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.

Specs

Galaxy S20iPhone 11 Pro
Size151.7 ×69.1 × 7.9mm (5.97 × 2.72 × 0.31 inches)144 × 71.4 × 8.1mm (5.67 × 2.81 × 0.32 inches)
Weight163 grams (5.74 ounces)188 grams (6.63 ounces)
Screen size6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED5.8-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
Screen resolution3,200 × 1,440 pixels (563 pixels-per-inch)2,436 × 1,125 pixels (458 pixels-per-inch)
Operating systemAndroid 10iOS 13
Storage128GB64, 256, 512GB
MicroSD card slotYesNo
Tap-to-pay servicesSamsung Pay, Google PayApple Pay
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 865Apple A13 Bionic
RAM12GB4GB
Camera12-megapixel, 64MP telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide rear, 10MP front12-megapixel, 12MP telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide, 12MP front
Video8K at 30 fps, 4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps
Bluetooth version5.05.0
PortsUSB-CLightning
Fingerprint sensorYes, in-displayNo
Water resistanceIP68IP68
Battery4,000mAh

Fast charging (25W)

Qi wireless charging

3,046mAh

Fast charging (18W)

Qi wireless charging

App marketplaceGoogle Play StoreApple App Store
Network supportAT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, VerizonAT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon
ColorsCosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cloud PinkMidnight Green, Space Grey, Silver, Gold
Prices$1,000$999
Buy fromSamsung, AT&TBest Buy
Review scoreHands-on4.5 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 iPhone 11 Pro has a large notch to accommodate Face ID. The design you prefer will come down to personal taste.

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.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20

Performance, battery life, and charging

Samsung Galaxy S20 held in hand
John Velasco / Digital Trends

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 iPhone 11 Pro makes do with 4GB of RAM. Because Android and iOS handle memory management differently it’s tough to directly compare, but it seems likely that the S20 will be able to hold more apps and games in RAM, and that’s important because it allows you to leave an app or game, then come back and pick up exactly where you left off. The S20 comes with 128GB of storage, but has a MicroSD card slot for expansion. The iPhone starts at 64GB and also comes in 256GB or 512GB models, but there’s no MicroSD card support.

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.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20

Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S20 taking a photo
John Velasco / Digital Trends

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.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

iPhone 11 Pro Screen
Corey Gaskin / Digital Trends

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

Special features

Samsung Galaxy S20 held in hand
John Velasco / Digital Trends

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 5G plan. The S20 also supports things like Samsung’s DeX mode, allowing it to double up as a desktop, and the Bixby assistant.

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.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S20

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.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S20

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.

Editors’ Recommendations






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