It goes without saying that any new Samsung flagship immediately invites comparisons to the best Android phones. But with the launch of the Galaxy S20 Plus, it's clear Samsung has an Apple-shaped target in mind.
Specifically, the Galaxy S20 Plus appears to be designed to take on Apple's iPhone 11 Pro for the crown of best smartphone you can buy right now. It's a lofty bar to clear. The iPhone 11 Pro, after all, sports the most powerful processor you can get in a smartphone, supports a cavalcade of apps thanks to iOS 13 and sets the standard for mobile photography with triple rear cameras and software-powered features.
It's that last area where the Galaxy S20 Plus is ready to make its mark. Samsung has released a phone with four rear cameras, including a telephoto lens capable of a 3x optical zoom and a VGA time-of-flight sensor. The S20 Plus also adds a bigger battery, large screen and the latest Snapdragon processor, all with an eye toward challenging Apple's smartphone supremacy.
Will all the changes pay off? We won't know until we get the Galaxy S20 Plus into our office for testing. But based on what Samsung's revealed, we can certainly compare the Galaxy S20 Plus to the iPhone 11 Pro to see how these two leading flagships stack up against each other.
Editors' Note: Obviously, a lot has happened since this article was published in early 2020, with Samsung and Apple both releasing new phones. For a more recent comparison, check out our Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max face-offs.
Galaxy S20 Plus vs. iPhone 11 Pro specs
|Row 0 - Cell 0
|Galaxy S20 Plus
|iPhone 11 Pro
|Screen Size (Resolution)
|6.7-inch Dynamic OLED (3200 x 1440)
|5.8-inch Super Retina XDR Display (2436 x 1125)
|4GB (based on teardowns)
|64GB, 256GB, 512GB
|12MP primary (f/1.8); 64MP telephoto with 3x lossless zoom (f/2.0); 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2); VGA time-of-flight
|12-MP wide (f/1.8), 12-MP ultra wide (f/2.4), 12-MP telephoto (f/2.0)
|3,046 mAh (based on teardowns)
|Battery Life (Hrs:Mins)
|Not yet tested
|6.37 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches
|5.67 x 2.81 x 0.32 inches
|Black, gray, blue, pink
|Gold, space gray, silver, midnight green
Galaxy S20 Plus vs. iPhone 11 Pro price and release date
If you're the kind of person to gripe about the high cost of iPhones, don't look to the Galaxy S20 Plus for relief. Samsung's phone starts at $1,199 for a version with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. For the 512GB version of the Galaxy S20 Plus, you need to tack on another $150, bringing the phone to a robust $1,349.
That puts the iPhone 11 Pro in the rare position of being the cheaper option, thanks to its starting price of $999. Of course, that price only gets you 64GB of storage. To get 256GB of capacity on your iPhone 11 Pro, you'll need to pay $1,149 — only $50 off the S20 Plus' base price. A 512GB iPhone 11 Pro costs the same as the Galaxy S20 Plus with that much storage.
You can save some money on your iPhone 11 Pro if you've got a phone to trade in. Apple will take up to $320 off the cost of the iPhone 11 Pro with trade-in, though only recent models fetch that kind of return. We'd expect to hear about more Galaxy S20 Plus deals as soon as Galaxy S20 Plus pre-orders start on Feb. 21. Samsung's phone hits stores on March 6.
Galaxy S20 Plus vs. iPhone 11 Pro design and display
Samsung clearly hopes that bigger is better when it comes to the Galaxy S20 Plus vs. the iPhone 11 Pro. Samsung's new phone features a much bigger screen than what Apple offers — 6.7 inches to the iPhone 11 Pro's 5.8-inch display. As a result, the 6.37 x 2.9 x 0.3-inch S20 Plus is noticeably taller and a little bit wider than the 5.67 x 2.81 x 0.32-inch iPhone.
While both phones use OLED panels, the S20 Plus offers sharper Quad HD resolution to the iPhone's 2436 x 1125 display. The S20 Plus also pulls off a trick the iPhone 11 Plus doesn't support — Samsung's phone offers a very fast 120-Hz refresh rate that's double the speed of the iPhone's 60-Hz screen. That should make for smoother scrolling and better gameplay, though there's a caveat. The faster refresh rate doesn't work at the Galaxy S20 Plus' full resolution; instead, you have to scale down to Full HD, which adds some blur to text and graphics. It's not a very good trade-off.
The Galaxy S20 uses a circular camera cutout to house its front camera in the center of the display. (That's a change from the Galaxy S10 Plus, which featured double cutouts over on the right side of the screen.) The iPhone 11 Pro has that divisive notch that Apple fans don't seem to mind, but that some smartphone users really can't stand.
Each phone gives you a choice of four colors. For the Galaxy S20 Plus, you choose between black, gray, blue and pink. The iPhone 11 Pro comes in gold, space gray, silver and midnight green.
Galaxy S20 Plus vs. iPhone 11 Pro cameras
Apple's iPhone routinely bests Samsung's smartphones when we compare the photos each device takes. (See our iPhone 11 Pro vs Galaxy Note 10 comparison to get the flavor of how Apple uses software and hardware to stay ahead of the best cameras Samsung can offer.) If the Galaxy S20 Pro is any indication, Samsung's tired of coming up on the short end of any camera comparisons.
The S20 Plus sports four rear cameras. In addition to the 12-MP wide angle lens and 12-MP ultra wide angle lens, you also get a 64-MP telephoto lens and a VGA time-of-flight sensor. It's those latter two cameras that are the most significant additions to the Galaxy S20 Plus' camera array.
