Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Galaxy Note 10 (2020): One Feature Makes All The Difference

Updated 25 March 2020: With the Samsung Galaxy S20 having arrived, Android shoppers will have a more difficult time considering whether to go for the brand new or just stick with proven models. The Galaxy Note 10 is one of the brand’s best efforts in years, but how does it compare against the latest from Samsung? Here’s a look at what’s been revealed so far about the Galaxy S20 put side-by-side against the Galaxy Note 10.

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Galaxy Note 10 Comparison Chart

ModelSamsung Galaxy S20Samsung Galaxy Note 10
Samsung Galaxy S20 Cloud BlueSamsung Galaxy Note 10 Aura White
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Display120 Hz WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O Display60 Hz FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O Display
Screen Size6.2″6.3″
Resolution3200 x 1440 pixels2280 x 1080 pixels
Pixel Density563 ppi401 ppi
Dimensions152 x 68 x 7.9 mm151 x 71.8 x 7.9 mm
Weight164 g168 g
CPUExynos 990 / Qualcomm Snapdragon 865Exynos 9825 / Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
RAM12GB12GB
Storage128GB, 256GB256GB
Rear Cameras12MP Wide, 64MP Telephoto, 12MP Ultra-Wide12MP Wide, 12MP Telephoto, 16MP Ultra-Wide
ZoomUp to 30X Digital ZoomUp to 10X Digital Zoom
Front Cameras10MP IMX 37410MP
VideoBack: up to 8K 30 fps
Front: up to 4K 60 fps
Back: up to 4K 60 fps
Front: up to 1080p 60 fps
Battery4000mAh3500mAh
Water ResistanceIP68, up to 5 metersIP68, up to 1.5 meters
OSAndroid 10 with One UI 2.0Android 9 with One UI
BixbyNo*Yes
Fingerprint Sensor3D Sonic MaxUltrasonic Fingerprint Sensor
S PenNoYes
MicroSDYesNo
3.5 mmNoNo
ColorsCosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cloud PinkAura Glow, Aura Black, Aura White

Design

The Samsung Galaxy S20 looks like a slimmer, rounded version of the Galaxy Note 10.

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Galaxy Note 10 Design
In a way, the Galaxy S20 (left) takes after the Galaxy Note 10 (right) more than its predecessor, the S10.

A side by side look shows you the essential design differences between the two smartphones, as well as the more startling similarities. The Galaxy S20 features a smoothly rounded profile that’s a bit skinnier than the Note 10. Otherwise though, you’ll find that the S20 inherits more from the Note 10 than from previous S models like the S10.

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For one, the S20’s Infinity-O display hugs the edges as closely as the Note 10, a bit thicker at top and bottom but practically vanished at the sides. Samsung also copied the centered punch hole of the Note 10, rather than the top-right placement in the S10. Similar shifting was done at the back, with the S20’s camera array grouped up to the top left rather than the horizontal alignment of nearly all previous Galaxy S phones.

One thing that isn’t apparent is the S20’s move away from the rounded Edge display. Ever since the Edge 6 came out, Samsung’s Galaxy models have sported the rounded screens providing additional functionality. Now the S20 will have a 2.5D display instead, similar to other flagship phones.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S20 5G has a higher refresh rate and resolution than the Galaxy Note 10 5G.

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Galaxy Note 10 Display
With its Dynamic AMOLED display, the Galaxy Note 10 always looks great no matter how dark or bright it is around you. Of course, you can expect the same from the Galaxy S20.

Samsung is taking another big step with the display of the Galaxy S20, bumping its max resolution to 3200 x 1440 pixels. In contrast, the Note 10 is only capable of 2280 x 1080 pixels, and with a 6.3-inch screen, you get 401 pixels per inch. The S20 has a nearly similarly-sized 6.2-inch, but with its higher resolution it tops at 563 pixels per inch. That’s a lot of bright dots, way more than other current Android and Apple flagships.

That’s not all though. Samsung is finally increasing the refresh rate of the Galaxy S20 to 120 Hz. It will lower the WQHD+ resolution to FHD+ though, but the resulting smoothness will be worth it. Meanwhile, the Note 10 has the same 60 Hz rate as most other phones, but its Dynamic AMOLED display is arguably better than the majority.

