Apple iPhone 12 Pro Vs. Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: Head-To-Head

CRN compares one of Apple’s new iPhone 12 models with a leading model from Samsung’s Galaxy lineup.

Face Off

The launch of Apple’s new iPhone 12 models earlier this month was far from a typical iPhone update--wherein Apple upgrades the internal specs but leaves the outward design largely the same. Instead, with the iPhone 12 Pro and the other new models, Apple did a full redesign of the form factor--changing up some iPhone design elements that had been in place for more than a half-decade. Meanwhile, Apple also debuted 5G iPhone support for the first time, alongside a number of other updates both internal and external. “This marks the start of a new era for iPhone,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook, in announcing the iPhone 12 Pro and the three other devices in the iPhone 12 lineup.

In some ways, though, Apple is only playing catch up with its rival Samsung. After all, the Android phone maker had already included 5G, and a design similar to the new one from Apple, in its Galaxy S lineup from earlier this year. That lineup includes the Galaxy S20 Plus, which offers a large OLED screen and numerous other premium features including a pro-level camera and a large battery.

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, and it’s come down to the iPhone vs Galaxy, which of these two phones is the ideal fit for you? In the following slides we compare the new Apple iPhone 12 Pro vs Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Plus on price and specs.

Display And Design

One of the most noticeable updates with the iPhone 12 Pro is that it features a squared-off, flat-edge design. That makes the iPhone 12 Pro a boxier device than the curved-edge iPhones from prior generations--which featured a design that had been in place since the iPhone 6 in 2014. The 2020 redesign also eliminates the border that previously separated the display and the stainless steel enclosure--making the iPhone’s glass flush with the body. Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Plus, meanwhile, features a similar design change from past models in the Galaxy S series. The curved edges are reduced substantially on the S20 Plus, to point that the screen is nearly flat on top, as well.

For the display itself, the iPhone 12 Pro screen measures 6.1 inches (up from 5.8 inches on its predecessor, the iPhone 11 Pro). The iPhone’s display resolution comes in at 460 pixels per inch (ppi)--which is below that of the Galaxy S20 Plus at 511 ppi. The Galaxy S20 Plus screen is also significantly larger than the iPhone 12 Pro’s--nearly 10 percent larger--measuring in at 6.7 inches. Users that prioritize having the maximum screen space may want to give the S20 Plus a serious look. However, if screen quality is what you’re after, neither phone should disappoint thanks to the use of vibrant and colorful OLED screens on both devices.

Another key difference between the two displays is that the Galaxy S20 Plus includes a 120hz refresh rate, which provides a smoother experience in using the display, such as with scrolling web pages and playing games. Rumors that the iPhone 12 Pro was going to get a 120hz refresh rate did not pan out, and Apple has stuck with the standard 60hz refresh rate for the device.

Size And Durability

As part of the iPhone redesign, the dimensions of the iPhone 12 Pro have also changed slightly--making the device a bit taller and thinner than the iPhone 11 Pro. However, the fact that the iPhone 12 Pro did not increase in overall size, even with the expansion of the display from 5.8 inches to 6.1 inches, is definitely notable. The weight of the device has also stayed the same at 0.42 of a pound. By comparison, though, the Galaxy S20 Plus weighs nearly the same as the iPhone 12 Pro--at 0.41 of a pound--even though its display is much larger. And, the S20 Plus is only slightly thicker than the iPhone 12 Pro -- 0.31 of an inch versus 0.29 of an inch thick.

The redesign on the iPhone 12 Pro also improved durability. The display features “Ceramic Shield” material to improve its toughness--making drop protection on the iPhone 12 Pro now 4X better, according to Apple. The device also gets improved water resistance, with protection against a very deep plunge—specifically, into a depth of 6 meters (nearly 20 feet) for 30 minutes. The Galaxy S20 Plus is also water resistant for a half-hour of submersion, though to shallower depths at 1.5 meters (about 5 feet).

Connectivity And Performance

Apple is finally catching up to Samsung in one key area--high-speed 5G connectivity. The iPhone 12 Pro includes 5G support, as does the Galaxy S20 Plus. Samsung, in fact, has been launching 5G smartphones on a regular basis for more than a year. However, it could be argued that Apple waited for the right moment to debut a 5G iPhone. Some carriers are only now expanding 5G service more broadly in the U.S. For instance, Verizon announced availability of its 5G Nationwide service in 1,800 U.S. cities in tandem with the iPhone 12 Pro launch earlier this month.

