S20 Ultra Design: Thick and Heavy

S20 Ultra Design: Thick and Heavy

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S20 Ultra Design

S20 Ultra design: Thick and heavy. The Galaxy S20 Ultra's features are its main draw, but you can't discuss them without acknowledging what it's like to actually pick up and use the device. True to its name, the Ultra is big. And heavy. And, for my hands, unwieldy.

With a 6.9-inch screen, a 7.76-ounce (220-gram) heft and thicker sides than the more lithe Galaxy Note 10 Plus, the S20 Ultra is a pocket-busting, arm-tiring phone. Coming off a week with the Galaxy Z Flip (which has a similar height, but a slimmer build and lighter weight), the Ultra is a cumbersome brick that could do some serious damage if used in self defense.

Some of my coworkers liked the softer rounding on the sides, and I can see why. A less dramatically curved screen makes the edges feel less pointy, and keeps your finger from sliding off the side of the edge-to-edge display. But it also makes the phone feel thicker, and my fingertips were more aware of the edges of Samsung's built-in plastic screen protector than they were on the Note 10 Plus.

I appreciate that the Ultra never slipped off my nightstand and that finger grease is less apparent. What I didn't like was the constant feeling that the Ultra always was on the precipice of toppling out of a pocket and crashing to its doom. I should note, though, that a colleague said it fit into all his pockets except the one on his shirt.

That massive camera bulge is why you need a case. The thick, heavy build makes the phone more of a drop risk, especially with that protruding camera bump on the back. It exists because Samsung redesigned the S20 Ultra's camera sensors, which makes the entire module larger.

I don't fault the company for that, but it does mean that if you drop the Ultra without a case, the glass along the back is more likely to break, and broken glass can downgrade your photo quality. I unfortunately know this firsthand from the time my Note 10 Plus review unit lost an argument with poured concrete. Wide-angle and portrait photos have never been the same.

A case will solve the practical problems. I've tried two that Speck kindly sent me. They rise up from the surface just a hair over the camera bump, which makes that module essentially flush with the phone.

The two cases I tried also make the phone feel bulkier and heavier. If you're buying a $1,400 phone, a case is worth the cost to protect your investment. But it also compounded the problem of the Ultra being thick and unwieldy to use.

A minor complaint about the colors: I wish Samsung had made the S20 Ultra flashier than the Cosmic Gray and Cosmic Black choices. I got the grey model to review, which to me looks like putty or modeling clay. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the color design team and I are clearly on different wavelengths.

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