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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro: Which phone wins?

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is designed to be the ultimate big-screen phone — and it has a price to match at $1,299. But you shouldn't overlook the $899 OnePlus 8 Pro, which delivers a lot for $400 less.

The Note 20 Ultra is all about versatility, from its dynamic 6.9-inch 120Hz display and S Pen upgrades to its wireless DeX mode and powerful 50x Space Zoom camera. But the OnePlus 8 Pro also boasts a 120Hz display along with very long battery life and faster charging.

Both of these big-screen handsets are among the best phones you can buy. But this Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro face-off will help you decide which phone is best for you.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro: Price 

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the more ultra-premium phone here, as it starts at $1,299 for 128GB and goes up to $1,449 for the 512GB model. Samsung's phablet is available through all the major carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon), as well as US Cellular. 

Starting at $899 for 8GB of RAM and 128GB and going up to $999 for 12GB and 256GB of storage, the OnePlus 8 Pro is a lot more affordable than the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. While you can't purchase the OnePlus 8 Pro through any carrier, you can buy it unlocked on Amazon and through OnePlus. 

Winner: OnePlus 8 Pro

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro: Specs

Galaxy Note 20 UltraOnePlus 8 Pro
Price$1,299$899
Display6.9-inch AMOLED (QHD; 120Hz)6.78 inches OLED (QHD; 120Hz)
CPUSnapdragon 865 PlusSnapdragon 865
RAM12GB8GB, 12GB
Storage128GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB
microSD Slot?YesNo
Rear camera108MP wide; 12MP telephoto; 12MP ultrawide; laser autofocus 48MP wide; 8MP telephoto; 48MP ultra-wide; 5MP color filter
Front camera10MP 16MP
Zoom5x optical/50x digital3x optical/30x digital
Battery4,500 mAh4,510 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)10:26 (60Hz) / 7:59 (120Hz)11:05 (60Hz) / 9:02 (120Hz)
Charging25W wired; 15W wireless30W wired; 30W wirelss
OSAndroid 10 with One UI 2.0Android 10 with Oxygen OS
ColorsMystic Bronze, Mystic Black, Mystic WhiteOnyx Black, Ultramarine Blue, Glacial Green
Size6.48 x 3.04 x 0.32 inches6.5 x 2.9 x 0.33 inches
Weight7.33 ounces7 ounces

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro: Design

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

Both the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and OnePlus 8 Pro have elegant designs, but the Note 20 Ultra has the edge.

The Note 20 Ultra sports squared-off top and bottom edges, making it easier to grip, while the OnePlus 8 Pro is curved on all sides. The curved display on the OnePlus 8 Pro also makes it too easy to accidentally tap the display, more so than the curved panel on the Note 20 Ultra based on our hands-on testing.

OnePlus 8 Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The main drawback of the Note 20 Ultra's design is the huge camera bump on the back, which juts out and props up the phone when you place it on a table. 

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra comes in three colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black and Mystic White, while the OnePlus 8 Pro comes in Onyx Black, Ultramarine Blue and Glacial Green. The finishes on both models do a good job of resisting fingerprints.

At 7.3 ounces, the Note 20 Ultra is a bit heavier than the 7-ounce OnePlus 8 Pro, but both phones are too big to be used with one hand. 

Winner: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro: Display

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra display

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Note Note 20 Ultra has a slightly larger display at 6.9 inches, compared to 6.78 inches for the OnePlus 8 Pro. And while both flagships have 120Hz displays, each one comes with its own pros and cons.

The OnePlus 8 Pro gives you the freedom to use the highest QHD+ resolution while also engaging the 120Hz mode. Unfortunately, the Note 20 Ultra forces you to scale resolution back to full HD+.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro display

(Image credit: Future)

On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra's 120Hz panel is dynamic, thanks to LTPO technology. This allows the display to scale the Hz up or down depending on the content that's being shown, which can help save battery life.

OnePlus 8 Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While both OLED panels are colorful, we found the Note 20 Ultra's display to be brighter outdoors. We turned the adaptive brightness on each phone and the Tom's Guide website is easier to read on Samsung's display.

Winner: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the more formidable camera phone in terms of specs, as it packs a 108MP main sensor, a 12MP ultrawide camera and 12MP telephoto camera with a 5x optical zoom and 50x Space Zoom.

The OnePlus 8 Pro comes to this battle with a 48MP wide camera, 8MP telephoto camera and a 48MP ultra-wide camera. You get a 3x hybrid zoom and up to 30x digital zoom. 

We started on this close-up of a flower, and the OnePlus 8 Pro produced the better overall shot. There's more contrast and detail in the petal, and the surrounding green plant pops more. The edges of the flower are a little fuzzier on the Note 20 Ultra's shot.

The OnePlus 8 Pro struggled a bit with this photo of Halloween decorations. There's a yellow tone to the shot that's distracting, especially in the skeleton, and some areas of the pic get blown out by the sun. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra's exposure better balanced.

