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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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).
realme GT Master Edition: Unboxing and First Impressions
Does it remind you of a suitcase?
realme has a new phone — the realme GT Master Edition — and we’re gonna take it out of the box. We’ll also tell you what we initially think because these are the only things we’re allowed to do. For now.
The company is using all their favorite buzzwords again to generate… well… buzz for the phone. Words like disruptive, game changer, flagship experience — the works. It gets too hypey, but that’s what you gotta do to standout in an industry dominated by the likes of Apple and Samsung. I digress.
Take a look at the realme GT Master Edition specs before we proceed with the unboxing:
- Display — 6.43″ AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate
- Processor — Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G
- RAM — 8GB + up to 5GB DRE (Dynamic RAM Extension)
- Storage — 128GB and 256GB
- Battery — 4,300mAh, Dual-cell design, 65W SuperDart charging
- Rear Cameras — 64MP f/1.8 main camera, 8MP f/2.3 119° ultra-wide lens, 2MP f/2.4 macro lens
- Selfie Camera — 32MP
- OS — Android 11, realme UI 2.0
- Color Options — Voyager Grey, Daybreak Blue
It came in this cool tiny travel suitcase. It’ll be a recurring theme.
Opening it reveals two boxes safely tucked in between foams for shock absorption.
The left box, as you can see, is just black with the trademark yellow realme logo. On the right side is the box of the actual phone itself.
The left box is filled with different realme items.
Some stickers, keychains, and more.
It also has printed pictures of shots taken using the realme GT Master Edition.
Now, onto the main event — the box of the phone itself.
Opening the box, you’ll see this warm welcoming message.
Inside this, you’ll find the usual documentation — warranty, manual, all that good stuff.
Lift that and you’ll be greeted by the realme GT Master Edition.
Wrapped in plastic with an indicator of where the in-display fingerprint sensor is located.
Lift that layer where the phones and you’ll find the plasticky case.
It looks exactly like the back of the phone except it’s a shade lighter and doesn’t feel quite as good.
Underneath it is the USB Type-C cable.
And as you may have gleaned from the photo above, the SIM tray ejector tool lies under it.
When you life the case, you’ll see the 65W SuperDart power brick.
That’s it for everything inside the box. Now let’s look at the phone.
Here’s a good look at the back of the realme GT Master Edition.
As mentioned earlier, the whole suitcase and travel thing is the main theme of this phone’s design. The horizontal grids were meant to replicate the look of a suitcase to trigger the thought of travel. It’s kind of cruel given the general travel restrictions still imposed on us because of the pandemic. But maybe that’s just me.
Signed by Naoto Fukasawa.
Responsible for the design is Naoto Fukasawa. He even signed the thing on the back. It’s a puzzling move to say the least. I’m fairly certain 90 percent of the people who will end up purchasing this phone will have zero idea who Fukasawa is. But congrats, you have his autograph now!
Fukasawa is a Japanese industrial designer. He is most known for his works with retail company MUJI. Now, I’m sure a lot of you will be familiar with MUJI. Even then, I don’t think the idea of a renowned designer’s signature being on your phone’s back is something you’ll find thrilling or enticing.
realme continues to make these wild choices for back designs. It’s brave and bold which is in keeping with their whole approach. Personally, these aren’t things I find appealing. Then again, an oldie like me is likely not their target market. I just wanted to get that off my chest.
Looks aside, that back feels great
realme says it’s called the concave vegan leather — the first of its kind in the smartphone industry. I’m not gonna pretend to understand the whole process so here’s an excerpt from realme’s infosheet explaining the thing:
“realme has adopted a more challenging way – the polymer material is turned into an initial three-dimensional shape through the injection molding process, and then use the hot pressing process to synthesize the vegan leather with the substrate, and finally achieve the integrated concave vegan leather shape.”
Did you get that? Basically, all of that was needed to achieve the uneven finish with the feel of leather. It’s a lot to take in but all you need to know is that it feels great to touch and isn’t slippery at all.
Bottom: Speaker grille, USB-C port, and suprise — 3.5mm headphone jack.
Button placements are your usual. Power button on the right side and the volume buttons as well as the SIM card tray on the left side.
Here’s the realme GT Master Edition with the case on.
It mimics the look of concave vegan leather but feels nowhere near it. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend using this case if you want to preserve that leather feeling. Really wish realme came up with vegan leather case too.
The phone’s wallpaper looks like a pavement.
