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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 3 years later – Quickrospect

It’s remarkable how many new phones are released every year, it feels like just yesterday when the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra was all the rage. Wow, so many cameras, and “100x Space Zoom”. Well, it’s definitely an array of cameras capable of taking colour images!

It also has 5G – which is great except in my parts of Canada, even 3 years later, still no 5G service. 

Having been with this phone since launch, here’s a reflection on my journey with it through the years. Welcome to Quickrospect, a quick retrospective.

Battery Life

It’s worth noting that I have the Snapdragon 865 version. It’s expected that battery capacities wane over time, but the S20 Ultra’s drop is quite noticeable now. On a heavy usage day, it clings on for about half a day. However, for the casual user, you can still rely on it to pull through an entire day. If you can go back to the sluggish feeling 60 Hz, you can also get some extra battery gains.

Performance

This phone was once the pinnacle of performance, but as we venture deeper into the 2020s, its age is apparent. Modern intensive games can make it stutter a bit, but for general multitasking and light gaming, it’s still pretty competent. Considering the age of the device with daily use, I’m overall impressed how snappy everything still feels. 

Software

With Samsung’s OneUI 5.1 on board, there’s a discernible increase in system demands. While the feature set has expanded, there’s an inkling of bloat that occasionally rears its head. I do appreciate Good Lock, their downloadable customization modules. It allows me to customize the looks of my S20 Ultra further making it feel fresh when I’m bored of my current UI.

Cameras

The most disheartening wear and tear is evident in the camera department. There’s significant debris between the glass and camera lenses, and it has indeed taken a toll on photo quality. I may be in the minority, but I was never really in love with the novel cameras on the S20 Ultra. I say novel because it all sounds good on marketing materials, but I have always found the camera to produce mediocre. Unless you set up pro mode proper and develop the image in something like Adobe Lightroom. The pro mode’s fine tuning with the ability to export RAW, it’s pretty neat if you take the time to set it up. Something you can’t really do when you want to take a picture of something cool you see while out for a stroll.

Updates

It’s awesome that Samsung has kept the update train running for the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Fresh features are always welcome, although the caveat is that OneUI sometimes presents these features with a few quirks. Especially in the camera software department, it pales in comparison to contemporaries like the Pixel and iPhone.

Still worth it?

Here’s the silver lining: If you chance upon a new Galaxy S20 Ultra for below $300 USD, considering the current market, it’s a decent deal. The pace of mobile innovation has been somewhat lackluster lately, so the S20 Ultra doesn’t feel terribly outdated.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, though showing signs of age, remains a heavy, ridiculous, yet reliable device.

At a discounted price, it’s still a viable choice for many. However, for those who prioritize camera performance, it may be time to move on.

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