Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Which S Pen-flagship should you buy?

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the latest smartphone in Samsung’s Fold lineup. It’s also the first foldable to support the S Pen. So if you’re due for an upgrade and wondering whether to go for a conventional smartphone in the form of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra or take a plunge into the world of foldable phones, we can help. In this article, we’ll compare the Galaxy Z Fold 3 with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra to see which of the two makes more sense for you.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Specifications

Specifications Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Build
  • Armor Aluminum frame and hinge
  • Gorilla Glass Victus on cover screen, back cover
  • Aluminum mid-frame
  • Glass front and back
  • Gorilla Glass Victus front
Dimensions & Weight
  • 7.1 x 158.2 x 16.00mm (Folded)
  • 128.1 x 158.2 x 6.4mm (Unfolded)
  • 271 grams
  • 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm
  • 213 grams
Display
  • 7.6″ QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X flexible display
  • 120Hz variable refresh rate
  • 22.5:18 aspect ratio
  • 6.2″ HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X cover display, 24.5:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz refresh rate
  • 6.9″ QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display
  • 120Hz variable refresh rate
SoC
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC
  • International: Exynos 990
  • USA and China: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
RAM & Storage Options
  • 12GB + 256GB
  • 12GB + 512GB
  • 12GB + 128GB
  • 12GB + 256GB
  • 12GB + 512GB
Battery & Charging
  • 4,400mAh Dual Battery
  • 25W USB Power Delivery 3.0 fast charging
  • 10W wireless charging
  • 4.5 reverse wireless charging
  • No charger in box in most regions
  • 4,500mAh
  • 25W USB Power Delivery 3.0 fast charging
  • 15W wireless charging
  • 4.5 reverse wireless charging
Security Ultrasonic In-Display Fingerprint Scanner Ultrasonic In-Display Fingerprint Scanner
Rear Camera(s)
  • Primary: 12MP, wide-angle lens, f/1.8, 1.8µm, OIS, Dual Pixel AF
  • Secondary: 12MP, ultra-wide-angle lens, f/2.2, 1.12µm
  • Tertiary: 12MP, telephoto lens, f/2.4, 2x zoom, 1µm, PDAF, OIS
  • Primary: 108MP, wide-angle lens, f/1.8, 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, OIS, Dual Pixel PDAF
  • Secondary: 12MP, ultra-wide-angle lens, f/2.2, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm
  • Tertiary: 10MP Periscope telephoto lens, f/3.0, 240mm, 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, OIS, 5x optical zoom
Front Camera(s)
  • Cover screen: 10MP, f/2.2, 1.22µm
  • Main screen: 4MP, Under-display, f/1.8, 2µm
10MP, f/2.2, 1.22µm
Port(s) USB Type-C USB Type-C
Connectivity
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • NFC
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • 5G
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • 5G
  • NFC
Software Samsung One UI based on Android 11 Samsung One UI 2.5 based on Android 10
Other Features
  • IPX8
  • S-Pen support (separate purchase)
  • IP68
  • S-Pen support (and included)
Pricing Starts at $1,799 Starts at $1,199

Design and Display

Z Fold 3 standing uprightZ Fold 3 standing upright

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

As you can expect, there’s a massive difference in the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra designs. With the Galaxy Z Fold 3, you get an in-folding form-factor that comes with two displays — a flexible screen on the inside and a regular cover screen on the outside. The cover screen is meant to reduce the number of times you have to open the main screen.

Samsung uses a new material called Armor Aluminum in the Z Fold 3 frame and hinge to increase its durability. Additionally, a protective film layer strengthens the flexible display. Lastly, Gorilla Glass Victus is protecting the cover screen and back cover of the smartphone. Victus is 50 percent stronger than the Gorilla Glass 6.

Samsung uses a hole-punch cutout on the cover screen for a selfie camera, whereas a second selfie shooter hides behind the main display using the Under-Screen Camera technology.

On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra sports a conventional smartphone form factor. It also uses a hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera. Its construction is solid, and the phone feels like a premium and flagship device.

In terms of the displays, you get a 7.6 inch QXGA+ (2208 x 1768 pixels) flexible AMOLED screen and a 6.2 inch HD+ (2268 x 832 pixels) AMOLED screen on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra houses a 6.9 inch Quad-HD+ (3088 x 1440 pixels) AMOLED screen.

Overall in terms of design and display, despite Samsung’s many innovations, any foldable smartphone remains a more fragile device than a traditional smartphone, especially its flexible screen. So if you want a phone that’s robust and can handle an occasional mishap, the Note 20 Ultra makes more sense. But if you can manage a delicate device, the Z Fold 3 will let you experience the future of smartphones.


