Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: Which phone is best?

Apple’s fresh batch of 2019 iPhones, called the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, offer the latest and greatest features in a sleek and stylish design. The iPhone 11 Pro Max, in many ways, represents the cutting edge of smartphone technology — even if it’s not a massive upgrade over the previous-generation iPhone XS Max. But there are other high-tech phones out there too — like the recently released Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, which is another large smartphone with a ton of awesome features.

Which of the two devices is better? Is there even a clear winner? We put the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus head to head to find out.

Specs

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
Size 158 x 77.8 x 8.1mm (6.22 x 3.06 x 0.32 inches) 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9mm (6.39 x 3.04 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 226 grams (7.97 ounces) 196 grams (6.91 ounces)
Screen size 6.5-inch Super Retina XDR OLED 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Screen resolution 2,688 x 1,242 pixels (458 pixels per inch) 3,040 x 1,440 pixels (498 pixels per inch)
Operating system iOS 13 Android 9.0 Pie
Storage space 64GB, 256GB, 512GB 256GB, 512GB
MicroSD card slot No Yes
Tap-to-pay services Apple Pay Google Pay, Samsung Pay
Processor Apple A13 Bionic chip Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
RAM 4GB 12GB
Camera Triple lens 12MP wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto rear; 12MP TrueDepth front Quad lens 12MP wide, telephoto, 16MP ultra-wide, ToF rear; 10MP front
Video 4K at up 60 frames-per-second, 1080p at 240 fps 4K at up to 60 frames-per-second, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports Lightning USB-C
Fingerprint sensor No Yes, in-display
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery Up to 20 hours video playback

Fast charging (18W charger)

Qi wireless charging

4,300mAh

Fast charging (45W)

Fast Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Apple App Store Google Play Store
Network support All major U.S. carriers All major U.S. carriers
Colors Midnight Green, Space Grey, Silver, Gold Aura Glow, Aura White, Aura Black, Aura Blue
Price $1,100 $1,100
Buy from Apple, Samsung,
Review score 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Apple iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max blurry hero shot | Apple September 2019 Event Keynote
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The iPhone 11 Pro Max features Apple’s latest and greatest mobile processor — the A13 Bionic. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus, on the other hand, offers Qualcomm’s latest chip, the Snapdragon 855. Traditionally, Apple chips have simply been better performers than Qualcomm chips — and that seems to be the case here. Despite the fact that the iPhone offers only 4GB of RAM — one third the huge 12GB featured in the Note 10 Plus. Benchmarks aren’t everything, but the iPhone 11 Pro Max has reached an AnTuTu score of an impressive 462,098. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus, on the other hand, sits in at 358,464 — which is still very good, but not quite on the same level as the iPhone.

The battery life on the iPhone 11 Pro Max is impressive too. We don’t know what the capacity is, but according to Apple, the device will get you a massive 20 hours of video playback. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus battery boasts a huge 4,300mAh capacity and it lasted 12 hours and 30 minutes in our video streaming test. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus also offers 45W fast charging and wireless charging. The iPhone comes with an 18W charger and also supports wireless charging.

The Galaxy Note 10 Plus may support faster charging, but the iPhone’s performance is simply better.

Winner: Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

Design and durability

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus rear
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus offer beautiful designs — but they’re pretty different in their approach. The iPhone still has a notch, which most have come to accept, but it also has a polarizing triple-camera bump on the back. Those issues aside though, it’s a classy phone. It’s built with frosted glass on the back, comes in some sleek colors including a new Midnight Green, and generally looks great. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus looks awesome too — it’s available in a range of beautiful colors, and it has a huge edge-to-edge display with a small hole-punch camera at the top. It certainly looks more modern than the iPhone.

Both phones are built from glass, so they probably won’t do well if dropped. That said, they do both have IP68 water-resistance, so while you probably shouldn’t take them swimming, they’ll do perfectly fine if accidentally dropped in the bath.

While the iPhone 11 Pro Max looks great, we think the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is a little more modern-looking and we love the Aura Glow finish.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

Display

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max hands on front of phone apps
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Apple has stepped up the quality of the iPhone’s display a ton over the past few years, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max offers an excellent screen. The display comes in at 6.5 inches with a resolution of 2,688 x 1,242 and a pixel density of 458 pixels per inch. It’s an OLED display too, and it offers Apple’s Super Retina XDR tech — which allows it to get to a brightness of a massive 1,200 nits. That’s great for use even in direct sunlight.

