If you look at the specs and feature list for the iPhone 11 Pro, things don’t look pretty for Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 flagship. Apple’s new smartphone has the most powerful processor ever in a phone, much improved cameras and up to 5 hours longer battery life over last year’s iPhone. But it’s not game-over for the new Note — not by a longshot.
Here are five ways the Galaxy Note 10 beats the iPhone 11, and four ways Apple looks to still be on top.
Where Samsung wins…
Yes, the iPhone 11 Pro’s new Super Retina XDR displays are brighter and more colorful than anything Apple has ever built, but if you simply prefer a larger panel, the Galaxy Note 10 beats the iPhone 11 Pro. The regular Galaxy Note 10 has a 6.1-inch AMOLED screen and the Note 10 Plus sports a huge 6.8-inch display. Meanwhile, the iPhone 11 makes do with a 5.8-inch screen and the iPhone 11 Pro Max maxes out at 6.5 inches.
Much more storage
How does quadruple the storage sound to you? Both the Galaxy Note 10 and Galaxy Note 10 Plus come with 256GB of storage standard. Bad news: the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max start with a measly 64GB of storage. I can see why Apple might stick its regular $699 iPhone 11 64GB, but not a $1,000 flagship (let alone a $1,100 one). Plus, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus offers microSD expansion, something Apple’s iPhones never have included.
Although the iPhone 11 Pro was rumored to add Apple Pencil support, it just didn’t happen. The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus both offer Samsung’s S Pen, which lets you take notes and draw with ease. And both Note 10 devices support new S Pen capabilities, including Air Gestures for things like switching camera modes with a wave of your hand and converting handwriting to text.
Reverse wireless charging
Another rumored iPhone 11 Pro feature that didn’t come to pass is reverse wireless charging, which would have allowed you to place Qi-compatible devices like AirPods on the back of the phones to give them some juice. The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus both have reverse wireless charging, allowing you to not only top off your Galaxy Buds but also other smartphones that support the Qi wireless charging standard — such as the iPhone 11 Pro that Apple just introduced.
If you’re willing to spend $1,299, you can get a Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G from Verizon (with the phone coming to other carriers soon). And with that wireless boost you can enjoy gigabit speeds in a growing number of cities where 5G networks are deployed. Granted, it’s going to take a while to get to nationwide coverage, but if you live in an area with 5G you can enjoy up to 10 times faster download speeds. And that’s something you won’t get from an iPhone until 2020 at the earliest.
Where Apple Wins…
A13 Bionic processor (and what you can do with it)
Just when you thought Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor was catching up — or at least closing the performance gap — with Apple’s phones, along comes the A13 Bionic. Apple’s new processor promises 20 percent faster CPU and graphics performance than the already-blazing A12 chip. This chip also boasts a faster neural engine for real-time photo and video analysis, resulting in better looking pics and clips. And the A13 processor will shine on console-quality games like Pascal’s Wager, coming to the iPhone this fall.
More sophisticated cameras (and software)
The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Pro have very capable triple rear camera systems that impressed us in our testing, but they still fell behind Google in our Note 10 vs Pixel 3 camera face-off. And it looks like the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max could easily move to the front of the back based on Apple’s improvements
We’re talking about dramatically better low-light performance with a new Night Mode that you don’t have to manually engage, an ultra-wide camera that gives you a live preview of what you could be missing while you’re shooting and the ability to take portraits using either the wide-angle or ultra-wide lens. And the improved Smart HDR mode should reveal details in challenging lighting conditions that the Note 10 can’t muster.
Longer battery life
The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus held their own in our battery testing, but Apple is promising a huge boost in endurance for the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. The company says to expect 4 more hours of runtime out of the iPhone 11 Pro and 5 hours of more saying power for the 11 Pro Max. We’ll have to see how long Apple’s new handsets last on our web surfing test to see if these flagships crack our best phone battery life list.
Games and video content
Samsung continues to trail Apple is its services and content ecosystem. With Apple Arcade, launching Sept. 19, you can play 100 exclusive iOS titles that you won’t find on the Note 10 (or any Android phone) for one reasonable $4.99 monthly price. Launching Nov. 1, Apple TV+ is an even better deal in that Apple is giving away this $4.99 monthly service for free with any new iPhone you buy. So that means you’ll get access to Jason Momoa’s See, The Morning Show with Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell and more for nothing (to start).
Once we’ve had a chance to review the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, we will do a proper face-off between Apple’s ultra-premium handsets and the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus. But overall there’s still plenty of reasons to consider Samsung’s phablets. It all comes down to what you value most in a flagship phone.