Are you looking for a smartphone powerful enough to meet all your everyday requirements and especially your desire to take good photos? Samsung’s iPhone 12 Pro Max and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra are those that tick all the boxes of a great premium smartphone. We compared them to help you make your choice.
With its iPhone 12 Pro Max, Apple is clearly targeting photographers and lovers of the big screen with a smartphone that sees even bigger and more powerful. A niche in which the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is also positioned. Everyone has strengths to showcase that can tip your preference.
iPhone 12 Pro Max And Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Data Sheets :
|Model||Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max||Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra|
|OS Version||iOS 14||Android 10 Q|
|Manufacturer interface||N/C||Samsung One UI|
|Screen Size||6.7 Inch||6.9 Inch|
|Definition||other||3200 x 1440 pixels|
|Pixel density||458 ppp||508 ppp|
|SoC||A14 Bionic||Exynos 990|
|Graphics Chip (GPU)||Apple GPU||Mali-G77 MP11|
|Internal memory (flash)||128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB||256 GB, 512 GB|
|Camera(Back)||Sensor 1 : 12 Mp|
Sensor 2 : 12 Mp
Sensor 3 : 12 Mp
|Sensor 1 : 108 Mp|
Sensor 2 : 12 Mp
Sensor 3 : 12 Mp
|Camera (Front)||12 Mp||10 Mp|
|Recording Video||4K@60 IPS||8K@30 fps|
|Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 6 (ax)||Wi-Fi 6 (ax)|
|Supports Bands||2100 MHz (B1), 800 MHz (B20), 1800 MHz (B3), 2600 MHz (B7), 700 MHz (B28)||2100 MHz (B1), 800 MHz (B20), 1800 MHz (B3), 2600 MHz (B7), 700 MHz (B28)|
|Fingerprint Sensor||Non||Under Screen|
|Ports (Inputs/Outputs)||Lightning||USB Type-C|
|Dimensions||78.1 x 160.8 x 7.4mm||77.2 x 164.8 x 8.1mm|
|Weight||226 grams||208 grams|
|Colors||Black, Silver, Gold, Blue||Black, Orange|
|Price||1 229 €||999 €|
Large Format :
Major battle in sight! The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is tall (164.8mm), slightly larger than the iPhone 12 Pro Max which sees taller this year (160.8mm). But this one, all in steel and glass, is heavier (228 g against 202 g).
The iPhone 12 Pro Max sports a new design for an Apple smartphone. It is much straighter than its predecessors, reminiscent of the look of the iPhone 5/5s or the iPad Pro in condensed form. It has the merit of holding well in the hand and avoiding slipping like some more rounded models. Equally rectangular, the Galaxy Note 20 appears more round and slender. It’s a different style in hand, but both products are extremely premium on their finishes, with an aluminum frame for the Galaxy Note, steel surrounds for the iPhone.
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Ah, the notch! For some, it is an aberration that it still exists and of this size. At Apple, we are talking about a presence necessary to embed the ultra secure Face ID facial recognition system. Stronger than the competition, it also needs more screen space. But this has an impact on the occupancy rate of the screen which is only 87%. Better than before with slimmer edges and a screen diagonal increased to 6.7 inches, but significantly less than the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra which has a 6.9 inch screen in almost identical dimensions.
If you’re looking for visual space, you’re going to be delighted with the latest high-end Samsung. Here, the camera is inconspicuous in a mini punch on the top of the screen, right in the center. The edges are almost nonexistent and the result is a total immersion in the image. The fingerprint reader has been positioned under the screen at Samsung. An aesthetic choice, but not always functional. He remains capricious in his recognition of his imprint.
And if you did drop your smartphone, the screen seems well protected either way. Apple praised the Ceramic Shield of its iPhone 12, promised four times more resistant to drops and shocks thanks to the crystals of nano-ceramic melted in the glass. Samsung has equipped its Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with Gorilla Victus protective glass, designed by Corning and also claimed to be four times more resistant to drops. The American company specializing in the manufacture of glass and ceramics is behind the two processes which are therefore just as resistant, but with different compositions.
