to One UI 2.5 it is a clean and easy to use experience. I would love to comment on One UI 3.0, but as of writing this Australia doesn’t have these update yet… one of my frustrations but we will get to that.
One of the reasons I chose the Note20 Ultra was the camera, it’s 108MP camera and a collection of sensors I was expecting an amazing experience. And if I take the ten seconds to plan and snap each shot then I can get a great photo. Though in low light and when I am just trying to get photos it isn’t a great experience.
Now I know that I can learn to use the camera, and I will try. However after years of using iPhone’s and their point-and-shoot design where the phone quickly handles all the required settings just works for me.
And finally, on the camera, the shutter lag bugs me. A quick google and you can see a lot of other users talking about the same issue. When I have my 2 kids smiling I want to be able to take three of five shots in a few seconds. That just doesn’t seem possible with the Note20 Ultra.
Overall it’s a good camera, and if you have time to plan the shot you can get amazing shots. But when you just want to whip out your phone and snap a photo it doesn’t always do what I want, and in low light I hate it, I used it on Christmas Morning and found my photos were just not want I wanted.
It’s great. Although I found that despite my hope to use it all the time I just don’t. More often I find myself grabbing my iPad and Apple Pencil to draw things when I need to do that.
When I first read reviews of the Note20 Ultra I was blown away by the spec’s of the screen, the WQHD+ and 120 Hz refresh rate sounded like something I would love. I often use my phone to watch TV or movies as I do work around the house, whether that is the washing up or cleaning a room.
But I ran into an issue pretty quickly, with those settings enabled I found that my battery was heavily hit, so despite wanting great settings I needed the battery life more. So I have mine set to FHD+ and 60 Hz which still gives an amazing picture, but while the screen has the potential for greatness I find it is something that I generally just don’t take advantage of.
One thing I do love with the phone is it’s Always-On display, being able to glance at the phone whenever I wanted and see what notifications have come in and the date and time is a welcome feature that iOS doesn’t have. That being said it does have an impact on the battery, though it is a feature I wanted so willing to accept that battery impact.
This is where I was disappointed. Seeing it had a larger 4500 mAh than my old iPhone XS’ 2658 mAh I was expecting better. I get if I had all the features turned on but I don’t… and I get worst usage than my iPhone XS. Both of my devices were off charge by 6 am, and normally plugged back in around 9:30 to 10:00 pm.
With my iPhone XS, I would get to my bedtime and have between 30-40% of the battery remaining.
With the Note20 Ultra I am finding I am at 20-25% by that time.
A big let down for me, an almost 2-year-old iPhone seems to have a better battery than the brand new Note20. For example, on Christmas Day I took it off charge at 6 am, but 8:30 am and taking a bunch of photos I was done to 74%… that’s pretty terrible in my opinion. I did give it time for the phone to learn my ways and optimise the usage, it helped but not really.
It is great to have a finergprint reader again, even as an under screen reader I found it fast and works well. And the addition of a Face ID sensor is also great. But one thing I miss is the biomechical security that iOS offers, if I had notifications on the screen unless my face is looking at it the phone just shows that you have notifications, though no one can see what their contents is.
This is a big one for me, as someone responsible for IT security, the fact that security patching is so slow bugs me. I’ll see alerts about a new patch or software update coming out in the US or Europe, though Australia then takes between a month or two to get the update. Take Android 11 and OneUI 3.0, it started coming out in the US in December, Australia is slated for a January or February release.
I do understand part of the issue here, while Google releases an update, the phone manufacturer then needs to modify it for their phone and then release it. This can cause a delay, and then the update is normally bundled with the phone carrier for that country so again a delay. I know that Google can force updates out directly when needed, though most of the time it relays on the manufacturer to release it. Even the beta versions, I am a sucker for installing them on iPhones, but with Samsung, since I’m not in the US I am out of luck.
This is a frustration for me, since when Apple releases a patch or upgrade the moment they release it the whole world can get it. Granted it is an easier path for them, they not only make the software but the hardware too. But releasing updates to all devices instantly and not a staggered release, I’d give Apple the win here.
So what wins for me, which is better between Android and Apple. It is only fair to split this into two categories. First the software, then my final thoughts on the Note20.
Android is a great operating system, it is clean and easy to use, many years ago I got my parents and grandparents to use iPhones as they were easier to use. Though that isn’t the only case now.
That being said the speed in which updates come out and the fracturing of different OS between different phones bugs me. I prefer a uniform approach that iOS gives.
And how do I feel about the Note20 Ultra? So after 3 months, I find it is a great phone but I am constantly disappointed/frustrated by it. And one of my primary reasons for giving them a go was that I wanted to be able to use apps like WiFi Channel Analyzing and vSphere, apps that for several reasons Apple don’t allow iOS developers to access. However, I have found that while I have looked at those apps a few times, they aren’t something that I need to have. It’s one of those things, nice to have but doesn’t matter if I don’t have them.
So what am I doing? Well, I am hoping to get back to an iPhone, worst case in October this year. Though I am hopeful do to it sooner, I just find android frustrating. And as lame as it sounds I love the Apple Ecosystem. During my entire time using Android I have still been paying for Apple Music, iCloud and Apple News.
So don’t get me wrong, the Note20 Ultra is a great phone, and I feel if I hadn’t spent years using an iPhone I would love it. A big part of my issues is that I am still in the Apple eco-system, and since I keep using my iPad, MacBook Pro and Mac Pro fully leaving the Apple Ecosystem is not something I want to do.
So, if anyone wants a 3-month-old Samsung Note20 Ultra 5G 256GB to let me know, it’s going for a good price.