It’s Samsung time to take the stage once again and this time it’s going all out. It has no less than five devices competing for the spotlight though, let’s be honest, not everyone will be able to afford some of what Samsung is putting on the table. In fact, this year’s Galaxy Note 20 duo and Galaxy Tab S7 pair might be some of the hardest to sell given global conditions which, ironically, Samsung is actually trying to take advantage of with a nod towards more serious use cases for its stylus-enabled phones and tablets.
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
If the Galaxy S20 Ultra was largely defined by its cameras, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s is making that less of a focus, no pun intended. Sure, the two actually have similarities with Samsung’s previous creme a la creme but there have been some downgrades as well. “Space Zoom”, for example, now maxes out at 50x thanks to the 12MP 5x zoom lens though the huge 108 megapixel sensor is still there. Addressing criticisms, Samsung has added laser autofocus to help with the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s biggest photography weakness.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, instead, focuses on the things you can do with the S Pen. Or rather, the things you can do with the S Pen and Samsung closer ties with Microsoft. Those come via integration with Windows, OneNote, and Outlook, positioning the phablet as the ultimate office companion. Or if you’re more daring, it can even be your Office replacement thanks to the new support for wireless DeX, though you’ll need a Miracast-capable display for that to work.
The phone isn’t all about work, though, even if that seems to be Samsung’s main spiel. That same Microsoft partnership makes the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra the first phone to support Project xCloud out of the box, thanks to a sweet Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offer. You’ll probably want a Bluetooth controller to go with that and both Samsung and Microsoft are only too happy to sell you one.
Going beyond taking photos, Samsung is also expanding into video recording, creation, and, of course, playback. That comes not only via the 6.9-inch 120Hz screen but also from the phone’s capability to record in 8K 24 fps quality. More interesting, however, are the Pro audio recording options that not only let users select which mic to use for input but even use a paired Galaxy Buds Live to cut out background noise.
Galaxy Tab S7+
If the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offered a mix of work and play, the Galaxy Tab S7+ is really all about the serious stuff. Of course, the large 12.4-inch Super AMOLED screen, the largest of Samsung’s modern slates, makes it great for watching as well but Samsung has clearly earmarked this tablet as a work device. In fact, it says that most buyers of its previous Galaxy Tab S6 were looking for laptops or tablet PCs at first.
That is why Samsung doubled down on its productivity features, particularly Samsung DeX. Now the desktop-like Android UI starts the moment you attach the keyboard cover. Samsung again focuses on its friendship with Microsoft, particularly when it comes to the Microsoft 365 suite. And, yes, there’s also support for Xbox Game Pass but you’ll definitely want a controller to go with it.
The S Pen experience has also been upgraded, with 9ms latency and syncing notes across phones and, of course, Windows computers. Unfortunately, it seems that Samsung has once again decided to ignore the creative aspects of the tool, preferring to focus on potentially more profitable enterprise use cases instead.
Both the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Tab S7 are high-end devices through and through, powered by the Snapdragon 865+, at least in markets where you’re lucky to get that chip. Even the Galaxy Note 20, which is marketed as the more accessible option, isn’t exactly that accessible when it comes to the price tag.
Available in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Gray, Mystic Green, and in an 8GB RAM/128GB storage configuration, the Galaxy Note 20 immediately starts at $999.99. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra starts with 12GB of RAM off the bat and jumps to $1,299.99. The Galaxy Tab S7 won’t be coming until fall and will go for $649.99 for the smaller 11-inch model and $849.99 for the 12.4-inch monster.