Galaxy Note 20 and 20 Ultra battery test: one step forward, two steps back

Galaxy Note 20 and 20 Ultra battery test: one step forward, two steps back
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has been one of the most anticipated devices in 2020. Now that this behemoth is finally out, It’s time to focus on one very important aspect of this phone: battery life. Raw power is good, camera performance is, of course, important, but if you run out of battery, none of this will matter. We subjected the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra to our rigorous testing procedures, designed to mirror real-life use cases.

Samsung jumped on the “Ultra” bandwagon this year, so we have to compare the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra to Galaxy Note 10+, as the former is a logical successor to last year’s Note. There’s one big unknown in the equation and it’s called variable refresh rate. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s screen can operate at up to 120Hz, and if you’re curious about how this impacts battery life, we got you covered.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Battery: 4,300mAh
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Battery: 4.300mAh
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Battery: 4,500mAh

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PhoneArena Browsing Battery Test Results


hours Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
11h 57 min
Samsung Galaxy Note10+
11h 38 min
Samsung Galaxy Note 20
11h 58 min
Samsung Galaxy Note10
10h 43 min
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
12h 23 min
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
12h 54 min
Samsung Galaxy A71
11h 32 min

Variable refresh rate on Auto

hours Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
9h 33 min


The extra 200mAh battery capacity of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra transforms into extra battery life in our browsing test. The phone managed a respectable result of 11 hours and 57 minutes, around half an hour longer than the Galaxy Note 10+. However, this result was achieved using the manual 60Hz refresh rate mode of the screen. When we unleash the extra hertz in auto mode, battery life deteriorates by two and a half hours. Smooth browsing has its price, after all.

The Galaxy Note 20 scored almost exactly the same result as the Note 20 Ultra at 60Hz, which is actually quite good. Especially given the smaller battery. But then again, the screen of the Note 20 is a tad smaller too (6.7 vs 6.9 inches), so no surprises here. No smooth 120Hz browsing experience involved, though. 


PhoneArena YouTube Video Playback Battery Test Results


hours Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
7h
Samsung Galaxy Note10+
8h 2 min
Samsung Galaxy Note 20
7h 17 min
Samsung Galaxy Note10
7h 45 min
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
10h 29 min
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
8h 58 min
Samsung Galaxy A71
11h 38 min

Samsung phones traditionally are among the best phones when it comes to YouTube video streaming battery life. Interestingly, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra breaks the tradition with a rather uninspiring result. We used the 60Hz mode as YouTube doesn’t support higher refresh rates anyway, but the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra lost nearly an hour of YouTube playtime to its predecessor, the Galaxy Note 10+, despite the bigger battery. With a result of roughly 7 hours of video playback, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra lags behind most flagships, which is a shame given its gorgeous display. The Galaxy Note 20 lasted 17 minutes longer when playing video, again not a stellar result compared to the competition.

PhoneArena 3D Gaming Battery Test Results


hours Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
7h 17 min
Samsung Galaxy Note10+
7h 48 min
Samsung Galaxy Note 20
6h 38 min
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
9h 12 min
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
7h 30 min
Samsung Galaxy A71
12h 46 min

Mobile gaming is probably the best use case scenario for the variable refresh rate of Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s display. After all, high refresh rates have been the holy grail for professional gamers for years, and now the tech finally has found its way to mobile phones. Unfortunately, playing intensive 3D games at 120Hz drains the battery like nothing else. And while 60Hz results are comparable between the Note 20 Ultra and the Note 10+, gaming at 120Hz eats more than 2 hours of battery life, producing a result of 5 hours and 8 minutes. Bear in mind that not all games support the high refresh rate, but in the end, drawing those extra frames on the screen requires power. Things aren't looking any brighter when we take a look at the Note 20. The little brother lacks 120Hz display mumbo-jumbo and yet it manages only six and a half hours of continuous gaming. 


Conclusion


The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is undoubtedly a marvelous piece of engineering. You can check the full review of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and see for yourself. Unfortunately, while Samsung has taken quite a few steps forward with its new flagship, battery life is a bit disappointing. Even without engaging the 120Hz refresh rate mode of the display, the phone lags behind the competition. You’d expect more from such a big phone, with a big battery and well... a big price tag, but it is what it is. All of the above applies to the Galaxy Note 20 as well, which adds insult to the injury.

There’s always the possibility of a software update improving things and we’ve seen this happen before, but at the moment battery life is one of the few weak points of the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, at least when compared to the competition. 

You can learn more about our battery test and see all the phones that we have tested here.

Related phones

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Display 6.9 inches
    3088 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 108 MP (Triple camera)
    10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
    12GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 4500 mAh
  • OS Android 10
    Samsung One UI
Galaxy Note 20
  • Display 6.7 inches
    2400 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera)
    10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
    8GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 4300 mAh
  • OS Android 10
    Samsung One UI

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