All the new Galaxy S20 Ultra features and records to expect

All the new Galaxy S20 Ultra features and records to expect
Oh, the pockets you'll go, and the records you'll crush! If you are like us, there is one and only one phone currently on your mind - Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S20 Ultra. 

This groundbreaking handset is shaping up to be the most significant move for Android since the inception of foldable phones, and deserves a dedicated preview of all its major new features, with a few records sprinkled on top for a good measure.

It certainly appears that all peculiar rumors and trademarks around Samsung in the last few months have been meant for precisely the S20 Ultra, rather than its smaller siblings in the S20 stable, and with a good reason. 

A "Hubble" camera with "Space Zoom" abilities? Yep, that's the Ultra through and through, so check out the good clean fun that awaits when Samsung's most advanced phone excellency to date hits the tape.

The most palm-friendly phone in its display class

Yep, the 6.8" Note 10+ and even the 6.5" iPhone 11 Pro Max will be way wider than the Galaxy S20 Ultra, let that sink in for a second. With the new 20:9 aspect ratio (only Sony phones at 21:9 have it taller) and extra bezel shaving, Samsung has managed to achieve the most manageable in the hand giant phone, if ever there was an oxymoron to hide behind. 

The same, by the way, goes for the S20 and S20+, but it's especially important for a 6.9-incher. Still, the width difference between the 6.2" S20 and 6.1" iPhone 11, will be just as drastic.

The longest battery life from an S-line phone

The Galaxy S20 Ultra, in its turn, will have the longest battery life that Samsung has ever managed out of a flagship, what with its massive 5000mAh battery pack that the FCC confirmed with the following listing.

If you remember, that battery model number already leaked not long ago, and with a picture of it at that, but at the time we weren't quite sure if it will end up in the S20 Ultra. Well, now we can vouch with near certainty that the S20 Ultra will be backed up by a veritable power bank inside.

In addition, the EP-TA800 25W wall charger, Samsung's first with USB-C Power Delivery (PD) standard, that shipped with the Note 10 family, will be the upgrade from the 15W chargers of the Galaxy S10 trio, just as rumored before.

First-in-class 108MP sensor with record 2.4 micron Bright Night virtual pixels

We know, we know, by now everyone and their dog have heard that Samsung may increase the pixel count of its main Galaxy S20 camera sensor 9x compared to what we have on the S10. More pixels don't equate a better picture per se, as they are usually made tinier to fit the count, and collect less light, all other things being equal. 

With the magic of pixel-binning, or combining information from several pixels into one, however, not only is the resulting photo file smaller in size, but also the snap itself is usually able to overcome the smallish pixel size with some algorithmic trickery.

The 108MP sensor in the Ultra will be exclusively made for it, and would up the ante in the pixel-binning aspect, from a 2x2, to a 3x3 grid. This will allow it to again churn out 12MP photos from the giant 108MP sensor, but with way more detail, and richer color and dynamic range information, as the virtual pixel size will be the record 2.4 micron (3x0.8 on each side.) 

Compare that to the 1.4 micron physical pixel size in the S10 series, or 1.6 micron from pixel-binned 48MP or 64MP phone cameras (2x0.8), and we are certainly expecting detail, low-light and zoom improvements all around. 

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Unfortunately, no sensor can output better information than the lens gives it, so we sincerely hope that the huge camera island on the back of the Galaxy S20 Ultra means that Samsung has paid great attention to the optics it couples with the 108MP monster.

Longest practical zoom range on a phone 

5x periscope 'optical' zoom, 10x hybrid, 100x digital Space Zoom

Galaxy S20 Ultra won't have the 10x pure optical zoom level bandied about, because:

  • Samsung's periscope zoom module suppliers Optrontec and Actro are shipping prisms for a 5x optical zoom kit;
  • Samsung has only announced a 5x optical zoom periscope module so far;
  • Ming-Chi Kuo has stated that the first phone with 10x periscope zoom won't be in the S20 series but rather the Huawei P40 Pro.
While most phones are using the telephoto type of "optical" zoom, which has so far produced phones with 2-3x magnification, like recent iPhones, Galaxies, or Mates, what Samsung will reportedly use is periscope zoom lens, as seen on the P30 Pro for the first time.

Samsung acquired a commanding stake in Corephotonics back in the spring, and is even using part of its "folded optics" video for its own periscope zoom lens promo footage from September that tips what will be in the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

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Samsung is so certain of the eventual stellar zoom capabilities of the S20 series, in fact, that the rumors are pointing towards an internal "Hubble" codename for one of the cameras in the kit. As if to add more water in that particular rumor mill, Samsung trademarked the phrase "Space Zoom" back at the EU patent office, and it even appears at the back of the phone. What could that mean?

Well, after Huawei announced the P30 Pro with its 5x optical zoom of the periscope type that houses the sensor perpendicular to the lens, it gave an example of the 50x hybrid magnification it is capable of achieving with... a moonshot. Say what you will about such stunts, but this was the most talked about feature in the otherwise excellent phone, creating the most headlines in non-specialized publications. 

Needless to say, it is now a thing to advocate how your phone can zoom far enough to take pictures of celestial objects, and Google employed the tactic with its new Pixel 4 phones, too, dubbing them as good for... astrophotography. Something along that vein may be happening in the Galaxy S20 Ultra "Space Zoom" marketing materials, too, so stay tuned for some celestial body-snatching during the S20 Unpacked presentation.

The world's first 16GB DDR5 RAM memory model

As Instagram dog videos love to narrate - heck, Samsung! Back in the summer, it took to the airwaves, announcing to the world that it has "begun mass producing the industry’s first 12-gigabit (Gb) LPDDR5 mobile DRAM, which has been optimized for enabling 5G and AI features in future smartphones." 

While there was no time to put these 12GB DDR5 modules in the Note 10+, the S20 series is scheduled to land them, and the 512GB S20 Ultra is tipped to be the first phone to ship with 16GB DDR5 ones that at the time Samsung said will be in its phones in 2020. 

When coupled with the following achievements on the off-the-record side, the Galaxy S20 Ultra may be the most impressive phone that the industry can muster at the moment, if all those leaks hold water in the end:

  • Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T mmWave 5G
  • The fastest UFS 3.0 storage standard
  • 8K or 4K HDR 120fps video recording
  • 45W charging-capable
  • IP68 water-resistance at up to 5m (16 feet)

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