Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G vs iPhone Xs: Should You Save or Upgrade?

Updated 26 March 2020: Samsung’s flagship 5G smartphones, the Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra, headlined the tech juggernaut’s 2020 Unpacked event. Its top-end Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G packs powerful features, but it also costs a pretty penny. If you own an Apple iPhone Xs or are on the market for a new smartphone, our comparison of the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and the highly-rated, but significantly more affordable Apple iPhone Xs will guide you whether to upgrade or save.

Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G vs iPhone Xs Comparison Chart

ModelSamsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5GApple iPhone Xs
Samsung galaxy s20 ultragalaxy s20 ultra vs iphone x
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Display120 Hz Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED display60 Hz Super Retina HD OLED Display
Screen Size6.92″5.8”
Resolution3200 x 1440 pixels2436 x 1125 pixels
Pixel Density511 PPI458 PPI
Dimensions167 x 76 x 8.8 mm143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm
Weight221 g177 grams
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 865 / Exynos 990A12 Bionic chip with
second-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 CameraDual 12MP Wide and Telephoto cameras
ZoomUp to 10X Optical Zoom and 100X Digital ZoomUp to 10x Digital Zoom
Front Cameras40MP12MP Smart HDR
VideoRear: up to 8K 24 fps
Front: up to 4K 60 fps
Rear: Up to 4K at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
Front: Up to 1080p HD at 30 fps or 60 fps
Face IDYesYes
Battery5000mAh2,658mAh
Battery LifeVaries depending on phone settingsVideo Playback: Up to 14 hours
Audio Playback: Up to 60 hours
Wireless ChargingCompatibleCompatible
Water ResistanceIP68IP68 
Android VersionAndroid 10.0 with One UI 2.0N/A
ColorsCosmic Black
Cosmic Grey
Silver
Space Gray
Gold

Design

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G has a significantly larger display than the iPhone Xs

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs iPhone XS
Both the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (left) and the iPhone Xs (right) rock a curved profile

With a 6.92-inch display size, the Galaxy S20 Ultra houses the largest screen size among the S20 series launched by Samsung. This is significantly larger than the 5.8-inch display of the iPhone Xs. At 167 by 76 by 8.8 mm, the S20 Ultra’s dimensions are also bigger than the Xs that only measures 143.6 by 70.9 by 7.7 mm.

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Both sport a stainless steel body, but the iPhone Xs comes in a durable matte glass design that makes it look and feel more premium than the S20 Ultra 5G. They both feature an all-screen design with physical control buttons on the side. To achieve slimmer bezels, both the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and the iPhone Xs do not have the traditional audio jack anymore.

The back of both handsets houses their rear cameras located at the upper left corner, with the Galaxy S20 Ultra sporting two cameras more than the iPhone Xs’s dual camera with its quad-camera set-up. It is worth noting that the S20 Ultra’s cameras protrude quite a bit so you might want to get a case to even our the phone’s back surface.

As for their colors, the iPhone Xs is available in silver, space gray, and gold, while the Galaxy S20 Ultra comes in black and gray.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G has a better panel with higher pixel density and refresh rate than the Apple iPhone Xs.

The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G has 511 pixels per inch (PPI) while the iPhone Xs has 458

The new Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G features a 120Hz Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED display, a significant upgrade from the 60Hz Super Retina HD OLED display of the iPhone Xs. There’s a noticeable difference when swiping through website or app content. The S20 Ultra’s 120Hz panel feels smoother, works faster, and gets rid of that motion blur.

Apple devices are known for their highly responsive and smooth panels. However, its 60 Hz refresh rate can’t match the smoothness provided by a 120 Hz refresh rate. While the ‘Infinity-O Dynamic’ and ‘Super Retina’ are terms coined by Samsung and Apple, respectively, the two smartphones vary in their AMOLED and OLED display. Notably, the AMOLED in the Galaxy S20 Ultra is generally better than the OLED used in the older iPhone Xs.

When you use them side by side, the screen of the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G delivers sharper pictures and more vivid colors. Nonetheless, the million-to-one contrast ratio offered by the iPhone Xs still makes this a good device for movies, games, and the like.

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Performance

The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G supports 5G and is remarkably faster and more powerful than the iPhone Xs

Major carriers have started rolling out 5G networks with unrivaled speeds all over the US

2018, the year when the iPhone Xs was released, doesn’t seem like a long time ago, but processors have come a long way since then. The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 865. This cutting-edge processor is paired with the S20 Ultra’s 12GB RAM for its 128GB variant and 16GB RAM for its 512GB variant. In contrast, the iPhone Xs runs on Apple’s custom A12 Bionic chip with only 4GB RAM.

