Galaxy Note 20 vs Note 20 Ultra vs S20 Plus vs iPhone 11 Pro: Camera comparison

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The Galaxy Note 20 quietly exists in the shadow of the more glamorous Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. This year, Samsung made the difference between the two Note devices even bigger by giving the Note 20 a flat display and a plastic back, to name a couple. The camera system was also downgraded, likely to keep the price of the phone to “just” $1,000. Gone is the 108MP sensor, and the 5X optical zoom follows suit.
What the Note 20 got instead is basically the Galaxy S20+ cameras apart from the depth sensor, which is honestly no big deal. But is there a difference in the camera performance, or is the Note 20 just a less-premium-built Galaxy S20+ with an S Pen? We decided to find out! To give a better context, we added a couple more contenders to the mix: the Note 20 Ultra and one of Apple’s best phones, the iPhone 11 Pro.
Which of these phones has the best camera? Find out below!

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Final average score:

  • Galaxy Note 20  — 8.3
  • Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 8.6
  • Galaxy S20+ — 8.2
  • iPhone 11 Pro — 8.5
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the winner of this camera comparison and if you look at all the photos, you’ll see exactly why. It’s hovering around the iPhone 11 Pro in most situations but trumps it when it comes to zoom. After figuring out low-light photography, manufacturers switched to zoom capabilities for their next race and the iPhones are lagging behind big time. If Apple doesn’t address it with the upcoming iPhone 12 models, the gap will only get bigger. Slightly worse HDR and paler skin tones is something most users can easily accept, but settling for zoom photos that look like garbage compared to other phones is unacceptable if you want to have the best camera phone. Luckily for the iPhone, we only included one zoom photo in this comparison.

With their hardware and software similarities, the Note 20 and the S20+ ended up with an almost identical score that could easily go in favor of the S20+ with another set of samples. In short, if you’re choosing between the two, the camera won’t be the deciding factor. Both are just 0.4 below the winner, which should tell you enough about how close the camera performance is overall. 

Scene 1: The Ship

This first scene is a pretty easy one as you can tell by the fact that all four pictures look almost identical. Which means we have to ramp up our nitpickiness. 

The sky plays a major role in this scene and after a careful examination, the one on the iPhone 11 Pro photo looks best. There’s more contrast between the brighter part of the clouds and their dark underbelly. They look as if they’re about to pop out of the frame.

The Note 20 Ultra takes the second place with a picture that has more detail in the body of the ship. The Note 20 and S20+ share the third place with photos that are hard to tell apart if it wasn’t for the moving clouds.

Galaxy Note 20 — 8 
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 8.5
Galaxy S20+ — 8
iPhone 11 Pro — 9

Scene 2: Seaside Restaurants

This scene highlights even better what we mentioned above. For the most part, the photos look similar, but the iPhone’s HDR capabilities put it a step ahead of the Samsungs. The stormy clouds are much more dramatic on the iPhone photo, while those that are still hit by the sun rays are puffy and well-defined where on the other shots you see smudginess.

Here, we’re hard-pressed to see any difference among the Galaxy lineup that’s worth giving or taking points away, so they get the same score.

Galaxy Note 20 — 8
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 8
Galaxy S20+ — 8
iPhone 11 Pro — 9

Scene 3: ‘Sup dude

You already know what the comments regarding the sky will be, as its fairly obvious the iPhone nails that part. So, let’s see what else is going on in this scene. The Samsungs seem to have captured more details on the subject of the photo, with the Note 20 performing slightly worse than the other two. The difference isn’t that stark, however, mostly noticeable only after a thorough examination. The Note 20 is also a step behind its cousins when it comes to the background, with the trees lacking sharpness. 

Galaxy Note 20 — 8
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 8.5
Galaxy S20+ — 8.5
iPhone 11 Pro — 9

Scene 4: The Sundial

This time around, the difference in the clouds isn’t as big, but all three of the photos taken by Samsung phones are visibly darker than the iPhone photo. From the Galaxy trio, the S20+ has botched the grass a bit, while the Note 20 Ultra appears to have the best sharpness across the board. The Note 20 sits somewhere in-between but slightly closer to its Ultra counterpart.

