The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has established itself as a new benchmark in the premium smartphone segment. The new top of the range from Samsung comes in direct confrontation with Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max. It’s time for the duel.
Until now, Samsung has relied on its Galaxy S20 Ultra to hold its own against the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the most premium smartphone from rival Apple. The South Korean manufacturer can now count on its Galaxy Note 20 Ultra to stand out in the very high-end segment. But between Samsung’s flagship and Apple’s, which one is really better?
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs iPhone 11 Pro Max specs
Samsung and Apple have very different philosophies. While the Note 20 Ultra and iPhone 11 Pro Max are both excellent smartphones, they stand out from each other in a number of ways.
|Galaxy Note 20 Ultra||iPhone 11 Pro Max|
WQHD + 1440p
|6.5 “Super Retina XDR OLED
2688 x 1242 pixels 19.5: 9
|SoC||Exynos 990 (7nm +)||A13 (7nm)|
|Internal memory||256/512 GB
|RAM||12 GB||6 GB|
|Main photo sensor||Triple sensor 108 + 12 + 12 MP||Triple sensor 12+ 12 + 12 MP|
|Secondary photo sensor||10 MP f / 2.2||12 MP f / 2.2|
|BONE||Android 10 (One UI 2.5)||iOS 13|
|Drums||4500 mAh||3174 mAh|
IPhones are instantly recognizable by the huge notch on the front panel, which houses Face ID’s 3D scanners, among other things. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is therefore equipped with advanced facial recognition technology in the mobile market. But on the other hand, the unsightly notch prevents having a large homogeneous screen surface. For its part, the Note 20 Ultra retains a very rectangular shape, where the Note 20 is more rounded. On the back, the two cameras have an imposing block to group the photo sensors in the upper left corner. It is square on the iPhone 11 Pro Max and rectangular on the Note 20 Ultra.
In terms of dimensions, the Note 20 Ultra is larger lengthwise, and similar to the iPhone 11 Pro Max for the rest: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm for the first and 158 x 77.8 x 8.1 mm for the second. Despite its size, the Samsung smartphone still manages to offer a contained weight of 208 grams, against 226 grams for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
When it comes to materials, both mobiles deserve their premium device status. They have a stainless steel frame and a glass back (special mention to Corning’s all-new Gorilla Glass Victus, even stronger than Gorilla Glass 6). At Samsung as at Apple, the IP68 certification for protection against water and dust is present.
Samsung is the king of smartphone displays. In fact, Apple gets its supplies from the South Korean group to equip its iPhones with OLED panels. We are thus dealing here with two screens of very high quality.
The Note 20 Ultra’s panel has a long diagonal of 6.9 inches for a resolution of WQHD + 1440 x 3200 pixels, or a resolution of approximately 508 pixels per inch. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is content with a 6.5-inch screen of 1242 x 2688 pixels (for a density of about 458 ppi). The refresh rate is also to the advantage of the Note 20 Ultra, which can boast of 120Hz in FHD +. Both manufacturers are banking on an increasingly popular stretched format: 19.3: 9 for the Note 10 Ultra and 19.5: 9 for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
For better color rendering and contrast, note that the iPhone 11 Pro Max is HDR10 and Dolby Vision compatible, while the Note 20 Ultra supports HDR10 +.
The Note 20 Ultra is powered by a SoC Exynos 990 engraved in 7nm +. He is opposed in this duel to the chip A13 Bionic iPhone 11 Pro Max, also engraved at 7nm +. No miracle here, the Cupertino company retains a certain lead over that of Seoul. The benchmarks are clear, Apple’s system-on-a-chip is the best performing and offers better speed than that of Samsung, which is determined to deprive European consumers of Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs. Still, for everyday use, the difference is not so noticeable: both devices are racing machines. Samsung has also emphasized the good performance of the Note 20 Ultra for gaming.
Parameter to remember to take into account, Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is 5G compatible. No need to buy a new smartphone when you want to subscribe to a 5G plan with your operator, therefore (commercial offers arrive before the end of the year). The iPhone 11 Pro Max skips 5G, making do with 4G LTE connectivity.
