Home / Android / Samsung Galaxy S20 vs. iPhone 11 Pro: A deeper division lurks beneath the spec sheets

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs. iPhone 11 Pro: A deeper division lurks beneath the spec sheets

Flagship telephones just like the just-announced Samsung Galaxy S20 or the iPhone 11 Professional get loads of the advertising and press hype, however most individuals aren’t shopping for. The small proportion of shoppers who’re shopping for face a tough selection that is about way more than simply benchmarks, specs, or digital camera options.

A latest NPD report claimed that fewer than 10 p.c of People purchase flagship smartphones (on this case, outlined as telephones costing greater than $1,000). After a 12 months of smartphone shipments and revenues steadily sliding down a hill, world smartphone shipments lastly grew within the fourth quarter of 2019—however solely by one p.c. Of the market’s 369 million items in This autumn, Apple shipped 78 million iPhone 11 fashions, and Samsung shipped 71 million. In different phrases, Samsung and Apple collectively accounted for 40 p.c of the smartphones hitting the market. what they’re doing tells us loads about what right now’s priorities are.

If you look throughout the entire product lineups of those two firms, you see very totally different methods. However on the high of every line, the telephones are principally related. The newest flagship smartphones from these market behemoths give attention to cameras and screens above all else, and on these counts, the Samsung Galaxy S20 and the iPhone 11 Professional aren’t really that radically totally different from each other.

The S20 presents some cutting-edge new tech the most recent iPhone does not, however that would change this September. And as is, the iPhone has a singular comparative worth proposition of its personal. So let’s dive into the developments—and there isn’t any higher phrase for them than that—which can be showing within the two hottest flagship telephones on the planet. Are these big value tags price it in 2020, and what do shoppers want to consider when choosing between these two giants?

We’ll spoil a part of this train a bit proper up entrance: we do not consider that specs and even options are what ought to drive patrons’ choices about whether or not to go together with Samsung or Apple when shopping for a flagship telephone. First off, most individuals do not want a flagship. Second, the variations that basically matter heart on software program, providers, and severe questions on how customers ought to or should not relate to their devices and the tech firms that make them.

Desk of Contents

  • Pricing
  • Specs
  • Design
  • Cameras
  • Video
  • Computational images
  • Shows
  • Efficiency
  • 5G
  • Providers, providers, providers, providers
  • Flagship patrons are values voters
  • App insurance policies
  • Privateness insurance policies
  • Longterm help and environmental issues
  • In the end it isn’t about specs or options


Talking of the large value tags: they’re huger now than ever earlier than. Samsung’s top-of-the-line S20 Extremely begins at $1,399, and upgrades can push it up even increased. The iPhone 11 Professional Max, additionally an costly telephone by most individuals’s’ requirements, begins at $1,099 and may go as excessive as $1,449 should you max out the storage capability at 512 GB. (The S20 Extremely additionally caps out at 512 GB, however it presents microSD help as much as 1 TB).

It is tough for these of us at Ars to think about that nearly anybody actually must spend greater than $1,400 on a smartphone. That stated, there are definitely individuals who need to—for superior digital camera options, for higher-quality screens on which to look at Netflix, or to impress others socially with a standing image.

On the decrease finish of the present lineup, the Samsung Galaxy S20 begins at $999, and the iPhone 11 Professional (not Max) additionally begins at $999. There’s much more differentiating the S20 from the S20 Extremely (and there is the S20+ within the center) than there may be between the iPhone 11 Professional and 11 Professional Max.

After all, each Apple and Samsung provide telephones at decrease costs. Samsung covers your entire vary of shopper value factors with different telephones outdoors the flagship Galaxy S and Galaxy Notice product traces. And Apple sells the iPhone 11 (which has a distinct design, a lesser digital camera system, and a considerably poorer high quality display screen than the 11 Professional) for $699 and up, 2018’s iPhone XR for $599 and up, and the iPhone Eight for simply $449 and up.

There’s an enormous distinction between $449 and $999 or $1,399 for most individuals, clearly. Precisely what are customers getting for going all the way in which?


All S20 mannequin specs are for the 5G variations.

