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Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus vs. Note 10 Plus: Which is best?

As the purveyor of some of the world’s finest consumer electronics, Samsung has many flagship phones to choose from. If you’re shopping for one right now, then we’re sure the S20 line will have caught your eye and the middle child, the S20 Plus, has a lot to offer. Before the S20 family landed, it was hard to look past the stunning Galaxy Note 10 Plus and it’s still a great smartphone. What does the Galaxy S20 Plus bring to the table over the Note 10 Plus? We break down the differences for you here to help you pick the right phone for you.

Specs

Galaxy S20 Plus Galaxy Note 10 Plus
Size 161.9 × 73.7 × 7.8mm (6.37 × 2.9 × 0.3 inches) 162.3 × 77.2 × 7.9 mm (6.39 × 3.04 × 0.31 inches)
Weight 186 grams (6.56 ounces) 196 grams (6.91 oz)
Screen size 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Screen resolution 3200 × 1440 pixels (525 pixels per inch) 3040 × 1440 pixels (498 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 10 Android 10
Storage 128GB, 512GB 256GB, 512GB
MicroSD card slot Yes Yes
Tap-to-pay services Samsung Pay, Google Pay Samsung Pay, Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
RAM 12GB 12, 16GB
Camera 12-megapixel, 64MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide, and ToF sensor rear, 10MP front 12-megapixel, 12MP telephoto, 16MP ultrawide, and ToF sensor rear, 10MP front
Video 8K at 30 fps, 4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps 4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps
Bluetooth version 5.0 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display Yes, in-display
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 4,500mAh

Fast charging (25W)

Qi wireless charging

4,300mAh

Fast charging (45W)

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support All major carriers All major carriers
Colors Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black Aura Glow, Aura White, Aura Black, Aura Blue
Prices $1,200 $1,100
Buy from Samsung, AT&T Samsung,
Review score Hands-on 4.5 out of 5 stars

Design, display, and durability

There are inevitably a lot of similarities between these Samsung siblings, but the S20 Plus is smaller, lighter, and has a more rounded design than the Note 10 Plus. Both have curved glass backs with camera suites at the top left, though the S20 Plus camera module is much bigger — more on the reasons for that later. The front of each phone is almost completely screen with a hole punch front-facing camera top and center. Samsung has packed more into the svelte body of the S20 Plus, which is quite an achievement, but one area where the Note 10 Plus wins out is in the choice of color; we love that Aura Glow finish.

The screen in the Note 10 Plus is a fraction bigger and it’s certainly squarer, but the S20 Plus boasts a higher pixel density and, more importantly, supports a refresh rate of 120Hz. That’s double the refresh rate of the Note 10 Plus and it means that the S20 Plus feels silky smooth and incredibly responsive. It’s a feature in which gamers will be particularly interested.

Both phones have an IP68 rating, which means they can survive for up to 30 minutes submerged in fresh water without sustaining any damage. The glass designs make protective cases a sensible idea.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

Performance, battery life, and charging

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus battery
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is a very powerful phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, 12GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage in the base model — you can also opt for 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. However, the Galaxy S20 boasts this year’s Snapdragon 865 chip, which offers somewhere around a 20% speed bump over its predecessor, and that’s combined with 12GB of RAM and a choice of 128GB or 512GB of storage. Both phones allow for expansion via MicroSD card.

Things are similarly tight in the battery department with a slightly bigger 4,500mAh battery in the S20 Plus versus a 4,300mAh battery in the Note 10 Plus. Both ship with 25W chargers, but you can buy a 45W charger for the Note 10 Plus to boost your wired charging speed slightly — we’re talking a few minutes. You’ll also find support for wireless charging and reverse wireless charging for topping up other devices in both of these phones.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

Further reading

Cameras

rear of Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
John Velasco / Digital Trends

While the S20 Plus has won the last two categories, it has been by the slimmest of margins, but the gap widens here. Both have triple-lens cameras equipped with time-of-flight sensors to measure depth, but the S20 Plus has a far superior 64-megapixel telephoto lens that enables 3x optical zoom. The sensors in the S20 Plus camera are also larger to let in more light and it offers support for 8K video recording. You may feel that you don’t need 8K video yet, but it’s worth noting that the footage can be used to create high-resolution photos. The front-facing cameras are both rated at 10 megapixels.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

Software and updates

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus screen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both phones come with Android 10 and Samsung’s slick One UI 2.0 sits on top. They’ll likely get future updates on a similar schedule. There’s no dividing them here.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus S Pen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Only the Note 10 Plus comes with the S Pen which allows you to scribble notes or sketch and also doubles up as a remote control for things like snapping group photos with you in them. Features such as Samsung’s desktop DeX mode and Bixby assistant are common to both phones. The S20 Plus distinguishes itself with support for 5G networks and includes Sub-6 and mmWave connectivity. While it’s best to check with your carrier before deciding whether it’s worthwhile upgrading to 5G right now, as coverage is still very limited, the option of 5G connectivity could still be nice to have in future, especially if you plan to stick with the phone for the next few years. There is a 5G version of the Note 10 Plus, but it costs $200 more than the regular Note 10 Plus.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is available for pre-order from February 21, and will ship on March 6. Prices start at $1,200. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is widely available already and starts from $1,100, though you should be able to find it a bit cheaper than that if you shop around.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

As usual, the newer phone wins out. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus has a more powerful processor, it has a better screen, a bigger battery, an improved camera, and 5G connectivity. On the other hand, these are all incremental improvements rather than major leaps and if you think you’ll use the S Pen and you’re not bothered about 5G yet, then the Note 10 Plus is an excellent phone that can be snapped up for a bit less.

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