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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Should you upgrade?

It's a significant jump, but is it worth spending well over $1,000?
By
January 19, 2024
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra in hand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: At a glance

  • The S24 Ultra offers much better performance via a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor.
  • The new phone does have a slightly smaller 6.8-inch screen, but gains an adaptive 1-to-120Hz refresh rate.
  • Camera tech includes upgrades like a 200-megapixel main sensor, wider apertures for better low-light shooting, and laser autofocus.
  • While the S20 Ultra does have a microSD slot missing in later Samsung phones, the S24 Ultra does have higher base storage and a 1TB top tier.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S20 UltraSamsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Display
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED
3,200 x 1,440
20:9 ratio
120Hz refresh rate at 1080p
60Hz refresh rate at 1440p
HDR10+ certified
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
6.8-inch Dynamix AMOLED 2X Display
3,120 x 1,440
Adaptive 1-120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified

Processor
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 or Samsung Exynos 990
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
RAM
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
12 or 16GB
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
12GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
128 or 512GB
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
MicroSD
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Yes, up to 1TB
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
No

Battery
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
5,000mAh
45 wired charging
15W wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
5,000mAh
45W wired charging
15W wireless
Wireless PowerShare

Cameras
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Rear:
- Wide-angle: 108MP, 1/1.33", ƒ/1.8, .8µm
- Telephoto: 48MP, ƒ/3.5, .8µm
- Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm
- VGA time-of-flight sensor

Hybrid optical/digital zoom at 10x
Super Resolution at 100x

Front
- 40MP sensor, ƒ/2.2, .7µm, AF
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Rear:
- Wide-angle: 200MP, ƒ/1.7, Super Quad Pixel AF, OIS
- Main telephoto: 50MP, ƒ/3.4, 5x optical zoom, Quad Pixel AF, OIS
- Second telephoto: 10MP, ƒ/2.4, 3x zoom, Dual Pixel AF, OIS
- Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, Dual Pixel AF, 120-degree FOV

Laser autofocus
100x Space Zoom

Front:
- 12MP, ƒ/2.2, Dual Pixel AF
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
4G LTE
5G (sub-6GHz, DSS, TDD/FDD, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
4G LTE
5G (incl. sub-6GHz TDD/FDD)
Operating system
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
One UI 2.0
Android 10
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
One UI 6.1
Android 14
Water resistance
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
IP68
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
IP68
Security
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Colors
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Cosmic Grey and Cosmic Black
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Titanium Black, Titanium Yellow, Titanium Violet, and Titanium Gray
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
76x166.9x8mm
220g
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
79x162.3x8.6mm
232g

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Price and availability

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: Launched at $1,399, available used starting at approx. $275

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Starts at $1,299.99

The S20 Ultra has long been discontinued, but you can find used models floating around at a substantial discount. The more important thing to note here is that whereas that device launched at $1,399, the S24 Ultra starts modestly cheaper at $1,299.99. It’s rare for new flagships to be cheaper than their predecessors. Samsung is presumably feeling the heat from Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max ($1,199), among other competitors.

There’s no reason for most people to invest in the 1TB model — certainly when we tend to use cloud streaming for music and video. You might be the exception if you shoot a lot of 4K clips, like caching movies and TV shows for travel, and/or plan to install multiple games with demanding 3D graphics.

The S24 is launching worldwide on January 31, 2024.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Should you upgrade?

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 2
Lanh Nguyen / Android Authority

The S24 Ultra should be a welcome upgrade if you’re in the market for one. The S24 Ultra’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor is going to be noticeably faster than the Snapdragon 865 found in US versions of the S20 Ultra, and certainly the Exynos 990 chip in international models.

You’re also getting improved camera tech, primarily in the form of a 200-megapixel main camera, wider apertures for better low-light shooting, and laser autofocus. Samsung has shrunk the front camera from 40 megapixels down to 12, but that’s an easy tradeoff for improvements elsewhere. Most people don’t need that level of detail for selfies.

You may have noticed that the S24 Ultra uses a slightly smaller 6.8-inch display. The resolution gap should be invisible however, and in return you get a 120Hz refresh rate across the board, with the ability to scale down to 1Hz to save power or support always-on display functions.

We do wish the S24 still had the S20 Ultra’s microSD slot, but that’s a much larger argument against Samsung and overall industry trends. You can’t upsell shoppers on internal storage if it’s easy to add another 256GB or more via a card, after all.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra offers a bunch of AI features.

There are new Galaxy AI features in the S24 Ultra, but we need to spend more time with those ourselves, and it remains to be seen how many of them will carry backwards to older devices. They could make some tasks easier, such as web searches and locating settings.

In the end, the real decision is whether you should be looking at rival products or even upgrading at all. The S20 Ultra is old enough that you should consider it, but if it’s still keeping up with apps and shooting quality photos and video, upgrading to anything is purely a luxury. And $1,300 remains a lot to spend on any phone, particularly when you can get most of the same benefits from something like Google’s $1,000 Pixel 8 Pro. Mind that you’ll need to spend over $1,000 on a Pixel to match the S24 Ultra’s 256GB of entry storage.

See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Powerful, flexible cameras
Excellent update commitment
Brilliant flat display
See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
21%off
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Gorgeous screen
Blazing-fast performance
Flexible cameras

However, we should mention that the S24 Ultra is slated to get seven years of Android updates, all the way up to Android 21. On the other hand, software support for the Galaxy S20 Ultra has ended with the Android 13 update, so that may be a good enough reason for some to upgrade.

Will you be upgrading from an S20 Ultra to an S24 Ultra?

292 votes

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: FAQ

The S20 Ultra does, but the S24 Ultra does not.

Yes, but only to a degree. Both of them have an IP68 rating, which means they can be submerged to a depth of 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) for 30 minutes. They should be alright if they get caught in the rain or dropped in a bathtub, in other words, but you shouldn’t intentionally swim with them or take them in the shower unless you can find a fully sealed case. Avoid salt water and chlorine.

Both phones have flat screens.

No, neither phone ships with a screen protector.

Yes, both phones support 5G, although you should check if the phones support 5G in your country and with your specific carrier.