There’s something experimental about Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra. I compared it recently to an overly customised DIY bike a friend’s dad built, which we nicknamed “The Homer”. Outside of wild gimmicks like a pop-up selfie camera, virtually every modern smartphone feature available has been crammed into the S20 Ultra.
That’s clear from the first time you use the Ultra. The UI is busy – particularly the quick settings tray – it’s heavy and imbalanced and you’ll need a good few days getting to grips with everything it can do.
I’m not entirely sure who Samsung’s target customer is for the Ultra, I guess we’ll know more when we get a glimpse at sales figures. But it strikes me that there’s another experimental device that packs in a lot of functionality and is designed for a very specific power user: the Galaxy Fold.
When you look at the two devices side by side, the features and price of the S20 Ultra are better suited to Samsung’s big foldable phone – where the larger size isn’t a hindrance.
Combining the large 5000mAh battery, additional camera sensors (including the space zoom tech) and larger display is perhaps a stretch too far for traditional smartphone design. Single-screened, oblong shaped handsets are supposed to be practical and reliable devices that can be used for both mundane and spectacular tasks.
The S20 Ultra has lost sight of that objective and, instead, turned to outpointing the competition in a specification achievement battle.
But these issues disappear in the Fold.
The Fold’s high price? Understandable considering it is next generation technology. The large weight and size? Of course, it’s a phone that folds out into a tablet. The granular camera app features, array of camera sensors and quirky Samsung exclusive software? Basic functionality in a device that can double as a low-powered laptop. The Fold’s form factor solves the biggest problem with the S20 Ultra, its design.
The popularity of Samsung’s other foldable phone, the z Flip, should prove to the Korean company that there is an appetite for flexible devices out there. There’s a clear argument for Samsung to streamline its product range by saving the super high-end specs for high-end foldable phones. Its traditional current generation smartphones should instead focus on being competitively priced, because that’s where Google’s Pixel 5 is headed.