Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 vs. Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra are two of the most distinctive smartphones around. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is Samsung’s latest and most successful attempt at producing a foldable phone, while the Note 20 Ultra is Samsung’s latest and most successful attempt at producing a phablet. Both feature mouthwatering specs and enough special features to keep you busy for a long time, but unless you’re Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, you’re unlikely to have enough spare change to buy both.

So, which one should you go for? We compare both devices across a number of categories, looking at them side by side. By weighing them against each other like this, you should be able to decide which luxury Samsung smartphone is for you.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
Size 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm (6.49 x 3.04 x 0.32 inches) Unfolded: 159.2 x 128.2 x 6.9 mm

Folded: 159.2 x 68 x 16.8 mm

Weight 208 grams (7.33 ounces) 282 grams (9.95 ounces)
Screen size 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Screen resolution 3200 x 1440 pixels, 20:9 ratio (511 pixels per inch) 2208 x 1768 pixels (373 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 10, One UI 2.1 Android 10; One UI 2.5
Storage  256GB, 512GB 256GB, 512GB
MicroSD card slot Yes No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay, Samsung Pay Google Pay, Samsung Pay
Processor Exynos 990 (global), Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus (USA) Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus
RAM 12GB 12GB
Camera 108-megapixel, 12MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide rear, 10MP front, 12MP, 12MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide rear, 10MP front
Video 8K at 24 fps, 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps, HDR10+ 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps, HDR10+
Bluetooth version 5.1 5.0
Ports USB 3.2, USB-C USB 3.1, USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display Yes, side-mounted
Water resistance IP68 No
Battery 4,500Ah

Fast charging (25W)

Qi wireless charging (15W)

Reverse wireless charging (9W)

4,500mAh

Fast charging (45W)

Qi wireless charging (11W)

Reverse wireless charging (4.5W)

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support All carriers All carriers
Colors Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, Mystic White Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black
Prices $1,299 $2,000
Buy from Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart
Review score 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Design, display, and durability

There are usually only subtle differences between the main devices in Samsung’s Galaxy range, yet the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is noticeably different from the Note 20 Ultra. Even though it offers the same colors as the Note 20 Ultra, as well as the same sharp angles, its larger screen and ability to fold in half unsurprisingly distinguishes it from the Ultra. Given that foldable smartphones are still very much a novelty, its uniqueness alone may be enough to make it seem more aesthetically impressive than the Note 20 Ultra. This possibility is heightened by the fact that the folding mechanism on the Z Fold 2 feels satisfyingly robust and well-executed this time around, while the 7.6-inch inner screen looks stunning.

That said, a larger screen and the ability to fold comes with one predictable drawback: The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is heavy and a tad cumbersome. It’s twice as thick as the Note 20 Ultra when folded, and heavier at 282 grams, compared to the Ultra’s 208. This will likely make it less than comfortable to hold or carry around for prolonged periods of time.

The Note 20 Ultra also boasts a sharper screen. Despite coming in at 6.9 inches instead of 7.6, it provides a resolution of 3200 x 1440 pixels, which works out at 511 pixels per inch. The Z Fold 2 offers a resolution of 2208 x 1768 pixels, which equals 373 ppi. This means that, while the extra size of the Fold 2’s screen may impress many, the Note 20 Ultra’s display actually delivers a more vivid and dynamic experience. Both devices also come with a 120Hz refresh rate, so the Z Fold 2’s display is hardly disappointing.

The Z Fold 2 does worse when it comes to durability. The first Fold had issues with screen damage, and while Samsung has improved its hinge significantly and fitted it with Ultra Thin Glass (UTG), the phone still won’t be quite as durable as a non-foldable device. It also doesn’t come with an official IP rating, while the Note 20 Ultra has an IP68 classification, making it resistant to submersion in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.

The Z Fold 2 may look very striking, but we’re giving this round to the Note 20 Ultra. It also looks impressive in its own right, while its relative lack of weight, its sharper screen, and its superior durability give it a clear edge.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Performance, battery life, and charging

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Turning to performance, it becomes clear that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is basically a Note 20 Ultra in an exotic, foldable body. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus, like the Ultra, and it packs 12GB of RAM, also like the Ultra. Together, these internals should mean that it can handle pretty much any app or game you’re likely to throw at it, while also comfortably handling multiple processing tasks at once. Both phones also come with 256GB of memory, as well as the option to upgrade to 512GB. Having said that, the Fold 2 doesn’t have a MicroSD slot.

