Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs iPhone 11 Pro Max: which one is better?

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has established itself as a new benchmark in the premium smartphone segment. The new top of the range from Samsung is directly confronted with the iPhone 11 Pro Max from Apple. It’s time for the duel.

Until now, Samsung has relied on its Galaxy S20 Ultra to hold the high for the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the most premium smartphone from its great rival Apple. The South Korean manufacturer can now count on its Galaxy Note 20 Ultra to stand out in the very high-end segment. But between the flagship of Samsung and that of Apple, which is really the best?

Design

The iPhones are immediately recognizable by the huge notch on the front panel, which houses, among other things, Face ID’s 3D scanners. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is thus equipped with advanced facial recognition technology on the mobile market. But in return, the unsightly notch prevents having a large homogeneous screen surface. For its part, the Note 20 Ultra retains a very rectangular shape, where the Note 20 is more rounded. On the back, the two devices have an imposing block to group the photo sensors in the upper left corner. It is square on the iPhone 11 Pro Max and rectangular on the Note 20 Ultra.

In terms of dimensions, the Note 20 Ultra is larger lengthwise, and similar to the iPhone 11 Pro Max for the rest: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm for the first and 158 x 77.8 x 8.1 mm for the second. Despite its size, the Samsung smartphone still manages to offer a contained weight of 208 grams, against 226 grams for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

For materials, both mobiles deserve their premium device status. They have a stainless steel frame and a glass back (special mention to Corning’s all-new Gorilla Glass Victus , even stronger than Gorilla Glass 6). At Samsung as at Apple, the IP68 certification for protection against water and dust is present.

Screen

Samsung is the king of smartphone displays. Moreover, Apple is supplied by the South Korean group to equip its iPhone with OLED panels. We are thus dealing here with two screens of very high quality.

The Note 20 Ultra’s panel has a long diagonal of 6.9 inches for a WQHD + image definition of 1440 x 3200 pixels, or a resolution of approximately 508 pixels per inch. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is satisfied with a 6.5-inch screen of 1242 x 2688 pixels (for a density of about 458 ppi). The refresh rate is also to the advantage of the Note 20 Ultra, which can boast of reaching 120Hz in FHD+. The two manufacturers are betting on an increasingly popular elongated format: 19.3: 9 for the Note 10 Ultra and 19.5: 9 for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

For better color rendering and contrasts, note that the iPhone 11 Pro Max is HDR10 and Dolby Vision compatible, while the Note 20 Ultra supports HDR10+.

Performance

The Note 20 Ultra is powered by an Exynos 990 SoC engraved in 7nm +. It is opposed in this duel to the A13 Bionic chip   of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, also engraved in 7nm +. No miracle here, the Cupertino company retains a certain lead over that of Seoul. The benchmarks are clear, Apple’s system on a chip is the most efficient and offers better speed than that of Samsung, which insists on depriving European consumers of SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon. Still, for everyday use, the difference is not so noticeable: the two devices are racing machines. Samsung has also emphasized the good performance of the Note 20 Ultra for gaming.

Parameter to remember to take into account, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is 5G compatible . No need to buy a new smartphone when you want to subscribe to a 5G package with your operator, therefore (commercial offers arrive before the end of the year). The iPhone 11 Pro Max skips 5G, making do with 4G LTE connectivity.

Memory

The Note 20 Ultra has three times more RAM than the iPhone 11 Pro Max: 12 GB of RAM for the first, only 4 GB for the second. But we are used to seeing iPhones with little RAM, they need it less than Android mobiles thanks to iOS and the optimizations that allow them to be less greedy than the competition for similar performance. And let’s be honest, who needs 12GB of RAM on a smartphone?

For storage, Apple and Samsung are each betting on a different technology: NVMe on the iPhone 11 Pro Max and UFS 3.1 on the Note 20 Ultra . A classic opposition, Android smartphones relying on the UFS standard while iPhones use NVMe. And in this matter, the advantage goes to the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

For storage capacity, the Note 20 Ultra is available in 256 or 512 GB. The iPhone 11 Pro Max offers 64, 256 or 512 GB of internal memory depending on the variants. But the latter is not equipped with any microSD card slot to expand the storage, unlike the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra which is provided.

Battery

Long lagging behind in the field of autonomy, Apple has finally woken up with its latest generation of mobiles. With its almost 4000 mAh battery, the autonomy of the iPhone 11 Pro Max is nothing short of impressive. The smartphone is extremely durable and the days when you had to charge your iPhone once or twice a day are over.

The Note 20 Ultra is better equipped with its 4,500mAh battery , but less battery life than the iPhone 11 Pro Max is to be expected. Android mobiles are always more energy intensive, and the very large screen of the Note 20 Ultra coupled with a WQHD + definition or a high refresh rate of 120 Hz should consume a lot of resources. We will test more precisely its autonomy during a thorough test of the device to show us more precise on this subject.

Regarding recharging, the Note 20 Ultra is compatible with a wired power of 25W . The iPhone 11 Pro Max is a little slower with its 18W charger , but it can reach the speed of the Note 20 Ultra by purchasing a more powerful charger than the one that comes in the box. Wireless charging is also faster at Samsung. Reverse charging (or device-to-device) allowing the smartphone’s battery to be used to power external devices is absent from the 11 Pro Max, while the Note 20 Ultra does offer it.

Camera

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is equipped with an impressive 108 MP main sensor , f / 1.8, 26mm, 1 / 1.33 ″, 0.8µm aperture, laser autofocus and OIS optical stabilization. It is accompanied by a 12 MP, f / 2.2, 13mm, 1.4µm ultra wide-angle module and a 12 MP, f / 3.0, 103mm, 1.0µm, PDAF and OIS telephoto lens allowing 5x optical zoom and zoom 50x hybrid.