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On the back, the photo modules are both positioned at the top left and are quite protruding. Even though it’s slightly thicker than the iPhone 12 Pro’s, the 12 Pro Max’s camera takes up less space than the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s. The latter is positioned in a domino whose entire space is not occupied by sensors, auto-focus or flash, and which, in fact, gives the impression of enormous size. It’s elegant, but it massively unbalances the smartphone when it’s placed on its back.
The glossy black or white back of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a fingerprint mark. We prefer the matte copper-colored coating, which is more pleasant to the eye and to use. On the Apple side, the matte glass back of the iPhone 12 Pro Max acts a little less as a fingerprint survey. We fell in love with the sober Pacific blue. But beware, the steel frame likes footprints a lot.
Samsung Always A Reference, Especially In 120 Hz :
Despite Apple’s progress, Samsung remains a benchmark in terms of display with its Super Amoled QHD + panel (3200 x 1440 pixels). The color rendering is superb, even if you sometimes have to adjust the calibration a little. It adds perfect contrast and record brightness (877 cd/m²) to make it enjoyable in any bright environment.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max doesn’t have to be ashamed of its Super Retina XDR (2778 x 1284 pixel) display. It is perfectly calibrated, contrasting and bright (brightness advertised up to 1200 nits in HDR). And its color rendering is extremely accurate. But there is still a tone below Samsung’s Super Amoled. It has for him the addition of the function True Tone which automates the colorimetry according to the ambient luminosity. So that whatever your situation, the lighting, the time of day or night, everything is done so that you can enjoy the screen in the best possible conditions. Apple has made the settings as easy as possible, as no individual adjustments are possible.
Apple is still not decided to change its refresh rate and prefers to optimize its applications like its animations to make the display smoother. We still stick to 60 Hz on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has upgraded to 120Hz, with the added bonus of new adaptive screen refresh technology to oscillate between 10 and 120Hz depending on your needs. To be honest, a well-optimized 60 Hz will not immediately have much to envy the 120 Hz … unless you go the other way and there you will notice the difference in the fluidity of navigation in particular.
IOS 14 Vs ONE UI :
iOS 14 is still simple, fast and intuitive. Obviously if you are coming from Android, there are some adjustments to be made and some automatics to be taken. But the version of iOS 14 is not going to bother you that much with the addition of widgets and the app library. Everything is very easy to understand and configure. We especially like the many settings for accessibility that allow the iPhone to be used by everyone, whatever the possibilities and capacities. At this level, Apple has an advantage. And its additional features, such as the Back tap, which allows you to configure shortcuts by typing on the back of the iPhone, were designed with accessibility in mind before being useful to all users.
Samsung has concocted an increasingly efficient OneUI, which also tends to draw what it does best from the competition. And the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra natively comes with the more intuitive version 2.0 which also offers more customization and interactions perfectly suited to a large screen. The stylus gives it an interesting and original advantage over the competition with the possibility of serving as a remote control for taking pictures at a distance, making presentations, in addition to writing (with recognition tools to transform your writing into text) and optimized drawing. If you have the use of it, it is a shocking asset.
The Night Belong To The Most Versatile :
This is the heart of the fight between the two premium smartphones and where they are likely to make a difference to their followers. If Samsung plays the numbers with a main sensor of 108 Mp, Apple relies on its LiDAR to support its progress in night photography.
On the Galaxy Note 10+:
- a 108 Mp main sensor.
- an ultra wide angle of 12 Mpx.
- a 12 Mpx x5 telephoto lens.
On iPhone 12 Pro Max:
- a wide angle of 12 Mp (f/1.6).
- an ultra wide angle of 12 Mp (f/2.4) and a field of view of 120 °.
- a telephoto lens x 2.5 of 12 Mp (f/2.2).
- LiDAR sensor.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is throwing counters away with its 108 Mpx sensor which will boost the quality (and weight) of the photos. Overall, it offers high contrast shots, excellent zoom (within reason not to lose quality with the x50 for example) and a very efficient portrait mode. When the lights are already bright, the South Korean smartphone will tend to accentuate them and saturate the rendering. At night, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offers fairly sharp photos, especially at angles and more detailed in dark areas. But it tends to light up some scenes too much, which loses a little naturalness in the final rendering.