The Note 20 Ultra and Z Fold 2 also house a large 4,500mAh battery. Our review of the Note 20 Ultra found that it can operate for a full day of heavy usage without recharging, while our review of the Z Fold 2 found something very similar. However, depending on how you use its larger inner screen, it may, in certain cases, still run out of juice a little sooner than the Ultra.

Each device supports 45W fast charging, so getting either back to life won’t take up much of your time. They both offer fast wireless charging and reverse wireless charging, although the Note 20 Ultra supports slightly faster charging in both cases.

This shouldn’t be particularly noticeable in practice, so we’re going to call this round a tie. They are basically the same phone, performance-wise.

Winner: Tie

Camera

Galaxy Z Fold 2 camera
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Again, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offer very similar camera setups, with both devices coming with triple-lens rear cameras. There is, however, one key difference: The Note 20 Ultra provides a 108MP main camera lens, while the Z Fold 2’s equivalent comes in at only 12MP. All the other rear lenses (on both phones) weigh in at 12MP.

Our review of the Note 20 Ultra found that it has a highly versatile and powerful camera, performing well in the vast majority of situations. It also takes attractively detailed zoom pics at the 5x and 10x levels, thanks to its 108MP wide lens. The Z Fold 2 doesn’t quite provide a similar level of detail on close-ups and zoomed shots, although it is an excellent all-round camera phone otherwise.

Another advantage for the Note 20 Ultra is that it lets users shoot video at 8K resolution and at a rate of 24 fps. The Z Fold 2 goes only so far as 4K resolution at 60 fps. This doesn’t result in a huge gulf in quality, but some amateur (or professional) filmmakers may be disappointed.

This is another very close round. We’re going to give a very slender victory to the Note 20 Ultra, since its inclusion of a 108MP lens does allow for greater zoom capabilities.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Software and updates

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Shade
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra notification shade Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the Z Fold 2 run on One UI 2 OS, which is Samsung’s own Android 10 skin. One UI 2 has been developed specifically for larger devices, so it will likely make it easier and quicker for users to find their ways around either phone. It’s also a colorful and highly customizable operating system, so owners will have fun choosing a look that suits their sense of style.

Being Samsung smartphones, both phones are likely to suffer from slightly slower updates than the industry average, given Samsung’s patchy track record in rolling out new Android versions. This is the same for both devices, of course, so this round is another tie.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Galaxy Z Fold 2 vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Needless to say, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2’s main special feature is that it’s a foldable smartphone. Aside from looking great, this means that you can use it as a tablet when unfolded, or use it as a smartphone when folded. This is helped by the 6.2-inch cover display, which functions like a normal smartphone’s touchscreen when the Fold 2 is folded. Another key feature is that the bigger, 7.6-inch foldable screen can be kept half-folded at various angles, letting you use the phone like a mini-laptop.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Z Fold 2 offer 5G as standard, including support for all major 5G bands. This makes both of them future-proof in respect of mobile networks, although we’re still a couple of years away from widespread 5G penetration, so don’t expect gigabit speeds everywhere you go just yet.

As a high-powered smartphone targeted at professional types, the Note 20 Ultra comes with the S Pen stylus, making it perfect for use with most productivity apps you can download from the Google Play Store and elsewhere. It’s a versatile device for anyone who genuinely needs to work on their phones, so rather than the novelty of the Z Fold 2, it arguably offers greater usability.

In fact, the Note 20 Ultra has been built for play as well as work: it has been optimized to stream Xbox games, with users able to stream around 100 titles after subscribing to an Xbox Game Pass at $15 per month.

However, even though we’ve just said that the Note 20 Ultra is probably more usable, we’re going to give this round to the Z Fold 2. Foldable phones are still very much at the bleeding edge of smartphone technology, so the Fold 2’s special feature is more “special” than any of the Note 20 Ultra’s.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

Price and availability

Prices for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra begin at $1,299. It’s supported by all major carriers and sold by most major online retailers.

That $1,299 price tag may seem expensive — and it is. Nonetheless, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 will set you back $2,000, making the Ultra seem like a budget phone by comparison. It’s available to buy from Samsung and is supported by all major carriers.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra S Pen
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It may be tempting to pick the novel foldable smartphone, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a better device overall than the Galaxy Z Fold 2. It has a more vibrant display, more comfortable dimensions, better durability, and a stronger camera, while it’s just as powerful as the Fold 2. It’s also likely more useful for those who need to work on their phones, while it’s also compatible with 5G (like the Fold 2).

There’s also the fact that it’s $700 cheaper than the Z Fold 2. This is likely a big difference for most people, and while the Z Fold 2 is an excellent smartphone, it doesn’t really justify the premium. Still, it represents an encouraging step forward for foldable phones, and suggests that they might be here to stay.

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