Apple iPhone XS Max vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 10+: how do the flagships compare?

Samsung’s new range-topping smartphone will hit the shelves next week


The battle for the coveted top spot of the flagship smartphone market has been reignited with the unveiling of Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+.

Revealed at a Galaxy Unpacked event in New York last Wednesday, the Galaxy Note 10 boasts an impressive edge-to-edge display, where the front-facing camera occupies a tiny portion of the panel, and a trio of rear-facing cameras.

But tech companies are well aware that one company has a firm grip on the premium market - and that’s Apple.

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Its latest offering, the iPhone XS, is its most advanced smartphone to date and is still considered one of the best devices a year after its release.

To see which firm has the best flagship, we’ll be comparing Apple’s top-spec XS Max against the range-topping Galaxy Note 10+.


iPhone XS Max

(Image credit: Apple)

As the Note 10+ is the largest and most advanced phone Samsung offers in the West, it comes as little surprise that the new handsets are among the most expensive smartphones on sale.

Base-spec Note 10+ models come with 256GB of storage and cost £999. Buyers can upgrade their phone to a 5G version, capable of connecting to the new generation of ultra-fast mobile networks, by paying an extra £100.

There’s also the chance to expand the internal storage of 5G models from 256GB to 512GB, upping the price from £1,099 to £1,199.

Even though Samsung’s phones are no longer the budget devices they once were, they’re still notably cheaper than Apple’s handsets.

The entry-level XS Max, with 64GB of storage, kicks off at £1,099. That’s followed by the 256GB and 512GB versions, which carry price tags of £1,249 and £1,449 respectively.

It’s also worth noting that the iPhone XS Max isn’t compatible with 5G networks, giving the Galaxy Note 10+ the advantage in this category.

Winner: Note 10+


On to the display specs, which are as follows:

  • iPhone XS Max - 6.5in OLED display with a resolution of 2688x1242
  • Galaxy Note 10+ - 6.8in AMOLED with 3040x1440 resolution

The Galaxy Note 10+ comes with Samsung’s latest “Infinity-O” display, which is essentially “an all-screen device with a small punch-out circle to house the front camera”, says Engadget. The company first employed the tech on the S10 and S10+, although those devices had the camera holes on the top right-hand side of the screen.

The display is capable of playing HDR10+ content, which boosts contrast levels for more realistic lighting effects, resulting in a panel that offers “rich” colours with a “wide dynamic range”, the site notes. True, Samsung’s displays are typically up there with the very best in class, but the Note 10+ screen is still impressive.

Apple’s handset, meanwhile, “has an excellent screen”, says Stuff, and it argues that the Note 10+’s panel should have “more sharpness and overall pop”.

While the Note 10+’s front-facing camera takes up less screen space than the XS Max’s, the tech site claims that the design choice has come at the expense of security. The Note 10+ is equipped with a 2D facial-recognition system, but the XS Max gets a more accurate 3D sensor.

That being said, the Note 10+ comes with a fingerprint scanner that’s tucked beneath the screen, a feature that doesn’t appear on the XS Max - handing this round to the Samsung.

Winner: Note 10+



Both models come with complex, multi-lens camera systems. Here’s how they stack-up against each other:

  • iPhone XS Max - 12-megapixel wide-angle lens, 12-megapixel telephoto and 3D depth mode
  • Galaxy Note 10+ - 12-megapixel dual-aperture lens, 16-megapixel wide-angle, 12-megapixel telephoto and 3D depth sensor

The Galaxy Note 10+ boasts a quad-camera system, allowing users to switch between different lenses in the camera app, according to CNet. There’s also a 3D depth sensor, exclusive to the Note 10+, which lets users blur the background of videos in portrait mode.

A similar system is available on the Galaxy S10 5G. However, the tech site claims the feature “has a tendency to blur hair, legs, hands and other appendages around the edges.” Samsung says it’s improved the feature on the Note 10+, a statement the tech site agrees with.

iPhone XS Max users get two lenses, two down on the Note 10+, but it’s a remarkably impressive system. Digital Trends ranks the iPhone’s camera highly, saying that it takes “great shots” and is among the very best on the market.

As there are a few question marks over the Note 10+’s depth of field effects, we’ll be handing the victory to the iPhone XS Max in this round. That could change when the critics deliver their final verdicts on the Note 10+, though.

Winner: iPhone XS Max (for now)


Samsung Galaxy Note 10 range

(Image credit: Samsung)

On paper, the Note 10+ comes out on top. Samsung’s new flagship has had an extra year in development over its iPhone rival and initial impressions show that the South Korean tech giant has used that time wisely.

Though some questions remain, such as the capabilities of the new camera, Samsung seems to be on to winner with the Note 10+ and is sure to give the iPhone XS Max a run for its money.

But Apple is expected to launch its successor to the XS Max next month and it’s rumoured to come with a raft of new features that should put it back at least on level pegging with the Note 10+.

For now, though, it’s South Korea that leads California in the battle of the flagships.

Winner: Note 10+ (for now)

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