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iPhone 12 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Which is better?

The best from Apple takes on Samsung's latest as we pit the iPhone 12 Pro Max against the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra!

Published onApril 10, 2021

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra back side straight on
David Imel / Android Authority

Now a family of four, the iPhone 12 series brings a lot to the table. If you want the best of the lot, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the phone for you. Of course, there are plenty of alternatives to consider, and one of the best in that group is the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. How does one of Android’s best fare against Apple’s greatest? Here is a quick look at the iPhone 12 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra!

iPhone 12 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra


iPhone 12 Pro MaxSamsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
iPhone 12 Pro Max
6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
2,778 x 1,284 resolution

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
6.9-inch Dynamic OLED 2X
3,088 x 1,440 resolution
120Hz @ Full HD
60Hz @ Quad HD
iPhone 12 Pro Max
Apple A14 Bionic
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus
Samsung Exynos 990
iPhone 12 Pro Max
128 / 256 / 512GB
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
128 / 256 / 512GB
iPhone 12 Pro Max
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
iPhone 12 Pro Max
- wide-angle 12MP, f/1.6, sensor-shift OIS
- telephoto 12MP, f/2.2, 2.5x optical zoom
- ultrawide 12MP, f/2.4
- TOF 3D LiDAR scanner

12MP, f/2.2
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- wide-angle 108MP, f/1.8, OIS
- Telephoto 12MP, f/3.0, 5x optical zoom, 50x hybrid zoom
- ultrawide 12MP, f/2.2

10MP, f/2.2
iPhone 12 Pro Max
iOS 14
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Android 10
iPhone 12 Pro Max
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
iPhone 12 Pro Max
20W fast charging
7.5W Qi wireless charging
15W with Apple wireless charger
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
25W fast charging
15W wireless charging
4.5W reverse charging
Dimensions and weight
iPhone 12 Pro Max
160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4mm
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm
iPhone 12 Pro Max
Silver, Graphite, Gold, Pacific Blue
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Mystic Bronze, Mystic White, Mystic Black


Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra pen leaning against phone
David Imel / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a well-designed phone, but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before. Samsung borrows elements from both the previous Note and its other 2020 flagship series and further refines them to make a good-looking device. The metal and glass build screams premium, while the Gorilla Glass Victus panels on the front and back should keep the phone from scratching. The Mystic Bronze colorway is the audience favorite, but the more muted Mystic Black and Mystic White are available for those who want them.

On the front is a gorgeous 6.9-inch Dynamic OLED display with curved edges and minimal bezels. Its variable refresh rate can go all the way up to 120Hz at Full HD. The resolution can be bumped up to Quad HD as well. The front-facing camera is housed in a small punch-hole notch, and the fingerprint scanner is under the display, making for an impressive-looking all-screen front.

iPhone 12 Pro Max taking a photo 2
David Imel / Android Authority

The iPhone 12 Pro Max follows a similar pattern. It borrows and further refines elements from previous generations. The large notch remains, which admittedly looks quite dated, but is an understandable compromise to include Face ID. The stainless steel build is fantastic, and the rounded corners look great.

Key upgrades across the board make the 12 Pro Max even more compelling. It packs the largest display on any iPhone yet at 6.7-inches, and the Super Retina XDR OLED display is as impressive as ever. The odd resolution falls somewhere in between Full HD and Quad HD. However, you don’t get faster refresh rates here.

Read more: iPhone 12 series comparison

Apple uses a new Ceramic Shield panel to keep the display safe. It is said to be four times more protective when compared to older iPhones. It’ll be interesting to see how it fares against the likes of the Gorilla Glass Victus and other glass panels in the many scratch and drop tests that we’re bound to see in the next few weeks. The colorway that has piqued everyone’s is the all-new Pacific Blue option, which will likely be the fan favorite this holiday season.

Overall, there are no real surprises here in the design, but Apple’s upgrades in terms of build quality give it an edge. Either way, both companies’ fans should be happy with what their latest and greatest have to offer.


Note 20 Ultra network quality
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra comes with the 2020 flagship processor of choice: the Snapdragon 865 Plus. However, the gaming-optimized processor is only available in the US and a few other markets, with Samsung favoring its in-house Exynos 990 for Europe and other regions. In either case, you’ll get a whopping 12GB of RAM with the phone.

On the other hand, the iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with the company’s latest processor, the A14 Bionic. Apple also bumped the RAM up to 6GB with the 12 Pro Max. While that spec is decidedly mid-tier in the Android space, Apple’s optimization ensures that it’s more than enough.

Both phones are powerhouses.

