S20 Ultra 5G: Samsung unfurls Galaxy flagship with bonkers 108MP cam, 6.9-inch display

If you tell my hand, my achy-breaky hand, it might fling up and hit the fan

What even is a flagship mobe these days? In the past few years, punters have been blessed with a bevy of top-notch blowers from firms like OnePlus, Xiaomi and Honor that cost less than £500. In 2020, what's the point of spending more than a grand on a phone?

Enter the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G. Formally announced today at Samsung Unpacked but largely leaked in the weeks preceding, this Android 10 handset promises a photography experience that will rival any mirrorless camera. And, to see whether it delivers on the promise, we got our dirty talons on an early model.

The first thing you'll notice is that it's big. Really big. It comes with a 6.9-inch 120Hz QHD Dynamic AMOLED edge-to-edge display. This packs a tiny hole-punch containing the 40MP wide-angle selfie camera and a 240Hz touch sensor.

It requires an expansive grip, with a width of 76mm, a height of 166.9mm, 8.8mm thickness and weighing 220g. Despite that, it didn't feel especially unwieldy to carry, fitting snugly into the rear pocket of this hack's jeans.

The display accoutrements probably won't be much use to the typical commuter who spends their mornings staring bleary-eyed into apps. However, for those ensnared by the current crop of increasingly sophisticated mobile games, like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile, the Samsung S20 Ultra 5G promises a more enriching and responsive experience. The 240Hz touch sensor should, at least in theory, reduce the latency between tapping the screen and shooting some n00b in the face.

S20 Ultra 5G Pic

Photo taken with the S20 Ultra 5G (click to enlarge)

Of course, the big hitter on this handset is the camera. The primary sensor is a custom 108MP affair. Most high-megapixel phones use a technique called "pixel binning" to improve low-light performance, which sees four smaller pixels combined into a single larger one. The S20 Ultra 5G is no exception, albeit it uses nona-binning, which amalgamates nine pixels into one pixel, ultimately producing a 12MP picture. Previously, if you wanted to bin your nona, you had to drive to the local care home. Oh how times have changed.

The other standout feature of the S20 Ultra 5G is its 100x zoom, which comes mounted on the side of the camera apparatus. While this, prima facie, sounds really cool, it's a bit of a white elephant. You can only get so much optical zoom from a smartphone, leaving software to pick up the heavy lifting. Predictably, any totally zoomed-in pictures are fairly flat and lack detail.

But while the 100x zoom feels a bit like a party trick, you can still capture pretty decent shots with more reasonable zoom levels, without feeling as though you've lost too much fidelity.

Arguably the coolest camera feature – which is present on both the S20/S20 Plus and S20 Ultra 5G – is "single take mode", which allows you to move around the subject while automatically capturing a small portfolio of video clips and snapshots. This is a one-tap process, with Samsung's AI doing much of the hard work.

Pretty rendering of an imaginary chip blueprint

RISC-V Xmas gifts: SiFive emits vector-enabled cores, Western Digital teases new SweRVs, VxWorks hugs ISA, Samsung rolls it into 5G...


Under the hood, it packs a 7nm process octa-core Exynos platform, backed up with 12/16GB of RAM and 128/512GB of storage. Punters are best advised to go for the latter option, given the S20 Ultra 5G can shoot natively at 8K resolutions. As you might expect, 8K UHD videos tend to be quite taxing on storage.

Fortunately, the S20 Ultra 5G comes loaded with a MicroSD slot, which supports cards of up to 1TB in size. On the battery front, it has a fairly generous 5,000mAh cell. It also supports both non-standalone (NSA) and cat-6 5G standards.

Samsung claims the S20 Ultra 5G will go on sale in March, from $1,399. ®

PS: Samsung also teased its bendy Galaxy Z flip-phone, which we've covered previously. It'll cost $1,380, and is due to land Friday, February 14, as expected.

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • AMD claims its GPUs beat Nvidia on performance per dollar
    * Terms, conditions, hardware specs and software may vary – a lot

    As a slowdown in PC sales brings down prices for graphics cards, AMD is hoping to win over the market's remaining buyers with a bold, new claim that its latest Radeon cards provide better performance for the dollar than Nvidia's most recent GeForce cards.

    In an image tweeted Monday by AMD's top gaming executive, the chip designer claims its lineup of Radeon RX 6000 cards provide better performance per dollar than competing ones from Nvidia, with all but two of the ten cards listed offering advantages in the double-digit percentages. AMD also claims to provide better performance for the power required by each card in all but two of the cards.

    Continue reading
  • Google opens the pod doors on Bay View campus
    A futuristic design won't make people want to come back – just ask Apple

    After nearly a decade of planning and five years of construction, Google is cutting the ribbon on its Bay View campus, the first that Google itself designed.

    The Bay View campus in Mountain View – slated to open this week – consists of two office buildings (one of which, Charleston East, is still under construction), 20 acres of open space, a 1,000-person event center and 240 short-term accommodations for Google employees. The search giant said the buildings at Bay View total 1.1 million square feet. For reference, that's less than half the size of Apple's spaceship. 

    The roofs on the two main buildings, which look like pavilions roofed in sails, were designed that way for a purpose: They're a network of 90,000 scale-like solar panels nicknamed "dragonscales" for their layout and shimmer. By scaling the tiles, Google said the design minimises damage from wind, rain and snow, and the sloped pavilion-like roof improves solar capture by adding additional curves in the roof. 

    Continue reading
  • Pentester pops open Tesla Model 3 using low-cost Bluetooth module
    Anything that uses proximity-based BLE is vulnerable, claim researchers

    Tesla Model 3 and Y owners, beware: the passive entry feature on your vehicle could potentially be hoodwinked by a relay attack, leading to the theft of the flash motor.

    Discovered and demonstrated by researchers at NCC Group, the technique involves relaying the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals from a smartphone that has been paired with a Tesla back to the vehicle. Far from simply unlocking the door, this hack lets a miscreant start the car and drive away, too.

    Essentially, what happens is this: the paired smartphone should be physically close by the Tesla to unlock it. NCC's technique involves one gadget near the paired phone, and another gadget near the car. The phone-side gadget relays signals from the phone to the car-side gadget, which forwards them to the vehicle to unlock and start it. This shouldn't normally happen because the phone and car are so far apart. The car has a defense mechanism – based on measuring transmission latency to detect that a paired device is too far away – that ideally prevents relayed signals from working, though this can be defeated by simply cutting the latency of the relay process.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022