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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs iPhone 11 Pro Max: Which One to Buy?



Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 and Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro are two of the best phones available in 2020, especially for those who want great cameras. If you’re trying to decide on a new phone or which one is right for you, our iPhone 11 Pro Max vs Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G comparison will help you make the right choice.

Thanks to three rear cameras and a big screen the iPhone 11 Pro Max is pretty great. However, Samsung’s all-new Galaxy S20 and the bigger Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G look pretty amazing too and have huge upgrades in the camera department.

The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is Samsung’s most expensive and biggest model, which we’ll compare to Apple’s biggest and best. Both phones have plenty to love so here’s what you need to know.

Samsung’s Galaxy S20 (previously known as the Galaxy S11) is the brand’s biggest upgrade in years. All three new Galaxy S20 phones have larger screens and several improvements that help them compete against or beat the iPhone, with the most noteworthy changes going to the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

In late 2019 Apple released three new iPhone models, all of which have awesome camera capabilities, fast performance, beautiful screens and powerful internals. All six of these are great phones and they’re all really expensive, but there are a few big things that separate them which we’ll go over below.

Galaxy S20 Ultra vs iPhone 11 Pro Max: Specifications

Galaxy S20 Ultra 5GiPhone 11 Pro Max
Screen Sizes6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED6.5-inch AMOLED Display
Screen Resolution3200 x 1440 & 120Hz2436 x 1125 & Only 60Hz
Storage & RAM128GB & 12GB RAM (512/16GB option)64GB & 4GB RAM (and up)
ProcessorSnapdragon 865 or Samsung Exynos 995Apple A13 Bionic
Cameras108MP main, 48MP telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide lens, ToF12MP main, 12MP telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide lens
Camera Features10x optical zoom, 100x digital zoom, 8K 30 fps video, 960 fps slo-mo2x optical zoom, Auto-HDR, 2K, OIS, panorama
Front Camera40 Megapixel12 Megapixel and 3D Sensor
SoftwareAndroid 10 (One UI 2.0)iOS 13+
Battery Size5,000 mAh3,969 mAh
Charging45w Fast Charge & Fast Wireless Charging18w Fast Charging & Wireless Charging
Security & BiometricsUltrasonic In-Display Fingerprint Sensor3D FaceID Unlock
Other DetailsUSB Type-C, WiFi 6, 5G, Stereo Sound, IP68 Water ResistantApple Lightning,Stereo Sound, IP68, mute switch
PriceLaunched at $1,399Launched at $1,099

Obviously the Android vs iPhone (or iOS) comparison is unique as some people will never leave their platform of choice, but these phones and the experience are more similar than you probably think.

As you can see above, being a little newer Samsung’s Galaxy S20 series has some very notable upgrades or improvements over the iPhone. The regular Galaxy S20+ has higher specs already, and then the S20 Ultra takes things to a whole new level in the camera and battery size department.

The entire Galaxy S20 family of phones.

Samsung has three different models of the Galaxy S20. Those being the cheapest and smallest 6.2-inch Galaxy S20, a bigger 6.7-inch Galaxy S20+ that’s pretty similar to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and then a massive 6.9-inch Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G.

You’ll have to decide if you want to pay extra for the S20+, even more for the Ultra, and what size of screen you want. Not to mention if you care about 5G or even want to switch platforms. If you’re coming from something older like a Galaxy S8+ or the iPhone X you’ll be happy with either phone.

Looking above, Samsung wins in the screen size and resolution, they have double the storage starting out at 128GB, plus you can add a microSD card instead of paying Apple’s premium to get 128 or more storage. It has a way bigger battery too, although bigger isn’t always better, plus it has to power that 120Hz screen and 5G technology.

And finally, we can’t really say anything about those crazy cameras until we test the Galaxy S20 ourselves. Keep on reading as we break down some of the more important categories below.

Galaxy S20 Ultra vs iPhone 11 Pro Max: Display & Design

Each year Samsung phones get a little bigger, but for 2020 they really jumped up a notch. With tiny bezels and the front camera inside the screen though, they’re not as big as they sound. In fact, that massive Ultra 5G is only a hair bigger than the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 6.9-inch, 120Hz, 3200 x 1440 Quad-HD AMOLED
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: 6.5-inch 60Hz, 2688 x 1242 HD AMOLED

Overall the design is pretty similar. They’re both almost all screen on the front, glass on the front and the back, with massive square camera humps on the back for several powerful cameras. Seriously, they look like brothers.

Perhaps the biggest change on the front is Samsung’s new 120Hz display technology. Like a few phones from 2019, Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G packs a powerful 120Hz display, which is double the 60Hz on the iPhone. This allows the screen to refresh what’s on the screen 120 times per second, twice as often as the iPhone 11 Pro.

The higher refresh rate makes everything from apps, games and even the operating system look faster, feel faster, run smoothly, and just seem better. Remember the jump to 120Hz and even 240Hz on HDTVs a few years ago in your living room? That same type of quality and performance jump is happening on our phones.

Another thing you’ll notice right away is the camera cutout at the top middle of the phone. This is a small circle physically cut out of the screen for the front camera, instead of Apple’s huge notch. This allows for a bigger screen that stretches to the top of the device without making the phone physically bigger. They’re fitting a bigger screen in the same size space as Apple.

The Galaxy S20 doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner on the back, and the iPhone doesn’t have one on the front. That’s because Samsung put that sensor inside the screen, just like the front camera. Samsung is using ultrasonic fingerprint technology that can read the ridges of your fingerprint, accurately and securely, through the screen. Apple ditched the scanner completely and uses FaceID with the sensors in the top middle of the screen.