As far as the type of 5G service goes, both the iPhone 12 Pro and Galaxy S20 Pro support the two major versions of 5G. Both phones come with support for the more widely available version of 5G--known as sub-6GHz--along the higher-speed 5G variant, known as mmWave (which stands for millimeter-wave).

But what about performance? As we typically note in these iPhone vs Galaxy face offs, either phone will be fast enough for many smartphone needs. Apple’s six-core A14 Bionic in the iPhone 12 Pro and Qualcomm’s eight-core Snapdragon 865 are among the elite mobile processors on the market right now. However, for users that want the ultimate performance available on their smartphone, the iPhone 12 Pro is going to be the safer choice. Initial benchmarks reported from Geekbench 5 tests show the iPhone 12 Pro getting single-core results that are nearly double those of the Galaxy S20 Plus. This suggests a noticeable difference in performance on everyday tasks on a smartphone. For more intensive multi-core tasks, the benchmarks suggest much less of a difference--though the iPhone 12 Pro still reportedly gets a 20-percent speed advantage on multi-core over the Galaxy S20 Plus.


Like with their displays and processors, both devices in our comparison feature camera systems that are among the best on the market right now for smartphone cameras.

The iPhone 12 Pro offers a triple rear camera system, with 12 megapixels on each camera—a setup consisting of ultra-wide, wide and telephoto cameras. The wide camera is new, and comes with an improved ƒ/1.6 aperture. Other key capabilities include a new image signal processor for enhancing photo quality, Dolby Vision HDR video recording and a LiDAR scanner (for enabling improved augmented reality and faster autofocus in Night Mode). The device also includes a large sensor on its wide camera--enabling better photos in low light—and up to 10X digital zoom or 4X optical zoom.

For the Galaxy S20 Plus, the rear camera system also has a total of three cameras--though with one difference being that the telephoto camera provides 64 megapixels, for improved detail in images. The device‘s wide-angle and ultra-wide cameras offer 12 megapixels. Enhanced digital zoom is one differentiator, with the Galaxy S20 Plus offering up to 30X digital zoom (or 3X optical zoom). The S20 Plus also features enhanced night mode and a new camera option called “Single Take”--which removes the need to decide which mode to use in the spur of the moment. Single Take automatically captures photos and videos using several modes at once, and lets users choose what they want later from a gallery of options.

Battery Life And Storage

On battery life, Apple promises up to 17 hours of video playback for the iPhone 12 Pro. Samsung doesn’t provide an estimate on potential hours of usage for the Galaxy S20 Plus—instead pointing to the device’s large battery size, of 4,500 mAh. That’s far bigger than the battery in the iPhone 12 Pro, which reportedly has a 2,815 mAh battery.

For storage, the base model Galaxy S20 Plus is configured with 128 GB, and there are also options for 256 GB or 512 GB of internal storage. The phone includes a microSD slot that supports up to 1 TB of additional storage, as well. The iPhone 12 Pro offers choices between configurations with 128 GB, 256 GB or 512 GB of internal storage. It’s also worth noting that the iPhone 11 Pro had actually included half as much storage at the base level—64 GB.

Other Details

For the iPhone 12 Pro, Apple is introducing support for magnetically attachable MagSafe accessories. The accessories will be able to snap onto the back of the phone, as another way to provide wireless charging.

What Apple isn’t providing, however, are some of the once-standard accessories in the box with the iPhone 12 Pro. Omitted this time are the EarPods wired headphones and the power adapter plug.

For the Galaxy S20 Plus, other features include access to Samsung’s DeX Android desktop. The phone also has support for Network Storage, so that corporate users can access their own servers when saving files (and avoid the use of third-party cloud services).

Price And Availability

Remember when we mentioned that Apple doubled the storage on the base model iPhone 12 Pro? That’s actually a key detail when assessing the pricing of the iPhone 12 Pro vs the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus. The reason being, now the entry-level models of both phones have an identical amount of internal storage, at 128 GB. And that makes a price comparison a bit easier.

So, even with Apple’s reputation for producing high-priced devices, the iPhone 12 Pro price is easily the more affordable option in our comparison. Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro price starts at $999--vs the starting Galaxy S20 Plus price of $1,199.99 for an unlocked model. With that extra $200 from an iPhone 12 Pro purchase, you could even afford a pair of AirPods to make up for the lack of headphones in the box.

In terms of availability, Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro starts shipping today, Oct. 23.