Samsung Galaxy S20Samsung Galaxy S20+Samsung Galaxy S20 ExtremelyiPhone 11 ProfessionaliPhone 11 Professional Max
Show6.2-inch OLED at 3,200 x 1,440 and 60/120Hz6.7-inch OLED at 3,200 x 1,440 and 60/120Hz6.9-inch OLED at 3,200 x 1,440 and 60/120Hz5.8-inch OLED at 2,436 x 1,125 and 60Hz6.5-inch OLED at 2,688 x 1,242 and 60Hz
Storage128GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 865Qualcomm Snapdragon 865Qualcomm Snapdragon 865Apple A13 BionicApple A13 Bionic
RAM12GB12GB12GB for 128GB and 256GB fashions, 16GB for 512GB mannequin4GB4GB
Battery4,000 mAh4,500 mAh5,000 mAh3,046 mAh3,969 mAh
Rear cameras12 MP ultra-wide (ƒ/2.2), 64MP telephoto (ƒ/2.0), 16MP broad (ƒ/1.8)12 MP ultra-wide (ƒ/2.2), 64MP telephoto (ƒ/2.0), 16MP broad (ƒ/1.8), ToF12 MP ultra-wide (ƒ/2.2), 48MP telephoto (ƒ/2.0), 108MP broad (ƒ/1.8), ToF12MP ultra-wide (ƒ/2.4), 12MP broad (ƒ/1.8), 12MP telephoto (ƒ/2.0)12MP ultra-wide (ƒ/2.4), 12MP broad (ƒ/1.8), 12MP telephoto (ƒ/2.0)
Entrance digital camera10MP (ƒ/2.2)10MP (ƒ/2.2)40MP (ƒ/2.2)12MP (ƒ/2.2)12MP (ƒ/2.2)
Video8K at 24fps, 4K at 60fps8K at 24fps, 4K at 60fps8K at 24fps, 4K at 60fps4K at 60fps4K at 60fps
PortsUSB-C, MicroSDUSB-C, MicroSDUSB-C, MicroSDLightningLightning


We have taken to calling right now’s flagship telephones “glass sandwiches” as a result of they’ve almost-all-display entrance sides manufactured from glass, and usually these units are all glass on the again, too (aside from sure digital camera elements). Fortunately, they sometimes use a cloth dubbed Gorilla Glass that’s a lot stronger than, say, a consuming glass, and Gorilla Glass has improved in sturdiness 12 months after 12 months. These glass backs allow wi-fi charging, which is not attainable via another widespread gadget supplies.

Nonetheless, Gorilla Glass remains to be not as sturdy as metal or aluminum. We have mentioned supplies at size earlier than, and there aren’t large modifications on that entrance within the S20 telephones in comparison with final 12 months’s S10 fashions. They really feel good, they give the impression of being good, however they’re typically not that sturdy they usually’re fingerprint magnets. Each of those telephones have the identical upsides and drawbacks.

There are some newer developments price highlighting. First up, Samsung has lengthy made a advertising blitz of criticizing Apple for dropping the headphone jack from its telephones beginning again in 2016. However simply over three years later, Samsung has additionally dropped the headphone jack within the Galaxy S line, launching its personal AirPods rivals (which additionally help iOS, by the way in which). Samsung was one of many final flagship phone-makers to take this leap.

Beneath: Photos from the Samsung Galaxy S20 announcement.

It might sound unusual that the top-of-the-line telephones sometimes lack one thing seemingly important that cheaper telephones typically nonetheless have—not less than on the Android aspect of issues. (There are now not any obtainable iPhones with headphone jacks.) However from Samsung and Apple’s viewpoint, wi-fi options are each superior and extra expensive, and thus wi-fi is the premium/flagship answer. Many customers agree wholeheartedly, however some do not, and the financial price of fine wi-fi audio is steep.

Due to proprietary expertise, Apple’s AirPods provide a typically higher expertise than right now’s Android-friendly true-wireless headphones do. However that can seemingly change over the subsequent 12 months or so with the introduction of the primary Bluetooth LE Audio units, which can use a brand new Bluetooth audio customary that adopts among the identical advantages AirPods customers have loved.

When it comes to design variations between the Galaxy S collection and iPhones, Samsung presents its flagships in three sizes: the S20 at 6.2 inches, the S20+ at 6.7 inches, and the S20 Extremely at a mainly tablet-sized 6.9 inches. The iPhone 11 Professional is obtainable in 5.8- and 6.5-inch variants.

Beneath: A have a look at the design of the iPhone 11 Professional from our evaluate.

Each have very totally different front-facing digital camera designs and authentication applied sciences. The Galaxy S telephones have in-screen fingerprint readers, whereas the iPhone 11 Professional makes use of a classy 3D sensor array that shares house with the front-facing digital camera to substantiate that it is you making an attempt to unlock the telephone.

That 3D sensor array (known as TrueDepth) entails loads of elements, and it is the rationale for the noticeable “notch” on the high of the telephone’s display screen. That notch comprises loads of {hardware}. Against this, Samsung simply has an everyday front-facing digital camera within the S20, and it has prevented together with a notch by primarily punching a small gap within the center-top of the show.

Whether or not you favor a notch or a gap punch is definitely a matter of desire, as is whether or not you favor Apple’s Face ID or Samsung’s in-screen fingerprint authentication.

Itemizing picture by Samsung

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