Points for consistency, I guess? It’s running Android 11 with a coat of realme UI 2.0. If you’re an OPPO user, this UI going to feel familiar. It’s almost like ColorOS which isn’t a bad thing. The whole UI feels clean and easy to navigate.
What’s surprising are the overwhelming number of apps pre-installed. Sure, you have ones that you’ll likely install like Facebook, Messenger, and Netflix. But for every one of those useful apps, there’s a couple more that’s just flat out bloatware. There are also incessant notifications about apps you can download from their App Market. I know “disrupting” is their thing but maybe not like this?
Cameras to die for?
realme made a big deal about the back design and just as much as they did, they also said the cameras on this thing are fantastic. Hence, the inclusion of printed photos taken with it in this special unboxing package. We have no samples to show you just yet. We’ll take a step outside, observing health and safety protocols of course, to see if we can come up with stunning images ourselves.
The realme GT Master Edition (that’s a mouthful) is a decently-sized smartphone with concave vegan leather for its back that feels absolutely fantastic. It has an overall clean UI that’s bogged down a little bit by bloatware. We’ll explore its performance and camera prowess in the review. By that time, we’ll also know how its price so watch out for it.
Should you buy the Sony WF-1000XM4?
Here’s a quick guide
Sony is back again with another top-of-the-line pair of true wireless (TWS) earbuds and it’s one that’s worthy of your consideration. Roughly a couple of years after the launch of the Sony WF-1000XM4, we now have the Sony WF-1000XM4. Should you spend your hard earned cash on it? That’s what we’ll try to answer.
We do have a pretty comprehensive review of the WF-1000XM4. But if that’s a little too long for you, consider this article the TLDR. Let’s dive right in.
It’s within your budget
It should go without saying but in hard times such as now, one shouldn’t mindlessly splurge on the shiniest new tech out there. That said, if you can shell out PhP 13,999 (US$ 280 / SG$ 379 / MYR 1099) then by all means, grab this pair. It’s easily one of the best devices in its category and is definitely worth every penny.
You’re an Android user
Sony has this tech called LDAC. While it’s not exactly hi-res audio, it’s likely the closest thing to it. Here’s an entire explainer from the SoundGuys if you want a deep dive on it. And sadly, this format isn’t supported by any iPhone as of writing. To experience the absolute best audio quality that the WF-1000XM4 has to offer, you’re better off being on Android.
Now, that’s not to say it’s terrible on iPhones or any other device. In fact, we’ve used this on both an iPhone and a Mac and the audio quality is still a blessing to the ears. You’re not getting the ‘absolute best’ but it’s still better than most others.
You care about the environment
Sony moved away from the usual box you expect from devices of this caliber. Instead, they’re using recycled packaging for the WF-1000XM4. It’s plastic free and is made from a special blend of paper.
It’s a move to the more sustainable side of things and it’s one we’re totally down with. Besides, if you’re looking for that premier feeling, there’s no shortage of that on the device itself.
You’re not a fan of the AirPods design
Pretty much every other manufacturer who jumped on the TWS market followed Apple’s cue. That means TWS earbuds that have a stem. While we’ve gotten used to the look over the years, the general perception is still that if it has a stem, it’s an AirPods copycat. This despite other brands giving their own spin on it.
The stem isn’t just for show though. For most of these earbuds, they serve as a mic. During our tests, they’ve generally performed better in call situations over ones that don’t have them.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 is still pretty decent for voice and video calls, so if you can live with that and want something that doesn’t stick out of your ear too much, then this is the choice for you.
You want something for multiple uses
Multiple uses in every kind of sense. The WF-1000XM4 promises up to eight hours of music playback with noise cancellation switched on, and the case can supply an additional 16 hours of battery life via charging. That’s pretty consistent with our usage.
Trust us, you’re not gonna have these on for eight hours straight anyway. With its IPX4 rating, it’s water resistant enough to take with you for workouts. After freshening up from exercise, you can use it for a few work meetings here and there. And then you can cap your day by listening to your favorite podcast or music — for us, it’s been a heavy dose of TWICE tracks, STAYC’s “Stereotype” and some Slow Jams to put us to bed.
That’s what regular daily use looks like. And we’ve only had to charge the device after two to three days. Of course, that’ll vary depending on your usage — which, no matter what that may be, the WF-1000XM4 can handle mightily.
