Samsung Galaxy Note 20 could be the ultimate gaming phone — here's why

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
(Image credit: Ice Universe)

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 could be a secret gaming phone powerhouse able to beat the likes of the Asus ROG Phone 3 but look a lot more classy at the same time. 

That’s going by a tweet Samsung posted stating that the Galaxy Note 20, which is set to be revealed August 5 at the company’s Unpacked event, will have the “power to play from anywhere." And the accompanying video showed a copper-colour metallic blob morph into a D-pad and four buttons in the layout one would expect for a game controller. 

As such, we can pretty much take it that Samsung is referring to gaming rather than playing music or video. So what gaming-orientated features could we expect from the Samsung Galaxy Note 20? We have some pretty good ideas based on the leaks and rumors thus far.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 gaming phone features

For starters, the Galaxy Note 20 is set to come with a top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus chip - in the US and China at least, as other nations tend to get handsets with the company’s Exynos chips instead. 

That’s the same chip the Asus ROG Phone 3 and the Lenovo Legion gaming phones are expected to have, meaning the Galaxy Note 20 will have a slice of silicon that promises to chew through performance-hungry mobile games with ease. Qualcomm said that the clock speed will get a 10% boost over the Snapdragon 865 to reach 3.1GHz. And the Adreno GPU should be able to render graphics 10% faster than its predecessor.

When we consider that the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is set to have up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage space, it’ll have some solid hardware to support the Snapdragon chip. And with a battery that’s set to measure in at 4,300 mAh for the Galaxy Note 20 and 5,000 mAh for the Note 20 Ultra, Samsung could be touting how its flagship phone will have the battery life to endure long gaming sessions. 

Gaming phones tend to come with high refresh-rate displays, with the Lenovo Legion set to get a 144Hz panel. The Note 20 Ultra is expected to have a 120Hz refresh-rate display, which isn't as fast. However, Samsung's handset will boast an LTPO panel that dynamically scales the refresh rate from 120Hz all the way down to 1Hz. This should help with battery life when the Note 20 Ultra isn't running graphically demanding apps.

Regardless, a 120Hz refresh rate will give the Note 20 Ultra a very capable display for high frame rate gaming. The regular Note 20 is expected to max out at just 60Hz. But with screens sizes of 6.42 and 6.87 inches for the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra respectively, both models will have expansive displays for mobile gaming.   

A 5G-optimized Fortnite?

Perhaps it’s the 5G connectivity that Samsung’s believes will facilitate the power to play anywhere. Smooth and fast online gaming has been one of the things used to promote 5G. So a speedy connection combined with the rest of the Note 20’s specs could further make it a strong gaming phone in disguise. 

Samsung may reveal a mobile gaming exclusive that takes advantage of 5G. After all, Fortnite launched for the first time on Android phones with the Galaxy Note 9 a couple of years ago. So we could see a Fortnite tie-in for the Galaxy Note 20.  

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 concept design

(Image credit: GalaxyClub)

Leaks of the Galaxy Noe 20’s design show it’s unlikely to have built-in gaming controls such as ‘air triggers’. But it could come with some gaming accessories, such as a case that provides a physical D-pad and buttons for the phone; with the rise of game streaming services like Microsoft’s Project xCloud and Google Stadia, such accessories are becoming more prevalent. 

Or the S Pen could come with gaming features, say using it to track motions to control games, much like the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con controllers can do. If nothing else, the Galaxy Note 20 phones could come with an improved gaming mode, something the likes of the OnePlus 8 Pro have, which reduce background processes and ramp up performance dedicated for games. 

Today's Galaxy phones offer a Game Launcher System that blocks notifications, helps you capture game footage and lets you replace in-game soundtracks with your own tunes. So we see an upgrade coming. 

We’ll find out what Samsung has planned on August 5. And we also expect it to debut a whole load of other tech at the Unpacked event as well, including the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, Galaxy Fold 2, Galaxy Tab S7, and Galaxy Watch 3.  

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.