Samsung's Galaxy Note20 series is new, with plenty of new features like an upgraded camera system, faster chipset, and 120Hz display (at least, in the Ultra), but the S Pen inside the two phones has picked up some new features as well. From reduced latency to new air gestures, Note20 owners have some changes to look forward to.
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Both the Note20 and Note20 Ultra will support reduced input latency with the S Pen, but they both aren't getting quite the same improvement — though there is a partial explanation for it. While the Note20 Ultra's S Pen will have 9ms of latency, the cheaper and smaller Note20 will have "only" 26ms. However, when you take into account the refresh rate of the two displays, it makes a little more sense.
Note20 Series S Pen in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, and Mystic Green.
At 120Hz, 9ms works out to a single frame of lag, and realistically, a single frame is about as low as you can go before the numbers don't matter. 26ms, on the other hand, is a bit more than one frame of lag on the 60Hz Note20, but it's still less than two, so you probably won't notice a difference. In comparison, the Note10 had closer to 42ms latency, or nearly three frames at 60Hz.
Five new Air Gestures — which harness the accelerometers and gyroscope in the S Pen for wand-like commands — are also included in the Note20 series S Pen, mostly for system navigation:
- Navigate Back — ⤥
- Home — ↷
- Recent App — ⤦
- Smart Select — ⮍
- Screen Capture — ⥻ (just sort of scribble around)
In addition to the basic Back, Home, and Recent App gestures, you can also quickly access the Smart Select tool (also conveniently available in the S Pen's Air Command menu). With it, you can drag to select the contents of your screen and do things like extract text, pin it, or make a GIF. Lastly, there's a convenient gesture to quickly capture the screen, so you don't have to fiddle with the volume keys — Samsung uses a weird non-standard method for triggering screenshots where you press both the power and volume down key quickly, rather than hold them, which is derpy.
Battery life has also been improved slightly. Samsung rated the Note10's S Pen as lasting up to 10 hours in standby, while the Note20's is able to finagle up to 24 hours — though it will recharge so quickly when you slot it back in, the difference probably doesn't matter. As before, it supports 4096 pressure levels, has up to 10 meters of range, with a pen tip diameter of 0.7mm, and an IP68 rating.
For more Note20 details, keep an eye out for our ongoing Unpacked 2020 coverage.