Launched in Malaysia side by side with the Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G and it’s more cheaper LTE-only sibling the Galaxy Note20, the Galaxy Note20 5G has 5G connectivity like the Note20 Ultra and specifications like the Galaxy Note20. Here’s how it fares in our in-depth review.

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Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Build and Design

Externally the Galaxy Note20 5G bears some aesthetic similarity to the larger Note20 Ultra 5G in regards to the design of the chassis, the appearance of the triple rear camera module and the front selfie camera punch hole but it is a slightly different beast entirely on closer inspection.

Where the Note20 Ultra 5G has a curved and larger 6.9-inch sharper 3,088 x 1,440 pixel resolution display with a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate and sheathed in the latest Gorilla Victus glass, the Galaxy Note20 instead uses a flat 6.7-inch AMOLED Plus display that is capped at a60Hz refresh rate and a less sharper 2,400 x 1080 pixel resolution with Gorilla 5 glass. You effectively get a flatter, lower resolution display with a slower refresh rate that is smaller by 0.2-inches and sheathed with a slightly less protective version of Gorilla Glass.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review movies

On the bright side, the display of the Note20 5G is HDR10+ certified so it’ll play nice with HDR content. A tiny punchhole up top holds the 10MP selfie camera that is identical to the one seen in the Note20 Ultra 5G and the phone also has an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader at the base of the touchscreen. You also have the option of facial recognition to unlock the phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review bottom

The backplate of the Note20 5G is where the biggest difference lies. While it looks akin to the Note20 Ultra 5G’s metal and glass chassis, it is, instead, made of polycarbonate. This offers some weight savings as it’s lighter by 16g and their ‘Haze’ finish does help to reduce fingerprints by a significant margin but if you’re already chunking out for a flagship, you’d expect the usage of more premium materials. Another unique perk of the Note20 5G’s design is that it has a much slimmer camera bump which potentially reduces the risk of scratches to the camera array.

The right side has a power button and volume rocker while the left is otherwise bare. The base has a USB Type-C charging port, a speaker grille for the matching set of stereo speakers and a repositioned SPen stylus slot that is now on the left rather than the right side of the phone. The top of the phone has a dual SIM card tray; there’s no expandable memory in the Note20 which is a downer.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review backplate

To be fair, the Galaxy Note20 5G does look and feel immensely sturdy. It also has the same robust IP68 water resistance as its pricier sibling but the true nature of its materials is immediately apparent when you hold it. There is a significant silver lining to having a polycarbonate chassis though – this means that the Galaxy Note20 5G is also somewhat more survivable when it comes to rear impacts so your investment will likely stand a better chance if its pranged from the back.

In terms of goodies that come with the Note20 5G, there isn’t much out of the box beyond the basic UK-style 3 pin charger, a USB Type-C cable and a pair of AKG earphones with a USB Type-C jack at the end. Unlike last year’s Note10, they don’t provide a casing so you’ll have to go hunting for one. On the bright side, they have pre-applied a screen protector onto the display so you save a bit of cash there.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review in the box

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Specifications and Benchmarks

The Galaxy Note20 5G is otherwise similar to the standard Note20 save for the inclusion of 5G connectivity. It has the same Exynos 990 octacore processor powering the higher end Note20 Ultra 5G and the conventional 4G-LTE enabled Note20 and has 8GB RAM and 256GB of non-expandable storage. Connectivity options are just as comprehensive as the Note20 Ultra 5G with 5G connectivity (Sub6 and mmWave), fast WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and Ultra Wide Band.

