Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs. Galaxy Z Fold 2: Samsung markets so many phones these days that it can be difficult to get a full picture of what they have to offer.
For example, while the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is widely regarded as the current top dog of the brand, both the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 can be considered current.
These are two stylish, expensive flagships for 2020 with unique features that make them stand out from the crowd.
So which of these two aging heavyweights is the best buy in 2021? Let’s see if we can find out.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 2 Pricing and Availability
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra* will be in stores on August 21, 2020. When it launched it was $1,299 for the base 128GB model in the US, while you could pick up a 256GB model in the UK and Australia for £1,179 / AU$1,849. Increasing the storage capacity to 512GB would set you back $1,449 / £1,279 / AU$2,199.
Of course, that was a while ago and you might be able to find a discount if you look around. Overall though, the phone has held its own, which in itself shows what a uniquely attractive handset it still is.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2* was announced on August 5, 2020, and went on sale on September 18 for $1,999 / £1,799 / AU$2,999.
Unlike the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, it’s possible to get a substantial discount on the Galaxy Z Fold 2. At the time of writing, for example, it’s available on Amazon UK for £1,349.99.
Whether you find a discount or not, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the cheaper phone of the two.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 2 Design
Both phones make a serious design statement but in very different ways. Aside from offering the same flashy Mystic Bronze and much less flashy Mystic Black color options, they are very different phones.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was arguably the most beautiful smartphone of 2020, and it would also give any of the 2021 brigades a good start. With its stylish combination of tasteful matte back, glossy flat top and bottom edges, and a nearly nonexistent side frame, it subtly differs from everything else out there.
The signature camera module looked extremely intrusive at the time but looks downright restrained by modern standards, thanks in no small part to the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. It just adds to that industrial chic look.
This is a large yet manageable phone measuring 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm. At 208 grams, it is heavy, but also much easier to use than other superphones.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 impresses for a completely different reason – namely its wildly foldable form factor. This is essentially a very thick smartphone that folds out into a very thin (6.9mm) tablet. Fully extended, it measures 159.2 x 128.2 mm.
However, it weighs a pretty massive 282g, which is way above any regular (i.e. non-foldable) phone. This device is a commitment in more than its price.
The unorthodox premise aside, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 feels more like the future of phones than any other phone out there, including the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. In addition, thanks to the “Hideaway Hinge”, which allows the phone to be opened between 75 and 115 degrees, Samsung has found a way to refine the form factor of the original fold and keep out the fluff.
Not quite though. Unlike the IP68-certified Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, there’s no IP rating here and you’ll notice a slight ripple halfway up the screen when you open it all the way.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 2 Screen
As big as the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s screen is – and at 6.9 inches it’s the size of a conventional smartphone – the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is bigger. Much bigger.
Fully extended, Fold 2’s screen measures no less than 7.6 inches. Add a much more square aspect ratio of 5:4 and you have a much larger canvas to enjoy media content.
Both Super AMOLED displays are capable of a variable refresh rate of 120 Hz, but only the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can handle Quad HD resolution (1440 x 3088) for a super-sharp 496 ppi. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 only achieves 1768 x 2208 and 373 ppi.
However, it is worth noting that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra cannot run QHD and 120 Hz at the same time. If you want those silky smooth refresh rates, you need to switch to FHD+.
Both phones give you subtle visual distortion in their own way. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has some subtly curved edges, while the Galaxy Z Fold 2 has that crease in the middle. The latter is much more distracting – or you might be the kind of person who can’t help but notice these kinds of things.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 also has a secondary display. On the front of the phone, with the main screen folded away, you can use a 6.23-inch Super AMOLED cover display. It’s only 816 x 1536 pixels and 60 Hz, but you can use the device as a “normal” phone if you don’t need the full flip effect.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 2 Cameras
There is really no competition when it comes to the camera features of these two phones. And the result may not be in the direction you would expect.
While the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the cheaper phone, it has much better photography capabilities than the Galaxy Z Fold 2. It is led by a beefy 1/1.33″ 108MP wide-angle sensor with a fast f/1.8 aperture. 1- Pixel binning- technology for impressively sharp images.
The other two sensors are a 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide with laser-assisted phase-detection autofocus and a 12MP f/3.0 with 5x optical zoom.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, on the other hand, offers a modest trio of 12-megapixel sensors, led by a smaller 1/1.76-inch widescreen display. The 12-megapixel telephoto lens, on the other hand, is only sufficient for a more modest 2x optical zoom.
