Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 20 series in August 2020 with two 5G-enabled flagships (at least in the US) instead of three models spanning 4G and 5G connectivity that made up the Galaxy Note 10 line. Of course, if you’re rocking a Note series phone from 2019, you still have a pretty decent flagship in your pocket. However, the Galaxy Note 20 phones take things up several notches and catch up to other 2020 flagships with attributes such as a high refresh rate display, more camera megapixels, an upgraded processor, and more.
We’re here to compare the specs and features of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 20 phones to help you decide if the latter are worth an upgrade over their predecessors. So without further ado, let’s get into our Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs Galaxy Note 10 series comparison.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs Galaxy Note 10 series
|Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus||Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra|
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:6.3-inch/6.8-inch
19:9 aspect ratio
60Hz refresh rate
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:6.7-inch/6.9-inch
20:9/19.3:9 aspect ratio
60Hz/120Hz refresh rate
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:Metal & glass
Gorilla Glass 6 display cover
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:Plastic/Metal & glass
Gorilla Glass 5/Gorilla Glass 7 display cover
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:Snapdragon 855, Exynos 9825
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:Snapdragon 865 Plus, Exynos 990
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:256GB/256GB, 512GB
No microSD support/microSD support up to 1TB
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:128GB/128GB, 512GB
No microSD support/microSD support up to 2TB
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:8GB/12GB
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:8GB/12GB
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:3,000mAh/4,300mAh
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:4,300mAh/4,500mAh
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:25W/45W wired charging
12W/15W wireless charging
9W reverse wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:25W wired charging
15W wireless charging
4.5W reverse wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:Note 10: 16MP (UW)+12MP (Tele)+12MP (Wide)
Note 10 Plus: 16MP (UW)+12MP (Tele)+12MP (Wide)+0.3MP ToF
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:Note 20: 12MP (wide)+64MP (tele)+12MP (UW)
Note 20 Ultra: 108MP (wide)+12MP (tele)+12MP (UW)
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:10MP
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:10MP
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:In-display fingerprint sensor
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:In-display fingerprint sensor
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:IP68 dust/water resistant
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:IP68 dust/water resistant
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:4G/4G, 5G
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:5G
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:Aura Glow, Aura White, Aura Black, Aura Pink, Aura Red, Aura Blue
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:Note 20:
Note 20 Plus:
|Dimensions & weight |
Samsung Galaxy Note 10/Galaxy 10 Plus:151 x 71.8 x 7.9mm/162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm
Samsung Galaxy Note 20/Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:75.2 x 161.6 x 8.3mm/77.2 x 164.8 x 8.1mm
Unlike the Galaxy Note 10 series, the two Samsung Galaxy Note 20 variants have quite a few spec differences this year. The first thing you’ll notice is that the vanilla Galaxy Note 20 has the same 60Hz refresh rate as the two Galaxy Note 10 phones. Its display resolution also drops down to FHD+ compared to WQHD+ on both Note phones from 2019. The lower resolution may seem like a compromise to those upgrading from the Galaxy Note 10 or Note 10 Plus to the regular Galaxy Note 20. However, the newer phone features a plastic — or what Samsung calls “Glasstic” — build and a flat body. Some folks might prefer those attributes over the curved, metal and glass construction of the Note 10 phones.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the king of the lot when it comes to display tech. It not only has a 120Hz refresh rate screen like the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S21 series but also gets WQHD+ resolution, though like the S20 series you can’t enable both at the same time. Another notable upgrade on the front of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the use of Corning Gorilla Glass 7. It is the first phone to feature the latest glass protection from Corning. In short, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has the best displays you can get on any Note series phone right now.
Performance is another crucial difference between the Galaxy Note 10 and the Galaxy Note 20 series. The former is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, while the latter comes with the Snapdragon 865 Plus. The generational leap is significant when you compare the CPU and GPU performance of both SoCs. The regular Snapdragon 865 already boasted a 25% CPU performance upgrade and a 20% GPU performance increase over the Snapdragon 855, but the Snapdragon 865 Plus takes it up another notch. The Plus variant’s Prime CPU core is clocked at 3.1GHz compared to 2.84GHz on the regular Snapdragon 865. The GPU performance of the chip is also 10% better than the regular 865.
So as you can see, you get a notable performance boost on the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs the Galaxy Note 10 series. That said, having the Snapdragon 865 Plus silicon also makes the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 series future-proof. You get 5G connectivity straight out of the box, no matter which model you pick. While you do have an option of buying a Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G to get onto the faster network, the phone is more expensive than the regular Note 10 and Note 10 Plus (more on that later). A 4G-only version of the Galaxy Note 20 is also available in global markets.
