IPhone 11 Pro ver­sus Sam­sung Galaxy Note20

Spend your money wisely. Michael Si­mon re­ports

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

When­ever Sam­sung launches a new phone, Ap­ple fans tend to no­tice. It’s not just that Sam­sung is one of the big­gest An­droid phone mak­ers or even that its de­signs tend to be among the clos­est to Ap­ple’s, it’s that Sam­sung’s flag­ship Galaxy phones are re­ally, re­ally good. They have the lat­est pro­ces­sors, dis­plays and cam­eras, and the innovative trends that we see in the lat­est Galaxy S or Note phone

gen­er­ally make their way to the iPhone. So it is only nat­u­ral to com­pare them.

The £949 Galaxy Note20 that was re­vealed ear­lier this month costs £100 less than the £1,049 iPhone 11 Pro. Sam­sung has cut cor­ners and sac­ri­ficed fea­tures to keep the Note20 ‘af­ford­able’ com­pared to the £1,279 Galaxy Note S20 Ul­tra, so even an 11‑month‑old iPhone can hold its own. But which one should an un­bi­ased con­sumer buy?


The iPhone is one of the few phones that still has a notch, and it is def­i­nitely start­ing to show its age. Like the S20 and most other An­droid phones, the Note20 has a small hole in the top of the dis­play for the selfie cam­era, and it is much more ap­peal­ing to

the eye. Of course, Ap­ple needs a notch for its FaceID cam­era sys­tem, but Sam­sung’s In­fin­ity‑O dis­play is the clear win­ner.

While most of Sam­sung’s Galaxy phones have curved ‘edge’ dis­plays that re­move all vis­i­ble side bezels from the front of the phone, the Note20 is a ‘flat’ phone, so there are bezels all around. They’re a lit­tle thin­ner than they are on the iPhone 11 Pro, but they’re also un­bal­anced, so the space at the top and bot­tom is thicker than the sides. It’s close, but I pre­fer Ap­ple’s sym­me­try.

Around the back, the two phones are very sim­i­lar, with both the Note20 and iPhone 11 fea­tur­ing a gi­ant cam­era ar­ray in the top‑left cor­ner. Sam­sung’s is rec­tan­gu­lar and more prom­i­nent than Ap­ple’s square hous­ing, but both are bul­bous, bumpy, and some­what un­sightly. Aside from the colour dif­fer­ences – bronze is the new colour for the Note, while Ap­ple’s sig­na­ture iPhone 11 hue is mid­night green – the Note20 has a plas­tic fin­ish ver­sus Ap­ple’s glass cov­er­ing. The Note20 is also much larger (161.6x75.2x8.3mm) and heav­ier (194g) com­pared to the iPhone 11 Pro (144x71.4x8.1mm, 188g)


The iPhone 11 Pro and Note20 both have a lot of screen, but Sam­sung’s phone is sig­nif­i­cantly larger than any phone Ap­ple sells and nearly an inch big­ger than the 11 Pro.

Galaxy Note20: 6.7in Full HD+ Su­per AMOLED, 2,400x1,080, 393ppi

iPhone 11 Pro: 5.8in Su­per Retina XDR, 2,436x1,125, 458ppi

Even though it’s about an inch smaller, Ap­ple’s dis­play is clearly su­pe­rior to the Note20’s, es­pe­cially since Sam­sung didn’t give it a 120Hz re­fresh rate like the Note20 Ul­tra. The iPhone 11 Pro’s screen is so good it can even take on the Note20 Ul­tra, but against the Note20 it is no con­test.

Pro­ces­sor, RAM and stor­age

Both of the phones here have the fastest pos­si­ble pro­ces­sor, with the Note20 rock­ing the Qual­comm Snap­dragon 865+ and the iPhone run­ning the A13, but

as we’ve seen, Ap­ple’s sil­i­con is vastly su­pe­rior. But even if we call that a wash since bench­marks don’t tell the whole story, the Note20 has a far smaller amount of RAM than 2020 pre­mium Galaxy phone users are ac­cus­tomed to get­ting – just 8GB ver­sus the 12GB on the Note20 Ul­tra and en­tire S20 line. Granted, that’s twice as much as the 4GB in the iPhone 11 Pro, but Ap­ple does a far bet­ter job with op­ti­miz­ing its sys­tem, as ev­i­denced by the 12GB and 16GB of RAM you get on Sam­sung’s other phones.

For stor­age, you get 128GB on the Note20 and just 64GB on the iPhone 11 Pro. Both should be plenty for the things you want to do, but here’s hop­ing the ru­mours that Ap­ple will be dou­bling the base stor­age are true. Else­where, both phones have IP68 wa­ter re­sis­tance and nei­ther has a head­phone jack.

