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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs Galaxy Note 5: 20 changes in 5 years

A testament to Samsung’s smartphone superiority

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I clearly remember the day Samsung announced the first-generation Galaxy Note last 2011 at IFA Berlin. Back then, it got all of the attention because it’s one of the first few “phablets” with a gigantic 5.3-inch display, simply dwarfing the 4.3-inch-touting Galaxy S II. Other than the big screen, the inclusion of S-Pen is what set it apart from other contenders.

Ever since that release, I’ve dreamed of owning one — until I had my first Note with the Galaxy Note 5. Five years later, I had the chance to get my hands on the newest Note flagship, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Image by GadgetMatch

As a long-time Note fan, it’s amazing to see how Samsung tried their very best to keep up with the smartphone game by undergoing certain improvements and changes. It’s also been a while since we’ve had a dedicated Galaxy Note comparison article so why not make a new one?

After riding that nostalgia train, I tried listing down 20 changes from Galaxy Note 5 to the latest Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — that’s five Note generations passed in just five years. Here’s a testament to Samsung’s smartphone superiority.

1. Size

One obvious change is with their sizes. In 2016’s standards, the Galaxy Note 5 is simply one of the biggest smartphones you can own alongside its cousin, the Galaxy S6 Edge+, as well as Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus. But with a larger display, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra simply makes the Note 5 look like a “regular-sized” piece of slab.

2. Display

Speaking of display, the Galaxy Note 5 has a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a 60Hz refresh rate. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra sports a massive 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED display with a smoother 120Hz refresh rate.

The new display tech is a huge step-up not just for the Note line, but for Samsung’s mobile display technology. Other than the large size gap, the Note 20 Ultra also features a curved edge display that first made its debut on the Galaxy Note Edge.

3. Material

The Galaxy Note 5 was the start of a new era where removable batteries became a thing of the past. While nothing much has changed with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, its back is now matte instead of the shiny and glossy back of the Note 5 that’s super smudgy and prone to fingerprints and hairline scratches.

The newer Note also feels more premium even without a case because of the new material. Although the Galaxy Note 5 has curved edges on its back, it still failed to achieve better ergonomics because of its flat front which the newer Note has managed to ace because of its symmetrical design. Also, the aluminum frame was replaced by a sturdier and more elegant-looking stainless steel frame.

4. Ports

Samsung still kept the micro USB port on the Galaxy Note 5. The Galaxy Note 7 paved the way for the introduction of USB-C in the Note series — which the Note 20 Ultra still has today. Other noticeable differences are the placements of the S-Pen and speaker grilles and the removal of the 3.5mm audio jack.

5. Sensors

To make way for that edge-to-edge display, Samsung has excluded the physical fingerprint scanner on the Note 5. While it was still present until the Galaxy Note 9 (just moved at the back), the newer Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is equipped with an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint reader which made its debut on the Galaxy Note 10 series.

Other than that, the heart rate sensor of the Note 5 was also removed and is nowhere found on the latest Note flagship. This sensor has moved to smartwatches which is more widely available compared to when the Note 5 first came out.

6. S-Pen

Samsung introduced the clicking mechanism on its digital pen with the Galaxy Note 5 to imitate a retractable ballpoint pen. Several generations after, the mechanism still exists but the new S-Pen of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a Bluetooth connection for Air Actions. It’s also battery-powered and can be charged through its slot.

The fine ergonomic when writing is still there but the newer one is slimmer and has a slimmer nib. Other than that, the Note 20 Ultra has a 9-millisecond latency which makes scribbling and sketching closer to reality as if you’re writing on a paper.

P.S.: Both versions of the S-Pen work on both devices; Note 5’s S-Pen works on the Note 20 Ultra and vice versa. I accidentally inserted the Note 20 Ultra’s S-Pen all the way to the Note 5 slot but of course, the older S-Pen won’t fit inside the new S-Pen slot.