All in all, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 shoots very well. But even in our original review, we pointed out that it fell short of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s standards.
One little thing the Fold 2 has to offer, however, is the ability to take a photo with the 7.6-inch display unfolded and see a live preview on the cover display. Have someone take a picture of you and you can frame the picture yourself with a little verbal instruction.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 also has a pair of 10MP f/2.2 sensors for selfies – one for the open device, one for the closed device. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a 10 MP selfie camera.
On the video front, both phones can record 4K at 60 fps, but only the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can expand that to 8K at 24 fps.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Vs Galaxy Z Fold 2 specs and performance
These two phones are the same generation, so it’s no surprise that they’re about as capable as the other.
If you bought one at a time in the US, you would definitely get two Snapdragon 865 devices. It’s no longer the fastest chip on the market, but it’s still fast enough. Geekbench 5 multi-core scores over 3000 keep it competitive even if the GPU is a bit behind the newer Snapdragon 888.
However, both phones get 12GB of RAM, which is a generous allotment.
We would still give the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 the performance advantage, though, and that has to do with Samsung’s decision to split its chip offerings on a regional basis. If you bought any phone anywhere in the world except the US and China, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra would suffer from a performance deficit thanks to its use of Samsung’s own Exynos 990 chip.
This homemade chip is roughly equivalent to the Snapdragon 865, but Qualcomm’s chip is measurably faster and more efficient.
If the Galaxy Z Fold 2 has a slight performance advantage, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra brings back some pluses with its integrated S Pen. We’re a little confused that this isn’t in the Galaxy Z Fold 2, where the large tablet-like screen seems to be tailor-made for Samsung’s brilliant pen.
As it is, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra remains relevant thanks to this exclusive inclusion. The cabinet mechanism is as elegant as it gets, while the functionality is more powerful than ever.
With the S Pen, you can quickly scribble something on the screen without waking up, have your handwritten notes automatically converted to digital text, and even take detailed photos thanks to the precise control and impressively discreet pressure sensitivity of the S Pen.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 offers 256 GB of internal storage as standard, optionally with 512 GB. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has the same precautions, but there is also a 128GB option depending on the region. However, only the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a MicroSD slot.
Android 11 runs on both phones with Samsung’s own One UI 3.0. It’s a fast, customizable UI and a much better view than it used to be in terms of bloatware – even if it’s still not perfect.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 gets a special flex mode that lets you split compatible apps on either side of the fold for better multitasking. However, the implementation is not as extensive as we would like now.
On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra gets custom S Pen features and apps that really take advantage of Samsung’s powerful pen. It’s arguably better integrated than the Fold 2’s unique split-screen, although you’d expect that, considering how much more advanced the S Pen technology is.
Battery life of Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 2
Both the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 have 4500 mAh batteries, which is not that big by modern standards. Certainly not given the size of these screens.
This is especially true for the Galaxy Z Fold 2, where it should drive a unique large 7.6-inch display at 120 Hz in addition to a secondary 6.23-inch display. Our tester generally lasted an entire day, but only at the default 60Hz refresh rate. Bumping things down to 120 Hz made it a lot hairier.
In the opposite corner, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch Super AMOLED display to drive with, although the lack of a simultaneous QHD and 120Hz option helps mitigate damage. Overall, we were able to stay at 20% all day at FHD/120Hz. We’re also talking about pretty intense days of photos and videos, not to mention YouTube streaming.
When it comes to charging, both phones come with 25W chargers and support wireless charging. This is the table bet for such expensive phones – especially when Oppo, OnePlus, and Xiaomi are now bundling 60W+ chargers.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy Z Fold 2 – Conclusion
Samsung’s two expensive flagship phones are contemporaries, so you might not think it would be hard to judge which one is better. But despite their common age group, they really do offer very different packages.
While the Galaxy Z Fold 2 was and is a captivating piece of the future, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was nothing short of the best phone of 2020. The former is flawed but offers you something truly unique. The last one just gave you the best of everything and was very hard to fault.
Over time, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has largely been replaced by the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – the integrated S Pen aside. In the meantime, there is nothing that could replace the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
Now if you’re just looking for a great phone, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a better choice. It is more robust, has a better camera, and ensures that you get through the day more reliably.
But if you want a taste of tomorrow, the futuristic allure of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is hard to resist. Of course, either way, you might want to wait a few months to see what Samsung has in store.