It’s no secret that the regular Galaxy Note 20 is an embarrassment for a flagship that costs $999. A plastic back, old Gorilla Glass 5, a 60Hz display, no microSD slot, not-so-much better S Pen all make it far less interesting than even last year’s Galaxy Note 10. But my biggest gripe with the Note 20 may be the gaping large punch hole for the selfie camera, as I’ve realized after I started using the phone earlier this week for our upcoming review.
A sub-$300 Galaxy phone has a smaller punch hole than the Galaxy Note 20
We already knew the camera punch hole on the Galaxy Note 20 isn’t as tiny as the Note 20 Ultra’s, but you have to see it in person to realize how big it actually is in comparison. I know complaining about the punch hole is nitpicking at its finest, but come on, even the most recent sub-$300 Galaxy M series phone has a smaller punch hole than the Note 20. That’s also true for the Galaxy Note 10 Lite. Essentially, the camera cutout is the same size as it was on the year-old Galaxy Note 10, and it’s one of many signs that Samsung wasn’t interested in making the Galaxy Note 20 much of an upgrade.
Of course, it may just be that the larger punch hole and the other questionable aspects of the Galaxy Note 20 were always the plan so consumers would be pushed towards spending an additional $300 for the Note 20 Ultra (review). It’s the only logical explanation to why Samsung didn’t try to make the phone even a little bit exciting despite attaching a $999 price tag to it. While Samsung is offering more and more for the asking price with its budget and mid-range phones these days, the Galaxy Note 20 is a great example of the company doing the opposite for its high-end devices.
I’m afraid many customers will pick up a Note 20 expecting greatness because of the money they’re shelling out. Not that it’s a bad phone – it’s got the same cameras as the Galaxy S20 and S20+, the S Pen and all the related software features, and many of the usual trappings of a Galaxy flagship, like a beautiful AMOLED display, stereo speakers, water and dust resistance, and wireless charging. But the list of shortcomings — or rather, a lack of features we expect on a flagship in 2020 — is rather long, and I have a feeling that camera cutout is going to stick out like a sore thumb the entire time I’m going to be using this phone.