The iPhone 11 line was a recalibration for Apple — it made the iPhone 11 the "standard" iPhone and formalized the premium tier as the "pro" option. Samsung looks to be following a similar strategy this spring with the launch of the S20 line, where the S20 may be considered the baseline or "standard" Galaxy device. However, just as the iPhone 11 wasn't a basic phone, the Samsung S20 is no entry-level gadget; instead, it matches up quite nicely against the smaller premium iPhone 11 Pro. Just how well does it compare? Let's take a closer look.
Even though these are two of the cheaper premium flagships from Samsung and Apple, they are by no means inexpensive. A quick look at the specs shows just what $1,000 buys you with these leading smartphone manufacturers.
|Apple iPhone Pro||Samsung Galaxy S20|
|Operating System||iOS 13.3.1||Android 10
One UI 2.0
2436 x 1125
|Processor||Apple A13 Bionic||Qualcom Snapdragon 865|
|Expandable Storage||❌||Up to 1TB|
|5G||❌||Non Standalone (NSA)
|Rear Camera 1||12MP wide
|Rear Camera 2||12MP telephoto
|Rear Camera 3||12MP ultra-wide
120° field of view
|Front Camera||12MP selfie camera
|10MP selfie camera
|Audio||Stereo speakers||Stereo speakers|
|Charging Speed||18W wired charging
Fast Wireless Charging
|25W wired charging
Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
|Reverse Charging||❌||Wireless Powershare|
|Security||Face ID||Ultrasonic, in-display fingerprint scanner
|Dimensions||71.4 x144 x 8.1mm||69.1 x 151.7 x 7.9mm|
The iPhone 11 Pro came out in September, as iPhones traditionally do, but it's still one of the best smartphones on the market. While the hardware and software design language didn't change that drastically, it dramatically improved over the iPhone XS in the areas it was most lacking in — battery life and camera quality.
The iPhone 11 Pro improved where it mattered most: camera quality and battery life.
Even though the battery size improvement wasn't huge, the iPhone 11 Pro saw significant performance gains with the battery thanks to the improved SOC architecture of the A13 Bionic and software optimizations in iOS 13. In fact, the iPhone 11 Pro purportedly gets up to four additional hours compared to the iPhone XS!
The iPhone XS' cameras received mixed reviews, and most had phones like the Pixel 3 and Huawei's flagship phones outperforming it, particularly in low-light situations. However, with the introduction of a third wide-angle camera and enhancements to their machine learning and image processing, Apple catapulted to the top of the smartphone photography heap (or at least near the top) in just one generation, leaving phones like the S10 and Note 10 series in the dust. The iPhone 11 Pro's night mode is excellent, and its video recording and stabilization still top in this space. Plus, creative professionals are finding all kinds of uses for the camera array, including utilizing multiple cameras for advanced filming situations.
Let's also not forget some of the features that make the Apple ecosystem so hard for iPhone fans to consider leaving, such as AirDrop, iMessage, Memoji, and Slofees (I hate myself for even typing that last word). Plus, Apple regularly updates iOS both with security patches and feature enhancements, often for as long as five years. Samsung is certainly no stranger to "fun" gimmicks itself, but it looks to have addressed at least one of these killer iPhone features with its version of AirDrop called Quick Share. It remains to be seen just how this new feature will compare, but I, for one, look forward to seeing my colleagues put it through its paces.
By all accounts, the S10 family of smartphones was very well-received. Even after almost a full year of use, we still called the line the Best Android Phone you could buy. Despite the strong showing of the S10 series, there was still plenty of room to grow for Samsung to do with its newest flagships. Thankfully it seems like we've gotten just about everything we'd asked for in the S20, at least at first glance.
Samsung has always been well-known for having the best displays in the business, but with other OEMs like OnePlus, Razer, and Google offering screens with 90Hz and even 120Hz refresh rates, it was time for Samsung to step up. The S20 line does, in fact, sport screens with 120Hz refresh rates at a time when the best from Apple is still stuck on 60Hz.
The best display in the business gets even better with the S20.
Speaking of that gorgeous display, the screen-to-body ratio is over 90%, compared to the iPhone 11 Pro's 83%. That may not look like a sizeable numerical difference, but you can feel a more immersive experience thanks to Samsung's Infinity O display versus the iPhone's notch.
Samsung phones are usually spec beasts, and the S20 is no exception here. It offers an insane 12GB of RAM compared to the iPhone 11 Pro's 4GB, though Apple devices are known for getting the most out of their hardware and software integration. The S20 features 128GB of storage out of the box, which you can expand up to 1TB via a microSD card. Now there's a point for Samsung and Android, as expandable storage is something you'll probably never get with an iPhone.
Last, but certainly not least, we come to chipsets and operating systems. Of course, Apple's A13 Bionic is a monster of an SOC that has embarrassed many an Android flagship on various benchmark tests, but the new series of Qualcomm Snapdragon 865s are poised for power as well. Plus, the 865s has 5G compatibility baked into the chip, which is something we're not sure we'll see even in the iPhone 12 series in 2020. iOS 13 has been riddled with bugs since the betas were first released, but Android 10 has been surprisingly stable. Also, Android Central has given Samsung's One UI 2 good marks and other reviewers for its stability and features.
What it all boils down to is that these are two impressive smartphones. There likely aren't going to be too many who are seriously tempted to jump from one ecosystem to the other, much less one device to the other. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating exercise to see how these industry-leaders continue to drive the other forward towards making beautiful, functional and even exceptional devices.
If you're an Android die-hard or an Apple devotee who is looking to test the waters over here, then the Galaxy S20 is a great choice. With its vastly improved camera system, expandable storage, and world-class display, you won't be disappointed.
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A pro in all but name
This isn't the "cheap" or lite" version of the phone by any means. It's a full-on flagship that has a great balance of cost and features. Compared to the S20+ and Ultra you'll miss out on the bigger screen, bigger battery, and mmWave 5G, but compared to the iPhone 11 Pro, this phone wins out on all of these features.
A premium smartphone that's worth every penny.
Boring design aside, the iPhone 11 Pro is a marvelous phone that does just about everything right. It takes some of the best pictures out there, battery life is ridiculously good, and Apple's OLED display continues to impress. Add that together with speedy performance and all of the treats that come with iOS 13, and the 11 Pro more than justifies its steep price.
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