In-Depth Comparison

iPhone 11 Pro Max VS Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus - Which One to Get?


Apple has just unveiled the new iPhone 11’s this week. And we got 3 of them. The iPhone 11 is the successor to the iPhone XR. The iPhone 11 Pro is the successor to the iPhone XS, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the successor to the iPhone XS Max.

So let’s see how the iPhone 11 Pro Max compares to Samsung’s own flagship, the Galaxy Note 10+ and see which one is actually worth getting.

This article is split into 7 different sections: Design, Display, Camera, Performance, Special Features, Battery & Price, so get those snacks ready and heres everything you need to know!


DESIGN

Ok, so starting off with the design these 2 phones are very different. 

The Note 10+ is noticeably taller and also wider than the iPhone 11 Pro is, and while they’re both pretty much impossible to use in one hand, just because of how massive they are, the Note 10+ is even more difficult to handle.

The Note 10+ (Left) is only 0.2mm thinner than the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but its curved design makes it feel even thinner.

The Note 10+ (Left) is only 0.2mm thinner than the iPhone 11 Pro Max, but its curved design makes it feel even thinner.

However, the Note 10+ is quite a bit thinner than the iPhone is, measuring 7.9m m vs 8.1mm, which is noticeable in the hand mostly because of the curved front and back that the Note has, as opposed to the flat design on the iPhone.

The iPhone does have some more premium materials so to say, with a full stainless steel frame, as opposed to polished aluminium. We also get what Apple’s calling the world’s most durable glass in a smartphone on the front and back, and we also get a matte glass back rather than the glossy glass that we get on the Note.

The smaller camera cutout on the Note (Right) means you have more screen real estate to view content

The smaller camera cutout on the Note (Right) means you have more screen real estate to view content

However, just looking at the design alone the Note 10 just looks better. Not only does it have noticeably thinner bezels than the iPhone does but it also only has a very tiny camera module cutout in the middle of the display and that’s it. There’s no massive notch taking up almost the entirely of the top portion of the display, like it does on the iPhone.

This is also the 3rd generation of iPhone’s with the exact same design! Samsung however has updated their design every single year. That’s the reason why the iPhone is starting to look old and outdated since it looks the same as the 2018 and 2017 models.

Now if we take a look on the back we have 3 camera modules on both but Samsung’s modules are vertically aligned, while on the iPhone we have this nest of modules. It honestly looks like a kitchen hob.

So whilst you might prefer the design of the iPhone but there is no denying that the Note has a much more modern design, and definitely takes this one. 

 

DISPLAY

Moving on to the display, Apple has now updated the display on the iPhone 11 Pro’s and they’re calling this the Super Retina XDR display. Essentially we now get a higher brightness of 1200 nits vs 1000 nits in HDR content and 800 nits vs 625 on the XS Max when outdoors, and we also get double the contrast to 2M:1 from 1M:1.

So that’s pretty impressive but, fun fact, this is actually the exact display panel technology that Samsung already uses in the Note 10+. Same exact panel the only differences are the resolution and the size. So resolution wise the Note 10+ features a 3040x1440 resolution panel at 498PPI, whilst the iPhone 11 Pro Max features a 2688x1242 resolution panel at 458PPI, so the iPhone has a slightly lower resolution display. 

The 6.8” display, coupled with the smaller bezels means that the Note (Left) is the best display on the market right now

The 6.8” display, coupled with the smaller bezels means that the Note (Left) is the best display on the market right now

But that’s not really something that you’ll be able to notice that easily between the two, however what you’ll definitely be able to notice right away, is the display size. We have a 6.5” panel on the iPhone compared to 6.8” panel on the Note 10+. Add that to the fact that we have an almost invisible camera cutout, and the Note 10+’s display is just so much better. You get to see more content, with less obstructions. The Note 10+ is just the best smartphone out right now, for viewing content. 

Also, if you care about HDR content, both support HDR content but the Note 10+ also supports HDR10+, while the iPhone supports Dolby Vision.

So, display wise the Note 10+ takes this one as well. 

CAMERA

The camera layouts of the Note (Left) and iPhone (Right)

The camera layouts of the Note (Left) and iPhone (Right)

Now on to the camera, both phones now have a triple lens camera module on the back. This means that you have your regular lens, you have a telephoto or zoom lens, and then you also have the brand new wide angle lens which lets you capture so much more in the shot. 

Wide angle is something that we didn’t have on iPhones before, so the iPhone 11 Pro is the first iPhone to feature one, but this is something that we’ve had on android phones for years now. However what Apple does very well here, is that unlike the Note which uses very different sensors for these 3 cameras, Apple tried to match them up as close as they could and only touched the lenses.  In fact, Apple even factory calibrates the 3 modules in order for them to be a close as possible in terms of color and exposure, and the calibration is also done automatically in the background, before you even take a shot. 