The Note 20 Ultra packs three times more RAM than the iPhone 11 Pro Max: 12 GB RAM for the first, only 4 GB for the second. But we are used to seeing iPhones with little RAM, they need it less than Android mobiles thanks to iOS and optimizations that allow them to be less greedy than the competition for similar performance. And let’s be honest, who needs 12 GB of RAM on a smartphone?
For storage, Apple and Samsung each rely on a different technology: the NVMe on the iPhone 11 Pro Max and theUFS 3.1 on Note 20 Ultra. A classic opposition, Android smartphones relying on the UFS standard while iPhones use NVMe. And in this matter, the advantage goes to the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
For storage capacity, the Note 20 Ultra is available in 256 or 512 GB. The iPhone 11 Pro Max offers 64, 256 or 512 GB of internal memory depending on the variants. But the latter does not have a microSD card slot to expand storage, unlike the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra which does.
Battery, autonomy and recharging
Long lagging behind in the area of autonomy, Apple has finally woken up with its latest generation of mobiles. With its nearly 4000 mAh battery, the battery life of the iPhone 11 Pro Max is nothing short of impressive. Smartphones are extremely durable and the days of having to charge your iPhone once or twice a day are over.
The Note 20 Ultra is better equipped with its 4500 mAh battery, but expect less battery life than the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Android mobiles are always more energy intensive, and the Note 20 Ultra’s very large screen coupled with WQHD + definition or a high refresh rate of 120 Hz should consume a lot of resources. We will test more precisely its autonomy during a thorough test of the device to show us more precise on this subject.
Regarding recharging, the Note 20 Ultra is compatible with a power of 25W wired. IPhone 11 Pro Max is a little slower with sound 18W charger, but it can reach the speed of the Note 20 Ultra by purchasing a more powerful charger than the one that comes in the box. Wireless charging is also faster at Samsung. Reverse charging (or device-to-device) for using the smartphone’s battery to power external devices is missing from the 11 Pro Max, while the Note 20 Ultra does.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is equipped with an impressive 108 MP main sensor, aperture f / 1.8, 26mm, 1 / 1.33 ″, 0.8µm, laser autofocus and OIS optical stabilization. It is accompanied by a 12 MP, f / 2.2, 13mm, 1.4µm ultra wide-angle module and a 12 MP, f / 3.0, 103mm, 1.0µm, PDAF and OIS telephoto lens allowing 5x optical zoom and a 50x hybrid zoom.
On paper, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is worse off. It also has a triple photo sensor, thus composed: main 12 MP, f / 1.8, 26mm, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS + ultra wide-angle 12 MP, f / 2.4, 13mm + telephoto 12 MP, f /2.0, 52mm, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS with 2x optical zoom only. Although less impressive than Samsung’s flagship, the device is still an excellent camera phone. To better compare them, we will have to wait for our full review of the Note 20 Ultra to come.
On the video, the Note 20 Ultra stands out for the possibility to record in 8K, a rather gadget function in 2020 but which could interest some. There is also a slow-motion mode 240 frames per second in 1080p or super slow-motion 960 frames per second in 720p quality. All with gyro-EIS, OIS and HDR10 + support. The iPhone 11 Pro Max doesn’t fare as well (while still being very good and sufficient for the majority of users) with slow-motion limited to 240 fps, maximum 4K definition, and HDR-only compatibility.
For selfies, the Note 20 Ultra relies on a 10 MP, f / 2.2, 26mm, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF sensor. It is capable of filming in 4K, which is quite rare on front end modules. The iPhone 11 Pro Max relies on a 12 MP, f / 2.2, 23mm camera which also offers 4K video capture. It obviously takes advantage of 3D scanners, particularly useful for Face ID for other purposes: depth of field, augmented reality, etc.
