Perhaps the fiercest rivalry in the smartphone world today is between Samsung and Apple. By turning out some of the best smartphones you can buy, they claim the lion’s share of the U.S. market. Samsung’s newly unveiled S20 line brings some refinements and new features to the table, but how does it measure up against Apple’s top phones? In this face-off we’re going to compare the similarly priced Samsung Galaxy S20 with the Apple iPhone 11 Pro. We’ll dig into all the details and discuss what sets these phones apart, before crowning a winner.
|iPhone 11 Pro|
|Size||151.7 ×69.1 × 7.9mm (5.97 × 2.72 × 0.31 inches)||144 × 71.4 × 8.1mm (5.67 × 2.81 × 0.32 inches)|
|Weight||163 grams (5.74 ounces)||188 grams (6.63 ounces)|
|Screen size||6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED||5.8-inch Super Retina XDR OLED|
|Screen resolution||3,200 × 1,440 pixels (563 pixels-per-inch)||2,436 × 1,125 pixels (458 pixels-per-inch)|
|Operating system||Android 10||iOS 13|
|Storage||128GB||64, 256, 512GB|
|MicroSD card slot||Yes||No|
|Tap-to-pay services||Samsung Pay, Google Pay||Apple Pay|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865||Apple A13 Bionic|
|Camera||12-megapixel, 64MP telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide rear, 10MP front||12-megapixel, 12MP telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide, 12MP front|
|Video||8K at 30 fps, 4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps||4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes, in-display||No|
Fast charging (25W)
Qi wireless charging
Fast charging (18W)
Qi wireless charging
|App marketplace||Google Play Store||Apple App Store|
|Network support||AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon||AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon|
|Colors||Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cloud Pink||Midnight Green, Space Grey, Silver, Gold|
|Buy from||Samsung, AT&T||Apple|
|Review score||Hands-on||4.5 out of 5 stars|
Design, display, and durability
The Galaxy S20 and the iPhone 11 Pro are among the nicest phones in the world to handle; these phone designs are extremely refined. The S20 is taller, but a touch slimmer and not quite as wide or heavy as the iPhone 11 Pro. Both have glass backs with protruding camera suites at the top left. Moving around the front, the S20 has a larger screen broken only by a hole punch camera at the top center, whereas the
When we look at the screen, the S20 has a clear advantage, not only is its display a bit bigger, it’s also sharper and it has a higher refresh rate of 120Hz compared to the iPhone’s 60Hz. That makes scrolling and swiping feel smoother and it’s also a great feature for gamers as it means the on-screen action is potentially updating at twice the speed.
There’s nothing much to divide these phones in terms of durability, though it’s likely that the iPhone’s steel frame is a little tougher than the aluminum frame of the S20. Both have an IP68 rating that means they can survive submersion in fresh water for up to half an hour without damage.
Performance, battery life, and charging
While Apple’s chips are always lightning fast, benchmark results comparing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor in the Galaxy S20, with Apple’s A13 Bionic processor in the iPhone 11 Pro, show mixed results. It looks as though Apple’s chip is still a touch faster, but there isn’t a big gap. The S20 has 12GB of RAM, while the
On paper, Samsung’s phone has a clear advantage in the battery department, too. It has 954mAh extra capacity over the iPhone 11 Pro, which is a substantial amount of juice. Because the S20 has that higher screen refresh rate, the slightly larger screen, and the extra RAM, not to mention 5G connectivity, it is going to require extra battery life, so it’s tough to know if it will convert into a real-world advantage. The S20 can charge up a bit faster offering 25W wired charging and up to 15W wireless charging, compared to 18W and 7.5W respectively for the iPhone.
We’re going to give the S20 a narrow win here based on the specs, but this may change after some real-world testing.
Samsung has made a big effort in the camera department with the Galaxy S20 and it combines a regular 12-megapixel lens with an f/1.8 aperture, 64-megapixel telephoto lens with an f/2.0 aperture, and an ultrawide 12-megapixel lens with an f/2.2 aperture. This is a versatile camera that supports 3x optical zoom. Samsung has also improved the artificial intelligence that helps you snap the perfect shot and upped the sensor size so the camera can take in more light, which means better photos in low light situations. This camera can also capture 8K video and you can cut high-resolution images out of the clips you capture. Around front, there’s a single 10-megapixel camera.
Apple also has a triple-lens setup in the iPhone 11 Pro, all rated at 12-megapixels. There’s a standard wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture, there’s a telephoto lens with an f/2.0 aperture, and there’s a new ultra-wide-angle lens with an f/2.4 aperture. It’s a great combination and Apple’s image processing smarts are very, very good, including a top-notch portrait mode and a night mode. The iPhone maxes out at 4K for video, but it’s one of our favorite phones to shoot video on. The iPhone has a 12-megapixel front-facing camera.
This is a tough one to call without getting to test the Samsung Galaxy S20 camera out. The iPhone 11 Pro has our favorite camera right now. We’ll be putting these two head-to-head very soon, so we’re calling this category a tie until then.
Software and updates
The Samsung Galaxy S20 runs Android 10 with Samsung’s One UI 2.0 over the top and it’s slick and pleasantly feature-packed without being overwhelming. The Apple iPhone 11 Pro runs iOS 13, which is also slick and very easy to get to grips with. We like Android and iOS and the truth is that the best one for you is probably the one you’re used to.
When it comes to updates, however, it’s easier to separate these phones. Apple rolls out updates frequently and your iPhone 11 Pro is sure to have instant access to the latest versions for years to come. Samsung’s update record with Android is distinctly more questionable and so you’re likely to have to wait for longer to get new versions.
Winner: Apple iPhone 11 Pro
Both these phones have all the essential features you’re likely to be looking for, but there are a couple of extras that divide them. The Samsung Galaxy S20 supports 5G connectivity, but only the Sub-6 variety, not the faster mmWave. This could be a telling factor if you live in a city with 5G coverage and you’re thinking about making the leap, or if you just want to future proof a little, however, we recommend you check with your carrier and read up on the various technologies at play here before you choose a phone or sign up to an expensive
The iPhone 11 Pro doesn’t have 5G support. One thing it does have over the S20, however, is the secure Face ID system which allows you to unlock your iPhone and even make purchases with your face. There is a face recognition option with the S20, but it doesn’t work as well, so if you want to stay secure you’re going to have to rely on the in-display fingerprint scanner.
Price and availability
Whichever of these awesome smartphones you choose, you’re looking at paying $1,000 for the base model. The iPhone 11 Pro is, of course, widely available now. The Samsung Galaxy S20 can be pre-ordered from February 21 and should start shipping on March 6.
Based on the spec sheet, this is a clear win for the Samsung Galaxy S20, but it does come with caveats because we’ve yet to get much time with the new phone. While it definitely has a slightly better screen, we’re not sure how the bigger battery will pan out, and the camera is another element that needs testing before we can draw conclusions. We would also advise caution if you’re attracted by 5G connectivity because only the larger and more expensive S20 Plus and S20 Ultra boast mmWave support.
Ultimately, these are both top-notch phones and ideal for people who don’t want to go too large, but we think the newer S20 may have the edge.
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