iPhone 11 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra – Which one?

It’s nearly been a year since Apple announced the iPhone 11 Pro alongside the cheaper iPhone 11, with three cameras, an A13 Bionic chip, major battery life improvements and much more. It’s been the best performing smartphone on the market, but debatably, the recently-launched Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a better buy.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has 5G support with sub6 and mmwave to go alongside WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 – unlike the iPhone 11 Pro Max that only supports 4G. However, unless you live in an area that has a fully-fledged 5G cellular network built already, it will likely be years until you can fully take advantage of even sub6 5G.

Although it’s older, Apple’s Pro Max outperforms the Note 20 Ultra by a mile. Even with a measly 4GB of RAM, Apple manages thermal throttling and battery management with its A13 Bionic very well and in demanding tasks, you’ll probably notice a difference. It’s difficult to say, however, if that different is noticeable in daily tasks: probably not – and the Snapdragon 865+ is the fastest chip in any Android smartphone.

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Galaxy Note 20 UltraiPhone 11 Pro Max
Display6.9″ Quad HD+ AMOLED
496 ppi
HDR10+ certified
120Hz refresh rate
6.5″ Super Retina XDR OLED
458 ppi
HDR certified
60Hz refresh rate
ProcessorSnapdragon 865+Apple A13 Bionic
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB
NetworkWiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 & 5G
WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 and 4G
SoftwareAndroid 10 and One UI 2iOS 13
12MP Ultra-Wide F/2.2
108MP Wide-Angle F/1.8
12MP Telephoto F/3.0
5x Optical Zoom
50x Digital Zoom
Night mode
12MP Ultra-Wide F/2.4
12MP Telephoto F/2.0
12MP Wide F/1.8
2x Optical Zoom
10x Digital Zoom
Night mode
Smart HDR
Video8K at 24fps
4K at 60fps
Full HD at 120 & 60fps
Super Slo-Mo at 960fps 720p
4K at 60fps
Full HD at 30fps & 60fps
Slo-Mo at 120fps/240fps 1080p
Fingerprint or Face Recognition
Passcode or Face ID

The wraparound 6.9″ AMOLED display on the Note 20 Ultra is simply stunning, with thin bezels all around and a hole-punch camera in the top to allow for face unlock and selfies. The smooth performance and premium design is also helped by the 120Hz refresh rate – something the iPhone 11 Pro Max doesn’t have and a feature this year’s iPhones will lack. HDR performance is better on the latter and face unlock much more secure, but the notch isn’t helping Apple’s case of a ‘full-screen display’ compared to the Note.

Battery life will differ depending on how you use your device, but with how large the Note 20 Ultra is, it’s not hard to imagine the battery in the tablet-sized phone can last for longer.

Apple is set to announce up to four new iPhones this year, with an improved design, better cameras and a rumoured huge boost in performance with the A14 chip, so it’s difficult to recommend the iPhone 11 Pro when a refresh is just around the corner. The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offers a rounder package in general, but at over $150 that should be expected.

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Ben Ward

Senior Editor, discussing everything Apple and supporting other writers and members of Apple TLD's team of volunteers.

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