There’s a noticeable difference when loading applications between the Galaxy S20 Ultra and the iPhone Xs. As expected, the Galaxy S20 Ultra has shorter loading times, especially when using graphics-intensive games. Also, it can download and upload significantly faster than the iPhone Xs. With that said, the iPhone Xs is not especially slow, just not as fast as the newest Galaxy smartphone.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 supports 5G connectivity, thus the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G is equipped with 5G capabilities like the Galaxy S10 5G, one of its predecessors. As more major US telecoms have started rolling out their 5G networks, you can enjoy faster connections when using this device. Meanwhile, none of the iPhone devices support 5G connectivity at present.

Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G has four rear cameras, one of them a 108MP lens, while the Apple iPhone Xs only has two.

The S20 Ultra 5G (left) features up to 100x digital zoom, 10 times the zooming capabilities of the iPhone Xs (right)

Samsung raises the bar for smartphone cameras. The new Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G rocks four rear cameras: a 108MP wide, 48MP telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide, and a dedicated DepthVision (Time of Flight) camera. The high-resolution 108MP was made possible by the smartphone’s powerful processor that can support up to 200MP sensors.

When taking photos under broad daylight, the Galaxy S20 Ultra produces sharper, more detailed photos than the iPhone Xs. Even when using its 12MP camera and not the 108MP lens, you will still have stunning photos with beautifully blurred backgrounds. Even when on night mode, the Galaxy S20 Ultra simply wins.

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With the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s four rear cameras, 10x optical zoom and 100x digital zoom, the iPhone Xs’s 12MP wide and telephoto with 10x digital zoom pale in comparison. In addition, the DepthVision camera in the S20 Ultra allows for better 3D space sensing, better edge detection, and more stunning bokeh for video recording.

As for their video recording capabilities, the Galaxy S20 Ultra can capture up to 8K videos while the iPhone Xs can only record up to 4K videos through its rear cameras. Keep in mind that since the 8K videos are only shot at 24 frames per second, they will turn out shaky when you don’t mount the S20 Ultra on a tripod or a stabilizer. When comparing their 4K videos, the iPhone Xs isn’t that far behind, but the S20’s cameras deliver more accurate colors and sharper details.

Users who like taking selfies will benefit from the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 40MP front camera that can record up to 4K videos at 60 fps. Meanwhile, the iPhone Xs comes with a 12MP front camera that can record up to 1080p HD videos. Although not as impressive as the S20 Ultra’s, the iPhone Xs’s front camera is still great as far as front cameras go for phones in its class.

Battery and Additional Features

Both the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and the iPhone Xs are dust and water-resistant, but the Galaxy S20 Ultra has better battery life and features

iPhone Xs and Xs Max
While they are both IP68-rated, the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G can withstand lower depth levels

Samsung’s top-of-the-line Galaxy S20 Ultra does not only have ‘ultra’ camera features. It is also packed with a 5000mAh battery to ensure you can use your smartphone for longer hours.

On the other hand, the iPhone Xs is equipped with a 2,658mAh which translates to up to 14 and 60 hours of video and audio playback, respectively. Even with the S20 Ultra’s 120Hz refresh rate on, the Samsung flagship still has overall better battery life. The S20 Ultra also features wireless powershare that allows you to share battery life with a compatible smartphone.

Both the Galaxy S20 Ultra and iPhone Xs have an IP rating of 68, which indicates that they can withstand rain, splashes, and dust. However, they can survive different depth levels. The iPhone Xs can withstand being submerged up to a depth of two meters of freshwater while the Galaxy S20 Ultra is water-resistant for up to 1.5 meters.

Smartphone users who like taking a lot of photos and videos will benefit from the 1TB expandable storage that the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G offers. This is in addition to the 128GB/512GB internal storage. On the other hand, Apple’s iPhone Xs does not support external storage and comes in 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage options.

Verdict

The Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G packs powerful features that make it worth the price, but the iPhone XS is still a solid smartphone choice for those on a budget

These two smartphones command very different price points, with the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G being at the pricier end of the spectrum. If the price tag is not an issue, the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and all its bells and whistles justify its price. With its top-notch panel, 5G connectivity, 8K video recording capability, impressive camera system, zooming capabilities, longer battery life, and up to 1TB expandable storage, you’ll get your money’s worth.

While the Galaxy S20 Ultra wins by a mile the older Apple iPhone Xs isn’t something to dismiss altogether. It comes with decent features at a more attractive price point. At the time of writing, its 64GB variant costs less than half of the estimated price of the S20 Ultra 5G. If you’re looking to own an iPhone device, the iPhone Xs is still a solid choice.

Last update on 2020-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Rhodaline E
Rhodaline E

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