Galaxy Note 10+ vs. iPhone 11 Pro Max: Which should you buy?

Galaxy Note 10+ in Aura Glow
Galaxy Note 10+ in Aura Glow (Image credit: Android Central)

Galaxy Note 10+

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

The Galaxy Note 10+ has a long-lasting battery, three powerful cameras, and of course, the mighty S Pen. It's still one of the best Android phones around, and beats out the iPhone with tweakable software, expandable storage, and lightning-fast charging.

Galaxy Note 10+

The pen is mightier

256GB of expandable storage
Three powerful cameras
Multipurpose S Pen tool
Incredible edge-to-edge display
Great battery life and fast charging
No headphone jack
Low-light camera quality is weak

iPhone 11 Pro Max

iPhone 11 Pro Max

The iPhone 11 Pro Max is Apple's biggest, most powerful phone yet, with three great cameras and the promise of all-day battery life. You'll need to pay extra for worthwhile storage, but multi-cam recording and conveniences like Airdrop make it a great option.

iPhone 11 Pro Max

Over the garden wall

Works well with other Apple products
Three powerful cameras
Dual SIM capable with eSIM
Seamless transitioning between lenses
Improved Face ID
No headphone jack
Starts at just 64GB

The Galaxy Note 10+ and the iPhone 11 Pro Max are two of the best phones you can get from each respective platform. Software aside, there's a surprising amount of similarities between the two phones, from triple cameras to large, nearly bezel-less displays and high quality designs made up of metal and glass. So which one is a better fit for most people?

The battle of Android vs. iOS continues

By now you've likely made up your mind on whether your prefer Android or iOS (you can guess which we prefer!), but it's hard to debate that both Samsung and Apple are making incredible phones these days — even if they're for different people. Nearly a year into its release, the Galaxy Note 10+ is still one of the best Android phones on the market, with powerful internals and three great cameras.

There's more to it than the software each phone uses, but it's certainly an important factor.

The Note 10+ has a lot in common with the Galaxy S10+ before it, which featured nearly identical specs and the same set of wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses. Of course, you won't get the ultra-smooth 120Hz display or massive new camera sensors found in the latest Galaxy S20 series, but there's still very little to complain about with Samsung's most recent Note offering.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max takes a lot of design inspiration from its predecessor, as well. The front is visually indistinguishable from that of the previous-gen iPhone XS Max, though the rear design has been refreshed with a new frosted glass look and a significantly larger camera bump that houses the first triple-camera array on an iPhone. Just as with the Galaxy Note 10+, the iPhone 11 Pro Max features wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras.

Storage is a weak point for the iPhone.

The short of it is this: both phones are incredibly well-made, each with its own unique design and similar triple camera arrangements. You'll get dual speakers on either phone, and neither features a 3.5mm headphone jack — the biggest hardware difference is the charging/data port. While the Note 10+ features the same USB-C port you'll find on most gadgets made in the last few years, the iPhone 11 Pro Max sticks with Apple's proprietary Lightning connector.

One major win for the Galaxy Note 10+ is its microSD slot for easily expanding the already plentiful 256GB of internal storage — with the iPhone, you're stuck with the storage you pay for, starting at a measly 64GB. That's a quarter of the storage, though the iPhone at the very least features dual SIM compatibility through use of its eSIM, which can be a big plus for frequent travelers and business users.

iPhone 11 Pro Max

Source: iMore (Image credit: Source: iMore)

Without touching too much on software (which, again, you've undoubtedly already come to your own conclusions on), iOS is still a great fit for those who already have other Apple devices. Convenient features like Airdrop and iMessage play as big a role as ever in drawing users into the Apple ecosystem, though there are, of course, similar services on Android. The Galaxy Note 10+ runs Samsung's One UI over Android 10, which features a built-in video editor, plenty of customizability, and powerful camera controls.

It's also worth noting that with iOS 14 right around the corner, the iPhone 11 Pro Max will be ready to update on day one, along with every other iPhone from 2015 onward. This is, of course, one of Apple's fundamental advantages over Android; while Pixel phones will receive day one updates to Android 11, phones from other manufacturers will take significantly longer, and there's little chance the Note 10+ will see an Android 11 update any time before 2021.

On the note of cameras, while both phones offer the same choices of lenses, you'll get very different experiences with each. The Galaxy Note 10+ has plenty of useful tools that benefit both photo and video; along with manual camera controls, you get ultra-stabilized video, focused audio zooming, and even live focus video that adds depth behind your subject. You can also use the S Pen as a remote shutter for capturing photos and videos without touching the screen.

As far as cameras go, you're choosing between manual controls and multi-cam recording.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max doesn't offer nearly as many controls; you can't adjust things like shutter speed, focus, or aperture manually through the built-in camera software. But Apple is making use of its powerful new A13 Bionic chip to prime each of its lenses in the background while you shoot, allowing you to switch lenses while filming without any noticeable change in color or exposure. Through the popular third-party app Filmic Pro, you can even film with all three rear lenses at once (and even the front camera!), saving each feed as a separate file to edit to your liking later.

Both phones can easily deliver all-day battery life, but a huge win for the Note comes in the form of its charging, supporting up to 45W of power delivery with a wired connection. Even its 15W wireless charging nearly matches the 18W wired charging of the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and as an added bonus, the Note 10+ supports reverse wireless charging, allowing you to top up accessories like Bluetooth earbuds without the need for an additional cable or charger.

Bottom line: Which one is for you?

At the end of the day, there's no right or wrong choice here. Both phones are incredibly powerful, and each represents the very best of its respective manufacturer and platform. If you want the best interoperability with other Apple devices, or you want the ability to film with all of your phone's cameras at once, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the best phone you can buy.

If, on the other hand, you like to customize your phone's software to your heart's content, or you value the hardware amenities like expandable storage and the S Pen, the Galaxy Note 10+ will take you further for your money. Plus, there's a kicker. The Note 10+ has recently seen a considerable $200 discount, making it an even better value against the iPhone. If you're platform agnostic and looking to save a bit of cash, now's the perfect time to pick up a Note 10+.

Hayato Huseman

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.