Is This the Best Phone for Photographers? The New Samsung Note20 Ultra

Whether you've got a hundred camera bodies or a top of the range Hasselblad, almost every photographer still takes shots with their phone from time to time, so you may as well have a phone with a great camera. Is this is the best phone for photographers?

Eagle-eyed readers may remember a few years back when I had somewhat of a revelation in Tokyo (nb: Revelation in Tokyo is a great band name;) rather than switch from my favorite lens to a wide angle zoom, I started using my Google Pixel 3 XL instead. I'd keep my go-to camera body and lens together, and for cityscapes, I'd use my phone. I'm not much of landscape photographer, so I didn't feel I was losing a great deal, and I was pleased with the results in fact. If there was a shot that was absolutely superb, I would switch lenses on my camera and take it properly, but for the most part, my phone would suffice.

The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G is the new flagship phone from Samsung and it's highly impressive in spec. It has a 6.9" AMOLED display with 120hz refresh rate, which is one hell of a screen. Behind the scenes it has 12 GB of RAM (in a phone!), an Octa-Core processor, Snapdragon 865+ chipset, and 512 GB storage which can be expanded with a microSD up to another 1 TB. But what we're particularly interested in, is the big lump of lenses on the back.

The three lenses are telephoto (103mm f/3 on 12 MP sensor,) wide (26mm at f/1.8 and a whopping 108 MP,) and ultra wide (13mm at f/2.2 at 12 MP again.) With video, it can record UHD 8K at up to 24 fps, UHD 4K at 60 fps, and it can shoot slow motion 240 fps in 1080hp, or an incredible 960 fps in 720p. So, as you can see, this is one hell of a phone for photographers. The catch? The minimum you can expect to pay for this phone, with 128 GB built-in storage rather than 512 GB, is $1,299.

What are you thoughts?

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11 Comments

Alex Kartashov's picture

$1,300 for a phone? A phone? An electrical device that is guaranteed to die in 4-5 years?
For what? Browsing YouTube, Facebook and Instagram? Samsung has been going crazy these past couple of years, continuing to increase the prices of their electronics while crippling their "lower" range phones in order to justify a 4-figure expense on a phone.

Where are the times where a $999 price tag was reserved for the mentally insane and Apple phones?

Greg Silver's picture

I'd hardly call this just a phone. You can add in GPS, Digital Camera, Video Camera and a computer that's more powerful than some laptops all conveniently able to be put in your pocket. It may be a little rich for your blood but I personally think these devices are worth every penny.

TImothy Tichy's picture

A, it was totally worth it. B, we got ours from Sprint right before the switch as a two for one deal, hard to turn that down. :)

Stuart Carver's picture

Phone people, text people, browse social media and photography sites, manage emails, sat nav, on foot sat nav, plane boarding passes, secure payments, photo pills, weather apps, book hotels, high quality cameras/video, tell the time, make shopping lists, shop online, check football scores, read the news, listen to music, make music, calculator, conversion app, shazzam, contacts, calendar with alerts, personal organiser, read books, watch tv, watch movies, track your health, play games, manage your smart home.

“A Phone”

Dmitry Baryshnikov's picture

All this can be done with a device, say, 3 times cheaper. Even the pictures would be of a similar quality. So what could necessarily prove the worthiness of this particular Samsung?

Alex Kartashov's picture

None of what you said is something that a $1300 phone can do, that a $400 can't.

Stuart Carver's picture

I’ve got both, a £300 and an £1100 phone, the £300 one (Sony XA2) comes nowhere near the quality and user experience of the £1100 one (iPhone 11 pro)... I cant speak for this Samsung but in my experience the difference is stark. And £1100 for something I’ll keep and use constantly all day for 6yrs is extremely good value for money.

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

"guaranteed to die in 4-5 years?" NOT! My family and I have had several Samsung phones going back to 2013's Galaxy S4. We have upgraded phones over the years but not because any of those phones "Died".
Part of it was for improved and added features but also because Google only supports Android devices for long. Two years of updates and after that you're on your own. And from what I understand Google's timeline is pretty much tied in with a manufacturer's timeline. As for who sets the standard it appears to be Google but I'm certain the manufactures don't mind planned obsolescence.

So I'm going to restate your comment slightly. "Planned obsolescence to the point of near death via OS."

As for price I tend to agree a bit. My Note 4 was $750 USD in December 2014. But you have to take into account what comes with those types of high end phones. Multi camera modules, higher resolution screens and better build quality to name a few things. Stylus on the Note series.

I wouldn't call having phones with less features and lower specs at multiple price points "crippling". I'd call that smart marketing.

Competition among manufactures benefits everybody. High end features trickle down to lower end devices in time and may even show up in other products.

But you can't please everyone.......

Stuart Carver's picture

Everything that’s cheaper is being crippled in these people heads... they don’t understand what a ‘range’ of items is.

It’s the same people complaining like hell that Fuji’s £500 entry level one doesn’t have the same specs as the XT4 but without a price increase.

Michael Krueger's picture

There are far cheaper phones on the market if you don't want to pay for the best.

Fritz Asuro's picture

Samsung's oversaturated images have never been good (IMHO). There are better phones for photographers.