Samsung introduced the Galaxy S20 Ultra. An ultra high-end smartphone that will compete with the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max at the highest prices on the smartphone market. Is it all worth the cost?
With the Samung Galaxy S20 Ultra, the manufacturer offers a new flagship that pushes the price limits previously proposed by the brand. A particularly interesting new strategy that we analyze in the editorial podcast. The opportunity to compare it to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple’s best smartphone and one of the clearly identified competitors of Samsung’s smartphone.
The first difference between the two smartphones, whatever you say, is the design. Here, the Galaxy S20 Ultra uses a design close to what Samsung previously offered – notably on its Galaxy Note 10 Plus – with a pierced screen at the front, with a camera in the center, but adopts a more significant change at the rear. with this fairly large photo module.
The design of the iPhone 11 Pro Max is well known today: a large notch for Face ID and a back with a play on textures to try an originality on the integration of the photo module. Obviously the Galaxy S20 Ultra will not fail to be mocked for the size of its photo module that some will have fun comparing with hotplates.
Note that the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is much bigger than the iPhone 11 Max, since it measures 167 mm high compared to 158 mm for the iPhone and a little thicker by 0.7 mm. It is however a little narrower in hand: 76 mm against 77.8 for the iPhone and a little lighter by 5 grams.
Screen: fluency is in Samsung's camp
Apple and Samsung are both known for offering the best smartphone screens on each of their flagships. Besides, Samsung is playing a bit against itself since it is the South Korean manufacturer that supplies the tiles for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Obviously, this comparison relates to the characteristics of the two smartphones and it will be necessary to wait for a test to really compare the two devices. We can still say that in both cases we will have something high-flying concerning the display by looking at the characteristics: a nice DCI-P3 spectrum, a pixel density above 450 ppi (509 in the case of Galaxy S20), HDR10 + compatibility and infinite contrasts thanks to AMOLED. Knowing the two brands, the calibration should also be of a very high level.
If, on the display of a static image, the two smartphones will probably be tied at the top, Samsung should stand out on the video display and the fluidity of its interface thanks to a refresh rate at 120 Hz. Apple had everyone agreed with its iPad Pro 120 Hz, but the brand has not yet integrated this technology on its iPhone, which allows Samsung to get ahead in this area.
Software: One UI improves, iOS coughs
For software, we are not going to return to the ancestral debate here: Android or iOS. Today, both operating systems offer a mature and well-known user experience. At Samsung, it is especially important to note the integration of One UI 2.0 in addition to Android 10. This new version mainly incorporates gesture navigation, a new organization of settings and the famous dark mode. Note that Samsung has chosen to integrate Google Duo as the default video calling app here to better compete with Apple's Facetime.
On the Apple side, iOS 13 is the latest revision of the mobile system and is natively embedded on the iPhone 11 Pro. This new version does not fundamentally change the system and brings some new features such as the native dark theme. Problem, iOS 13 still suffers from many bugs, enough for Apple to be thinking about a new way to develop its mobile OS.
However, Apple obliges, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is promised a very long life with many updates in the years to come. It is expected to receive major updates for more years than the Galaxy S20 Ultra, although Samsung is making pretty strides on security updates.
Performance: the Galaxy S20 is ready for 5G
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra integrates an Exynos 990 chip in France, which will have to face the very powerful Apple A13 Bionic of the iPhone 11 Pro Max. There will also have to wait for the tests to issue a final opinion, but the Exynos 990 should not catch up with Apple's chip in raw performance. The Exynos 990 should, however, offer sufficient performance to cover all uses of a high-end smartphone in 2020.
On the other hand, with 5G compatibility and 12 GB of RAM, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is more than armed for the future. The smartphone actually incorporates all the latest technologies, with 128 GB of storage space and seems to lack nothing internally. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 are obviously also in the game.
The photo module of the Galaxy S20 Ultra is its main feature. This is also where we most expect the new flagship from Samsung when the manufacturer was a little losing speed on this aspect against Apple, but also against Huawei and Google. The manufacturer has put the small dishes in the big for this smartphone with a module with 3 cameras and a ToF depth sensor.
- 108 MP wide-angle (f / 1.8) sensor with nona binning
- 48 MP Telephoto Zoom x100 (f / 3.5) sensor
- 12 MP ultra wide angle sensor
The impressive 108 MP sensor is also what enables 8K filming at 30 frames per second. Quite a performance on smartphone while the iPhone 11 Pro Max is satisfied with an already very good 4K at 60 frames per second.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max precisely uses a module with 3 cameras with the same types (wide angle, telephoto and ultra wide angle), but without the debauchery of megapixels: 12 MP for each sensor.
Recall that the definition of a sensor is not synonymous with the quality of the captured photo and that it will be necessary to wait for full tests to know what the Galaxy S20 Ultra offers. In particular, Apple has become master in the simplicity of taking a photo, since everything is managed automatically with very few modes offered, and in the calibration of its sensors so that the passage from one to the other does not change the colorimetry of the captured scene.
TrueDepth camera on the front at Apple
The back cameras are important, but the camera on the front of the smartphone should not be overlooked. Apple still uses its TrueDepth 3D device up front for Face ID with a 12-megapixel photo sensor. At Samsung, we have a single 40 MP sensor that is easier to integrate into the smartphone, but which will not be able to identify the user with as much security.
Battery: Samsung puts the package
The battery issue is a particularly interesting point here. Firstly because it is obviously a key criterion for the purchase of a smartphone. Secondly, because Apple has succeeded for the first time in offering autonomy champions with the iPhone 11 range and more specifically the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Samsung must therefore succeed in doing better with its Galaxy S20, or in any case to offer autonomy at the level of its competitors. This is an even more important point for the Galaxy S20 Ultra where Samsung has gone into an escalation of technologies: 120 Hz screen, 5G and photo module rich in megapixels are all sources of energy consumption. This is probably why we find a very large 5000 mAh battery. It remains to be seen whether this will be enough.
We should also mention the compatibility of the Galaxy S20 Ultra with 45W charging, even if the charger delivered with the phone offers 25W. The iPhone 11 Pro Max comes with an 18W charger, enough to quickly recover the precious battery percentages.
Price: iPhone is cheaper than Galaxy
It is perhaps the first time in the history of Frandroid where a comparison between the flagship of Samsung and that of Apple indicates that the South Korean smartphone is announced more expensive than that of the brand with the apple. This is however the case with its launch price of 1359 euros against 1259 euros for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Samsung can justify this higher price by integrating 5G and 128 GB storage compared to 64 GB for the first iPhone model. We will especially keep in mind that Samsung smartphones are used to seeing their prices melt in a few weeks or months, while iPhone prices are rather fixed over time.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra will be available in France from March 13.
The announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, and its price in particular, has the effect of a small bomb in the smartphone market: for the first time Samsung offers one of the most expensive smartphones on the market for a device at classic format. We exclude here the Galaxy Fold, Motorola Razr and Galaxy Z Flip whose price is explained by the technological innovations of folding screens.
To justify this price, Samsung has put the package in its new smartphone which, on paper, seems to tick all the boxes and be a real gem of technology. Faced with Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro Max, it seems particularly well equipped to offer a first-class user experience. However, all of this remains to be demonstrated, and for that we will have to wait for a full test.
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