Overall the design isn’t crazy different, it’s just all screens on the front and all cameras on the back, covered with fragile glass all around. Samsung’s screen isn’t as curved this year though, which some people will be happy to hear. It has roughly the same amount of curve as the iPhone.

Galaxy S20 Ultra vs iPhone 11 Pro Max: Cameras

The single biggest upgrade this year is in the camera department. While both the Galaxy S20 and iPhone 11 Pro have a 12MP main camera, everything else is way different. Plus, Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G ditched the main 12MP camera for an all-new 108MP camera. Yes, we said 108 megapixels.

  • Galaxy S20: 12MP main, 64MP 3-10x telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide lens, ToF sensor
  • Galaxy S20 Ultra: 108MP main, 48MP 10x telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide lens, ToF sensor
  • iPhone 11 Pro: 12MP main camera, 12MP telephoto 2x optical zoom lens, 12MP wide-angle lens

Samsung’s telephoto lens is a new 48MP periscope sensor capable of 10x optical zoom, and 100x digital/software combined, which is why it says 100x on the back as you see above. You only get that square 100x lens on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, while the regular S20 models get a 64GB telephoto camera.

Apple finally went big with the iPhone 11 Pro and added three powerful cameras to the back. The main 12MP camera has a big 1.4µm sensor and a fast f/1.8 aperture. This basically means the sensor is big and captures a ton of detail, and it’s fast enough to get tons of light for beautiful photos.

We really don’t know what to tell you about these cameras. Obviously the iPhone takes amazing photos and videos, and Samsung’s Galaxy S1o and Note 10 do too. We’ll have to test these crazy new 108 and 48MP cameras before we say anything further because again, bigger isn’t always better.

Galaxy S20 Ultra vs iPhone 11 Pro: Battery Life & Charging

We all know iPhone’s can last as long or longer than a Samsung with a far smaller battery because Apple does software very differently. What is important, though, is how fast they recharge.

  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 5,000 mAh (25w-45w fast wired charging, fast wireless charging and reverse wireless charging)
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: 3,969 mAh (18w wired fast charging, fast wireless charging)

Not only is the battery quite a bit bigger, but the phone will recharge super fast. Samsung added its new 25w fast charging technology, and you’ll probably be able to recharge it even faster if you buy the optional Samsung 45w charging brick. They learned that trick from Apple, who still provides a stupid slow 5w charger in the box but will let you spend extra and buy the faster 18w charger.

Without spending extra though, the iPhone has a 5w charger while Samsung will give you a 25w charger. Our only concern with the Galaxy S20 series is how big of an impact 5G and the 120Hz display will make when it comes to battery life. Especially with the big 6.9-inch screen on the Ultra.

Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G vs iPhone 11 Pro: Connectivity

Your phone signal and internet speed for gaming, streaming videos, and other content is getting upgraded if you get the Galaxy S20. We’re talking about 5G of course. Samsung’s new phones have 5G speeds, and most phones in 2020 will too.

All versions of the Galaxy S20 will come with 5G. It’s a huge talking point for carriers and the future that will replace 4G LTE, but the technology is still somewhat new. A few leaks suggest Samsung will actually release five different Galaxy S20 models, with the smaller phones having 5G as an option, but not in the US. Some regions around the globe might have regular models, but in the United States, any and all Galaxy S20 phones have 5G.

No version of Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max has 5G speeds, they’re all 4G LTE. And no, your AT&T iPhone 11 Pro does NOT have 5G, that logo is a lie. That said, we’re pretty sure the new iPhone 12 or iPhone 2020 will have 5G built-in.

Galaxy S20 Ultra Release Date & Price

And finally, perhaps the big question is “when can I buy the Galaxy S20 Ultra?” or more importantly “how much is the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G?” and we have a few of those answers. With all the upgrades this year you’ll want to think about trading in your Galaxy Note 9 for a new S20.

The Galaxy S20 is officially available for pre-order starting February 21st, with a March 6th release date.

Here’s how much you’ll need to save to get this phone, or how much you’ll have to spend each month on a carrier payment plan to have a big Galaxy S20 and all those cameras in your pocket.

  • Galaxy S20 (6.2-inch): $999
  • Galaxy S20+ (6.7-inch): $1,200
  • Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G (6.9-inch): $1,399
  • iPhone 11 Pro: $999
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: $1,099

Remember, the Ultra is more expensive but you get double the storage at 128GB, when compared to the 128GB iPhone 11 Pro Max for $1,199 it’s only $100 more for a lot of additional features and options.

Either way you go, you’ll be spending a pretty penny to get a high-end flagship smartphone from Samsung or Apple, one is just a few months newer and packs a far bigger screen and 5G speeds.


Final Thoughts

Man. Those are expensive phones. In closing, remember that the iPhone 11 Pro is an awesome phone and we know everything about it already. It might be worth waiting for Galaxy S20 and S20 Ultra reviews to see how good Samsung did this year, then decide.

You’ll be happy with either phone because they both are big, premium, fancy phones with great cameras, excellent battery life and fast performance. On the other side, you’ll be losing the 3.5mm headphone jack if you upgrade, as neither phone has one. If that’s important to you, get ready to buy some wireless headphones.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 looks like a great phone that buyers will enjoy. We think it’s worth waiting for, and we think it’s worth buying over the Galaxy S10 even though that phone will likely have heavy discounts once the S20 arrives. We could see a few iPhone 11 Pro deals from carriers too, so keep that in mind.

At the end of the day this choice comes down to how big of a screen you can handle, what you can afford, and if you’re willing to leave the Apple or Android (Samsung) ecosystem and try a new platform.

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