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Galaxy Note 10+ vs. iPhone XS Max: Which should you buy?

Galaxy Note 10+

If you want one of the most gorgeous and powerful smartphones money can buy, the Galaxy Note 10+ is the way to go. It's equipped with a ridiculously good display, has great battery life, super-fast charging speeds, and the S Pen is still unmatched in the smartphone space. You're getting a lot for your money.

Galaxy Note 10+

Samsung's best

Outstanding AMOLED display
Gorgeous hardware
Consistently good cameras
Great battery life and charging speeds
The S Pen is unmatched
Not that different from the cheaper S10+
First Note without a headphone jack

iPhone XS Max

The iPhone XS Max is, unsurprisingly, the best iPhone you can buy. It has a huge display that's a joy to look at, it's got the fastest mobile processor currently available, and iOS comes with all of the goodies you've come to expect — such as iMessage, AirDrop etc.

iPhone XS Max

Ultimate iPhone

Blazing-fast performance
AMOLED display is colorful and color-accurate
Face ID is stupidly good
iMessage, AirDrop, etc.
Cameras aren't very impressive
Using a Lightning port in 2019 is annoying
The iPhone 11 Pro is right around the corner

If you've got $1,100 burning a hole in your pocket and want a premium flagship smartphone, you can't go wrong with either of these two options. Both the Note 10+ and iPhone XS Max bring a lot to the table, but if it were our money, we'd pick Samsung's offering. The Note 10+ has a more vibrant display, more capable rear cameras, superior battery life/charging, and the endless functionality that comes with the S Pen. Then again, if an iPhone is what you're after, the XS Max is the best of the best.

Why the Galaxy Note 10+ wins this battle

Both of these phones justify their steep price tags in their own right, but if we had to pick a winner between the two, the Galaxy Note 10+ goes that extra mile to stand out as something special.

The display is the thing you interact with most on your phone, and with the Note 10+, you're getting one of the very best screens the smartphone market has to offer. It's big, colorful, super sharp, and often looks too good to be true. Whether you're watching videos, playing games, or just scrolling through Twitter, this is a display that'll make everything on your phone look stupendous.

Such a large and vibrant display draws a lot of power, but this is another area where the Note 10+ soars. The 4,300 mAh unit allows for awesome endurance, with it consistently having enough juice for a full day's worth of use in our testing. On top of that, Samsung's charging options blow the XS Max out of the water. The Note 10+ comes with a 25W wired charging brick in the box, which is already miles better than the 5W charger that comes with the iPhone. If you want to go even faster, you can buy a more powerful adapter that delivers 45W speeds. Wireless charging is snappy, too, with the Note 10+ seeing 15W charge speeds in these regards.

Cameras are another strong suit for the Note 10+. Not only is the main 12MP shooter great for day-to-day use, you also get reliable telephoto and ultra-wide angle sensors to give you added flexibility with the types of photos you can capture. The iPhone XS Max also offers a telephoto camera along with its primary lens, but the absence of an ultra-wide option is sorely felt in 2019.

Last but certainly not least, we can't talk about the Note 10+ without mentioning the elephant in the room — the S Pen.

There's nothing quite like the S Pen on any other smartphone, and it helps the Note 10+ stand out quite a bit. You can use the S Pen for a wide variety of things, such as taking hand-written notes without having to unlock the phone, a remote camera shutter button, presentation clicker, and much more.

Some people might see the S Pen as a gimmick, but once you get used to using it, it's tough to live without it.

Note 10+iPhone XS Max
Operating SystemAndroid 9 Pie
One UI 1.5
iOS 12
Display6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
3040 x 1440
HDR10+
6.5-inch Super Retina HD
2688 x 1242
HDR
ProcessorSnapdragon 855A12 Bionic
Memory12GB4GB
Storage256GB/512GB64GB/256GB/512GB
Expandable✔️
Rear Camera 112MP wide-angle
f/1.5-2.4 aperture
12MP wide-angle
f/1.8 aperture
Rear Camera 212MP telephoto
f/2.1 aperture
12MP telephoto
f/2.4 aperture
Rear Camera 316MP ultra-wide
f/2.2 aperture
Rear Camera 4VGA DepthVision
f/1.4 aperture
Front Camera10MP
f/2.2 aperture
7MP
f/2.2 aperture
SecurityUltrasonic in-display fingerprint sensorFace ID
PortsUSB-CLightning
Battery4,300 mAh
45W wired
15W wireless
Unspecified (up to 15 hours of video playback)
18W wired
10W wireless
Water ResistanceIP68IP68
Dimensions162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9mm
196g
157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm
208g

Where the iPhone XS Max still stands strong

While we think the Note 10+ is the superior phone in this comparison, there are a couple of areas in which the iPhone XS Max still stands out strong.

Apple's A12 Bionic processor is the fastest around, the XS Max's AMOLED display looks incredible, and Face ID is undeniably the best face unlock system we've seen on a smartphone so far. In just about every regard, the iPhone XS Max is a strong performer.

When pitted against the Note 10+, however, what really makes the XS Max shine is the fact that it runs iOS. That might seem like a divisive thing to say on a website called "Android Central", but it's true. Say what you will about iOS not being as customizable, there are certain things it offers that just will not find on an any Android smartphone.

What are we talking about? iMessage is one of the most popular messaging apps around, and the iPhone is the only way to access it. AirDrop is also an incredible feature, allowing you to easily share files and text between an iPhone and a Mac if you use one.

Then there's the matter of software support. The iPhone XS Max is bound to get major software updates for multiple years to come, meaning you can buy it today and know that it'll continue to get new features and security patches for quite a while. Samsung, on the other hand, has a rocky track record for software updates. The Note 10+ will more than likely get Android 10 and 11, but you might end up waiting a while for them to arrive. Samsung can also be sporadic with its security update rollouts, which is something to keep in mind if that's important to you.

Buy the phone that's the best fit for you

It's fun to compare Android flagships against iPhones, but at the end of the day, your best bet is to purchase the phone that'll fit best into your lifestyle.

The Note 10+ is an incredible piece of tech and the device we prefer, but if you're deep in Apple's ecosystem and want something that'll work well with your other fruit-branded gadgets, the iPhone XS Max makes the most sense. Sure, the Note 10+ might technically be the better phone in a lot of regards, but if you're all about the Apple life, go for the iPhone.

On the other hand, if you're more platform agnostic and are either comfortable with using Android or want to try it for the first time, the Note 10+ is a force to be reckoned with. Yes, it's expensive, but it's also one of the best Android phones you can buy right now.

If you are considering the iPhone, just keep in mind that Apple is expected to announce new models in early-September. The XS Max is still an incredible handset, but if you want to save some money on it or wait for the latest and greatest, it might be best to hold off on making your purchase for a little while longer.

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.