7. Rear Cameras

Their rear cameras also signify the biggest jump in Samsung’s Galaxy Note line. The Galaxy Note 5 sports a single 16-megapixel f/1.9 camera sensor on its back. During my early time with this phone, it took a lot of great shots in such form factor. That’s a realization that Samsung seriously focused on their camera department.

Five years after, the megapixel size of the main sensor multiplied nearly 6.5 times! Other than the 108-megapixel f/1.8 camera, you also get two 12-megapixel telephoto and ultra-wide lenses, making it a triple-camera setup. The additional ToF 3D and Laser AF (Autofocus) sensors make the quality better than ever.

If you like all those large numbers, the newer Note 20 Ultra can record in an ultra-clear 8K/24fps resolution while the Galaxy Note 5 can shoot at 4K/30fps max — and both resolutions aren’t fully-maximized up until this day.

8. Front Camera

A larger hole doesn’t mean its better. The Note 20 Ultra has a bigger 10-megapixel f/2.2 front camera compared to the 5-megapixel f/1.9 selfie shooter of its predecessor. Video quality is better at 4K/60fps max while the latter can manageably shoot up to 2K/30fps.

9. Sound

Other than the new designation for their speaker grilles, one notable change is the inclusion of stereo speaker in the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The Galaxy Note 5 only had a mono bottom-firing speaker. This makes the multimedia experience better and more dynamic.

Those microphones were also leveled-up. You get to record crystal clear and a surround sound audio with the upgraded mics found in the Note 20 Ultra.

10. Software

Samsung’s ultra-buggy and bloatware-filled TouchWiz that’s found on the Galaxy Note 5 got replaced by One UI with a more striking and visually-appealing set of icons and animations.

The new UI is a drastic change for someone like me who used TouchWiz for a long time, considering it was one of the biggest drawbacks of owning a Samsung smartphone in the previous years.

11. Processor

Samsung ditched the Snapdragon variant for the Galaxy Note 5 in favor of their very own Exynos 7420 chipset. Several generations after, Samsung brought back the two chipset options with a Snapdragon 865 variant as well as the Exynos one. Fair enough, my review unit came with the Exynos 990 processor.

After years of innovation, Samsung’s in-house chip improved so much that it can keep up with its Snapdragon counterpart. Performance in the new Note has been topnotch. Meanwhile, the 5-year-old Note 5, although usable, suffered from stutters and lags mainly due to software and hardware degradation.

12. RAM and Storage

In today’s standards, the Galaxy Note 5’s 4GB RAM won’t be enough for the everyday needs of a pro user. Meanwhile, the newer Note 20 Ultra has triple the amount of memory with a whopping 12GB RAM that helps you do multitasking with ease.

Storage options for the older Note were only limited to 32GB and 64GB, while finding a 128GB variant was very rare. This year’s Note starts with that storage capacity, followed by 256GB and 512GB, plus a microSD slot for better expandability — which the Note 5 failed to keep during its time (making it the only Note device without a dedicated memory card slot).

13. Power

Over the years, every Android smartphone has significantly increased their battery capacities. Although Samsung faced the hardest bang with the battery fiasco of the beloved Galaxy Note 7, they have learned their lesson by improving their batteries’ safety and technology in every Note (and even S) flagship phones.

Generations after that, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was able to pack a beastly 4,500mAh battery over the Note 5’s minuscule 3,000mAh unit.

14. Charging

Charging technology has vastly improved over these years. With the bundled 25W charger, it can fill it up from zero to 100 percent in just 70 minutes. Buying an optional 45W charging brick would speed it up more.

On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 5 has a lower battery rating yet charging speeds are a little bit longer at around 90 minutes with the bundled 15W charger.

15. 5G vs 4G LTE

5G right at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (PH)

As you can see in the photo above, 5G speeds in the Galaxy Note 5 Ultra are instantaneous over the regular speeds you get while using 4G LTE in the Note 5.

