Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra teardown reveals shocking omission for a $1,300 phone

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra teardown
(Image credit: iFixit)

If you’ve just bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and have been putting the phone through its paces, you may have noticed it getting a bit hot. That’s because Samsung has changed the cooling hardware in the phone from the Galaxy S20 handsets. 

Serial gadget disassemblers iFixit performed a teardown pf the Note 20 Ultra and the Galaxy Note 20 and discovered that they use a multi-layered graphite thermal pad to aid with heat dispersion inside the phones. That’s quite a departure from the copper pipe and vapor chamber system the likes of the Galaxy S20 Ultra use. 

For a $1,300 phone, you might have expected Samsung to have used the best cooling tech at its disposal. There’s no clear reason why Samsung opted for a thermal pad rather than a vapor chamber and copper pipe cooling system either. It could be down to making cost savings in certain areas, freeing up Samsung to invest in a display with a dynamic refresh rate. Or it could be down to the packaging in the phone, with a thermal pad freeing up more space inside the phone for other components, such as 5G antennas. 

Regardless, this could be a bit of a concern for people who like to push their phones quite hard, either with video editing on the go or playing graphically intensive games. Or for people who happen to live in hot countries where high spikes in ambient temperature can lead to overheating in phones; we noticed that with some iPhones during a recent heatwave in the U.K. 

In our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, we encountered no problems with the phone getting hot. But other reviews have found the phone can get a little toasty under the collar, with Android Authority noting that its Galaxy Note 20 Ultra got hotter than other phones with a similar Snapdraogn 8-series chips. 

We don’t know if there’s a difference in the cooling system the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra phones with the Snapdragon 865 Plus have compared to the versions of the phone that run the Exynos 990 chip, such as those outside of the U.S. and China. 

Samsung has yet to comment on iFixit’s findings. And unsurprisingly there aren’t a lot of other teardowns of the $1,300 phone to further probe into the cooling systems other models might have. 

As such, while we can thoroughly recommend the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra if you want a big phone with a lot of screen space, it might be worth proceeding with a degree of caution if you're someone who hates using a phone that can get rather warm in the hand. 

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.