Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra battery life: How it stacks up

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra battery life
(Image credit: Future)

The $1,299 Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a phone that does a lot, and with its massive 6.9-inch screen there's a lot to power here. So how long does it last on a charge? Based on our testing, the Note 20 Ultra's endurance is very good, but it's not as great as we hoped.

The Note 20 Ultra packs a 4,500 mAh battery, which is not as large as the 5,000 mAh pack in the even more premium $1,399 Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. So we didn't expect it to last as long as that phone. But the Note 20 Ultra did trail the OnePlus 8 Pro which has a slightly larger battery and costs $400 less.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra battery life vs other phones

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Battery life (hrs:minutes)Battery size
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (60Hz/120Hz)10:26/7:594,500 mAh
OnePlus 8 Pro (60Hz/120Hz)11:05/9:024,510 mAh
Galaxy S20 Ultra (60Hz/120Hz) 11:58/9:135,000 mAh
Galaxy S20 Plus (60Hz/120Hz)10:31/8:554,500 mAh
iPhone 11 Pro Max11:543,969 mAh
iPhone 11 11:163,190 mAh
Galaxy Note 10 Plus10:474,300 mAh
Google Pixel 4a8:553,140 mAh

We ran the Tom's Guide battery test on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, which involves continuous web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness over cellular (in this case 5G). Whenever possible we try to use T-Mobile's 5G network for consistency.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra lasted a solid 10 hours and 26 minutes. That's a good runtime, but all of the handsets on our best phone battery life list  last more than 11 hours. 

The Note 20 Ultra's battery life dipped by 2.5 hours once we engaged the 120Hz display mode. This is in line with what we've seen from other phones with 120Hz displays. And although the Note 20 Ultra has a dynamic display that can sale the refresh rate up or down depending on the content, web surfing is a particularly harsh activity. Plus, many sites now auto-play videos.

Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro vs iPhone 11 Pro

By comparison, the OnePlus 8 Pro lasted a longer 11 hours and 5 minutes on our test in 60Hz mode and 9:02 in 120Hz mode. And this is with a 4,510 mAh battery that's only slightly larger than the one inside the Note 20 Ultra.

The Galaxy S20 Plus was in the same ballpark as the Note 20 Ultra, which is not a surprise given that they have the same size 4,500 mAh battery. The S20 Plus lasted 10:31 at 60Hz but a considerably better 8:55 at 120Hz. 

With its 5,000 mAh battery, the Galaxy S20 Ultra unsurprisingly lasted a much longer 11 hours and 58 minutes, a runtime that dipped to 9:13 in 120Hz mode.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max has a much smaller battery and that device endured for a longer 11 hours and 54 minutes. It has only a 60Hz display, so we couldn't test it in 120Hz mode. There have been rumors that the iPhone 12 Pro could feature a 120Hz panel, but the latest leaks suggest that may not happen.

Last year's Galaxy Note 10 Plus lasted 10 hours and 47 minutes with its 60Hz display, which is slightly better than the Note 20 Ultra.

Note 20 Ultra battery life: What about everyday use?

Anecdotally, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra should be able to get you through a full day with juice left to spare, depending on how heavily you use it.

I unplugged the Note 20 Ultra around 9 a.m., and over a day of testing, I watched more than an hour of Umbrella Academy on Netflix, streamed Spotify with the screen on for an hour and a half and played about 40 minutes of Fortnite. I also used Twitter for nearly an hour, surfed the web and checked email, as well as snapped some photos.

At the end of the day I still had about 27% juice left at 9 p.m.. That's not bad. 

The bottom line is that the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra delivers fairly strong battery life, but it's simply not as good as the longest-lasting phones.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.