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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: The 120 Hz Dilemma

Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra comes with a large 120 Hz display.
Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra comes with a large 120 Hz display.
Samsung's Galaxy S20 series revealed some startling weaknesses in addition to its plethora of pros. We already knew very early on that the 120 Hz refresh rate will only be available in the lower FHD+ resolution. What surprised us were the gaming incompatibilities.

As Asus so prominently and impressively demonstrated with its ROG Phone II it is indeed possible to put a 120 Hz OLED display into a gaming smartphone. In our test, it worked surprisingly great. You would expect Samsung, the display pros, to achieve this feat as well, wouldn’t you? Well, as it turns out you would be very wrong.

Not only does the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra only support 120 Hz at a reduced FHD+ resolution of 2400 x 1080. In addition, it seems that this high frequency is not supported system-wide and is regularly reduced to 60 Hz and only activated on demand.

Even games are not worthy of Samsung’s 120 Hz greatness, and we were not able to find a single game that was able to fully utilize the high refresh rate. This includes top titles such as World of Tanks, Armajet, and Real Racing 3. Even the less demanding Dead Trigger 2 failed to achieve more than 60 FPS in our test, and PUBG Mobile ran with a constant frame rate of just 40 FPS and showed irregular 4 FPS frame drops after around 15 minutes.

Whether or not Samsung is going to improve upon this is more than questionable. As our stress test proved the cooler is completely overstrained with the Exynos SoC when running a demanding 60 FPS benchmark already. Image the extra strain put on the system if you double the FPS.

The only benefit remaining are thus smoother animations and system apps. Gaming enthusiasts should definitely steer clear of the Galaxy S20 Ultra and its siblings.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > Reviews > Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: The 120 Hz Dilemma
Daniel Schmidt, 2020-04- 2 (Update: 2020-03-31)