Galaxy Note 20 — 8
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 8.5
Galaxy S20+ — 7.5
iPhone 11 Pro — 9

Scene 5: Flower Garden

Time for our magnifying glass to come into play once more. The first thing we notice is that the red flowers in the upper-left quadrant of the photo are a bit too vibrant in the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra photo and look almost as if they’re glowing. The other two Galaxy phones have done a better job, but it’s the iPhone that has them totally under control with the individual flowers clearly distinguishable. The story is similar for the flowers in the foreground as well.

Looking towards the back, the bark of the trees lacks detail in the Note 20 photo, while the rest have done a great job capturing that element as well. 

Galaxy Note 20 — 8
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 8.5
Galaxy S20+ — 8.5
iPhone 11 Pro — 9

Scene 6: Ultra-wide-angle comparison

Switching to the ultra-wide cameras doesn’t make our job much easier. The three galaxy photos are practically identical. Any difference we can see isn’t worth even half a point of difference. Meanwhile, the iPhone’s ultra-wide camera is clearly not as good at HDR as its main one and some of the clouds look like cutouts. 

Galaxy Note 20 — 9
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 9 
Galaxy S20+ — 9
iPhone 11 Pro — 8

Scene 7: Zoom comparison

The zoom comparison finally gives us a clear winner and a clear loser. We capped the zoom at 10x to give the iPhone a fighting chance but that didn’t really help. Unsurprisingly the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is teaching the rest a lesson at how zoom photos are done. Its 10x photo is sharp, detailed and perfectly usable for social media or even to print out. Also unsurprisingly, the Note 20 and the S20+ took almost identical photos. They look respectable with good detail and the name of the ship still readable without any effort.

And lastly, we have the iPhone 11 Pro 10x photo, which is just a mess. You can barely even tell there’s a ship in it, let alone make out any of its features. With that quality, the only thing this photo is missing is the Loch Ness Monster poking out of the water.

Galaxy Note 20 — 8.5
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 9.5
Galaxy S20+ — 8.5
iPhone 11 Pro — 5

Scene 8: Doggo in the Dark

Another round that’s extremely hard to judge. Although it’s not the brightest one, the photo from the iPhone 11 Pro looks best overall. The two Notes have handled the glowing signs in the background the best, but the Ultra has lost detail in the pavement. Both aren’t important enough in this scenario to make an impact on the score, however. 

Galaxy Note 20 — 8.5
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 8.5
Galaxy S20+ — 8.5
iPhone 11 Pro — 9

Scene 9: Antiques & Gold Store

Awesome showing from all phones in this scene. Finding differences is hard but the crown on top of the building gives the Galaxy bunch a slight edge over the iPhone. That’s how good high-end phones have gotten with night mode. 

Galaxy Note 20 — 9
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 9
Galaxy S20+ — 9
iPhone 11 Pro — 8.5

Scene 10: Group Selfie

Time to switch to the front-facing cameras and see how good the selfies are. The Note 20 and the Note 20 Ultra have taken essentially the same picture, which is to be expected. It’s pretty good but there’s a bit more to be desired from the HDR. The Galaxy S20+ is a step below the Note duo due to the overblown clouds in the background.

The iPhone 11 Pro swoops in and takes the first place once again thanks not only to its superior HDR but also better skin tones that make the picture more appealing than those from the Galaxy phones.

Galaxy Note 20 — 8.5
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 8.5
Galaxy S20+ — 8
iPhone 11 Pro — 9

Scene 11: Portrait Selfie

Excellent portrait selfies from all of our contestants. The hat makes it easier for the phones to separate the background from the head, but if we look closer, we notice that some phones did a better job than others. The Note 20 did the worst job with some artifacts around the ears and a chunk of the strap blurred as part of the background.

The S20 Plus and the Note 20 Ultra come second together, right after the iPhone 11 Pro, which ones again showcases how skin should look in pictures.

Galaxy Note 20 — 8
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 8.5
Galaxy S20+ — 8.5
iPhone 11 Pro — 9

Scene 12: Night Selfie

We can’t finish this comparison without including night-time selfies. And again, the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are performing equally well, the difference being that this time, they share the top spot. Yes, the iPhone 11 Pro photo is a bit too dark. And the Galaxy S20+ night selfie? Well… let’s just say it’s not how a selfie from a $1,000+ phone should look like.

Galaxy Note 20 — 8.5
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — 8.5
Galaxy S20+ — 7
iPhone 11 Pro — 8

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