After several months of rumors and leaks, Samsung has finally launched the Galaxy Note 20 series. This time around, you get two 5G-enabled flagships right out of the box (at least in the US) instead of three models spanning 4G and 5G connectivity that we saw in the Galaxy Note 10 line. Of course, if you’re rocking a Note series phone from last year, you still have a pretty decent flagship in your pocket. But 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, the latest 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 new phones 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|
19:9 aspect ratio
60Hz refresh rate
20:9/19.3:9 aspect ratio
60Hz/120Hz refresh rate
|Construction||Metal & glass|
Gorilla Glass 6 display cover
|Plastic/Metal & glass|
Gorilla Glass 5/Gorilla Glass 7 display cover
|CPU||Snapdragon 855, Exynos 9825||Snapdragon 865 Plus, Exynos 990|
No microSD support/microSD support up to 1TB
No microSD support/microSD support up to 2TB
|Charging||25W/45W wired charging|
12W/15W wireless charging
9W reverse wireless charging
|25W wired charging|
15W wireless charging
4.5W reverse wireless charging
|Rear camera||Note 10: 16MP (UW)+12MP (Tele)+12MP (Wide)|
Note 10 Plus: 16MP (UW)+12MP (Tele)+12MP (Wide)+0.3MP ToF
|Note 20: 12MP (wide)+64MP (tele)+12MP (UW)|
Note 20 Ultra: 108MP (wide)+12MP (tele)+12MP (UW)
|Security||In-display fingerprint sensor|
|In-display fingerprint sensor|
|Durability||IP68 dust/water resistant||IP68 dust/water resistant|
|Colors||Aura Glow, Aura White, Aura Black, Aura Pink, Aura Red, Aura Blue||Note 20: |
Note 20 Plus:
|Dimensions & weight||151 x 71.8 x 7.9mm/162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9 mm|
|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 flat body this time around. 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 phones 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 display 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 latest and greatest 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. Of course, real-world performance differences can only be quantified through proper testing and we’ll get you those results in the near future. That said, having 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 $200 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, regions like Europe and Asia have to contend with the “global” Exynos 990 version of the Galaxy Note 20 phones. Again, we’ll need to put the Note 20 Exynos models through our testing suite, but the early signs aren’t great as it’s the same chipset that underperformed in the global Galaxy S20 models.
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. It might not be significant, but it’ll be there.
Coming to the cameras, the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 10 series have some significant 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. By comparison, the Galaxy Note 20 is priced at $999 and the Note 20 Ultra costs $1,299. The price difference isn’t a lot right now, however, the older series could see a permanent MSRP drop very soon once the Galaxy Note 20 phones settle into the market.
For more info on the Note 20 pricing in other regions, check out the link below.
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. If you shop or have a phone to trade-in, you can easily track down a Note 10 Plus for around $999 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 its 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. Likewise, you may want to hold out for reviews of the regular Note 20 before spending your cash.
So that was our early look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 vs the Galaxy Note 10 series. We’ll update this article once we’ve had more hands-on time with the two new Galaxy Note phones. Until then, 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.