5 Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra features Apple needs to steal for the iPhone 12 - CNET

On the left is the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and on the right is the Note 20 Ultra. Richard Peterson/CNET In a v

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Samsung Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra

On the left is the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and on the right is the Note 20 Ultra.

Richard Peterson/CNET

In a virtual event on Wednesday, Samsung released a small army of new products, including an in-depth tease of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 complete with an appearance by the group BTS. But it's the new Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra that really caught my eye. As Samsung rattled off the small novel of new features for each phone, I longed to see some of them come to the next iPhone aka the heavily rumored iPhone 12.

I want to say this upfront, that the design and hardware features for the next iPhone have likely been locked in months ago. But that doesn't mean we can't wonder how nice it would be to see some of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra features on the iPhone 12 or even an iPhone 13 -- too soon?

There are five features in particular that I think Apple should consider adopting. That said, we know that Samsung loves to cram in as many new features as possible into its phones. Apple introduces new features to solve a problem or improve your experience using an iPhone. That difference is significant, and I doubt Apple would add any of these features just to add them.

The iPhone 12 needs a real telephoto camera

In February, Samsung released the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, which has 13x optical zoom and 100x Space Zoom (aka digital zoom). The new Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a 5x optical zoom with 50x digital zoom. The iPhone 11 Pro has 2x optical zoom. I'm not saying that the iPhone 12 needs Space Zoom -- no phone does, really. But having a 3x or 4x optical zoom on the next iPhone would be welcomed.

Samsung Galaxy Note20 and Note20 Ultra

This is the gigantic camera bump on the back of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Richard Peterson/CNET

Currently, Apple offers the best overall camera system for photos and videos on any phone. However, many high-end Android phones offer a better zoom range.

But who knows if Apple would solely rely on hardware to give the iPhone 12 a better zoom range? It could follow in Google's footsteps and implement a software-based zoom that uses machine learning to improve the results like on the Google Pixel 4.

Gorilla Glass Victus for better durability

Every time a new iPhone is released, our team of expert droppers tests the new devices to see how durable they are. The iPhone 11 Pro proved to be one of the most durable iPhones CNET has ever tested.

But those drop tests were conducted before the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and its Gorilla Glass Victus body came out. The new Gorilla Glass is twice as scratch-resistant as Gorilla Glass 6 and can survive drops from 2 meters versus 1.6 meters. In theory this means a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra could survive a drop when you're holding it up to your ear on a call.

For years, Apple worked with Corning, the manufacturer of Gorilla Glass, on a custom version of Gorilla Glass for the iPhone. And I'm hopeful we'll see a version of Gorilla Glass Victus for the iPhone 12.

Apple Pencil support for the iPhone 12

Obviously the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra's biggest feature is the stylus aka the S-Pen. The latest S-Pen when used on the Note 20 Ultra has a latency of 9 milliseconds. Meaning from the time you touch the screen with the S-Pen to the time the screen/phone reacts is fast. In fact, it has the same latency as the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro.


The iPad Pro has Apple Pencil support and it would be great to have it on the iPhone 12, especially a larger screen version.

Sarah Tew/CNET

But one dream many of us hope for is to be able to use the Apple Pencil on an iPhone, especially the larger Max version. My fingers are crossed, hoping that Apple Pencil support will come with the iPhone 12. I mean, iOS 14 brought picture-in-picture video from the iPad to the iPhone. So let's keep that trend going.

The S-Pen being used on the Galaxy Note 20.


And who knows, maybe Apple would make an Apple Pencil Mini that's roughly the size of a golf pencil?

The iPhone 12 needs a smaller notch

I believe Samsung has the best approach when it comes to maximizing screen real estate and making room for the front-facing camera. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra sports a hole-punch screen that is both attractive and useful.

The iPhone 12 needs to find a way to revamp the iPhone notch, which seems large by today's standards. Obviously Apple has more than just the front-facing camera to account for. FaceID has several components that are also on the front. So while I'd love to see a hole-punch display on the iPhone 12, I don't think it's possible.


Since the iPhone X, the notch on FaceID iPhones has remained unchanged. I hope it's smaller on the iPhone 12.

Josh Miller/CNET

However, if Apple found a way to make the notch smaller on the iPhone 12, that would be a significant aesthetic improvement.

Now playing: Watch this: First Look: Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra


Apple needs to add a high refresh rate display

The Note 20 Ultra display also has a high refresh rate. As opposed to the screen refreshing 60 times a second, the Note 20 Ultra is capable of refreshing its display 120 times a second. Similarly, the iPad Pro has a Pro Motion display with 120Hz. It's time to see such a screen on the iPhone. Even if it was 90Hz, the iPhone 12 should have a high refresh rate. Apple Arcade games would look amazing. Animations in iOS would look super smooth. And if the iPhone 12 gets Apple Pencil support, that high refresh rate would be a must.

For more about the Samsung event and the products announced, read Samsung Unpacked: Everything revealed.

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