If you're going to zoom in, you'll want to manage your expectations with the OnePlus 8 Pro. The Galaxy Note 20's 5x optical zoom delivered much better results than the OnePlus in this shot of a waterfall. It looks like there's an odd film over the OnePlus' pic, while the Note 20's photo is quite clear.

We then tried a 30x digital zoom shot on both phones, and it was no contest. The Galaxy Note 20's photo is much more in focus and sharper, as evidenced by the tree trunk and hanging plant. The OnePlus 8 Pro's pic is a blurry mess by comparison.

The OnePlus 8 Pro comes roaring back in this round with a night mode photo that looks way better than what the Note 20 Ultra captures. While Samsung's shot is brighter and lets you see the mulch on the right side, overall it looks more washed out.

Unfortunately, the OnePlus 8 Pro had a hard time compensating for the sunlight behind me in this selfie. The coloring on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra on my face is closer to real life, and the grass in the background is a more vibrant green.

Winner: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro: Performance 

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review 120Hz display Dead Trigger 2

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has an advantage in this round because it sports a newer Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, which provides a performance boost over the standard Snapdragon 865 powering the OnePlus 8 Pro. 

On Geekbench 5, for example, which measures overall performance, the Note 20 Ultra scored 3,294 on the multi-core portion of the test and 985 on the single-core test. The OnePlus 8 Pro scored a lower 906 on the single-core section but a slightly higher 3,379 on the multi-core.

OnePlus 8 Pro review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

However, on our real-word video editing test using Adobe Premiere Rush, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra beat the OnePlus 8 Pro by a fairly wide margin. Samsung's phone took only 1 minute and 16 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, while the OnePlus 8 Pro took 1:43. 

The Note 20 Ultra also pulled ahead of the OnePlus 8 Pro on the GFXBench graphics test. Samsung's handset notched 1,466 frames on the Aztec Ruins Vulkan test (1440p, offscreen), compared to 1,113 frames for the OnePlus. That's not a surprise, given the Snapdragon 865 Plus features faster graphics rendering.

Winner: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro: Special features

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra S Pen 9 ms

(Image credit: Future)

You might want to look away if you're a OnePlus fan. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a ton of special features, starting with an improved S Pen. This stylus offers a 9ms response rate, which makes it feel super smooth when taking notes or drawing. Other enhancements include the ability to sync your notes with voice recordings and new air gestures that let you perform various shortcuts.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra also boasts a new wireless DeX mode that lets you beam a desktop-like interface to TVs that support Miracast. You can then do everything from showing off your photos to running multiple Android apps on the big screen at once. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review link to windows mirror phone

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra also benefits from supporting both mmWave and sub-6Hz 5G networks. The OnePlus 8 Pro is limited to the latter, so you won't be able to enjoy the fastest possible speeds.

The good news is that both the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and OnePlus 8 Pro can stream Xbox games over the cloud via the Xbox Game Pass app. The bad news is that the OnePlus 8 Pro does not yet support Link to Windows, which lets you make calls and texts from your PC, as well as mirror your screen and run Android apps on the desktop.

Winner: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro: Battery life

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra battery life

(Image credit: Future)

The OnePlus 8 Pro easily wins this round, as it lasted an excellent 11 hours and 5 minutes on the Tom's Guide battery test. This involves continuous web surfing over 5G (T-Mobile's network in both cases) at 150 nits of screen brightness. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra mustered 10:26. Both of these results were in 60Hz mode.

When we flipped on the 120Hz display setting for both phones, the OnePlus 8 Pro's endurance dropped to 9:02, while the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra endured for only 7:59.

One Plus 8 Pro review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you want to charge up your phone quickly, the OnePlus 8 Pro is also the better option, as it reached 63% in 30 minutes with its included fast charger. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra got to 56% in the same amount of time.  The OnePlus 8 Pro's optional wireless charger is almost as fast as the Note 20 Ultra's wired charger, reaching 55% in 30 minutes.

Winner: OnePlus 8 Pro

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs OnePlus 8 Pro: Overall winner

After comparing the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and OnePlus 8 Pro side by side and reviewing the specs and test results, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra comes out on top. But it's not a landslide victory, which you would expect given the $400 price delta between these two phones.

100 pointsGalaxy Note 20 UltraOnePlus 8 Pro
Price and value (15) 1014
Design (10)98
Display (15)1514
Cameras (20)1815
Performance (15)1413
Special features (10)95
Battery Life (15)1214
Overall 8783

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra wins the design and display rounds but it really pulls ahead when it comes to its camera capabilities and its more powerful Zoom feature. Samsung's phablet also offers better special features, including its S Pen and wireless DeX mode.

However, the OnePlus 8 Pro is the better value, delivering a stellar 120Hz display and  longer battery life for a lot less money. If it were my money, I'd go with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, but the OnePlus 8 Pro is a great option for those looking for something more affordable.