Here’s what the specifications of the Galaxy Note20 5G are for Malaysia:

Price RM4,299 (5G variant) RM3,899 (4G only)
Display 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus, 1080 x 2,400Hz, 393ppi, HDR10+, 60Hz
Processor Exynos 990
OS Android 10 w/ One UI 2.5
Memory 8GB/ 256GB storage
Camera 12MP F/1.8 Dual Pixel, OIS + 64MP F/2.0 PDAF, OIS 3x hybrid zoom + 12MP F/2.2 ultrawide angle [rear] / 10MP F/2.2 Dual Pixel PDAF
Battery 4,300mAh w/ 25W fast charging, 15W wireless charging, 4.5W PowerShare
Size/Weight 161.6 x 75.2 x 8.3mm/ 192g
Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Specifications

 In terms of performance, the Note20 5G scored the following in synthetic benchmarks:

Geekbench 5.2 single-core score 907
Geekbench 5.2 multi-core score 2756
PCMark Work 2.0 10,238
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme – Open GL ES 3.1 6,483
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan  6,235
Galaxy Note20 5G Benchmarks

Even with identical Exynos 990 processors, the Galaxy Note20 5G nevertheless scores slightly behind the Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G, presumably on account of having slightly less RAM than its pricier sibling though in terms of practical performance, it’s not apparent with daily usage patterns.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Performance

Switching between apps was done in a swift and seamless fashion including intensive gaming like PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile on high settings. It was also able to handle 4K video editing via the built-in app in a smooth fashion albeit with a slightly slower rendering time by a few more seconds though 1080P videos and edited Snapseed shots were rendered in a much faster fashion with barely any delay.  

The only time you start noticing perceptible differences is when you start doing demanding things like hefty 8K video editing but in any case, it’s an impractical rarity and something best done on a beefier PC. For an RM900 difference, you’re getting a good chunk of the performance envelope of the Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G which is certainly something to shout about.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review video

The Note20 5G’s flat display is perhaps the biggest difference between this and the Note20 Ultra 5G. It’s not only slightly smaller but has a lower FHD+ resolution and has a refresh rate capped at 60Hz.

This impacts on its potential as a gaming device but a Note series phone isn’t exactly intended for you to up your K/D rate in PUBG anyway. Working in its favour is that the flat screen actually makes for a better writing and user experience with the potential for less human  errors in comparison to the Note20 Ultra 5G and its curved edges. 

While users who are already accustomed to 120Hz displays will find a 60Hz display a jarring difference, the truth of the matter is that for a great many users, 60Hz is more than sufficient and seeing as the display is made by Samsung, you’re getting one of the world’s highest quality Super AMOLED Plus panels that money can buy.

Colour rendition, sharpness and detail are excellent and to be fair, details beyond FHD resolution are beyond what most people can see with the naked eye anyway. The stereo speakers are also of note with the ability to kick out a good amount of volume and detail for music, movies and gaming alike.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review spen doodle
What Samsung’s uber flagship Note20 series phones all have in common is their firmware and their fabled SPen stylus. The Air Gestures, where you wave it about like a wand work well and the SPen is responsive though there is a tiny, almost imperceptible lag on account of a 23ms refresh rate versus the Note20 Ultra 5G’s fast 9ms. This does not impede its smoothness or functionality and doodling, writing recognition and the like are all pleasantly swift on the phone. Better yet, the flat display also makes doodling and writing notes a lot easier to boot.

DeX mode is naturally available on the phone via Samsung’s One UI 2.5 and it works as a great PC alternative if you’re in a bind by wirelessly pairing it up to a Miracast enabled telly or monitor to fire up a desktop mode.

While you can swap between using it as a touchpad and a keyboard on the Note20 5G’s display, DeX mode is best experienced with a wireless mouse and keyboard. You can also pair it up to your PC so you can get a virtual instance of your phone display mirrored on your desktop; handy if you need to transfer files or answer social media messages on your phone on your PC desktop.

In terms of battery life, the Note20 5G’s 4,300mAh battery has enough for a day’s worth of moderate usage. With data and WiFi on all day, light camera use and heavy reliance on Google maps, email and social media along with some Netflix, the phone managed to eke out enough usage until sundown; helped in part by the fact that there’s less pixels to push on the Note20 5G’s display. These findings were borne out in PCMark’s Work 2.0 battery life test where it garnered a decent 13 hours 4 minutes of usage. 

