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Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G vs iPhone 11 Pro Max (2020): Comparing Top Flagship Smartphones

Updated 26 March 2020: Tech giants Apple and Samsung are among the top brands whose smartphone launches are the most-awaited every year. In February 2020, Samsung launched its latest line of 5G capable Galaxy devices: the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra. We compare Apple’s and Samsung’s top-of-the-line handsets, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max, to find out whose flagship smartphone is better.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G vs iPhone 11 Pro Max Comparison Chart

ModelSamsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5GApple iPhone 11 Pro Max
Samsung galaxy s20 ultraiphone 11 pro max
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Display120 Hz Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED display60 Hz Super Retina XDR OLED display
Screen Size6.9″6.5″
Resolution3200 x 1440 pixels2688 x 1242 pixels
Pixel Density511 PPI458 PPI
Dimensions167 x 76 x 8.8 mm158 x 77.8 x 8.1 mm
Weight221 g226 g
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 865 / Exynos 990A13 Bionic chip with
third-generation
Neural Engine
5GYesNo
RAM12GB for 128GB
16GB for 512GB
4GB
Storage128GB, 512GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB
Expandable StorageUp to 1TBNo
Rear Cameras108MP Wide, 48MP Telephoto, 12MP Ultra-Wide, DepthVision CameraTriple 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide, Telephoto
ZoomUp to 10X Optical Zoom and 100X Digital ZoomUp to 10x Digital Zoom
Front Cameras40MP12MP Smart HDR
VideoRear: up to 8K 30 fps
Front: up to 4K 60 fps
Rear: up to 4K at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
Front: Up to 4K at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
Face IDYesYes
Battery5000mAh3969mAh
Battery LifeVaries depending on phone settingsVideo Playback: Up to 20 hours
Video Streaming: Up to 12 hours
Audio Playback: Up to 80 hours
Wireless ChargingCompatibleCompatible
Water ResistanceIP68IP68 
Android VersionAndroid 10.0 with One UI 2.0N/A
ColorsCosmic Black, Cosmic GreyMidnight Green
Space Gray
Silver
Gold

Design

The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G sports a bigger display, but is still slightly lighter than the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

galaxy s20 ultra vs iphone 11 pro max
Both the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G (left) and the iPhone 11 Pro Max (right) have curved edges

With a 6.5-inch display size, the iPhone 11 Pro Max houses the biggest screen size among all of Apple’s smartphones. However, this pales in comparison to Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G that rocks a 6.92-inch screen size. Both rock a curved design with glass back and minimalist aesthetics, giving them a premium look and feel. However, the iPhone’s matte glass back design simply looks more elegant than the new S20 Ultra.

Despite having a bigger display size, the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G (167 x 76 x 8.8 mm) is still slightly slimmer and taller than the iPhone 11 Pro Max (158 x 77.8 x 8.1 mm). The 221-gram Galaxy S20 Ultra is ever so slightly lighter than the 226-gram iPhone 11 Pro Max, but the S20 Ultra is slightly thicker, especially when you factor in its rear camera bump.

They both feature an all-screen design with no physical buttons on the front. Instead, the buttons are housed on the side of the device. Both the S20 Ultra and the iPhone 11 Pro Max have also gotten rid of the traditional 3.5mm audio jack, something that’s not surprising with the rise of more Bluetooth wireless headphones.

At the back of both handsets are the rear cameras located at the upper left corner, with the Galaxy S20 Ultra featuring a quad-camera set-up. The iPhone 11 Pro Max only has three rear cameras. As for their colors, the iPhone 11 Pro Max offers more color options–midnight green, gold, silver, and space gray– while the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G comes in black and gray.

Display

The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G rocks a better panel than the iPhone 11 Pro Max as the new Galaxy has a higher pixel density and refresh rate

The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G’s display has 511 PPI while the iPhone 11 Pro Max has 458 PPI

While the iPhone 11 Pro Max sports a 60 Hz Super Retina XDR OLED display, the new Galaxy S20 Ultra boasts an impressive refresh rate of 120 Hz for its Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED display. The Super Retina and Infinity-O Dynamic are simply marketing terms used by Apple and Samsung. However, it is worth noting that the newer AMOLED in the Galaxy S20 Ultra is typically better than the OLED found in the 11 Pro Max.

Although Apple devices are already equipped with smooth, responsive panels, its 60 Hz refresh rate can’t rival the smoothness that a 120 Hz refresh rate can offer. You will notice how using the Galaxy S20 Ultra with the 120 Hz refresh rate is faster, smoother, and doesn’t have that motion blur when swiping through your phone.

Using them side by side will show noticeable differences between the two. The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G delivers slightly brighter, richer, and sharper quality than the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Nonetheless, the 11 Pro Max still provides stunning quality when used to watch high definition streaming videos from the likes of Netflix, Apple TV, or Amazon Prime Video.

