Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s 50x zoom really is more than enough

We’re not fans of how Samsung has made a number of cuts on the spec sheet for the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra compared to the Galaxy S20 Ultra and even last year’s Galaxy Note 10+. But the reduction of the maximum zoom capability from 100x to 50x is arguably one that makes the least amount of difference in the real world.

And serving as an example of that is this photo I captured today of a building three quarters of a kilometer away as I was driving around looking for things to shoot for our upcoming review. I snapped the building in question (the farthest one in the scene) at both 1x and 50x zoom, and as you can see in the comparison below, 50x is more than enough to get you up close to far-off subjects while standing in one spot.


Even at 50x, the quality of the picture isn’t great, and having 100x zoom would be great for showing off but is ultimately just a gimmick. However, I did notice that the periscope lens on the Note 20 Ultra is limited by the 12MP resolution compared to the 48MP sensor on the S20 Ultra. The S20 Ultra manages to take slightly sharper and cleaner pictures, though that’s partly because of less aggressive post-processing on photos captured on the Note 20 Ultra.

The S20 Ultra often goes overboard while the Note 20 Ultra seems to barely apply any post-processing, and I hope Samsung can strike a balance by optimizing the camera algorithm on its new phone with software updates in the future. To see what I mean, check out two photos taken with the Galaxy S20 Ultra (swipe left) and the Note 20 Ultra (swipe right) at 50x below.


Along with the slightly lower quality compared to the Galaxy S20 Ultra at the same magnification, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s zoom camera also has a few other issues, and I will go into them in more detail in our review, so stay tuned. For now, rest assured that if you pre-ordered the Note 20 Ultra, you won’t be disappointed with its zoom capabilities unless you’re switching to it from the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

  • Model: SM-N986B
  • Dimensions: Bar: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm
  • Display: 6.9 inch / 175.26 mm Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • CPU: Exynos 990
  • Camera: 108MP
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