It’s not totally a deal breaker for now as there are only a handful of 5G-enabled hotspots around the world that can maximize this feature. Still, it’s amazing to see how Samsung made the latest Note future-ready.

16. Desktop eXperience

This is a feature that’s totally missing on the Galaxy Note 5. Die-hard Samsung users would know that Samsung DeX was first introduced in the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 series via an optional dock. This is made to level up the use of their flagship smartphones by hooking up an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse into the dock to mimic a desktop-grade experience.

Although this isn’t new on the Note 20 Ultra, the ability to use it wirelessly is definitely a bump-up to make a wireless and cordless DeX-perience. And yes, it successfully runs on my MacBook Pro just via a single USB-C cable.

17. Water and Dust Resistance

Another Note-worthy feature that’s not in the Galaxy Note 5 is an IP certification rating. The old Note can withstand tiny splashes but it simply wouldn’t protect it from a full immersion in water and dust.

The Galaxy Note 7 had an IP68 rating, making it the first Note device to do so. It basically makes the phone withstand dust and water of up to 1.5 meters for thirty minutes. This rating continued generations after up until the latest Note 20 Ultra.

18. Android Software Support

For the first time in forever, Samsung has committed to a three-year support to Android software updates — which will make the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra receive an Android 13 update in 2022. The current phone runs One UI 2.5 based on Android 10 with an upcoming One UI 3 based on Android 11.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy Note 5 only lasted until Android 7.0 Nougat with TouchWiz Grace UX while the ability to run Android 9.0 Pie with One UI was entirely based from the Custom ROMs of several modders found at XDA-Developers.

19. Color Options

The Galaxy Note 5 was available in four different eye-catchy colors: Black Sapphire and Gold Platinum were the most common units people were rocking that time while White Pearl and Silver Titan were harder to find.

On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has three colorways with Mystic White being the common denominator among the two devices. There’s also a neutral Mystic Black unit and a more premium-looking Mystic Bronze color — and the photos above prove that claim.

20. Launch Price

With all the spec bump and feature upgrades, it comes as no surprise that the latest Note 20 Ultra retails more than double the price of the Note 5 from five years ago.

The base 32GB model of the Note 5 retailed for US$699 (PhP 32,990) while the base 128GB Note 20 Ultra 5G was launched at US$ 1299.99 (PhP 72,990).

Hands-On

Make moments tangible with Instax Square Link

Time to print those core memories!

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instax square link

Life looks pretty in squares — that’s how Instagram shaped our favorite moments in the past decade.

With every core memory uploaded in our social media feed for the world to see, there’s still something poignant about keeping a hard copy of your favorite moments. It feels nostalgic to be reminded of the good things in your life.

That’s what the Instax Square Link delivers. The newest instant printer comes in square, as compared to its previous siblings in the instax link lineup.

The sweet spot

The previous instant printers come in the usual mini film prints, and a wide, rectangular one. Having a square format provides a sweet spot for instant prints since it’s neither too big nor small.

Even the design of the device itself looks almost square, albeit taller. It sports the usual big button in its center that powers up the device, while there’s a smaller circle on its top-left part for linking the device to your smartphone.

It’s still as straightforward as it gets, whether you’re already familiar with previous instax printers or not. You simply click the big button until it lights up, link it to your smartphone and confirm the serial number found on the bottom side of the device, and do all the magic inside the app — which you can download via App Store or Play Store.

instax square link

New device, new features

The instax Square Link carries all the good things from the previous instax printers through its dedicated app.

You can still make personalized stickers, continuously print your best moments with just a press of a button, and collage and edit your photos in frames. They’re pretty much the same features you can find on the instax Link WIDE and instax mini Link 2.

instax square link

However, instax introduced new features that make printing more exciting. Now, instax takes AR to a new level by allowing users to print with personalized AR effects, accessible using a QR code.

It also included a feature where you can chat with a friend or loved one and have the conversation printed as text bubbles to add a more personal touch for those who are in long-distance relationships.