Like its rival, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is very good at everyday scenes, especially for people on the move. It also has for him that the preview before photo is faithful to the final result. It’s rare enough to be reported. In terms of colors and contrasts, it is just as true to reality. Its algorithm which is enriched by your attempts to understand your way of photographing, SmartHDR 3, which better details the elements, and Deep Fusion which “recomposes” your photo by taking several at a time to compile the best parts to compose the final rendering, work miracles in most situations. It might have a bit more trouble than the Galaxy Note at cropping well in portrait mode or dealing with a stronger light source in a corner of the photo that it will tend to overlight.
If the development is rather laborious on the Samsung side, at Apple, it takes advantage of the LiDAR sensor to be ultra fast, especially when the brightness drops. Night photography and especially portrait mode benefit from this. It is also in low light that the iPhone knows how to shine while remaining realistic. It has also worn night mode on all its sensors, including the selfie camera, which is too rarely the case with the competition (it also works in even accelerated video). The iPhone is struggling a bit, however, with its zoom restricted to 2.5x and not optimal at night. But if there is a nice point to note, it is also the stabilization now on the main sensor of the iPhone 12 Pro Max and no longer on the photo module. If you are attempting to take a picture in a moving vehicle or any other situation, the stabilization is impressive. This is especially visible in video with the feeling of a long traveling shot if you shoot while running as the image moves very little.
On the video side, iPhone can shoot up to 4K/60 IPS with Dolby Vision HDR 10-Bit. The video is rich in detail and bright, with excellent contrast. It is even possible to edit videos directly from the iPhone and its Camera app before playing them on the screen of the smartphone or any other HDR and Dolby Vision compatible device. In this area, Apple is still ahead of the competition even if the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra prides itself on filming in 8K/24 IPS, but this is still gimmicky, due to the lack of democratized media to play the video.
The A14 Bionic Overcomes The Exynos 990 :
Like the entire 2020 iPhone line, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is equipped with the A14 Bionic chip engraved in 5 nm. We no longer praise the prowess of the Apple Soc, which has panicked all benchmarks. It manages everything serenely, from the most demanding games to the successive launch of several apps, even those requiring the most resources. At no time and in no situation does the iPhone 12 Pro Max falter, slow down or freeze.
It’s a monster of power when it comes to using AI, or the neural engine, to launch multiple photo or video operations and learn from your uses. And it has the merit of conserving the battery of the device.
|Model||Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max||Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra|
|3DMark Slingshot Extreme||5248||6637|
|3DMark Slingshot Extreme Graphics||6348||8142|
|3DMark Slingshot Extreme Physics||3267||4030|
|3DMark Wild Life||6667||N/C|
|3DMark Wild Life framerate moyen||39 FPS||N/C|
|GFXBench Aztec Vulkan/Metal high (onscreen / offscreen)||59 / 90 FPS||26 / 20 FPS|
|GFXBench Car Chase (onscreen / offscreen)||45 / 71 FPS||45 / 39 FPS|
|GFXBench Manhattan 3.0 (onscreen / offscreen)||60 / 177 FPS||91 / 102 FPS|
In front of him, the Exynos 990 engraved in 7 nm is a little lighter. Samsung has decided in Europe not to equip its Galaxy Note 20 Ultra with the Snapdragon 865+, the processor from Qualcomm that rivals the A14 Bionic. It’s fluid for everyday life, running apps, browsing, watching video streaming. But when it comes to a resource-hungry game like Fortnite, drops in framerate were evident during our tests during very animated sequences (camera movements while parachuting or being in a vehicle). An update should fix this.
The Galaxy Note20 Ultra combines the Exynos 900 with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB in UFS 3.1 for storage. For its part, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has 6 GB of RAM, a record for an iPhone, as well as a base of 128 GB of NVMe storage. With its management of write / read speeds and power used wisely, Apple still does not see fit to enter the race for ever more RAM as is often the case with the competition.
