Galaxy Guts —
iFixit rips apart Samsung’s latest flagship.
The Galaxy Note20 Ultra has hit the hands of the teardown specialists at iFixit, giving us an inside look at Samsung’s latest flagship.
If the super big camera bump didn’t clue you in from the outside, from the inside it’s clear Samsung is spending a huge amount of space on the multi-camera setup. Even iFixit says it’s “striking how much extra real estate the [Galaxy Note 20] Ultra devotes to its camera modules.” Samsung does its best from the outside to make all the lenses look the same, but actually the center 108MP sensor is much larger than the top wide-angle sensor, and the bottom periscope camera is an even bigger sideways assembly.
Multiple cameras have become a nearly mandatory marketing tool in the smartphone business, but I sure hope users are getting their money’s worth out of actually using them. Every big component in a smartphone takes room away from other features or additional battery capacity (see: the headphone jack argument). With a single camera, Samsung and other manufacturers would have a lot more room to play with.
Speaking of optional components that take up a ton of room, a sweet x-ray shot shows us just how much room the Note’s trademark S-Pen takes up inside the device. The entire battery has to shrink horizontally to make room for pen storage, and if we compare the Note 20 Ultra to the S20 Ultra, we see the S-Pen costs about 500mAh of battery.
Another fun tidbit in the report is that Samsung is dual-sourcing the Note 20 Ultra’s cooling solution. Some devices have copper vapor chambers while some have graphite thermal pads, and so far no one has nailed down exactly which devices have which cooling solution. So far there haven’t been any claims that one cooling solution is better than the other, but the Note 20 hasn’t been out for that long.
Samsung (and many other manufacturers) often dual-source components for their high-volume smartphones. Samsung’s most famous examples are its SoC selections, where phones in Europe and some other regions get Samsung’s Exynos chips, while phones in the US and China get Qualcomm chips. Dual sourcing isn’t always limited to regions, of course. Samsung has also been known to use Samsung and Sony camera sensors interchangeably and it often dual sources battery suppliers. Ideally, dual sourcing doesn’t matter much at all, since the two parts are supposed to be very similar in their performance, with many built to the same spec. This isn’t always the case, though—pretty much the entire world recognizes that Samsung’s SoCs are inferior to Qualcomm, and Europe just gets the short of the stick in this deal.
iFixit is not happy with the overall construction, which has lots of glue to fight with during a repair. One of the most common repairs, a screen replacement, is harder than it needs to be thanks to the display being one of the last components to come off in a teardown. The phone gets a 3 out of 10 for repairability.
Listing image by iFixit