With Apple’s next big launch event just weeks away, the iPhone already faces some fierce competition from its biggest rival. Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note 10 phones debuted this month with a nearly bezel-less and almost notch-free display, an in-screen fingerprint scanner, 3D camera sensors on the back of the Note 10 Plus and 5G connectivity. These features are still rumored to take months, if not years, to arrive on the iPhone. We can’t know for sure what Apple has in store for us in September, but in the meantime, here’s a look at how the Galaxy Note 10’s features stack up against what we expect to see in the upcoming iPhone 11, based on the most plausible rumors to date.
Design: Hole-punch vs. notch
For the first time ever, Samsung is offering two different sizes of the Note: the 6.3-inch Note 10, and the larger 6.8-inch Note 10 Plus. Both have an edge-to-edge AMOLED display that spans nearly the entire front of the phone, and a tiny circular hole at the top for the front camera. The phones have a glass back and come in four different iridescent colors: Aura White, Aura Black, Aura Glow and Aura Blue (exclusive to the Note 10 Plus). There’s also Aura Pink available in the UK.
Save for a few minor tweaks, the iPhone 11 is rumored to have the same design as its predecessors, which includes three screen options: two phones with 5.8- and 6.5-inch OLED displays, and a 6.1-inch version with an LCD display. The bezels are thicker than those of the Note, and the notch is larger, too. Apple is rumored to be eventually shrinking the size of the notch or removing it altogether, but that’s not speculated to happen until at least 2020. The 2019 iPhones are expected to have glass backs and come in silver, space gray or gold like the XS and XS Max. Based on some leaks, there might be a new lilac and green option for the next XR.
Features: A ‘magic’ stylus and 5G on the Note
The Note and the iPhone use different forms of biometric identification for user authentication. The Note 10 and the Note 10 Plus have an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor embedded in the screen, while the iPhone uses Face ID, a facial recognition feature that uses the depth-sensing front camera to scan your face. You also have the option to use your face to unlock the Note, but it only uses the traditional selfie camera, and isn’t as secure as Apple’s version.
There are rumors that Apple was looking into in-screen fingerprint scanners for the iPhone 11, but the latest report from long-time Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo suggested that Apple needs at least 18 more months to iron out the kinks and bring this Face ID/Touch ID iPhone hybrid to market.
The other big difference between the Note and the iPhone is the stylus. The Note 10 phones come with the signature S Pen stylus, which can be used for note taking, remote camera activation, gesture controls and other features. Based on some rumors, there’s a slight possibility that the next iPhones will be compatible with the Apple Pencil (Apple’s stylus), but the Pencil would likely be sold separately for an additional $99 or so, which is what the first-generation Apple Pencil goes for.
If you’re still rocking a pair of wired earphones, neither one of these phones will work. The Note 10 is Samsung’s first high-end phone to eliminate the headphone jack. The iPhone 6S was the last iPhone to include a headphone jack, in 2015, and we’re not expecting a comeback anytime soon.
Camera: Are four cameras better than three?
The camera is arguably one of the most controversial features on the iPhone 11 because of the massive bump. The phone is anticipated to have a three-camera array (wide-angle, telephoto and a new ultra wide-angle lens) enclosed in a large square that protrudes from the back of the phone. Apple will likely keep a similar setup as the current 7-megapixel TrueDepth camera on the front of the phone.
The Note 10 has triple rear cameras too, but the lenses are stacked vertically. It has a 16-megapixel wide-angle lens with dual aperture that adapts to different lighting conditions, a 12-megapixel telephoto and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle. On the front is a standard, non-depth-sensing 10-megapixel camera. The Note 10 Plus also includes a new time-of-flight depth-sensing camera on the back, for 3D scanning and a new AR doodle feature. The iPhone is rumored to have a depth-sensing camera on its back, but not until 2020.
Both phones can take portraits with a blurred background effect, but the Note can also do this with video. We’ll have to wait and see if Apple rolls out portrait mode video on the iPhone 11 as well, which would be welcomed considering the iPhone’s superior video quality in previous phones. And they both have native photo- and video-editing tools in the camera app once iOS 13 rolls out for the iPhone.
Specs and camera bump aside though, there’s still a lot Apple could do with software to improve image quality, so we’ll have to wait and test both phones to determine a winner.
Software: Android Pie vs. iOS 13
We’re not expecting many surprises when it comes to software. Apple has already given us a preview of all the new features we can expect in the next iPhone with iOS 13, like dark mode and video editing. The Note 10 has the latest flavor of Android Pie with Samsung’s own One UI layered on top. A system-wide dark mode is set to arrive with the update to Android Q, but given that Pixel phones will be the first to debut with the final version of Android Q out of the box, it’s probable that the Note won’t get updated to the OS until some time next year.
The Note lets you choose between Bixby or Google Assistant as your voice assistant. Apple will stick to Siri, though you can download Google Assistant for your iPhone. Neither one is perfect at this point, but Google’s assistant might be the strongest contender.
Performance and connectivity
It’s impossible to compare performance before we get our hands on both of these phones and run some speed tests, so we’ll have to wait and see how this category pans out. The only thing we know for certain is that the Note 10 is equipped with an octa-core Snapdragon 855 processor (or a Samsung Exynos 9825 processor in some markets) and 8GB of RAM, while the Note 10 Plus has 12GB of RAM. The iPhone 11 is expected to have Apple’s new A13 chip.
The Note 10 also has a 5G model that’s available first on Verizon for $1,300. The iPhone isn’t expected to get 5G connectivity until 2020.
Battery life and charging
Early rumors suggested that the 2019 iPhones might switch to USB-C like last year’s iPad Pros, but as of now, the iPhone 11 is expected to stick to Apple’s Lightning port. What’s still up in the air is whether or not Apple will finally include the fast-charging USB-C to Lightning cable with its new phones.
The Note 10 charges via USB-C and will likely include the fast charger in the box, as it has done in the past (we’ll confirm as soon as we get our hands on it).
Both will have wireless charging, but the Note 10 has wireless PowerShare like the Galaxy S10 before it, which directly powers other devices and accessories. Reverse wireless charging on the iPhone 11 is only hearsay at this point.
The regular Note 10 (256GB) costs $949 in the US and the larger Note 10 Plus (256GB) starts at $1,099. It also includes an SD card slot in case you want to add more storage.
Apple is expected to keep its current pricing tier, although storage options may vary. That would make the XS sequel $999, the XS Max sequel would start at $1,099 and the future 11R would likely stay the same at $749. None of them are expected to have expandable storage.
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