The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra are two of the most distinctive smartphones around. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is Samsung’s latest and most successful attempt at producing a foldable phone, while the Note 20 Ultra is Samsung’s latest and most successful attempt at producing a phablet. Both feature mouth-watering specs and enough special features to keep you busy for a long time, but unless you’re Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, you may not have enough spare change to buy both.
So which one should you go for? We compare both devices across a number of categories, looking at them side-by-side. By weighing them against each other like this, you should be able to decide which the luxury Samsung smartphone is for you.
Folded: 159.2 x 68 x 16.8 mm
Fast charging (25W)
Qi wireless charging (15W)
Reverse wireless charging (9W)
Fast charging (45W)
Qi wireless charging (11W)
Reverse wireless charging (4.5W)
There are usually only subtle differences between the main devices in Samsung’s Galaxy range, yet the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is noticeably different from the Note 20 Ultra. Even though it offers the same colors as the Note 20 Ultra, as well as the same sharp angles, its larger screen and ability to fold in half unsurprisingly distinguishes it from the Ultra. Given that foldable smartphones are still very much a novelty, its uniqueness alone may be enough to make it seem more aesthetically impressive than the Note 20 Ultra, particularly when combined with a larger (unfolded) screen.
That said, a larger screen and the ability to fold comes with one predictable drawback: The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is heavy and a tad cumbersome. It’s twice as thick as the Note 20 Ultra when folded, and heavier at 282 grams, compared to the Ultra’s 208. This could make it less than comfortable to hold or carry around for prolonged periods of time.
The Note 20 Ultra also boasts a sharper screen. Despite coming in at 6.9 inches instead of 7.6, it provides a resolution of 3200 x 1440 pixels, which works out at 511 pixels per inch. The Z Fold 2 offers a resolution of 2208 x 1768 pixels, which equals 373 ppi. This means that, while the extra size of the Fold 2’s screen may impress many, the Note 20 Ultra’s display actually delivers a more vivid and dynamic experience. Both devices also come with a 120Hz refresh rate, so the Z Fold 2’s display is hardly disappointing.
The Z Fold 2 does even worse when it comes to durability. The first Fold had issues with screen damage, and while it’s likely Samsung has made the Fold 2 more resistant to wear and tear, it’s not likely to be as durable as a non-foldable smartphone. It also doesn’t come with an official IP rating, while the Note 20 Ultra has an IP68 classification, making it resistant to submersion in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
The Z Fold 2 may look very striking, but we’re giving this round to the Note 20 Ultra. It also looks impressive in its own right, while its relative lack of weight, its sharper screen, and its superior durability give it a clear edge.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Turning to performance, it becomes clear that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is basically a Note 20 Ultra in an exotic, foldable body. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus, like the Ultra, and it packs 12GB of RAM, also like the Ultra. Together, these internals should mean that it can handle pretty much any app or game you’re likely to throw at it, while also comfortably handling multiple processing tasks at once. Both phones also come with 256GB of memory, as well as the option to upgrade to 512GB. Having said that, the Fold 2 doesn’t have a MicroSD slot.
The Note 20 Ultra and Z Fold 2 also house a large, 4,500mAh battery. Our review of the Note 20 Ultra found that it can operate for a full day of heavy usage without recharging, implying that the Fold 2 should be able to do something very similar. However, its larger screen could mean that it actually runs out of juice a little sooner than the Ultra, but that’s probably the price you have to pay for having a funky smartphone-tablet hybrid.
Each device supports 45W fast charging, so getting either back to life won’t take up much of your time. They both offer fast wireless charging and reverse wireless charging, although the Note 20 Ultra supports slightly faster charging in both cases.
This shouldn’t be particularly noticeable in practice, so we’re going to call this round a tie. This might change once we fully test the Z Fold 2 and its battery, but for now, both smartphones look pretty much the same.
