Samsung Galaxy S10+ vs. iPhone 11 Pro: Which should you buy?

Galaxy S10+

If any Android phone has the ability to pull a large number of iPhone users away from Apple, it's the Galaxy S10+. It has exceptional hardware, an amazing display, and piles of features that cover what Apple can do and so much more. The software is more daunting, but ultimately more capable as well. Those teetering on the fence could lean toward Samsung after using this phone.

Galaxy S10+

Android standard

Larger, industry-leading display
Fingerprint sensor
Excellent battery life
Headphone jack and SD card slot
Duplicate apps and bloatware
Low-light camera quality can't keep up

iPhone 11 Pro

Apple's phones are keeping pace with the top-end Android phones today. Whether that means this is actually a "Pro" device doesn't really matter — the 11 Pro does just about everything the Android competition does, and has the huge draw of still offering access to Apple's software, apps and services ecosystem.

iPhone 11 Pro

Going 'pro'

Triple camera has promise
Exceptional face unlock
Simpler software experience
Access to Apple's ecosystem of apps and services
Limited software customization
No headphone jack

Though the number of people actively looking at switching between iPhone and Android isn't as big as the ones sticking in their lane, there's no better comparison to make in this arena than the latest offerings from Apple and Samsung.

What's the difference between the Galaxy S10+ and iPhone 11 Pro?

Putting aside all of the general Android versus iPhone comparisons to start, let's focus on the hardware differences. Samsung goes with a bigger display, 6.4 to 5.8 inches, and slims down the bezels in an attempt to make it manageable in one hand. Even with larger bezels, the iPhone 11 Pro is still smaller in height and width (though not weight), making it much easier to grasp in one hand — though if you see size as a benefit, you also have the option of getting the smaller Galaxy S10 instead.

The difference in usable display size will have more of an effect than the overall size.

For many people, the difference in usable display size will have more of an effect than the physical size in your hand, but that comes down to personal preference. Thankfully both phones have amazing OLED displays, with excellent colors, viewing angles and brightness. Samsung and Apple are neck-and-neck in smartphone display quality, with everyone else trailing well behind.

Elsewhere in the hardware, it's hard to find a fault in either of these phones. Samsung relies far more on glass and focuses on curves, whereas the iPhone 11 Pro is more substantial with a larger metal frame. Both have their good and bad angles (mostly the camera situations around the back), but both feel great and are worthy of the money.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Galaxy S10+iPhone 11 Pro
Operating systemAndroid 10One UI 1.1iOS 13
Display6.4-inch AMOLED3040x1440 (19:9)5.8-inch OLED2436x1125 (19.5:9)
ProcessorSnapdragon 855or Samsung Exynos 9820A13 Bionic
Rear camera 112MP, OIS, f/1.5 or f/2.412MP, OIS, f/1.8
Rear camera 212MP, OIS, f/2.412MP, OIS, f/2.0
Rear camera 316MP, f/2.212MP, f/2.4
Front camera 110MP, f/1.9, af12MP, f/2.2, af
Front camera 28MP, f/2.2, afn/a
AudioStereo speakersDolby Atmos3.5mm headphone jackStereo speakersSpatial audio
Battery4100 mAh3190 mAh
Charging15W wiredFast Wireless Charging 2.0 (12W)18W wiredQi wireless
Water resistanceIP68IP68
SecurityUltrasonic fingerprint sensorFace recognitionFace ID
Dimensions157.6 x 74.1 x 7.4 mm175 g (Ceramic: 198 g)144 x 71.4 x 8.1 mm188 g

As is so often the case with iPhones, the specs don't really tell the whole story. Sure the iPhone 11 Pro has less RAM and a smaller battery than the S10+, but that won't create any big gulf in either performance or battery life. Both phones are incredibly overpowered for what most people will be doing with them, and battery life is going to be strong in either case. Elsewhere you'll see that both phones have stereo speakers, fast wired charging and wireless charging (though Samsung's faster in the latter), and water resistance.

Samsung wins the spec battle, but that isn't as useful as also winning the hardware feature battle.

Certain line-items do make a difference though. The Galaxy S10+ uses an in-display fingerprint sensor, while the iPhone 11 Pro relies on Face ID — Apple's system works really well, while Samsung's is a bit slow and inconsistent, even if it does have the general benefit of working the same in any lighting condition. The Galaxy S10+ also has double the default storage (128GB), expandable storage, and a headphone jack. It also plugs in and charges over the industry standard USB-C connector.

On the camera front, Apple took a page right out of the playbook Samsung and many other high-end Android makers have been following. There's now a triple camera setup, with a standard, telephoto and ultra-wide lenses to give you more variety in your shooting. Samsung's cameras are a proven quantity, and their consistency and quality make them some of the best you can get today. But Apple's taking a step forward by using the same 12MP sensor across all three cameras, which is a big plus, and is also launching a new Night Mode that will undoubtedly beat Samsung's already-weak low-light performance.

The final verdict of the camera comparison will have to come after we've used the iPhone 11 Pro for longer, but considering where the iPhone XS already stood and the improvements Apple made it's likely going to pull ahead of what the Galaxy S10+ has to offer.

Should you buy the Galaxy S10+ or iPhone 11 Pro?

Whichever side you start from is where you're likely to land again when you upgrade.

Comparing an Android phone to an iPhone is difficult. So much of the experience is just incomparable, and lives in a world with years of history on each side that's far more important than the individual spec-to-spec comparisons of the latest devices. If you already have an Android phone, or particularly a Samsung phone, you're going to be far more inclined to stick with that ecosystem and the familiarity with the interface and apps. The same goes for the iPhone — perhaps even more so if you take into account iPhone-only features like iMessage and Apple's suite of services that just aren't available on Android.

So it's unlikely that you'll be impartial when coming into comparing the Galaxy S10+ and iPhone 11 Pro. Whichever side you start from is where you're likely to land again when you upgrade. But if you're truly up for a switch or don't care about the ecosystem part of this, look to Samsung for its incredible spec sheet, features and flexibility of software customization and capabilities; look to Apple for a simpler and more consistent software experience, better camera quality and the potential draw of its excellent app ecosystem. You really can't pick a winner here that applies to everyone — but it's clear why these phones are the best available on both sides of the ecosystem.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.