iPhone 12 will beat the Galaxy Note 20 — here’s 5 reasons why

iPhone 12 render by PhoneArena
(Image credit: PhoneArena)

The iPhone 12 is set to arrive this fall, and if the rumors are right about an October launch, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 could have it beat to market by a couple of months. But it’s not about which phone is first out of the gate — it’s about which flagship excites shoppers enough to upgrade.

There have been a ton of leaks already for both the iPhone 12 and Galaxy Note 20, and it looks like both phones have a lot going for them. Both the iPhone 12 and Note 20 will offer 5G speeds, and you can expect a 120Hz refresh rate display on the Note 20 and iPhone 12 Pro series. 

The Galaxy Note 20 Plus may also feature a 108MP camera, which would double the rumored resolution on the 64MP iPhone 12. And, of course, the Note 20 and Note 20 Plus will feature Samsung’s S Pen, which should see new upgrades. But the iPhone 12 should still beat the Galaxy Note 20. Here’s why.

A much faster processor

The A13 Bionic inside the iPhone 11 remains the fastest chip after the Snapdragon 865 processor debuted in the Samsung Galaxy S20. And now here comes the A14 Bionic, a new 5nm chip slated for this fall's iPhones that is rumored to offer performance that rivals even the MacBook Pro.

Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is expected to feature either the Snapdragon 865 or a slightly new Snapdragon 865+ with a modest clock speed boost. The Note 20 could come with as much as 16GB of RAM standard. But, overall, the A14 Bionic should blow away the Note 20 — and all Android phones — once again.

An exciting new design (finally)

(Image credit: LetsGoDigital/Concept Creator)

The Galaxy Note 20 is rumored to feature a design that’s similar to the Galaxy S20 series but with a more squared off look. The latest Note 20 Plus renders don't look that flattering, with an oversized camera bump. The Galaxy Note 10 offered some stunning finishes, including an Aura Glow model, but it also easily picked up fingerprints.

With the iPhone 12, I expect Apple to turn more heads. The iPhone 12 design is said to harken back to the iPhone 5 and offer flatter edges and squared-off corners. The overall design is said to be thinner, too. Plus, Apple is finally going to shrink the notch. Add in a new navy blue color and this retro-meets-future aesthetic could win serious points with shoppers and actually look and feel like a new iPhone for a change.

The LiDAR advantage

Apple iPad Pro 2020 LiDAR

(Image credit: Apple)

As with the iPad Pro 2020, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are both expected to feature a new LiDAR sensor. Think of it as a beefed-up time-of-flight sensor. It can map an entire room almost instantly, providing a huge boost to augmented reality apps. Apple is expected to debut its own new iPhone AR apps in iOS 14 that should take full advantage of this sensor. But LiDAR should also give the iPhone 12 Pro series an edge when it comes to advanced portrait and video effects.

Better (and smarter) cameras

(Image credit: Jonas Daehnert)

As good as the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s camera is, it fell flat because it had trouble focusing. The good news is that the Galaxy Note 20 is rumored to get a dedicated auto-focus sensor. But it’s not like Apple is standing still on the camera front. 

The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max should not only feature 3x optical zoom — which should match the Note 20 and Note 20 Plus — but they may also boast a new sensor-shift image stabilization technology. This would potentially offer image stabilization on the phones' ultra-wide lens. In addition, the iPhone 12 should offer improved Smart HDR performance, which taps into Apple’s A series chips and computational photography smarts.

Last time around the iPhone 11 beat the Galaxy S20 in our photo face-off because of its superior Night mode, Smart HDR and Deep Fusion feature, the latter of which provides an amazing amount of detail. And we expect Apple to extend its camera lead with the iPhone 12 Pro.

iOS 14 — before Note 20 gets Android 11

iOS 14 list view mockup

(Image credit: Parker Ortolani via 9to5Mac)

This has always been an advantage for Apple. Its new iPhones roll out with its latest and greatest software, while Samsung’s devices typically have to wait to get the latest OS from Google. The difference this time around is that iOS 14 should have several new features that make the iPhone 12 feel truly new, even though the software update will be available on older iPhones.

The expected iOS 14 features include a new multitasking interface, new list view for apps on the home screen and the ability to set your own default apps (finally). You can also expect a new fitness app that should integrate with the Apple Watch 6 and other Apple Watches and a new AR app called Gobi that will work with QR codes to make shopping easier. 


Like other Note phones, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 will be a phone that’s designed for power users, with a focus on productivity. Buyers want a big-screen device that will help them get work done with the S Pen and also play games and watch movies on an immersive display. And the Note 20 and Note 20 Plus should satisfy those needs.

The Note 20 may also do 120Hz better with its LTPO technology, which could make Samsung’s display more efficient than Apple’s. But when it comes to generating buzz and excitement — and delivering on the hype — the iPhone 12 looks like it could pull ahead of Samsung’s flagship in terms of hardware and software.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.