The best of Android vs Apple’s latest is a newsworthy battle every year, and 2020 will be no different. What ultimately matters though, is both phones are absolute powerhouses. Performance isn’t going to be an issue with either flagship.

There’s not a lot in common between the two phones, but both devices offer storage variants going up to 512GB. However, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra lets you add even more with a microSD card. Both also come with an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

iPhone 12 Pro Max scrolling display 1
David Imel / Android Authority

When it comes to connectivity, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the iPhone 12 Pro Max support sub-6Ghz and mmWave 5G networks. The Snapdragon 865 Plus-toting Note 20 Ultra can also connect to global 5G networks where available.

The Note 20 Ultra has a 4,500mAh battery that comfortably provides a full day of use. The fact that the Samsung device comes with a 25W wired charger in the box is now noteworthy too because of Apple’s divisive move. The phone also supports 15W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse charging to charge accessories like earbuds or even another phone.

We don’t know the exact size of the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s battery, but you can take advantage of 18W fast charging, 15W wireless charging with an Apple charger, and 7W charging with standard Qi chargers. If you want a traditional charger though, you’ll have to shell out an additional $20 if you don’t already have one at home.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra S Pen peeking
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The standout feature of the Galaxy Note series remains the S Pen. The new S Pen provides an even better experience than previous generations. Samsung says the stylus has “more lifelike precision” that recognizes greater levels of pressure. It claims that this will feel like you’re writing on actual paper. There are also four new gestures you can make with the S Pen to interact with various apps and content on the Note 20.

Want to check out some other options? These are the best Android phones you can buy today

In the case of the iPhone 12 models, the MagSafe feature is the one that has grabbed all the headlines. It uses magnets to attach a variety of accessories, from cases to wireless chargers, to the back of the phone. This feature’s full potential is yet to be explored. Still, for now, the main advantage seems to be the ability to attach a wireless charger to the phone without worrying about alignment.


iPhone 12 Pro Max neon camera macro 6
David Imel / Android Authority

The most important hardware on most modern smartphones is the camera. The iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with a 12MP wide sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, and a 12MP telephoto shooter with 2.5x optical zoom. The phone also includes a LiDAR scanner to record depth information. The 12 Pro Max will also use a sensor-shift stabilization that Apple says will do a better job than OIS.

On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra wins the megapixel battle with its 108MP primary shooter. That’s backed by an ultra-wide 12MP sensor and a 12MP telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom and 50x hybrid zoom. We found the Note 20 Ultra’s camera to be quite impressive in our review.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra back cameras semi macro
David Imel / Android Authority

Samsung and Apple are both known for their camera prowess, so you’ll get excellent photos and videos with both phones.

See also: The best Android camera phones you can get


Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

  • 128GB: $1,299/£1,179/€1,309
  • 512GB: $1,449/£1,279/€1,409

iPhone 12 Pro Max

  • 128GB: $1,099/£1,099/€1,259
  • 256GB: $1,199/£1,199/€1,379
  • 512GB: $1,399/£1,399/€1,609

The iPhone 12 Pro Max starts at $1,099, and you can pre-order it on November 6. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has the distinction of being the most expensive flagship in 2020. That is if you leave out anything that bends or folds. The two are well across the thousand dollar mark, but that’s to be expected from what is considered the best in both worlds.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Press Image
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
The Note 20 Ultra is a beast of a phone, with a massive 6.9-inch display, 12GB RAM, 512GB of expandable storage, and a 4,500mAh battery.
iPhone 12 Pro holding bakc of phone against sunset
Apple iPhone 12 series
Four to choose from
There are a total of four new iPhones in Apple's iPhone 12 lineup: the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Brighter displays, faster processors, and more durable build quality are what you can expect with all four of these new phones.

iPhone 12 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Which one is better?

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra notes app open with pen
David Imel / Android Authority
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

iOS vs Android is a debate for the ages. As always, both the latest iPhone and Galaxy Note make worthy cases for their sides. The Samsung flagship has a few advantages on paper. The larger display comes with a higher resolution and faster refresh rate.  There’s more RAM, you can expand the storage with a microSD card, the primary camera wins the megapixel battle, and the S Pen is irreplaceable for fans of the Note series.

Samsung and Apple's flagships represent the best of Android and iOS.
iPhone 12 Pro Max scrolling display 2
David Imel / Android Authority

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a more refined product than previous generations, and it adds some interesting features. The Ceramic Shield should be a useful addition, and MagSafe is something that many accessory makers will take advantage of. Until we finish our full review, it’ll be hard to pick an absolute winner. That said, if you want the best of the best, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the iPhone 12 Pro Max are the phones to consider.

Which phone would you choose?

9909 votes
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