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When Samsung moved its fingerprint reader under the screen, it continued looking for improvements on the technology with new models. The Galaxy S20’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor will use Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Max which is around 17 times larger than the one on the S10 so the area where you place your finger is less restrictive.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy S20 is much faster than the Galaxy Note 10.

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Galaxy Note 10 Performance
Samsung allows instant Bixby access with a dedicated button at the sides of both the Galaxy S20 and Note 10.

Starting 2020 with a strong step, the Galaxy S20 is powered by the next generation of chipsets from Qualcomm and Samsung. North American users will get units with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865, which has 5G connectivity built in, while everyone else will get the Samsung Exynos 990. These will also sport a massive 12GB RAM compared to the 8GB of the Note 10, which has the current-gen system-on-chip from the two manufacturers.

Already, benchmarking sites have seen scores from Galaxy S20 models. All three sizes post scores comparable to the current fastest smartphone, the iPhone 11 Pro Max. These also match early testing done with Qualcomm’s reference devices for the Snapdragon 865 earlier in 2019. Compared to the Note 10, we can confidently expect that the Galaxy S20 will set a new standard for Android smartphones.

The S20 will also be running the latest Android OS, Android 10.0, with Samsung’s One UI 2.0 skin. It has the newest features available on the platform as well as more custom functionalities new to the Galaxy. The Note 10 meanwhile ships with Android 9 Pie and One UI.

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Cameras

The Samsung Galaxy S20 packs better cameras than the Galaxy Note 10.

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Galaxy Note 10 Cameras
Each of the Galaxy S20 models have their own repertoire of cameras. (L to R: S20 Ultra, S20+, S20)

Samsung is focusing on camera upgrades for the Galaxy S20. While the S20 Ultra gets the biggest and baddest, those on the ‘regular’ S20 are still fairly impressive. A 12MP Wide-angle sensor performs as the primary camera for all S20 sizes, while a 16MP Ultra-Wide angle lens and a 64MP Telephoto camera appears on the S20 and S20+.

To compare, the Note 10 only has a 12MP Telephoto lens. Moreover, the improved telephoto sensor on the Galaxy S20 is capable of up to 3x optical zoom and 30x digital zoom. On the Note 10 you’re limited to up to 10x digital zoom, and there’s noticeable noise when it’s set to max. In addition, video recording in 8K resolution is possible with all of the S20’s cameras. Though there aren’t any TVs to take advantage of that yet, it can result in nicely cropped 4K video content.

Battery and Other Features

The Samsung Galaxy S20 has a larger battery capacity, but the Galaxy Note 10 includes a built-in stylus.

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Galaxy Note 10 Battery and Other Features
The S Pen is the standout feature of the Galaxy Note 10, and it’s better than ever.

With enhanced displays and more powerful cameras, the Galaxy S20 requires a beefier battery. Samsung packs it with a 4000mAh battery compared to the Note 10’s 3500mAh capacity. The new chipset on the S20 is also listed as having 35% better power efficiency than the S10. This impacts battery life just as much as a simple size-up gives.

Now, for the biggest difference between these two: the S Pen. The Galaxy Note 10’s stylus has received numerous improvements, as Samsung increased its sensitivity while adding extra functionalities. You can now use it as a remote control and you can doodle with it in 3D using augmented reality features. Most of those who opt for the Note 10 versus the more mainstream flagship Galaxy S series choose it simply because the stylus can become indispensable for their needs.

Storage-wise, the Galaxy Note is fixed at 256GB, while you can go for a more standard 128GB internal storage option on the S20. Still, the inclusion of a MicroSD card slot on the Galaxy S20 can be a pretty big deal, since you can bump available memory by up to 1TB. Finally, anyone hoping to plug in their 3.5 mm headphones will need to look elsewhere as neither supports it anymore.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S20 5G has the superior specs and features, but the Galaxy Note 10 remains attractive because of its stylus.

Samsung Galaxy S20

Samsung Galaxy S20 Cloud Blue

Samsung Galaxy Note 10

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Aura White

There’s no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S20 overshadows previous smartphone releases from the brand. It’s faster, bigger, and shoots better, and you get 5G connectivity for blazing Internet connections. They feel like a big leap from all of the S10 and Note 10 phones. Still, you’ll have to ask how much you need or want a stylus, since that’s still solely the territory of the Galaxy Note 10. You’re not going to be disappointed at all if you go for the Note 10, as it’s easily one of the best phones of 2019.

Derick Bondoc
Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.