Printing your favorite moments

instax square link

While the new features are a much-welcome addition, I still stick to what Instax is good about. At its core, it’s still printing your favorite moments and of course, sharing them with the people you love.

Back then, I would print my photos and keep them to myself — inside photobooks and boxes that would never see the light of day unless I’m feeling nostalgic.

Being surrounded by new people encouraged me to be more giving, rather than just being selfish with my memories. And instead of constantly seeking validation and sharing my favorite moments with the world, I now love the idea of being intimate and sharing my core memories with only a handful of people.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

instax square link

The Instax Square Link is still an instant printer like its siblings. If square formats are your thing, this is easily your GadgetMatch. For wide, rectangular prints, there’s the instax Link WIDE.

And if the original, mini-sized film prints are what you’re after, you can never go wrong with the instax mini Link 2. Whatever formats you want, there’s an instax for you.

The instax Square Link comes in Ash White and Midnight Green. It’s available in all authorized Fujifilm instax dealers nationwide and Fujifilm’s online flagship stores.

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Entertainment

IN PHOTOS: Dubbing with Netflix, HIT Productions

Plus a quick glimpse of the Netflix PH office

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Netflix HIT

Have you ever been curious about how the whole dubbing process works? Netflix, along with HIT Productions, was kind enough to give us a quick tour showing how our favorite Netflix shows are dubbed in Filipino. 

HIT Productions prides itself as “The Philippines’ top audio post production house and recording studio for advertising.” And they have the clientele to back up the claim. Other than Netflix, they’ve also worked with plenty of notable brands. These include but are not limited to Jollibee, Mitsubishi, Coca Cola, and many more. 

They’ve partnered with Netflix on many shows and movies. For this particular tour, they showed us how they dubbed Season 4 of Stranger Things.

Different rooms for the talents and director

Dubbing Director Cheska Aguiluz

Heading in, I was fully expecting a Sound Booth like setup – you know, the ones we normally see in TV shows and movies. HIT has a different setup. They have the director in one room and the voice talents in another. The rooms are situated right across each other with sound engineers manning both rooms. 

The communication between the director and talents still happens real time, and they see each other through an iPad.

Each room has a monitor that displays the scene that’s being dubbed. The talents’ audio goes straight into a computer that’s in the same room as the director. 

Netflix HIT

Multiple talents will be in the same room at one time. This depends entirely on the scene that needs to be dubbed. They take turns dubbing with sound engineers adjusting the height of the mic each time to make sure it’s optimized for each talent. 

Although, they did mention this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, there will be scheduling challenges, but they’re able to work through it.

Netflix HIT

The actual dubbing back and forth is fascinating. They go through each line meticulously, making sure the cadence, the breaths, the tone, and the emotion matches that of the original actors. 

Recording a single episode will take days. And that’s just the recording. The next part is just as tedious.

Painstaking editing

Netflix HIT

The level of precision applied in the voice acting and directing extends to the cutting floor when the recordings go through post production. 

Here, sound engineers go through each scene, switching between the original scene and the dubbed recordings to make sure they match. This includes how loud or soft the voice is as well as adding effects to mimic the room environment sound of each sound. 

What makes the whole process tricky is a lot of it is guess work. I asked if they are given a cheat sheet of the effects used by the original production. They said that rarely happens. That means they rely both on their sharp ears and years of experience to make sure everything matches.

After post production, an entire episode goes through a quality check. If anything sounds off, it’s back to post processing again. 

HIT says in a month, they’re able to finish roughly around three to four episodes. Of course, that depends also on the length of the episode. Stranger Things Season 4, for instance, typically lasts over an hour. With some episodes even running as long as feature length films.

Trying out dubbing

Netflix HIT

Head of Localization Rudolf Baldonado

After a look at the voice acting and post production process, HIT took us to a room where some members of the media got to try dubbing. Here, Head of Localization Rudolf Baldonado, led the way. 

