A little over a month ago I did the unthinkable. I dropped $2000 honest to god dollarydoos on a phone. A glorious Samsung Note 20 Ultra.
It’s ridiculously extravagant and that’s an obscene amount of money for someone like me.
The weirdest part is, I don’t regret it at all.
Elegance in design
A $2000 phone certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you can swing it boy is it nice.
Sometimes I catch myself having a little moment while appreciating the elegant design. The matte mystic bronze (it’s totally rose gold or mauve but OK, be mystic, whatever) satin finish is gorgeous. I’m a very oily person and it repels fingerprints better than anything I’ve ever seen.
The huge camera bump on the back is definitely there but I love the richer tones and pop of difference it adds to the look. The thin light bezels, the tiny hole punch front camera, the way the screen just melts off the side. Sometimes when I look at this phone I involuntarily make a sound something like ‘unf’. It looks and feels so classy, I often feel like I’m punching far above my weight by owning it.
This also means I haven’t actually taken it outside of my house yet. Living in lockdown, the only times I really leave are to walk my dogs or ride my pushbike and I’m sorry but I do not trust either of those activities with my new shiny. The real downside to an expensive phone is the fear of breaking it, and that’s an ever present anxiety. Thankfully my preorder did come with Samsung Care+, but I'd still be devastated.
Work and play
Where I do use it a lot is at home, and I use it for everything. The stunningly huge, high refresh rate screen makes general use just lovely. Things like reading and replying to emails feels almost as functional as on a full sized tablet, while scrolling web pages or social media is an incredibly smooth ride. I do get some incidental side touches from the curved screen, especially when using it laying in bed but I’m learning my way around it.
It’s a shame here in Australia that we’re lumped with the weaker Exynos processor over the Snapdragon, but I can’t say I’ve noticed it in my use so far. Combined with the aforementioned lovely screen it’s made gaming a breeze.
There seems to be plenty of RAM and the front facing speakers are surprisingly punchy. I’m not usually much of a mobile gamer but I’m really coming around on this device. It’s the first time I haven’t felt like I’d be making huge sacrifices to play on my phone. With the launch of Xbox’s new streaming app it almost feels like I’ve got an extra console as well as a phone.
Cameras are another huge draw for phones for myself and many others and the Note 20 Ultra delivers. Not having taken it outside I haven’t played with the full functionality but all the pics I’ve taken around my house are crisp and have gorgeous colour tones. I take a lot of pictures of my dogs and the way this camera makes my husky’s blue eyes pop is vivid.
The selfie camera is also excellent and even did a great job of photographing weird artistic makeup – possibly not a draw card for everyone but so often selfie tone colours down or blur it into obscurity in the name of boring beauty so it’s an improvement I noticed.
And lastly, there’s a reason I’m a fan of the Note series specifically even now that phablet sized phones are the norm. It’s the S-Pen.
Having a stylus in your phone is a bit of a niche requirement but for me it’s essential. I like to draw on my phone, and have since the Note 4 but it’s always been a slightly limited experience. The boxy size of the screen and the improved latency on the S-Pen have made this hands-down the best phone I’ve ever drawn on.
I immediately noticed how good it feels. The pen pressure is far more intuitive and the lines aren’t lagging behind as far on my stylus.
I used to draw mostly painterly styles because I couldn’t make crisp lines I was happy with on my phone. I’m still learning the feel of this device but even on my first few goes these are by far the best lines I’ve managed to achieve on a phone.
I picked up my old Note 8 for a second to draw something the other day and was very unimpressed, despite having used it just fine for years now. As an artist, the improvements to the pen are noticeable and appreciated.
To put it simply, I adore this phone. But I will admit I’m almost the perfect use case for it. I use it for work, play, other work, art which is also sometimes work. Like I said, basically everything. Considering that, it almost feels worth the price.