SoC, RAM, Storage, and S Pen

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with the S PenGalaxy Note 20 Ultra with the S Pen

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with the S Pen

Samsung uses Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888 SoC in the Galaxy Z Fold 3, coupled with 12GB of RAM and up to 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, announced in 2020, comes with a Snapdragon 865+ SoC (an Exynos 990 in the international model), paired with 12GB of RAM and up to 512GB of onboard storage. There’s a microSD card slot in the phone as well.

Although the Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes with a new processor, there won’t be a vast difference between the foldable smartphone’s performance and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, given the Snapdragon 865+ was the Qualcomm flagship SoC for 2020 and Exynos 990 was Samsung’s flagship SoC.

Both the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the Galaxy Z Fold 3 can use the S Pen. But while you get a bundled S Pen with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as well as a slot to keep it in, you’ll have to buy an S Pen Fold Edition or an S Pen Pro to use with the Galaxy Z Fold 3. There isn’t a slot to keep any S Pen model in the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but you can buy a particular case with a space to store it. The S Pen Pro, a more feature-rich S Pen, can be used with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as well.

Overall, the Galaxy Fold 3 doesn’t have any significant advantage over the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra in this segment.


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Cameras

Z Fold 3 standing upZ Fold 3 standing up

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Samsung is known for putting great cameras in its flagship smartphones, and the same is true for both, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the Galaxy Z Fold 3. So while you should get fantastic photos from both smartphones, there are some differences in the raw camera specifications of both phones. The new Galaxy Z Fold 3 packs a triple rear camera setup with a 12MP ultra-wide shooter, 12MP primary wide-angle shooter, and 12MP telephoto camera. There are two selfie shooters on the phone, one 4MP camera placed under the main screen and another 10MP placed on the cover screen.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, on the other hand, features a 108MP primary wide-angle shooter, a 12MP ultra-wide-angle shooter, and a 12MP telephoto camera. You also get a 10MP selfie camera on the phone.


Battery and Connectivity

samsung galaxy note 20 ultra displaysamsung galaxy note 20 ultra display

Samsung galaxy note 20 Ultra

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a clear advantage in the battery department with its larger 4,500mAh battery. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes with a battery capacity of 4,400mAh. While there isn’t a big difference in these two phones’ battery sizes, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 battery has to power a larger screen when you’re using the phone in a folded-out mode. So while the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra will last you two days on moderate use, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will just give you more than a day of battery life.

The connectivity options are reasonably robust on both phones. You get 5G support (both mmWave and sub-6GHz, in 5G model), Wi-Fi 6, and NFC.

So if battery life is going to be a concern of yours, you’re better off with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. But the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s battery life isn’t too shabby either.


OS and Android Updates

Galaxy Z Fold 3 folded halfway with an S-Pen Pro nearbyGalaxy Z Fold 3 folded halfway with an S-Pen Pro nearby

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 runs on Android 11 out of the box with One UI and software enhancements for a foldable screen. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was launched with Android 10 but has since received the Android 11 update. Samsung has promised three years of Android updates for the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the same as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, but given the Note was launched a year ago, it has already had one major update.

In terms of security updates, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra will get security updates till 2024, whereas the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will get security patches till 2025.


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G: Pricing and Color Options

samsung galaxy note 20 ultra camerasamsung galaxy note 20 ultra camera

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Samsung is selling the Galaxy Z Fold 3 starting at $1,799 in the US, while you can buy the base model of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra for as low as $950 at places like Amazon. The official base price of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is $1,200 right now.

You can purchase the Galaxy Z Fold 3 in three colors — Phantom Black, Phantom Green, and Phantom Silver. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra also comes in three color variants — Mystic Black, Mystic White, and Mystic Bronze.


Conclusion

Under screen selfie camera of the Z Fold 3Under screen selfie camera of the Z Fold 3

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

As these two devices carry different form factors, there’s no direct comparison between the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the Galaxy Z Fold 3. So you’ll have to decide whether you’re ready for the foldable world. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a much more refined product than the original Fold, but its price tag still keeps it out of the hands of many.

    Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
    The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is Samsung’s latest flagship foldable smartphone. It’s powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC, and runs on Android 11 with One UI.

If you have money to spare and a desire to use the pinnacle of smartphone innovation, the Z Fold 3 is for you. But if you don’t feel comfortable handling relatively delicate hardware and have budget concerns, the Note 20 Ultra is still a great piece of hardware despite being a year old.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5GSamsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G
    The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is Samsung’s 2020 flagship. Even a year later, it is still a pretty powerful smartphone.

Which of the two phones are you planning to buy? Let us know in the comments section. Meanwhile if you do plan to buy the Fold 3, check out our best Galaxy Z Fold 3 deals article to find some great offers on the phone. We have also picked the best cases for the smartphone to help you protect it.

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