Its cameras are considerably tamer too, at least by Samsung standards. Rather than go all-out as it did with the Note 20 Ultra, Samsung appears to have just transferred the Galaxy S20 Plus’s three main cameras into the Note 20. That’s especially ironic since, as of this writing, recent deals and promos temporarily made the unlocked Galaxy S20 Plus with the same cameras, a better screen, expandable storage, more RAM and a slightly larger battery quite a bit cheaper than the Note 20.
Credit where it’s due, this thing isn’t without its charms. For one, it has a slightly rounder body that I find surprisingly appealing, even as a fan of new Notes’ squarish aesthetic. The Note 20’s display is completely flat too, rather than slightly curved at the edges like the Ultra’s — that may make it less prone to accidental touches. And it still feels like a well-put-together device, even if it lacks the sheer style and reassuring density of its more expensive sibling.
I get what Samsung is trying to do here. This is a phone for people who want most of the Note experience but don’t need all the premium frills, and that’s a valuable argument. The thing is, it’s still a $1,000 phone. When you consider many people (in the US anyway) buy expensive smartphones like these on installment plans anyway, it can be hard to imagine someone not shelling out a little per month for the Ultra. After all, that $1,300 behemoth is exactly the kind of phone Samsung has long believed — or argued, at least — its die-hard Note fans really want.
Beyond all that, Samsung has insisted for years that the Note series represented the peak of smartphone-making prowess. With the Note 20, the company is muddying that message. Maybe I’m wrong — maybe the regular Note 20 will become the kind of mass-market hit Samsung really wants. For now, though, it largely comes off like a watered-down version of the Ultra with an asking price that makes it hard to overlook some notable compromises. To find out if that’s really the case, I’d suggest you stick around for our continuing coverage (and eventual review) before you decide to drop upwards of $1,000 on either one of these phones, but if you absolutely can’t wait, pre-orders for both Notes kick off at midnight on August 6, 2020.