Galaxy S20 worth the update? That depends on the life of the camera and the Samsung battery


The camera performance of the Galaxy S20 Ultra could make a difference.

Sarah Tew / CNET

"Whoa. Is is he Galaxy S20 Ultra"I was so surprised that I said it out loud. Tuesday at Samsung unpacked event It was the first time I could see Samsung's biggest and worst Galaxy S20 device with my own eyes. Because unfortunate circumstances beyond my control, I had to skip the typical journalist information session. So it wasn't until I held the S20 Ultra on Tuesday at the Samsung Unpacking event that I could form my first concrete opinion.

The S20 Ultra is a huge and heavy phone with a huge size. camera module that reminded me of The Rock. CNET senior editor Lynn La went even further, calling the parent "beefy" and grotesque "

And this $ 1,400 phone really feels like a ton of bricks. The shiny black version I drove didn't look as refined as the Galaxy Note 10 or even as last year Galaxy S10 (now pleasantly discounted!). If I had not known that the backrest was made of glass, I would not have been able to say it immediately. I turned on the 120 GHz screen function and noticed the smoother scrolling. Nice, but for me, not essential. I chose the configuration submenus, waiting for an exciting new feature to come out.

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It was starting to dawn for me: the MVP features that will make or break the Galaxy S20 Ultra are not what you can try in an artificially lit demonstration room, no matter how spacious. The quality of these completely redesigned cameras and the longevity of the 5,000 mAh Ultra battery can only be tested using the phone in the real world. And that will take time. (The same goes for 5G speeds, but since they are as good as the strength of the network anywhere you alive, I'll give it a pass for now.)

Dissecting the amazing camera specifications of the S20 Ultra is quite simple in theory. There is a 108 megapixel camera, a "space zoom" of 100x and a "folded zoom lens" of 48 megapixels. It was easy to point out the good accessories around the room, such as an elegant yogurt parfait tray and journalist friends to quickly assess how well each camera function worked. That's fine (and necessary) in a closed demonstration space, but you really don't know how good the photos are until you start taking photos of real-world scenes.

The value of the camera is also not reduced only to the image quality. You should also keep in mind how easy it is to use the function correctly, edit photos and share them. For example, after trying the "Single Shot" mode that captures up to 10 photos and four videos at the press of a button, I was beginning to have a clear impression that using this mode means that I could spend a lot of time eliminating all the extra time shots that you don't want

Testing the zoom function is especially important. When I pointed the S20 Ultra around the room and zoomed in 30x, 50x and 100x, I was not immediately impressed with what I saw. But he wasn't pointing to anything significant, like a decorative cornice in a palace, an egret wading in the ocean or a dazzling artist on stage.

Comparing the zoom capabilities of the Galaxy S20 Ultra with those of the Huawei P30 Pro It will be essential too. The periscopic lens of that phone uses similar technology to create a 5x optical zoom and a digital zoom of up to 50x. I remember that I was impressed by your ability to capture distant objects with greater fidelity than not. The same goes for him Pixel 4 and 4 XL & # 39; s "super zoom" sensors.

Battery life is the final ingredient here. 5,000 mAh is the largest available capacity, but we also have to take into account how many resources the huge phone screen actually uses, how 5G could change the battery equation (which will vary by network) and how much screen usage could consume 120Hz battery life compared to the standard 60Hz screen configuration.

I am excited to learn the answers to these questions. Very soon, when someone asks me if the Galaxy S20 Ultra is worth the money, or if it deserves an update of the Galaxy S10, I will have a clear answer to tell you.

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