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iPhone 12 vs. Samsung Galaxy S20: Which flagship phone will win?

iphone 12 vs galaxy s20
(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Jonas Daehnert)

The iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S20 will face off this fall for smartphone supremacy, and we already have a pretty good idea of how these rivals will compare. As you’ll see in our Galaxy S20 review, Samsung’s phone offers a smooth 120Hz display, speedy 5G and very good cameras. 

The Galaxy S20 Plus adds a larger display, while the Galaxy S20 Ultra delivers a super sharp 108MP camera along with a powerful 100x digital zoom. We’re going to focus on the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy 20 Plus, as they seem to be the closest competitors to Apple’s new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max.

We’ll do a separate iPhone 12 Pro vs. Galaxy S20 Ultra face-off at a later date for those willing to pay a premium. But the regular iPhone 12 should have a lot going for it based on the rumors, from an OLED display and 5G to a powerful new A14 Bionic chip. You can also expect a fresh new design. 

Our iPhone 12 vs. Galaxy S20 face-off will give you a better feel for how these handsets are stacking up as we head into Apple’s launch.

iPhone 12 vs. Galaxy S20: Price

Apple could have a sizable advantage here if the rumors and leaks about the iPhone 12 prove true. The 5.4-inch iPhone 12 will reportedly start at $649, while the 6.2-inch Galaxy S20 costs $999. The Galaxy S20 has a bigger screen, but that’s a pretty big price difference.

The iPhone 12 Max is said to cost $749, which would also undercut the $1,199 Galaxy S20 Plus by a lot of dough. Though, to be fair, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is probably a closer competitor, given that phone is supposed to have a 6.7-inch screen — just like like the S20 Plus. The iPhone 12 Pro Max will reportedly cost the same $1,199.

iPhone 12 vs. Galaxy S20: Design

iphone 12 vs galaxy s20

(Image credit: LetsGoDigital/Concept Creator)

Despite having a fairly large 6.2-inch display, the Galaxy S20 is fairly compact. We like the small cutout in the display, which is now in the center instead o the right side, making it less distracting. Another plus: the display is more flat than curved, so there’s less chance of accidental touches.

iphone 12 vs galaxy s20

(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 12 is expected to be a departure from recent iPhones in that it will likely feature flatter sides and more squared-off edges. We’re also hearing that the iPhone 12 will be thinner than its predecessor and may have a smaller notch. So, of the two, the iPhone 12 may have a relatively bolder look. 

iPhone 12 vs. Galaxy S20: Display

iphone 12 vs. galaxy s20

(Image credit: Future)

This is one area where Samsung should have an edge. The Galaxy S20’s 6.2-inch quad HD OLED display has a 120Hz refresh rate, which enables more fluid scrolling, as well as smoother video playback and gaming (depending on the title). 

iphone 12 vs. galaxy s20

(Image credit: EverythingApplePro)

The iPhone 12 is expected to feature an OLED panel with a 60Hz refresh rate, and only the iPhone 12 Pro models should have a ProMotion 120Hz display based on the rumors. The resolution is rumored to be 2340 x 1080 pixels, which would be less sharp than the 3200 x 1400 pixels on the Galaxy S20.

iPhone 12 vs. Galaxy S20: Cameras

iphone 12 vs. galaxy s20

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S20 packs three cameras, including a 12MP wide camera, a 64MP telephoto lens and a 12MP ultra-wide camera. In general, this trio of shooters deliver very good results, complete with a hybrid optic zoom that goes up to 3x and digital zoom up to 30x.

The coolest Galaxy S20 camera feature is Single Take, which takes a series of photos while recording 10 seconds of video. The gallery of results make it easy to share your best moments.

iphone 12 vs galaxy s20

(Image credit: LetsGoDigital/Concept Creator)

Based on the leaks and rumors, the iPhone 12 should be a less capable camera phone with just two lenses: a wide lens and an ultra-wide shooter. We haven’t heard anything definitive about the resolution, but Apple may opt for a 64MP main sensor this time around. We’ve also heard that Apple may adopt sensor shift technology for advanced image stabilization. 

iPhone 12 vs. Galaxy S20: Specs and performance

With a Snapdragon 865 processor, 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the Galaxy S20 is one of the most powerful Android phones around. And, unlike what we expect from the iPhone 12, the Galaxy S20 has a microSD slot for expansion.

However, the iPhone 12 should soundly beat the Galaxy S20 when it comes to sheer performance, thanks to its rumored A14 Bionic chip. This 5nm chip will likely blow away all Android phones while being paired with just 4GB of RAM. You should expect 128GB of storage to start.

iPhone 12 vs. Galaxy S20: 5G

Samsung Galaxy S20 5G

(Image credit: Future)

Here’s where it gets a little complicated. The iPhone 12 should support 5G networks — a first for Apple — but the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max are expected to be limited to just the sub-6GHz band. This form of 5G offers long range but not the speed of mmWave networks. Allegedly, only the iPhone 12 Pro models will support mmWave.

The regular Samsung Galaxy S20 supports sub-6GHz on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile and there’s a special version for Verizon that supports mmWave. However, the Verizon model offers only 8GB of RAM (not 12GB) and lacks a microSD card slot. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus supports both flavors of 5G regardless of the network.

iPhone 12 vs. Galaxy S20: Battery and charging

iphone 12 vs galaxy s20

(Image credit: Mr. White)

The Galaxy S20 doesn’t offer the best endurance. Its 4,000 mAh battery lasted just 9 hours and 31 minutes on the Tom’s Guide battery test, which involved continuous web surfing over T-Mobile’s 5G network. The handsets that make our best phone battery life list all last over 11 hours.

It’s hard to say how the iPhone 12 is going to stack up, because we have not yet heard of the rumored battery capacity. But the 5nm A15 Bionic chip could give Apple an advantage in terms of efficiency.

The Galaxy S20 comes with a pretty fast 25W charger, which took the phone to 53% capacity in 30 minutes. The iPhone 12 will reportedly support a fast 20W charger, but multiple rumors point to Apple not including a charger in the box at all.

iPhone 12 vs. Galaxy S20: Outlook

The iPhone 12 vs. Galaxy S20 contest is shaping up to be a pretty close battle, as each phone has its share of unique strengths. The iPhone 12 will likely win on performance, design and especially price. However, the Galaxy S20 looks like it should have the better display, more versatile camera system and slightly better specs.

There are still several unanswered questions around the iPhone 12, including its final cost and camera improvements. But the Galaxy S20 could have a tough challenge on its hands if Apple’s entry-level flagship winds up being as cheap as rumored.