Again, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offer very similar camera setups, with both devices coming with triple-lens rear cameras. There is, however, one key difference: the Note 20 Ultra provides a 108-megapixel main camera lens, while the Z Fold 2’s equivalent comes in at only 12MP. All the other rear lenses (on both phones) weigh in at 12MP.
Our review of the Note 20 Ultra found that it’s a highly versatile and powerful camera, performing well in the vast majority of situations. It also takes attractively detailed zoom pics at the 5x and 10x levels, thanks to its 108MP wide lens. It’s likely that the Z Fold 2 won’t quite be able to provide a similarly fine-grained level of detail on close-ups and zoomed shots, although without a full review it’s hard to be absolutely sure.
Another advantage for the Note 20 Ultra is that it lets users shoot video at 8K resolution and at a rate of 24 fps. The Z Fold 2 goes only so far as 4K resolution at 60 fps. This doesn’t result in a huge gulf in quality, but some amateur (or professional) filmmakers may be disappointed.
This is another very close round. We’re going to give a very slender victory to the Note 20 Ultra, since its inclusion of a 108MP lens should allow for greater camera versatility.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the Z Fold 2 run on One UI 2 OS, which is Samsung’s own Android 10 skin. One UI 2 has been developed specifically for larger devices, so it will likely make it easier and quicker for users to find their ways around either phone. It’s also a colorful and highly customizable operating system, so owners will have fun choosing a look that suits their sense of style.
Being Samsung smartphones, both phones are likely to suffer from slightly slower updates than the industry average, given Samsung’s patchy track record in rolling out new Android versions. This is the same for both devices, of course, so this round is another tie.
Needless to say, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2’s main special feature is that it’s a foldable smartphone. Aside from looking great, this means that you can use it as a tablet when unfolded, or use it as a smartphone when folded. This is helped by the 6.2-inch cover display, which functions like a normal smartphone’s touchscreen when the Fold 2 is folded. Another key feature is that the bigger, 7.6-inch foldable screen can be kept half-folded at various angles, letting you use the phone like a mini-laptop.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Z Fold 2 offer 5G as standard, including support for all major 5G bands. This makes both of them future-proof in respect of mobile networks, although we’re still a couple of years away from widespread 5G penetration, so don’t expect gigabit speeds everywhere you go just yet.
As a high-powered smartphone targeted at professional types, the Note 20 Ultra comes with the S Pen stylus, making it perfect for use with most productivity apps you can download from the Google Play Store and elsewhere. It’s a versatile device for anyone who genuinely needs to work on their phones, so rather than the novelty of the Z Fold 2, it arguably offers greater usability.
In fact, the Note 20 Ultra has been built for play as well as work: it has been optimized to stream Xbox games, with users able to stream around 100 titles after subscribing to an Xbox Game Pass at $15 per month.
However, even though we’ve just said that the Note 20 Ultra is probably more usable, we’re going to give this round to the Z Fold 2. Foldable phones are still very much at the bleeding edge of smartphone technology, so the Fold 2’s special feature is more “special” than any of the Note 20 Ultra’s.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
Prices for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra begin at $1,299. It’s supported by all major carriers and sold by most major online retailers.
That $1,299 price tag may seem expensive … and it is. Nonetheless, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 will set you back $2,000, making the Ultra seem like a “budget” phone by comparison. It’s available to pre-order from Samsung from September 2, and will be supported by all major carriers.
It may be tempting to pick the novel foldable smartphone, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a better device overall than the Galaxy Z Fold 2. It has a more vibrant display, more comfortable dimensions, better durability, and a stronger camera, while it’s just as powerful as the Fold 2. It’s also likely more useful for those who need to work on their phones, while it’s also compatible with 5G (like the Fold 2).
There’s also the fact that it’s $700 cheaper than the Z Fold 2. This is likely a big difference for most people, and while the Z Fold 2 is an excellent smartphone, it doesn’t really justify the premium. Still, it represents an encouraging step forward for foldable phones, and suggests that they might be here to stay.