Performance

The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and iPhone 11 Pro Max are both powerful smartphones, but the S20 Ultra is slightly faster and supports 5G connectivity

Thanks to their ultra-fast processors, the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and iPhone 11 Pro Max can capture up to 8K and 4K videos, respectively

Apple’s bespoke A13 Bionic chip is hands down one of the fastest, most powerful smartphone processors when it was released in 2019. The 4GB RAM iPhone 11 Pro Max was the smartphone to beat.

This was challenged by Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G that’s powered by the latest Snapdragon 865 by Qualcomm. Samsung pairs this powerful processor with a 12GB and 16GB RAM for the 128GB and 512 GB variants of the S20 Ultra, respectively.

The Galaxy S20 Ultra’s high-end processor topped with such RAM created remarkably fast S20 smartphones, especially when it comes to upload and download speeds. Loading websites or buffering HD videos is much faster on the Galaxy S20 Ultra than in the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The same goes for the load times of third-party applications.

As the Snapdragon 865 supports 56 connectivity, the Galaxy S20 Ultra can be used with 5G LTE networks that major carriers have started rolling out. On the other hand, none of the Apple smartphones, not even the latest iPhone 11 Pro Max, support 5G connectivity.

Cameras

The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G boasts four rear cameras with a 108-MP wide lens while the iPhone 11 Pro Max only has three

Apple’s illustration of the difference between taking photos through its wide lens (smaller box) against its ultra-wide lens

Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max has three 12 MP rear camera lenses: the telephoto, wide, and ultra-wide. Comparably, the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G sports a 12MP ultra-wide camera as well, but the similarities of their cameras end there.

Samsung’s powerful processor paved the way for the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s remarkable 108MP wide and 48MP telephoto cameras. Its 10X optical zoom and 100X digital zoom capabilities make the 10x digital zoom of the iPhone 11 Pro Max sound unimpressive (although it still is a great camera phone). The S20 Ultra also works better than the 11 Pro Max when shooting with low light.

In addition, the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G also comes with a DepthVision (Time of Flight) camera. A dedicated ToF sensor allows for better 3D space sensing, resulting in better edge detection, color separation, and more stunning bokeh for video recording. Furthermore, the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G can capture up to 8K videos while the iPhone 11 Pro Max can only record up to 4K videos through its rear and front cameras.

With that said, iPhone’s camera still delivers impressive quality and stabilization even though its specs don’t sound as impressive. Also, while the 8K capability sounds great on paper, it can only shoot videos at 24 frames per second. This means you need a tripod or a gimbal to mount your Galaxy S20 Ultra on so the videos won’t look shaky.

Selfie lovers will get a thrill out of the detailed photos that the 40MP front camera of the Galaxy S20 Ultra can capture. Even when on bin mode or night mode, the S20 Ultra still captures sharper, more detailed and accurate photos than the iPhone. Meanwhile, the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s front camera is equipped with a 12 MP sensor, which is still great as far as front cameras go but pales in comparison with Samsung.

Battery and Additional Features

Both the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and the iPhone 11 Pro Max are water and dust resistant and have a long battery life

Both the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and the iPhone 11 Pro Max have an IP68 rating

More powerful features require a bigger battery capacity and both smartphone giants are striving to create more efficient smartphones every year. The Galaxy S20 Ultra is equipped with a 5000mAh battery while the iPhone 11 Pro Max comes with a 3969mAh battery. While the S20 Ultra’s sounds better on paper, using its 120 Hz refresh rate will deplete the battery faster.

With an IP68 rating, both the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and the iPhone 11 Pro Max are splash-resistant, dustproof, and sand-proof. Apple claims that the 11 Pro Max can withstand submersion for up to a depth of 4 meters for up to 30 minutes. On the other hand, the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G can be submerged for up to a depth of up to 1.5 meters for the same duration. We won’t recommend using them while swimming though or when doing aquatic sports.

Smartphone users who like taking a lot of photos and videos will appreciate the expandable storage that the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G offers. Both the 128GB and 512GB variants can support up to 1TB of expandable storage. Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max is available in 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage capacity and doesn’t have a slot for external storage.

Verdict

The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G packs more powerful features for a slightly higher price tag, but the iPhone 11 Pro Max offers a more affordable 64GB alternative

Both the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and iPhone 11 Pro Max are powerful smartphones. They are jam-packed with features everyone will love, especially their cameras. However, these also come with a hefty price tag.

If cost is no object, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G offers overall greater value for your money (compared to the 512 GB iPhone 11 Pro Max). Its better panel, 5G connectivity, 8K video recording capability, ToF camera, top-notch zooming capabilities, better-resolution photos, and up to 1TB expandable storage make it worth the price.

For a more budget-friendly option with the same top-notch features minus the Galaxy S20’s stellar camera set-up, the 64GB iPhone 11 Pro Max is a solid smartphone choice sold at a considerably lower price.

Last update on 2020-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Rhodaline Escala-Phelps
Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.