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and iPhone 11 Max Pro are equipped with above-average stereo speakers. Normal, these are arguably the two most high-end consumer smartphones today. In either case, no 3.5mm jack port to connect a wired headset or earphones. You need either a USB-C audio device for the Note 20 Ultra or a Lightning audio device for the iPhone 20 Max Pro, or an adapter.
For those who prefer wireless, a slight advantage to the Note 20 Pro and its support for Bluetooth 5.1, which allows faster pairing and less interference than the Bluetooth 5.0 used on the iPhone 11 Pro Max (for third-party hardware in particular).
Software and Features
It’s not about listing all the differences between One UI 2.5 (Android 10) and iOS 13, it would take too long. Know that with these smartphones you get the best of the Android experience on one side and the best of the Apple experience on the other. Over the years, Android and iOS have come closer and offer much the same functionality, although the interface remains very different. It is therefore above all a question of taste and habit, as well as of the ecosystem. The iPhone 11 Pro Max offers incredible possibilities if you already have accessories or other Apple equipment.
iOS is very good at enjoying a turnkey system, without having to touch anything to be fully functional. For his part, Android is much more customizable and will satisfy users who want to create their own experience. But for those who don’t want to worry too much, it is also possible to not touch anything, One UI 2.5 is natively very well thought out.
When it comes to updates, of course the iPhone is better served. Apple has developed a habit of following its devices for many years (the 2015 iPhone 6S will be updated to iOS 14 for example). At Samsung, we are entitled to only two major updates on the high-end, but the manufacturer has suggested that the Note 20 Ultra could be followed for three years.
One of the big differences between the Note 20 Ultra and the iPhone 11 Pro Max is thebiometric authentication, which is used to unlock the smartphone, authorize payment, access certain applications, etc. Facial recognition is much more powerful and secure on the iPhone 11 Pro Max thanks to 3D scanners and Face ID. But the latter only offers this solution, while the Note 20 Ultra offers an under-screen fingerprint reader which comes in handy in certain situations.
For virtual assistants, Samsung is pushing Bixby, its in-house solution, which is frankly not famous. Better to turn to Google Assistant. At Apple, Siri remains a level below Google Assistant.
The Note 20 Ultra embeds the famous DeX mode from Samsung, which allows the mobile to be used as a central unit with a screen, keyboard and mouse. With a novelty: a wireless option to connect via WiFi to a Smart TV.
Finally, the Note 20 Ultra continues to be the benchmark for productivity and the perfect tool for professionals thanks to its S-Pen stylus. Taking photos, controlling the volume or multimedia playback, managing a presentation with slides remotely becomes possible, just like writing by hand or drawing. Apple reserves its Apple Pencil for iPads, it is not compatible with the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is available at a price of 1309 euros with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage space. It goes to 1409 euros in its version equipped with 512 GB of internal memory.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max offers a slightly more affordable front door to 1259 euros for the model with 64 GB of storage space. Since the memory is not expandable via microSD, think carefully about your needs before choosing this solution. The higher variants are at less attractive prices than those of the Note 20 Ultra. Count 1429 euros for iPhone 11 Pro Max 256 GB and 1659 euros for the 512 GB model. We are therefore fine more expensive than Samsung for equal amount of storage.
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra or iPhone 11 Pro Max?
Here we are perhaps dealing with the two most premium smartphones on the market, which have few faults. In the end, it is mainly the Android (One UI) versus iOS opposition that will guide your choice. If you’re used to Android, the Note 20 Ultra seems like a better option for its screen, 5G compatibility, fast charging, and camera. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is faster, but the difference in how it feels on a daily basis is not large.
The Note 20 Ultra also offers slightly milder pricing, unless you can be satisfied with the 64GB of storage in the cheaper iPhone 11 Pro Max variant. If you are an iPhone user and are hesitant to switch to Android, the Note 20 Ultra is without a doubt the perfect device for “switching”.
On the other hand, we recommend the iPhone 11 Pro Max to those who have already invested heavily in an Apple ecosystem. This is the great strength of the apple brand: the perfect interaction between its different products to simplify the lives of its followers.