Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs. Galaxy Note 10+: Which should you buy?

Galaxy S20 Ultra Grey
Galaxy S20 Ultra Grey (Image credit: Android Central)

Galaxy S20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

If you want the very best phone Samsung has to offer in 2020, you want the Galaxy S20 Ultra. It has Samsung's first 120Hz AMOLED display, is powered by Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 865 processor, and has a seriously massive 5,000 mAh battery. When you add all of that together with the new camera system and support for 5G networks, you end up with something pretty darn great — so long as you can afford it.

Galaxy S20 Ultra

Latest flagship

Reasons to buy

120Hz display
All-new camera system
Massive 5,000 mAh battery
Newer processor and more RAM
5G support

Reasons to avoid

Incredibly expensive
One of Samsung's biggest phones ever

Galaxy Note 10+

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

The Galaxy Note 10+ may not be the latest and greatest from Samsung anymore, but it still deserves your attention. While you get an older processor and smaller battery, the Note 10+ still has plenty going for it. Its AMOLED display looks great despite only having a 60Hz refresh rate, you get more internal storage with the base model, and the S Pen continues to offer features that you won't find on phones that aren't a Note.

Galaxy Note 10+

Still got it

Reasons to buy

AMOLED display looks fantastic
Plenty powerful going into 2020
More base internal storage
Has the iconic S Pen
Easier on the wallet

Reasons to avoid

Lesser specs across the board
Doesn't natively support 5G

Being Samsung's newest flagship, it shouldn't come as any surprise that the Galaxy S20 Ultra is better than the Note 10+. It benefits from the newer Qualcomm processor, an upgraded camera system, a larger battery, and gives you the option of going all the way up to 16GB of RAM. It's the overall better smartphone, but that doesn't mean the Note 10+ should be ignored. The Note 10+ continues to deliver an excellent experience for those that are interested in it, and even stands out from the S20 Ultra in a couple of ways thanks to its S Pen, more generous internal storage, and a lower price tag.

The S20 Ultra has Samsung's latest specs and features

The Galaxy S20 Ultra is Samsung's first big flagship for 2020, and as such, the company threw everything it could at it to make sure it kicks off the new decade with a bang.

There's one more key advantage the Note 10+ has over the S20 Ultra, and that's the S Pen.

There's a lot going on with the S20 Ultra, with one of the most noteworthy features being its 120Hz display. This is the first time Samsung's gone beyond the traditional 60Hz refresh rate, and it means everything on the S20 Ultra, which looks faster and more fluid than the Note 10+. Outside of the increased refresh rate, the S20 Ultra gives you a larger 6.9-inch screen size, HDR10+ support, and Samsung's gorgeous Dynamic AMOLED technology.

Cameras are another thing Samsung focused on with the S20 Ultra, and there are plenty of improvements here. Both the S20 Ultra and Note 10+ have a quad-camera setup on the back, but the S20 Ultra's is far more impressive. Its primary camera is a 108MP sensor, allowing you to capture an insane amount of detail in each shot. Samsung's also touting a new SpaceZoom feature, which gives you 10x hybrid optic zoom or 100x "Super Resolution Zoom."

As for the S20 Ultra's other specs, things continue to be impressive across the board. You're getting Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 865 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and an insanely big 5,000 mAh battery. If you live in an area that supports it, the S20 Ultra can also connect to sub-6 and mmWave 5G networks.

While all of that sounds great, it does come at a cost. The S20 Ultra is a big and chunky phone, so much so that it may be unwieldy for people with smaller hands. There's also the matter of price, and with a starting MSRP of $1,400, the Galaxy S20 Ultra certainly won't be for everyone depending on what your budget looks like.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Galaxy S20 UltraGalaxy Note 10+
Operating SystemAndroid 10One UI 2.0Android 10One UI 2.0
Display6.9-inchDynamic AMOLEDQuad HD+120HzHDR10+6.8-inchDynamic AMOLEDQuad HD+60HzHDR10+
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 865Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
ExpandableUp to 1TBUp to 1TB
Rear Camera 1108MP widef/1.812MP widef/1.5-2.4
Rear Camera 248MP telephoto10x Hybrid Optic Zoom100x Super Resolution Zoomf/3.516MP telephoto2x optic zoomf/2.2
Rear Camera 312MP ultra-widef/2.212MP ultra-widef/2.1
Rear Camera 4Time-of-flight sensorTime-of-flight sensor
Front Camera40MPf/2.210MPf/2.2
Battery5,000 mAh4,300 mAh
Charging45W wired chargingFast Wireless Charging 2.0Wireless PowerShare45W wired chargingFast Wireless Charging 2.0Wireless PowerShare
SecurityIn-screen fingerprint sensorFace recognitionIn-screen fingerprint sensorFace recognition

You still get a great experience with the Note 10+ (and can save some cash)

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

It's clear that the Galaxy S20 Ultra has the advantage in this comparison, but even so, you may still want to get the Note 10+ over it.

For starters, there's the elephant in the room — price. The Note 10+ is also an expensive phone, but its $1,100 retail price is a good deal cheaper than the S20 Ultra. There's also the fact that the Note 10+ has been on the market for a few months, meaning that it's not uncommon to find various deals and discounts on offer.

As for the phone itself, it's perfectly capable. The Snapdragon 855 processor and 12GB of RAM may not be as technically impressive as what you'll get with the S20 Ultra, but this combination still results in excellent performance for any app or game you throw at it. You're also getting more base internal storage at 256GB, and while the AMOLED display is capped at 60Hz, it looks just as gorgeous with its vibrant colors, deep blacks, and razor-sharp text.

There's one more key advantage the Note 10+ has over the S20 Ultra, and that's the S Pen. While the S Pen may not be for everyone, there's no denying how much extra functionality it brings to the table. You can use it to take handwritten notes, doodle/draw, and even remotely control the camera. If those features matter to you, the Note 10+ makes more sense.

Both phones are pretty darn great

Call it a cop-out if you want, but we mean it when we say that both the S20 Ultra and Note 10+ are incredible purchases.

With the S20 Ultra, you're getting the very best that Samsung has to offer in a smartphone in 2020. Performance is outstanding, the camera system is vastly improved, the 120Hz display makes a big difference in daily use, and having such a big battery is a great perk for road-warriors.

On the flip side, if you aren't so keen on the S20 Ultra's price, don't care about having the very latest specs, and/or you think you'd get a lot of value out of the S Pen, you'll want to pick up the Note 10+. Yes, it's no longer Samsung's newest phone, but there are still plenty of reasons to get excited about it in 2020.

Joe Maring

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