Like most Samsung flagships, Europe and Asia have to contend with the “global” Exynos 990 version of the Galaxy Note 20 phones. It’s the same chipset that underperformed in the global Galaxy S20 models. From what we could tell, the Snapdragon Note 20 and Exynos Note 20 don’t offer consumers the same experience in terms of performance or battery life.
Regardless, the Exynos 990 is a definite improvement over the Exynos 9825 that powers the Note 10 series. Samsung’s custom Mongoose M5 CPU cores and the Arm Mali-G77 GPU on the Exynos 990 promise a 20% improvement in CPU and GPU performance compared to the Exynos 9825. So even if you get an Exynos version of the Galaxy Note 20, you can expect a smoother experience than before. It might not be a significant upgrade, but it’ll be there.
Coming to the cameras, the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 10 series have some serious differences. While the selfie shooter is still a 10MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture on both lineups, you now have more pixels to toy with when it comes to the primary cameras of the Galaxy Note 20 series.
The Note 20 Ultra boasts the same 108MP main sensor which we saw on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, up from the 12MP lead sensor on the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus. You also get 5x optical zoom this time compared to 2x optical zoom on last year’s flagships. The newer Notes could also have a leg up over their predecessors because of improved camera software optimizations and the processing power of the Snapdragon 865 Plus.
If you don’t care for a 108MP camera, you also have the option of buying the vanilla Galaxy Note 20. It features a 12MP primary camera with dual-pixel autofocus, same as the Galaxy S20 Plus.
Moreover, the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra can shoot 8K video, whereas last year’s Note 10 phones are stuck at 4K.
There’s not much difference when you compare the battery capacity of the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 20 series’. You get a 4,300mAh battery on the Note 10 Plus, the same on the Note 20, and a slightly higher 4,500mAh battery on the Note 20 Ultra. But if you’re upgrading from a vanilla Galaxy Note 10 to the vanilla Galaxy Note 20, you get quite a bit of extra juice as the former only has a 3,000mAh battery.
Elsewhere, the new Notes come with an improved S Pen compared to the one on the Galaxy Note 10 series. The stylus is now more pressure-sensitive for greater precision and also features some remote gestures to interact with the Note 20 phones.
When it launched, the Galaxy Note 10 series started at $949 for the standard Note 10 and went up to $1,399 for the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G. Even the non-5G Galaxy Note 10 Plus punched in above $1,000.
Now, you can get a Galaxy Note 10 model starting as low as $559.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs Galaxy Note 10 series: Worth the upgrade?
Based purely on the specs of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, it’s a no-brainer that the new top-tier Note is better than the Galaxy Note 10 line. It’s got everything Note devotees desire, in a more robust package than ever before. The older Note series lacks a high refresh rate display and 5G (unless you get the pricier Note 10 Plus 5G), while the Ultra packs in newer camera sensors, an improved S Pen, 8K video recording, and of course all the performance upgrades that come with the new chipset(s).
Things aren’t quite as clear-cut with the regular Galaxy Note 20, which doesn’t stack up particularly well against the still-great Galaxy Note 10 Plus. In our long-term review, we concluded that the Note 10 Plus, even if you go for the non-5G model, is still a fantastic phone a year on. You can easily track down a Note 10 Plus for around $669 and aside from the processor, there’s plenty the Note 10 Plus can do that outshines the standard Note 20 for the same price.
The Note 20 Ultra is a big upgrade over the Note 10 series, but it's not so clear cut with the regular Note 20.
One area where both Note 20 phones have their predecessors beat is software updates. Even though Samsung has extended Android updates for its flagships to three years instead of two, the Galaxy Note 10 series will get one less update compared to the Note 20 phones. You can expect your current Galaxy Note 10 to get updates till Android 12, whereas the Galaxy Note 20 will receive Android 13 in 2022.
So, if you’re rocking the Galaxy Note 10 or Note 10 Plus right now and looking for a new productivity driver, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is undoubtedly worth the upgrade. But if you’re happy with the performance of your 2019 Note flagship and don’t care for faster displays or higher resolution cameras, you could probably get another few months out of it before you need to upgrade. We also expect prices of the Note 20 series to fall further making it all the more worth it since there won’t be a new Note phone in 2021.
So that was a look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs the Galaxy Note 10 series. Let us know if you’re considering upgrading from a Galaxy Note 10 series device to a Galaxy Note 20 or Note 20 Ultra by taking our quick poll below.