Baldonado explained that the most important part of the whole process is the script. Localization, as you may have surmised, is no easy task. There are so many things to consider: What words to use to match the movement of the lips, the general direction for each line, and making sure all the lines make sense when delivered together.

A couple of voice talents showed us the ropes first, recording a scene from the Don’t Look Up film. Baldonado, who also helmed localization for Trese, noted that mimicking the original actor’s voice is less important than delivering the right tone and emotion for the line and the scene. 

Netflix HIT

During the recording, he also noted that dubbing is more about voice acting than actual voice quality. How well you convey the right emotion is more important than whether or not you sound pleasant or not. 

Sit down with the voice talents

Netflix HIT

To wrap up the tour of the HIT Productions office, we sat down with the voice talents and the rest of the team that worked on the Stranger Things Season 4 dub. Here’s everyone who joined us: 

  • Christian Velarde (MIKE)
  • Albert Silos (WILL)
  • Steve Bontogon (DUSTIN)
  • JM Canlas (LUCAS)
  • Steffi Bontogon (MAX)
  • JM Torres (VECNA)
  • Nelieza Magauay (ROBIN)
  • Ericka Peralejo (SUZIE)
  • Cheska Aguiluze (Dubbing Director)
  • Rudolf Baldonado (Head of Localization)

Many of them shared their experiences and lessons learned while working as voice actors. 

A lot of the echo the same thing that Baldonado mentioned earlier. That the ability to understand the character’s emotion and act it out through your voice is the most important skill in the craft.

Netflix HIT

What stood out to me the most though, is how each of them seemed like colorful characters on their own. And they deserve just as much recognition as TV and movie actors. 

Quick Netflix PH HQ Tour

After the session at HIT Productions, we were taken to the headquarters of Netflix Philippines. Some interesting things to note: 

  • The meeting rooms are named after Netflix’s shows and films
  • There are areas designated for quiet time 
  • The place is spacious with many areas for quick, breakout meeting sessions
  • It’s filled with books and other ornaments that have to do with Netflix shows
  • Free-flowing drinks! 
  • This writer would like to spend a work day or two in the area (Thanks in advance, Netflix!) 

Here’s a photo dump:

Netflix

Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Netflix

Squid Game meeting room | Photo c/o Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Beverages | Photo c/o Netflix

Pantry | Photo c/o Netflix

Netflix

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Camera Shootouts

Huawei Mate 50 Pro vs HONOR Magic4 Pro: Camera Shootout

Camera battle between two companies that used to be together

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Huawei HONOR

In case you didn’t know, HONOR used to be Huawei’s sub-brand — until they decided to part ways. While still using Huawei’s EMUI software (but calling it Magic UI), HONOR is now operating as a separate entity.

But what actually makes the HONOR Magic4 Pro different from Huawei’s reborn flagship, the Mate 50 Pro?

Well, aside from the obvious Magic vs Mate branding, Huawei has its own “Ultra Aperture” camera. Coined from the term itself, it features a dual-variable aperture versus the Magic4 Pro’s fixed f/1.8 lens opening.

Huawei Mate 50 Pro HONOR Magic4 Pro
Wide 50MP f/1.4-4.0
PDAF + Laser AF + OIS
50MP f/1.8
Multi-Directional PDAF + Laser AF
Ultra-Wide 13MP f/2.2 120º 50MP f/2.2 122º
Telephoto 64MP f/3.5
3.5x optical zoom
100x digital zoom
OIS
64MP f/3.5
3.5x optical zoom
100x digital zoom
OIS
Selfie 13MP f/2.4 + ToF 3D Depth 12MP f/2.4 + ToF 3D Depth

It also looks like the megapixel count is smaller on the ultra-wide unit of the Huawei Mate 50 Pro. Aside from that, the periscope telephoto lens and selfie cameras of the two phones are very much alike.

Now that you get a clear picture between the similarities and differences of each phone’s camera system, let’s get on to our camera shootout!