The telephoto lens on the S20 Plus is capable of supporting a 3X optical zoom. Because the focal length of the telephoto lens is similar to the main camera's, the S20 Plus winds up cropping into the center of the frame to pull off that 3x effect. Still, on paper, that outpaces the 2x optical zoom that the iPhone 11 Pro can pull off with its telephoto lens.
As for the time-of-flight sensor, it should help the Galaxy S20 Plus pull off more impressive portrait shots. That's a key feature as portrait shots are one area where the iPhone asserts its dominance over other camera phones. We're eager to see how portraits shot by the Galaxy S20 Plus and iPhone 11 Pro compare.
In addition to that 12-MP telephoto lens on the iPhone 11 Pro, you also get 12-MP wide angle and ultra wide angle cameras. That triple lens array has vaulted the iPhone 11 Pro to the top of the heap for best camera phones.
Up front, the Galaxy S20 Plus features a 10-MP selfie cam. That will go up against the 12-MP TrueDepth camera on the iPhone 11 Pro that not only takes self-portraits but also powers the iPhone's FaceID unlocking feature.
Galaxy S20 Plus vs. iPhone 11 Pro performance
Here's one area where Samsung's handsets haven't put up much of a fight against the iPhone in recent years. Apple designs its own processors which routinely trounce Android rivals on most performance tests. The A13 Bionic processor inside the iPhone 11 Pro is no exception, as its outpaced every leading Android phone we've pitted it against since the iPhone's debut last fall. Android phones powered by the leading Snapdragon mobile processors make a better show of it in graphics tests, but for raw speed and real-world performance, the iPhone 11 Pro has been the device to beat.
Could that change with the Galaxy S20 Plus? Samsung's new phone features a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 865 processor, and while benchmarks for Samsung's new phone that leaked out before the S20's unveiling weren't encouraging, it's possible those numbers came from a pre-release model that had yet to be optimized for performance. All we know is that we had the chance to benchmark the Snapdragon 865 on a Qualcomm-supplied reference device last December and its performance on the Geekbench 5 test came closer to the iPhone's pace-setting result than any Android phone before it. Getting the Galaxy S20 Plus into our lab will tell the tale.
We do know that Samsung has packed a lot of RAM into its new phone. The Galaxy S20 Plus comes with 12GB of RAM, and while Apple doesn't disclose how much memory it puts into its phones, that figure would dwarf the iPhone 11 Pro's 4GB of RAM revealed in teardowns.
The Galaxy S20 Plus features more on-board capacity in its base model, too — 128GB to the paltry 64GB Apple includes on the iPhone 11 Pro. You can also augment the S20 Plus' storage with a microSD card, something that's never been possible on an iPhone.
Galaxy S20 Plus vs. iPhone 11 Pro battery life and charging
The Galaxy S10 Plus is currently the longest-lasting smartphone you can buy from Samsung, lasting 12 hours, 35 minutes on our battery test where we have a phone surf the web continuously over LTE until it runs out of juice. That's a tall order for the Galaxy S20 Plus to improve upon, but Samsung's at least making it a fair fight.
The Galaxy S20 Plus features a 4,500 mAh battery, bigger than the 4,100 mAh pack in last year's S10 Plus. There's more screen to keep powered up on this year's phone, but we're expecting the Galaxy S20 Plus to fare well on our battery test once we have a chance to test out the phone.
The iPhone 11 Pro lasted a little less than 10.5 hours on our battery test — a respectable result that tops the average smartphone's performance, but nearly 2 hours shy of what the S10 Plus offers. This is an area where the Galaxy S20 Plus could really enjoy an edge over Apple's phone.
Samsung's phone also figures to charge faster, too. The Galaxy S20 Plus ships with a 25-watt fast charger, compared to the 15-watt charger that Apple includes with the iPhone 11 Pro. Both phones support wireless charging, but only the Galaxy S20 Plus (and indeed, all the new Samsung phones) let you charge other Qi-compatible devices through the Wireless PowerShare feature.
Galaxy S20 Plus vs. iPhone 11 Pro special features
You'll get the latest version of each mobile operating system no matter which phone you opt for — Android 10 with Samsung's One UI 2.0 with the Galaxy S20 Plus, and iOS 13 with the iPhone 11 Pro. Samsung's trying to provide an alternative to the iPhone's FaceTime by building Google Duo right into the phone dialer and contacts apps on the Galaxy S20 Plus, which also supports full HD video chat. A new Music Share feature on the Galaxy S20 lets you share out your Bluetooth connection to your car, giving other people control over music playback.
The most significant difference between the Galaxy S20 Plus vs. the iPhone 11 Pro may come down to 5G. The S20 Plus has it, the iPhone does not. The X55 modem included with the S20 Plus can connect to any type of 5G network, regardless of the carrier, while Apple isn't bothering with the new networking standard until this fall, when 5G connectivity is rumored to be included with the iPhone 12.
Given all the features Samsung has crammed into the Galaxy S20 Plus, this feels like the first time in years that Samsung's flagship phone threatens to overtake Apple's top mobile devices. The S20 Plus' big battery, Snapdragon 865 chipset and sizable display should ramp up the competition with the iPhone 11 Pro.
But ultimately, the success of the Galaxy S20 Plus vs. the iPhone 11 Pro will come down to cameras and whether the improved telephoto lens and other photographic features are enough to overtake what the iPhone's cameras can produce. We look forward to finding out just what kind of phone Samsung has given us and how it measures up to the standard set by the iPhone 11 Pro.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.