SEE ALSO: Sony WF-1000XM4 review: Simply the best
This kid-friendly podcast is a cool way to teach Philippine history
It’s called ‘Habilin’ and is a 12-part podcast
There are a handful of key events and highlights throughout Philippine history that our kids should be mindful of as they grow up and begin to become more socially aware and involved.
Martial Law is one of them. It’s one of the most discussed historical topics until now, even just in a casual setting, 49 years after it was declared.
Nowadays, people still find themselves confused or have trouble talking about a keystone moment in Filipino history. It is no secret that the Marcos dictatorship, which spanned over a decade, affected millions of Filipinos.
It plunged the country into overwhelming debt, countless human rights violations, and consequences that are still being paid for today and will continue to be paid for by generations to come — as all verified and fact-checked by sources.
Yes, it’s a topic that’s serious, but we’d also want the next generation to be in the know and encourage them to take a stand as they look back at an important piece of collective history.
So one might ask: how do we begin to talk to kids about Martial Law?
Enter “Habilin,” a 12-part podcast and animated series about the heroes who fought for our freedom, produced by The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Sandigan Para sa Mag-aaral at Sambayanan (SAMASA), and the Give a Hoot podcast.
The unsung heroes
Going with a unique approach with its production and story angles, the podcast project showcases the lives of ordinary Filipinos who stood up for their rights and empowered citizens, providing different point of views for its young audience.
Through thoughtful storytelling, eye-catching animation, and immersive sound design in its episodes available in both video and podcast forms, “Habilin” is able to cater to the more techy youth and share with them powerful stories they may have never heard of before.
Sister Mariani Dimaranan, Lazaro Silva, and Lumbaya Gayudan
Sister Mariani Dimaranan, Lazaro Silva, and Lumbaya Gayudan — these are all names kids might not be familiar with, but in just a few minutes, they will be hooked to their inspiring stories of heroism.
“Habilin” has a feature on Elma Tangente, a “binukot”, or a young Visayan noblewoman chosen by her tribe to be sheltered from the public eye. But after they were forced out of their land by the military, she joined the guerilla movement and organized different communities, bringing them together to fight against the dictatorship.
She gave up her binukot status and went to a school run by student activists, where she learned to read and write and became interested in social issues. This is where she realized what being a “chosen one” truly means: to empower her community.
Another episode features Nestor Principe, a karate instructor and community organizer. Nestor and his brothers learned martial arts to defend their community against gangs and rogue policemen. After becoming a karate champion, he toured the world as a bodyguard for a Malaysian official until he learned about the First Quarter Storm.
When he went back to school, he absorbed more knowledge about national issues. Upon the declaration of Martial Law, he fled to Cordilleras. Despite not speaking the local language, he found ways to discuss the state of the nation and convinced more people to fight the dictatorship. Principe, who was martyred in 1973, exchanged fighting with fists to using his words to defend others.
Armando Palabay, meanwhile, tells the story of an Ilocano local living in a society that was devoted to the Marcoses. When Palabay and his brother saw that it was important to help people see the truth behind the propaganda, they told their classmates about the injustices, and staged protests as poems, plays, and songs.
Palabay’s story teaches kids the importance of standing for what is right, even if it’s difficult under the circumstances he was in.
Lights of hope
“Habilin” features Filipinos from all walks of life: unsung heroes, which include a beauty queen and a nun. The courage of these unlikely heroes shows that no matter where they come from, anyone can carry a light of hope for a new future.
“I hope young Filipinos understand that they, too, can use their voice to stand up against injustice and oppression,” says Tricia Aquino, producer of Give A Hoot and chief content officer at PumaPodcast, the award-winning podcast production company behind the series’ sound design. “I hope ‘Habilin’ helps them learn our history, so that they can, in turn, tell the stories of those who fought for democracy.”
The “Habilin” series reminds us that everyone has the capacity to be a source of light in dark times, and that we have a responsibility to remember our history. Like them, you, too, can inspire the next generation to what’s right and what’s good for the rest of the country — in your own little ways.
There is no doubt that innovations in technology have made our lives easier and more comfortable in the modern times. But it’s also led to the age of disinformation and fake news.
The is why it’s all the more vital for kids to hear the real-life stories of everyday heroes that inspire and lead. Like the producers of “Habilin”, it’s only necessary for these history stories to be part of our regular conversations so we may #NeverForget and protect the freedom that we’ve gallantly fought for.
Give A Hoot is a podcast on communication for social change. Listen to the “Habilin” podcast series on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. The animated version is also available on the Commission on Human Rights’ of the Philippines’ Facebook and Youtube pages.
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