Wide

As previously mentioned, the Mate 50 Pro features a dual-variable aperture while the Magic4 Pro is consistent with its aperture offering. But can you really tell which is which considering they both feature a 50MP sensor?

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5 (Portrait)

Huawei HONOR

#6

Huawei HONOR

#7

#8

Ultra-Wide

For shots that require a wider Field of View (FoV), which do you think wins this round considering that the Magic4 Pro features a 50MP ultra-wide shooter while the Mate 50 Pro has a measly 12MP UWA shooter? (Despite the same f/2.2 aperture)

#9

Mate 50 Pro Magic4 Pro

#10

#11

Huawei HONOR

Periscope Telephoto: Optical Zoom

Both the Mate and the Magic have a similar 64MP f/3.5 lens that has an optical zoom range of 3.5x. But of course, there would still be a difference in post-processing AI algorithm.

#12

#13

Mate 50 Pro Magic4 Pro

#14

 #15

#16

Mate 50 Pro Magic4 Pro

Periscope Telephoto: Lossless to Digital Zoom

With a similar periscope lens, both phones can both achieve a 10x lossless zoom and up to 100x digital zoom. But in this specific section, I chose to just zoom up digitally to just 60x.

#17 (10x)

#18 (10x)

#19 (30x)

#20 (60x)

Night Mode

This is what makes or breaks a smartphone camera. With the obvious differences in Night Mode processing magic, one phone definitely stands out. That’s either a matter of personal preference or just fans’ favorites.

#21 (Ultra-wide)

Huawei HONOR

#22

Huawei HONOR

#23

Huawei HONOR

#24

Huawei HONOR

#25

Huawei HONOR

#26 (3.5x zoom)

Mate 50 Pro Magic4 Pro

#27

#28

Huawei HONOR

#29

Huawei HONOR

#3o

Huawei HONOR

BONUS: Super Macro

Just like other flagship smartphones nowadays, Super Macro is a feature that uses the ultra-wide lenses instead of the regular wide one in order to take close-up macro shots of objects. Doing so requires you to go closer to the subject you are shooting.

Huawei HONOR

Results

You may already have a hint considering the results are consistent throughout the board:

Photo A — HONOR Magic4 Pro

Photo B — Huawei Mate 50 Pro

Conclusion

What should set both phones apart are the way they process each shot — but Huawei and HONOR’s similar AI camera processing techniques are what actually makes it hard to differentiate one phone from another.

Huawei HONOR

For the most part, you can barely tell which is which. Shots taken during the broad daylight looked barely different regardless if its the regular wide, ultra-wide, or even the periscope telephoto lens.

Huawei HONOR

But in some instances, the HONOR Magic4 Pro boosts saturation while the Huawei Mate 50 Pro samples focuses on brightening up the shots. However, its dual-variable aperture camera did not really make drastic differences in daylight shots for it to be considered a “groundbreaking” camera feature in today’s flagship smartphones.

HONOR Magic4 Pro

Now when it comes to Night Mode “Magic”, the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is the clearer winner — especially with its very wide f/1.4 aperture. As I told in my past camera shootouts, the “better” Night Mode shot isn’t just about being the brightest nor the most vibrant of the bunch.

In the case of the Mate, it displayed the right amount of shadows, highlights, contrast and even the dynamic range. Most of all, its saturation what you can actually see irl.

Honestly speaking, I thought the HONOR Magic4 Pro is one among the best flagship smartphones for night photography. But after seeing how there’s a clear distinction between it and the Huawei Mate 50 Pro, I have reconsidered my opinion.

Huawei HONOR

The less-saturated look of the night shots taken with the HONOR Magic4 Pro is preferential though. Some may still like it because it gives you that flat, RAW-like image. Thus, giving you more creative freedom in post-processing the shot afterwards.

Honestly, you can never go wrong between choosing these smartphones. But the dealbreaker is: can you compromise 5G and proper GMS support over a set of cameras that perform better at night?

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