Apple’s best vs Samsung’s best. The default phones of their respective operating systems. The iPhone 12 Pro that was just released, versus the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, released back in August. In the past, Apple always pulled ahead. However, I think Samsung is poised to take over this year. So, let’s find out which phone you should get.

*This is comparing this international variant of the Note 20 Ultra (the one you get in Singapore).

Preliminary Verdict

Before we start this epic battle, I would like to make some predictions. Apple will beat Samsung in raw speed and power, and Samsung will beat Apple in display quality and creature comforts. Samsung has made big improvements this year, and it may be enough to take the crown.

Speed and Power

The A14 Bionic (Apple) vs the Exynos 990 (Samsung). The A14 Bionic in the iPhone is more powerful and efficient. Apple proves yet again that no one can beat its processors. However, I highly doubt anyone will notice the difference between both phones. Both are expected to fly through daily tasks with no lag or stutter. A win is a win though, and this first round goes to Apple.

Source: Apple

Winner: iPhone 12 Pro Max | It just edges out the Note here.


In this round, there is absolutely no contest. The Note 20 Ultra takes the win here easily. While Apple made a commendable effort on the 12 Pro, it just cannot hold a candle to the Note. Apple is still using the notched display, a design we first saw 3 Years Ago. Its OLED panel is good, but Samsung’s display magic is still unbeatable. The Note has a hole-punch, 120hz AMOLED panel. It gives punchy colours, deep blacks and high frame rates, making the phone feel even snappier than it already is. This is easily the best display on the market again, and Samsung takes the second-round win.

Source: Samsung

Winner: Note 20 Ultra | There is no contest, the Note has the best display in any phone.


I’m predicting both phones to have good battery life. However, the iPhone will pull ahead here, given that it has the more power efficient chip and software. However, it only beats the Note marginally, and both phones will give you all day battery life. The 12 Pro hits back in round three.

Source: Apple

Winner: iPhone 12 Pro | Better efficiency means better battery life.


Samsung made improvements to its cameras this year and is looking to give the 12 Pro a hard fight. Spoiler alert: it does. The Note 20 produces sharp, detailed photos with excellent dynamic range. I daresay it is on par with the 12 Pro. The 12 Pro also produces excellent photos and is easily one of the best shooters on the market.

However, Samsung still cannot edge out the video performance of Apple. It is the best Android video camera. However, Apple’s video prowess is still better, even if its just by a little bit. As such, Apple takes another win here.

Source: Apple

Winner: iPhone 12 Pro Max | Apple’s video performance pulls it barely ahead.

Everything Else

This is where things get messy, so I’ll break it down into two parts: Ecosystem and Creature Comforts.

Apple has the better ecosystem. Samsung’s one is no slouch, don’t get me wrong, but Apple’s is much better developed and more seamless. Samsung has come a long way, and Dex (smartphone used as a desktop) is very impressive. However, Apple just edges it out slightly and gives a more polished experience.

However, if we’re talking solely about the phone, that’s where the 12 Pro’s problems begin. Samsung has jam packed the Note with so many extras that the 12 Pro looks boring. The S-Pen sees a massive update, making it more responsive and versatile. The Notes app is incredible, and Dex allows you to use your phone as a desktop without a dock. There is split screen multi-tasking, and the curved screen has a drawer for quick functions. Meanwhile, all the 12 Pro has are magnets that can be used to magnetically dock a wireless charger. This is excellent design – I don’t mean to downplay it – but when comparing it to the Note 20’s feature set, I wish Apple could have done something more.

Winner: Note 20 Ultra | It has way more extra features, and an ecosystem that’s no slouch.

Final Verdict

The Note 20 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro Max trade blow for blow, and this is a very competitive battle. To sum up, the iPhone has the better processor and camera, while the Samsung has the better display and extra features. However, this is a versus battle, and there can only be one winner.

My winner is: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The Note is S$100 cheaper, and I just don’t think spending the premium is worth it. This is especially when I think the pros are much better than the cons on the Note. Battery life doesn’t bother me given I charge my phone every night, and both phones will provide all-day battery life. Furthermore, the extra features in the Note push it ahead of the iPhone for me. I think a phone at this price should be able to do more, and the iPhone just falls short compared to the Samsung.

Source: Samsung

In conclusion, I will choose the Note 20 Ultra. It has the better display, more extra features and has comparable performance, cameras and battery life. It is also cheaper than the iPhone. Finally, there is blood on the crown, and Apple has lost this battle, even if it’s by a small margin.

Overall Winner: Note 20 Ultra | You’ll get more for your money than the iPhone.

The Samsung Note 20 Ultra is available starting at S$1698 and the iPhone 12 Pro available (for pre-order) starting at S$1799 in Singapore as of writing.

For similar articles, check out our article discussing the different pros and cons of the three smartphone giants: Apple, Samsung and Google- Which Phone Should I buy?

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