Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs iPhone 11 Pro: This $1,000 spec showdown has a clear winner

Whenever Samsung launches a new phone, Apple fans tend to notice. It’s not just that Samsung is one of the biggest Android phone makers or even that its designs tend to be among the closest to Apple’s, it’s that Samsung’s flagship Galaxy phones are really, really good. They have the latest processors, displays, and cameras, and the innovative trends that we see in the latest Galaxy S or Note phone generally make their way to the iPhone.

So it is only natural to compare them. The Galaxy Note 20 that was revealed earlier this week costs the same as the iPhone 11 Pro (a dollar more, to be exact), so you’d think it would trounce it, right? Not so much. Samsung has cut corners and sacrificed features to keep the Note 20 “affordable” compared to the $1,299 Galaxy Note S20 Ultra, so even an 11-month-old iPhone can hold its own. But which one should an unbiased consumer buy?

Galaxy Note 20 vs iPhone 11 Pro: Design

The iPhone is one of the few phones that still has a notch, and it is definitely starting to show its age. Like the S20 and most other Android phones, the Note 20 has a small hole in the top of the display for the selfie camera, and it is much more appealing to the eye. Of course, Apple needs a notch for its FaceID camera system, but Samsung’s Infinity-O display is the clear winner.

galaxy note 20 ultra camera Alex Todd/IDG

The Note 20 (left) and Note 20 Ultra both come in shimmery “Mystic” bronze, but the Note 20 is made of plastic, not glass.

While most of Samsung’s Galaxy phones have curved “edge” displays that remove all visible side bezels from the front of the phone, the Note 20 is a “flat” phone, so there are bezels all around. They’re a little thinner than they are on the iPhone 11 Pro, but they’re also unbalanced, so the space at the top and bottom is thicker than the sides. It’s close, but I prefer Apple’s symmetry. 

Around the back, the two phones are very similar, with both the Note 20 and iPhone 11 featuring a giant camera array in the top left corner. Samsung’s is rectangular and more prominent than Apple’s square housing, but both are bulbous, bumpy, and somewhat unsightly. Aside from the color differences—bronze is the new color for the Note, while Apple’s signature iPhone 11 hue is midnight green—the Note 20 has a plastic finish versus Apple’s glass covering. The Note 20 is also much larger (161.6 x 75.2 x 8.3mm) and heavier (194 grams) compared to the iPhone 11 Pro (144 x 71.4 x 8.1mm, 188 grams)

Galaxy Note 20 vs iPhone 11 Pro: Display

The iPhone 11 Pro and Note 20 both have a lot of screen, but Samsung’s phone is significantly larger than any phone Apple sells and nearly an inch bigger than the 11 Pro.

Galaxy Note 20: 6.7-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED, 2400×1080, 393 ppi
iPhone 11 Pro: 5.8-inch Super Retina XDR, 2436 x 1125, 458 ppi

galaxy note 20 screen Alex Todd/IDG

The Note 20’a 6.7-inch display is bigger but has fewer pixels than the iPhone 11 Pro.

Even though it’s about an inch smaller, Apple display is clearly superior to the Note 20’s, especially since Samsung didn’t give it a 120Hz refresh rate like the Note 20 Ultra. The iPhone 11 Pro’s display is so good it can even take on the Note 20 Ultra, but against the Note 20 it is no contest.