Of course, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus’ display is very impressive too. The display comes in at 6.8 inches with a resolution of 3,040 x 1,440 pixels for a pixel density of 498 pixels per inch. That’s a little higher than the iPhone — though most people won’t be able to tell the difference.

The iPhone’s display can get brighter, however, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus’ display is bigger and has a slightly higher pixel density. It’s a tie here.

Winner: Tie

Camera

Apple iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max hero shot of lenses | Apple September 2019 Event Keynote
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Perhaps the biggest upgrade that the iPhone 11 Pro Max has over the iPhone XS Max is the camera. Apple has put some serious effort into the camera for the new series of iPhones, and early reviews indicate that it has paid off. The device has three camera lenses, including one ultra-wide lens, one wide lens, and one telephoto lens. They’re all 12 megapixels, and Apple has built features into the camera app to ensure that switching between the lenses is seamless and easy. There’s also a new low-light mode, which ensures that the iPhone can capture great photos without much light.

Of course, the Galaxy Note 10 has a pretty great camera too. The device has four lenses instead of three, with one 12-megapixel wide lens, one 12-megapixel telephoto lens, one 16-megapixel ultra-wide lens, and one time-of-flight sensor. The device also has an interesting zoom-in microphone feature that allows you to focus on specific audio when recording video, and it has a low-light mode too — which is a handy touch.

On the front, the iPhone offers a 12-megapixel camera, while the Galaxy Note 10 Plus has a 10-megapixel camera.

Both phones offer excellent cameras, but we prefer the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Winner: Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

Software and updates

samsung galaxy note 10 tips and tricks plus 4
John Velasco / Digital Trends

We’re not going to get into the Android vs. iOS debate here — that’s for another article. The gist of things, however, is that iOS is generally a little easier to use and more intuitive, while Android allows for more customization.

The real difference between these two phones, however, is how often they’ll get updates. As an Apple-built phone, the iPhone 11 Pro Max will get regular security updates, and always on time. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus, however, may take a while to get the latest Android updates, as Samsung needs to optimize Android updates to work with One UI, its Android skin. Apple also tends to support its devices for longer than Samsung.

Whether you like iOS or Android is up to you — but because of the far quicker updates, the iPhone is the winner here.

Winner: Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

Special features

samsung galaxy note 10 tips and tricks plus 2

The iPhone 11 Pro Max doesn’t have a ton in the way of special features — most of Apple’s work over the past year seems to have been dedicated to camera tech. That said, we know the device features an Apple U1 chip, which is designed for spacial awareness; at the moment it allows you to point your iPhone at another for accurate AirDrop, but there may be more to come from this in the future. The device also has Apple’s Face ID facial recognition tech, which Apple says is better on the iPhone 11 series than previous phones.

The Galaxy Note 10 Plus, however, is packed with special features. For starters, the device comes with the Samsung S-Pen, a high-tech stylus that can be used to write on the display, and has a button to trigger the camera. The device also has text recognition tech, so your written notes can be converted to text. Further, the device has DeX mode to use your phone as a desktop computer, and more.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

Price and availability

The iPhone 11 Pro Max was recently announced by Apple, and is available for purchase as of September 20. It’s available both from your favorite carrier, and unlocked from Apple and other retailers. It’s not, however, a cheap phone — the device will run a relatively expensive $1,100 for the base 64GB model.

That said, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max isn’t cheap, it’s no more expensive than the Galaxy Note 10 Plus because it also starts from $1,100. It’s available from all major carriers and unlocked straight from Samsung and other outlets.

Overall winner: Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

This was a very tight contest because both the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus have a lot to offer, and neither phone is much better than the other. The iPhone edges the win with a faster processor, a better camera, and swifter software updates, but the device that’s right for you will depend on you. If you’ve used other iPhones in the past and use other Apple devices, then it’s probably best to stick within Apple’s ecosystem; if you’re a long-time Android user, or use other Google or Samsung products, then the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is the way to go.

And these are the best deals on iPhone and Samsung this Cyber Week going into the holiday season.

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