With two different operating systems, each with different behaviors and accents, it is often complicated to basically compare two smartphone operations, even if they are running the same applications or games. Then you have to rely on speed tests. And in that game, as a Tech YouTuber corroborated our benchmark results, Apple’s A14 Bionic dominates the debate, even ahead of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865+. Only Huawei’s Mate 40 Pro Kirin 9000 seems to possibly stand up to it.
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The Good Surprise Of The iPhone, The Bad Of Lack Of Charger :
Apple has made great strides in battery life since the iPhone 11 generation. The iPhone 11 Pro Max had a significantly longer lifespan. His successor is doing just as well, if not even a little better. It is much easier to hold a good day and a half or even more for a fairly standard use. The A14 Bionic chip and various optimizations compensate for a battery that is a bit light on paper (between 3700 and 3900 mAh according to different sites that have opened the iPhone). In fact, Apple advertises around 20 hours of browsing time and 17 hours of video streaming, and we’ve come very close to that.
Beside, despite 4500 mAh on the data sheet, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is less enduring. By leaving adaptive 120 Hz mode and actively using it, you can get through a day without a hitch. But it suffers more if you start to open multiple apps and switch between them. And One UI doesn’t kill apps in the background to make them restart faster, which takes a toll on battery life. Unless you switch back to 60Hz mode … like the iPhone.
Apple has made some improvements to its iPhone 12 Pro Max this year at the battery level: the addition of MagSafe magnets under the chassis on the back that allow more precise induction charging, because the charger will now attach better to optimize the power on the right area. And he chose a fast charge that recovers 50% of battery life in 30 minutes. But you still have to have the right 20 W adapter at the end of the Lightning / USB-C cable. This one is no longer supplied in the box, to the chagrin of many users who will have to invest, unless they have a device with a USB-C port, an iPad Pro or an iPhone 11 Pro Max with the suitable charger.
Effective Sound :
The two smartphones skipped the jack port. To listen to music, you will need to use Bluetooth models or the supplied headphones that plug into the charging port. Each model benefits from two Dolby Atmos compatible stereo speakers (for headphones) with a fairly pleasant sound and well specialized. It’s loud and clear, but don’t try to turn them into a speaker by cranking up the volume too loud. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra also offers the Adapt Sound option which will allow you to adjust the sound to your liking after a quick calibration.
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Regarding phone calls, we have not had any concerns with either smartphone. Voices are clear, even in a noisy environment. They will then be perceptible without the rear noise coming to cover them.
Already Ready For 5G :
Both smartphones are compatible with the sub-6 GHz 5G which will gradually be available from all operators. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has the merit of adding millimetre waves, which will only be exploited later.
If you need multiple lines, be aware that the iPhone 12 Pro Max can only carry a single nano-SIM card. It will then be necessary to bet on an eSIM. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, meanwhile, has two nano-SIM slots. But one of them can give way to a microSD card to add storage, and you can then use the eSIM to add a row.
Both iPhone 12 Pro Max and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra are Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 compatible. Note the integration in the iPhone of the U1 chip (Ultra Wideband) which allows more precise localization. This has the advantage of speeding up and facilitating file transfer between compatible Apple devices (Apple Watch and HomePod mini at first, others to come) by pointing them at each other.
WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE ?
Whether it’s design or whether you prefer iOS or Android, there are two essential points of taste when buying a smartphone. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the iPhone 12 Pro Max are two premium products with multiple qualities and you will not be disappointed no matter what you choose. Apple’s latest addition has its power and performance that should allow it to last over time and endure many upgrades before going down to one knee. Surprisingly, even in terms of autonomy, he dominates his rival.
On the photo side, Samsung has always known how to play it all. By day, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is precise and detailed. Its colors are perhaps less faithful to reality, but it is a sure bet. Slightly less at night when the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s LiDAR is a very good ally in judging the distance between the object of your photo and the device, allowing a better rendering. Choosing between the two could possibly be made on the price with a notable difference, in particular with doubled storage at Samsung compared to the iPhone for a lower price. But both are ready for the future with their 5G compatibility.
Price And Availability Of The iPhone 12 Pro Max And THE Galaxy Note 20 Ultra :