Befitting its status as a flagship phone, the Note20 5G has 15W wireless charging, the ability to reverse charge other kit via their Powershare to other hardware like their Galaxy Buds Live from the back of the phone and 25W fast charging. From dead zero, the phone managed to get fully charged in about an hour and 10 minutes which is par for the course for a premium phone of its nature.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G Cameras

The Galaxy Note20 5G has a similar triple camera setup as the Note20 Ultra 5G but the concessions to keep the cost down also mean that the cameras in the Note20 5G are, on paper at least, also a notch less powerful.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review top

 For your money, you’re getting a setup built around a 64MP camera with OIS and 3x optical zoom, a secondary 12MP wide angle camera and a 12MP ultra wide angle camera. Both the 64MP and 12MP wide angle camera have optical image stabilisation to ensure judder-free shots.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review camera UI

Video capture capabilities are impressive with the rear camera array offering up to 8K@24fps video capture. Another omission is the laser autofocus module seen in the Note20 Ultra 5G though this doesn’t significantly impact performance.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review macro shot

Freehand shot with the primary camera. Excellent detail capture on this tiny ant.

The front is a single 10MP camera for selfies and video calls with the ability to take up to 4k@60fps video that is similar to the Note20 Ultra 5G. 

Belying its specifications in comparison to the Note20 Ultra 5G, the Note20 5G is remarkably competent with performance befitting its prestigious lineage as Samsung’s premiere range of flagship phones.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review ultra wide angle

Primary rear camera in low light

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review ultrawide

Ultrawide angle camera in low light

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review zoom

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review at 3x zoom

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review 30x

Maximum 30x Space Zoom

Images captured on the ultra wide angle camera, the primary camera and even zoomed in up to 3x under daylight conditions offered good detail and vibrant colours. While you are able to take shots at up to 30x, this involves digital zoom and the results are noisy.

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Shots after dusk are also well handled with Night mode allowing for impressive night shots even in extremely dim light with the tradeoff of a slight delay when pressing the shutter. When images are shot freehand after dusk or in dim light, the Note20 5G is able to preserve good colour detail though shots seem a bit soft.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review primary camera

Captured videos are also excellent with the phone’s smooth steady mode when capturing 1080P video offering results almost as smooth as using a gimbal. 

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review excellent

The Galaxy Note20 5G is capable of great shots after dusk [Credit nowis]

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Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Verdict

Detractors will likely denigrate the shortcomings of the Galaxy Note20 5G – the polycarbonate chassis, 60Hz display and non-expandable storage but it has to be said that for RM900 less than the top of the line Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G, you’re getting the same Exynos 990 CPU, this year’s low-latency, smooth-writing SPen stylus and a competently engineered ensemble that gives you one of the best user interfaces seen on a smartphone blended with great cameras and performance.

If you want the Note20 Ultra 5G but don’t have pockets deep enough for it and its vaunted SPen, the Galaxy Note20 5G is a viable proposition. If you’re looking to save even more cash and still need the SPen, you can opt for the 4G LTE only Note20 that is functionally identical save for the omission of a 5G modem for RM400 less. For those who can live without the SPen but want better hardware all around, the new Galaxy S20 FE beckons.

What we liked Responsive and innovative SPen stylus, good cameras, smooth performance, refined and elegant design 

What we didn’t No expandable memory, uses polycarbonate instead of metal and glass, screen capped at 60Hz refresh rate, no 3.5mm audio jack

We say The Galaxy Note20 5G is a more affordable option compared to its pricier sibling with much of the same aesthetics and gains access to the same processor, 5G connectivity and the full functionality of the series’ fabled SPen though if you are looking for better value and can live without the stylus, the Galaxy S20 FE is a better alternative.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Review hand

Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. Available for purchase at Samsung’s official online store at https://www.samsung.com/my/smartphones/galaxy-note20/

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G
  • Display
  • Performance
  • Cameras
  • Battery Life
  • Value
3.8

Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G

The Galaxy Note20 5G is a more affordable option compared to its pricier sibling with much of the same aesthetics and gains access to the same processor, 5G connectivity and the full functionality of the series’ fabled SPen though if you are looking for better value and can live without the stylus, the Galaxy S20 FE is a better alternative.

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