On paper, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is worse off. It also has a triple photo sensor, thus composed: main 12 MP, f / 1.8, 26mm, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS + ultra wide-angle 12 MP, f / 2.4, 13mm + telephoto 12 MP, f /2.0, 52mm, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS with 2x optical zoom only. Even if it is less impressive than the flagship of Samsung, the device remains an excellent camera phone. To better compare them, we will have to wait for our full review of the Note 20 Ultra to come.

On the video, the Note 20 Ultra stands out for the possibility of recording in 8K , a rather gadget function in 2020 but which might interest some. There is also a slow-motion mode 240 frames per second in 1080p or super slow-motion 960 frames per second in 720p quality. All with gyro-EIS, OIS and HDR10 + support. The iPhone 11 Pro Max doesn’t fare as well (while still being very good and sufficient for the majority of users) with slow-motion limited to 240 fps, maximum 4K definition, and HDR-only compatibility.

For selfies, the Note 20 Ultra relies on a 10 MP, f / 2.2, 26mm, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF sensor. It is capable of filming in 4K, which is quite rare on front end modules. The iPhone 11 Pro Max relies on a 12 MP, f / 2.2, 23mm camera which also offers 4K video capture. It obviously takes advantage of 3D scanners, particularly useful for Face ID for other purposes: depth of field, augmented reality, etc.

Audio

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and iPhone 11 Max Pro come with above average stereo speakers. Normal, these are probably the two most high-end consumer smartphones currently. In either case, there is no 3.5mm jack port for connecting wired headphones or earphones. You need either a USB-C audio device for the Note 20 Ultra or Lightning for the iPhone 20 Max Pro, or an adapter.

For those who prefer wireless, a slight advantage to the Note 20 Pro and its support for Bluetooth 5.1 , which allows faster pairing and less interference than the Bluetooth 5.0 used on the iPhone 11 Pro Max (for hardware third parties in particular).

Software and Features

It is not here to list all the differences between One UI 2.5 (Android 10) and iOS 13, it would take too long. Know that with these smartphones you get the best of the Android experience on one side and the best of the Apple experience on the other. Over the years, Android and iOS have come closer and offer much the same functionality, although the interface remains very different. It is therefore above all a question of taste and habit, as well as of the ecosystem. The iPhone 11 Pro Max offers incredible possibilities if you are already equipped with accessories or other Apple equipment.

iOS is very good at taking advantage of a turnkey system, without having to touch anything to be perfectly functional. For its part, Android is much more customizable and will satisfy users who want to create their own experience. But for those who don’t want to worry too much, it is also possible to not touch anything, One UI 2.5 is natively very well thought out.

When it comes to updates, the iPhone is of course better served. Apple has made a habit of following its devices for many years (the 2015 iPhone 6S will be updated to iOS 14 for example). At Samsung, we are entitled to only two major updates on the high-end, but the manufacturer has suggested that the Note 20 Ultra could be followed for three years.

One of the big differences between the Note 20 Ultra and the iPhone 11 Pro Max concerns biometric authentication , which is used to unlock the smartphone, authorize payment, access certain applications … Facial recognition is much more efficient and secure on the iPhone 11 Pro Max thanks to 3D scanners and Face ID. But the latter only offers this solution, while the Note 20 Ultra offers a fingerprint reader under the screen which is handy in certain situations.

For virtual assistants, Samsung is still pushing Bixby, its homemade solution, which is frankly not famous. Better to turn to Google Assistant. At Apple, Siri remains a level below Google Assistant.

The Note 20 Ultra embeds Samsung’s famous DeX mode , which allows the mobile to be used as a central unit with a screen, keyboard and mouse. With a novelty: a wireless option to connect via WiFi to a Smart TV.

Finally, the Note 20 Ultra is still posed as the benchmark for productivity and the perfect tool for professionals thanks to its S-Pen stylus . Taking photos, controlling the volume or multimedia playback, managing a presentation with slides remotely becomes possible, just like writing by hand or drawing. Apple reserves its Apple Pencil for iPads, it is not compatible with the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Price

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is available for 1309 euros with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage space. It goes to 1409 euros in its version equipped with 512 GB of internal memory.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max offers a slightly more affordable front door at 1,259 euros for the model with 64 GB of storage space. The memory is not expandable via microSD, think carefully about your needs before choosing this solution. The higher variants are at less attractive prices than those of the Note 20 Ultra. Count 1429 euros for the iPhone 11 Pro Max 256 GB and 1659 euros for the 512 GB model. It is therefore much more expensive than Samsung for the same amount of storage.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra or iPhone 11 Pro Max?

Here we are perhaps dealing with the two most premium smartphones on the market, which have few flaws. In the end, it is mainly the Android (One UI) versus iOS opposition that will guide your choice. If you’re used to Android, the Note 20 Ultra seems like a better option for its screen, 5G compatibility, fast charging, and camera. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is faster, but the difference in daily feeling is not large.

The Note 20 Ultra also offers slightly milder pricing, unless you can be satisfied with the 64GB of storage in the cheaper iPhone 11 Pro Max variant. If you are an iPhone user and hesitant to switch to Android, the Note 20 Ultra is without a doubt the perfect device to “switch”.

On the other hand, we recommend the iPhone 11 Pro Max to those who have already invested heavily in an Apple ecosystem. This is the great strength of the apple brand: the perfect interaction between its different products to simplify the lives of its followers.