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I got the Samsung Note 20 Ultra 5G: I love it (and the Buds Live)

Ignore the 20-quid white ‘bumper’ case… my old Note 10 was dropped by my 3-year-old so I decided to invest in some proper protection this time.

So I have said goodbye to my Samsung Note 10+ and yesterday, GadgetsOman delivered the all new Samsung Note 20 Ultra 5G directly to my door.

The setup process was a breeze. Samsung have put quite a bit of thought into the experience of upgrading from another Samsung device. I just held them next to each other, gave them the requisite approvals… and boom… sorted. All of my texts, app preferences, everything was copied over.

The screen is simply dazzling. I am really impressed. The speed of the device is noticeable – that’s good. I won’t get into processors or RAM. It’s just faster.

I love the chunky camera bump. It feels professional.

And the camera. Oh my the camera. I’ve been taking photos of the children and the results are astonishingly good.

Sans shitty white bumper.

I really do like the look of the device. I like the metal finish, the rounded corners, it all feels worth it – and it should do, it’s an incredibly expensive device. I think I paid about GBP 900 for the 256GB version.

The Face Detection (I almost wrote Face ID) is pretty good. Better than the previous generation. It doesn’t appear to be supported on a lot of apps though, which is somewhat frustrating. Instead I’m using the fingerprint reader to access a lot of services. That also feels a lot more reliable than the last generation too – so much so that I am not that bothered. On the Note 10, the fingerprint reader did frustrate me at times.

What’s that you say? Galaxy Buds Live?

I didn’t stop there. No. I went the whole hog, as the phrase goes, and I asked GadgetsOman to chuck in some Galaxy Buds Live – the latest version of the company’s AirPods competitor.

In the case

I was particularly taken with the manner in which they appear to ‘fit’ into the ear, rather than hang out of your ears like most others. Set-up of the Buds was a doddle. Exactly as you’d expect. Open the case next to the Note 20 and boom. Connected.

The fit is excellent. I like the fact they really do stay in. I haven’t done running with them yet but I’ve done a lot of experimental jumping-up-and-down to see if they stay in. They do. Way better than AirPods Pro.

You operate these by tapping on the main microphone as illustrated by the little setup graphic when you pair. That does mean if you mistakenly touch a Bud, it might pause your music. That’s happened to me a few times.

They are, though, incredibly comfortable. I wore them for 4 hours straight yesterday evening whilst I was tapping out a document for work. Really, really good.

Back to the Note 20. I’m enjoying the fast, seamless experience. The transfer of settings really meant I was up-and-running within about 30 minutes. I know you can do this with Apple – I tend not to bother though. I usually start from scratch with Apple every year.

When it came to the Note 20, I’m using that as my workhorse phone – it’s my work device – so I couldn’t afford any messing around. I wanted to get up and running right-away. So it’s a real pleasure to have been able to do this easily – and faster.

Like all good geeks, I have continued to run my Note 10 side-by-side just in case there are any apps that would benefit from a proper hand-over. Banking apps, for example – or anything that needed two-factor-authentication based on the old device. I will reset and sell the Note 10 shortly. It still fetches a fairly decent GBP 450ish on the recycle sites. That’s after a GBP 800 purchase price back in February though – somewhat frustrating (I bought late in the cycle as I needed a work Android phone).

I think Samsung are doing a rather good job. I was tempted by their Watch ‘wearable’. They’ve got their Wearables ecosystem working well, I think, especially with the latest iteration of the Buds Live.

I’m not a massive user of the pen – which, I know, is somewhat silly – that’s the whole point of the Note series, right? Well. No. I like the size and scale of the Note compared to the S20 Ultra. I like the fact that the Note comes hot-on-the-heels of the S20 and therefore, at least in my feeling, it is a bit more up-to-date than the S20. I feel like they’ve added more gizmos and better bits to the Note 20 because they had that bit more time.

It might be make believe. But it feels accurate.

But, the pen… yeah, it’s good. The note taking experience is that bit faster than before. It looks like they’ve seriously improved the screen latency.

Now and again I will bring out the pen especially for an important note. It’s also quite helpful when you’re trying to make a quick circle or arrow to illustrate something to a colleague.

I have to say that the handwriting-to-text capabilities are just fantastic. I’m not incredibly neat with my handwriting, especially on the phone screen – I prefer a nice big piece of paper – but in my limited use, I’ve never found the device wanting. It’s always been accurate.

I remember the days when accurate translation of what you’d written into text was nigh-on-impossible unless you drew out characters like those in a primary school reading book.

So there we go. 24-hours in and I’m delighted.

Thanks very much for doing a good job Samsung.

Note 1: I still do like the idea of that Huawei Mate XS. Just… the cost.

Note 2: I haven’t tried 5G with it yet. But I will shortly…


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