What this means is that you can smoothly transition between the 3 lenses, and it will feel as if you’re only using one lens with a ton of zoom capabilities. In addition, all the shots would be identical between the 3 cameras in terms of color and exposure, unlike the Note 10 which will produce very different results based on the lens that you use. Now that is just incredible! No other smartphone manufacturer has done this before, so this is indeed a key selling feature of this new iPhone.

Also all 3 iPhone camera modules support 4K 60 video recording, unlike the Note 10+ on which just the main lens supports 4K 60 for whatever reason. And you can also preview and I believe even record with all the camera modules on the iPhone at the same time, using 3rd party apps such as FilmicPro.

So, as you can probably tell, the camera is the main selling feature of the iPhone.

Apple is using that insanely powerful A13 processor, which I’ll talk about in a second, to process every frame of the 4K 60 video, add noise reduction, exposure compensation, color correction and more, in real time! And because of this, the iPhone 11 Pro Max has the best video recording capabilities of any smartphone on the market right now. Even the front camera, can now record in 4K 60 fps as well, as opposed to 4K 30 on the Note 10+.

The flash is brighter on the iPhone too, we have a QUAD-LED flash compared to a single flash. The telephoto lens is also better, since it is not only a larger sensor than on the Note but also an f/2.0 aperture rather than the f/2.1 on the Note, so it can let more light onto the sensor. However, the Note does have an f/1.5 aperture main lens which activates in low light and lets more light to the sensor than the f/1.8 aperture main camera on the iPhone does. But they both feature a night mode now, so low light photography is pretty good on both.

We will be doing a full camera comparison between these two so make sure you keep an eye on the channel for more on that.

 

PERFORMANCE

When you talk about the performance of these two phones you have to take into account that even the Apple A12 processor from the iPhone XS that was released a year ago, is still more powerful than the Snapdragon 855, and even the brand new Exynos 9825 that Samsung has just added to their Note 10+ a month ago. But the iPhone 11 Pro Max now comes with the Apple A13 processor which is even more powerful than the A12 was, which means the Pro Max is now 2 years ahead of the Note 10+ in terms of the raw performance.

However, the Note 10+ comes with 12GB of RAM compared to 4GB of RAM on the iPhone 11 Pro Max. There were some reports that the Pro Max might have 6GB but that’s not confirmed as of yet. Now, my Note 10+ can easily keep a ton of apps open in the background, even apps that I opened 3 days ago. My iPhone XS Max on the other hand, which has 4GB of RAM, struggles to keep open apps that I opened just a few hours ago, and I’m pretty certain that this issue will still be present, to a lesser extent of course, even with 6GB of RAM.

So raw performance is much better on the iPhone, RAM management is better on the Note.

Split screen capabilities on the Note mean that it is a great tool for business users

Split screen capabilities on the Note mean that it is a great tool for business users

Now you can have a quantum processor in your smartphone, but that won’t matter at all, if it’s not being used to its full potential and you do have some amazing camera features and a lot of high end games that do take advantage of that extremely powerful processor on the iPhone. However I personally use my phone for either social media or productivity when I’m on the go and the iPhone 11 Pro Max still does not have any split screen support which, for me at least, is a huge deal breaker.

When I went to IFA last week, I had to create a calendar schedule based on some events that I had in a PDF. On the Note it was extremely easy to do that, I just opened both the calendar and the PDF viewer side by side and created the events. If I had the iPhone that would’ve been a pain since I would have had to constantly switch back and forth between the apps and remember what I had in the previous one. Not only that, but you can actually have 3 apps open on the Note at the same time, with one of them being S-Notes or even a video-pop-up and in that case have 4 apps. On the iPhone you’re restricted to 1 app which for me, as a business user means that it is not a Pro device in any way.

With the addition of a monitor, and a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, Samsung phones, including the Note can be used like desktop PCs

With the addition of a monitor, and a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, Samsung phones, including the Note can be used like desktop PCs

Speaking of a Pro Device, you can actually connect your Note to an external display and boot into something called DeX. DeX mode turns your UI that you see on the monitor into something similar to windows. This way you get a full desktop experience with full desktop apps such Chrome and Microsoft Office, and if you attach a wireless keyboard and mouse and there you go, you have now turned your smartphone into a desktop PC experience. Again, this is something that you cannot do with the iPhone.

So overall, even though the iPhone is more powerful than the Note you can do more things with the Note and for me, that’s what matters the most.

SPECIAL FEATURES

But what about Special Features? Do these phones have any unique selling points that the other one does not? Well yes, they both do.

Let’s start with the Note 10 shall we?