Bio­met­rics and S Pen

The rea­son for the iPhone 11 Pro’s notch is the TrueDepth cam­era, which han­dles Face ID. The iPhone is still one of the only phones to sup­port a proper 3D fa­cial recog­ni­tion sys­tem, and it gives the iPhone a huge ad­van­tage over the Note20’s ul­tra­sonic fin­ger­print sen­sor. On pre­vi­ous Galaxy phones, Sam­sung’s in‑dis­play sen­sors have been finicky and less‑than‑ 100‑per­cent re­li­able, so Ap­ple gets the edge here.

One area where the Note20 wins hands‑down, how­ever, is the in­clu­sion of an S Pen sty­lus. The Note has al­ways had a sty­lus on board, and the S Pen on the Note20 has 9ms la­tency to match the Ap­ple Pen­cil, along with a slew of new tricks, in­clud­ing air ges­tures. You can’t get any­thing like it on the iPhone – it doesn’t

even sup­port the Ap­ple Pen­cil – and it’s the Note20’s big­gest ad­van­tage.

Bat­tery and 5G

On pa­per, the Galaxy Note20 has a much big­ger bat­tery – 4,300mAh ver­sus 3,046mAh – but in real‑world use, both will likely get you through a full day of heavy lift­ing. They both sup­port fast charg­ing out of the box as well, though Sam­sung’s 25‑watt charger will fill your phone up a lit­tle quicker than Ap­ple’s 18‑watt one.

While the iPhone 12 is ru­moured to bring 5G to the iPhone this au­tumn, the iPhone 11 is still a 4G phone. The Note20, on the other hand, sup­ports both mmWave and sub 6GHz net­works, so you’ll be able to take ad­van­tage of the fast speeds. How­ever, the re­al­ity

of 5G is that many peo­ple don’t have it, and even the ones who do aren’t see­ing the in­sane speeds that it will one day de­liver. Most of the time you’re go­ing to be us­ing 4G, any­way.

OS and up­dates

De­bates be­tween An­droid and iOS aside, Sam­sung has promised that the Note20 will get ‘up to three gen­er­a­tions’ of An­droid up­dates to bring the lat­est fea­tures and se­cu­rity to their £949in­vest­ment. That’s much bet­ter than their pre­vi­ous non‑com­mit­tal up­date sched­ule, but it pales in com­par­i­son to what you get with the iPhone.

Ap­ple doesn’t specif­i­cally of­fer a limit on up­dates, but the iPhone 6s, which launched in 2015 with iOS 9,

will be get­ting iOS 14 in the au­tumn, a full five years and four ver­sion up­grades. So the iPhone 11 Pro should be able to in­stall iOS 18 and maybe even iOS 19 in 2025. Even with the prom­ise of three gen­er­a­tions of up­dates, the Note20 will be long on the scrap heap by then.


The iPhone 11 Pro and Note20 both fea­ture triple‑ cam­era ar­rays and they’ll both take fan­tas­tic pic­tures:

iPhone 11 Pro

Cam­era 1: 12Mp wide, f/1.8, OIS

Cam­era 2: 12Mp tele­photo, f/2.0, OIS, 2x op­ti­cal zoom Cam­era 3: 12Mp ul­tra wide, f/2.4, 120‑de­gree FOV

Galaxy Note20

Cam­era 1: 12Mp ul­tra wide, f/2.2, 120‑de­gree FOV Cam­era 2: 12Mp wide, f/1.8, OIS,

Cam­era 3: 64Mp tele­photo, f/2.0, 3X hy­brid zoom

I haven’t had a chance to test the Note20’s cam­era, but it’s very sim­i­lar to the Galaxy S20+, which I have tested. You’ll be able to take ex­cel­lent pho­tos for sure, but in my ex­pe­ri­ence, the iPhone 11 Pro is the stronger shooter, es­pe­cially in low light. Sam­sung prom­ises that the Note20 rep­re­sents the big­gest leap in low light pho­tog­ra­phy in a Galaxy, how­ever, so that could bring it up to the iPhone’s level. Re­gard­less, you’ll take very good pic­tures with ei­ther phone.


It’s hard to look at these phones and not im­me­di­ately grav­i­tate to the iPhone 11 Pro. The screen may be a lot big­ger on the Note20 and you get 5G and an S Pen, but oth­er­wise, the iPhone 11 Pro ei­ther matches or beats it in every cat­e­gory. And if you wait a month or two, you’ll prob­a­bly be able to get a 6.1in 5G iPhone 12 for the same price as the Note20.

If you re­ally want a new Note, I’d rec­om­mend spend­ing a few more pounds and get­ting the Note20 Ul­tra, which brings a larger high‑res, 120Hz screen, a bet­ter cam­era, glass body, and 12GB of RAM. But if you don’t want spend this amount, the iPhone 11 Pro is the way to go.

The Note20 (left) and Note20 Ul­tra both come in shim­mery ‘Mys­tic’ bronze, but the Note20 is made of plas­tic, not glass

The Note20’s 6.7in dis­play is big­ger but has fewer pix­els than the iPhone 11 Pro

The S Pen is the heart of the Note

The iPhone 11 Pro will still be get­ting up­dates in 2025

In my ex­pe­ri­ence, the iPhone 11 Pro is the stronger shooter

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