We have microSD card support, which lets you expand the storage even more, to up to 512GB of extra storage, fairly inexpensively. We also get 256GB of storage on the baseline model rather than 64GB on the iPhone

Editing in Lightroom is super easy with the S-Pen

Editing in Lightroom is super easy with the S-Pen

Then there’s the S-Pen, the built-in stylus that sits inside your phone which you can of course take it out whenever you want to and use it for sketching, signing documents, or my favourite, photo editing in Lightroom. It’s amazing to have such a precise tool with you for when you want to do any photo editing on the go.

We also have a TOF (time-of-flight) sensor on the back, which is basically what Apple uses on the front. A 3D depth sensing camera. Apple uses this for FaceID and unlocking the phone, while Samsung uses this on the back for improving the portrait mode and also for 3D scanning objects, which doesn’t really work that well, but hey, it’s there.

There is also an in-display fingerprint reader on the Note and probably one of my favourite features, reverse wireless charging. This means that you can place other wireless charging devices like the AirPods 2 or even an iPhone on the back of the Note 10 and it will charge, just like that! This was supposed to be coming to the iPhone 11’s but it got removed in the end.

Always-On is something that has been on androids for a while now, but has only just been added to the Apple Watch Series 5 and not yet on the iPhone

Always-On is something that has been on androids for a while now, but has only just been added to the Apple Watch Series 5 and not yet on the iPhone

And we also get another one of my favourite features on the Note, which is an always on display. Apple still doesn’t have this on the iPhones but they’ve just added it to the Apple Watch Series 5. Now what this does is that it shows you the time and your notifications on the display, all the time. So you dont have to tap it or lift the phone or anything like that, and I absolutely love it! It’s pretty much like having a smart desk clock! Love it!

Finally the Note 10 does have a USB C port compared to the lightning port Apple still has on the iPhone.

But what does the iPhone have that the Note doesnt?

Aside from the obvious FaceID, we do have a 120Hz input rate for the touch screen. However, this is not a 120Hz refresh rate panel, but your taps are registered much more accurately than on the Note. 

Water Resistance is also better on the iPhone, up to 4m for 30 minutes rather than 1.5m for 30 minutes on the Note 10. 

Apple also removed 3D Touch and added an improved haptic engine. They already had the best haptic engine in a smartphone, although the Note was extremely close to the iPhone’s. But now the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s should be even better. 

The iPhone also has a brand new U1 chip with will allow you to very precisely locate other devices that also have the U1 chip with a margin of error of just 5cm. This will especially be useful when Apple releases the Tile like trackers by the end of the year.

But that’s pretty much it in terms of special features that the iPhone has. Really the biggest advantage, or disadvantage, of having an iPhone is the Apple ecosystem. You do get locked into it very quickly but it is indeed the best ecosystem there is. Especially if you buy an Apple Watch and a Mac and AirPods, it’s just amazing how fast and smooth they can all communicate, rather than being completely separate devices. 

 

BATTERY

So with all of those features and processes, how do the batteries compare? And which one will last you longer on a quick charge?

Well on paper the Note does have a larger battery with 4300mAh compared 3500mAh on the iPhone 11 Pro Max. But the Note 10+ also has a larger display which does require more power and lets not forget the S-Pen that’s always charging inside your phone.

They do both support fast charging, up to about 50% in 30 minutes which is good and we finally have a fast charger bundled inside the box of the iPhone which we didn’t have before. However, the Note 10+ can be charged to full in just over an hour, and if you buy an even more powerful 45W charger from Samsung, it can be fully Charged in just 40 minutes which is nuts! 

Now, Apple does claim that this new iPhone 11 Pro Max lasts 5 hours more than the iPhone Xs Max did, so I’m extremely curious to testing that out. Definitely stay tuned for the full in-depth review in a few weeks and I’ll be covering my experience with the battery life in detail.

PRICE

So, so far the iPhone won in the Performance and Camera sections (at least on paper), while the Note has won in the Design, Display and Special Features, and the Battery was a tie for now. But having said all this, how much are they?

The 64GB model of the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the same price as the 256GB model of the Note 10+

The 64GB model of the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the same price as the 256GB model of the Note 10+

Well, the Note 10+ costs $1100 in the US and £1000 in the UK for the baseline 256GB option. The iPhone 11 Pro Max costs $1100, so same price as the Note in the US, but £1150 in the UK, so £150 more. Hower this is only for the baseline 64GB model and not the 256GB variant. The Pro Max, for the 256GB option costs a whopping £1,299 in the UK, which is nearly £300 more than the Note, and $1,249 in the US, so only $150 more.

 

CONCLUSION

So, having said all that, what do I think? Who won?

Well there’s no denying that the Note 10+ is the better phone. It not only offers you more features and higher end components but it also does that at a lower price.

However, iOS is still more polished with better app support and more quality apps in general. And if you’re into the Apple ecosystem already, the iPhone’s the better option for you. I’m really curious to testing out that camera so definitely stay tuned for more videos and articles on the iPhone 11 Pro once it officially released on the 20th of September.

Let us know in the comments below which one you thought was better!