Galaxy S20 Ultra vs. iPhone 11 Pro Max vs. Pixel 4 XL: We compare specs, prices, and features

Just how do the best smartphones from Samsung, Google, and Apple compare? Let's take a look.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer

Last week, Samsung announced a trio of new Galaxy smartphones. The Galaxy S20 lineup is the most capable and the most expensive phones the company has ever released, with a starting price of $999 for the standard S20. 

As I normally do when new phones are released, I thought it would be a good idea to compare a few different models to the Galaxy S20 line. But instead of bundling all three models into one post, I wanted to look at the high-end offering from Samsung, Google, and Apple.

Also: Samsung Galaxy S20 5G and Z Flip: How to buy and where to find the best deals

On paper, there's a clear winner. But without real-world tests and reviews, it's hard to say whether it's worth the asking price.

Here's how the iPhone 11 Pro Max and Google Pixel 4 XL compares to the Galaxy S20 Ultra:

Galaxy S20 UltraPixel 4 XLiPhone 11 Pro Max
Starting price $1,399 $899 $1,099
Operating System Android 10 Android 10 iOS 13
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 A13 Bionic
Memory 12GB or 16GB 6GB 4GB
Storage 128GB or 512GB 64GB or 128GB 64GB, 256GB, 512GB
External Storage microSD up to 1TB No No
Display 120Hz 6.9-inch, Quad HD+ AMOLED, HDR10+ 90Hz 6.3-inch QHD+ OLED, HDR 6.5-inch Super Retina XDR, HDR
Rear Cameras 12MP f/2.2 ultra wide, 108MP f/1.8 wide angle, 48MP 24-degree f/3.5 telephoto, Depth Vision 16MP f/2.4 telephoto, 12.2MP f/1.7 wide angle 12MP f/2.0 telephoto, 12MP f/1.8 wide wide, 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide-angle
Front camera 40MP, 80-degree, f/2.2 8MP f/2.0 12MP f/2.2
Connectivity 5G Sub-6/mmWave, Wi-Fi 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, NFC Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC Wi-Fi 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, UWB
Battery 5,000mAh 3,700mAh 3,969mAh
Charging port USB-C USB-C Lightning
Biometrics Ultrasonic Fingerprint sensor Face Unlock Face ID
Dimensions 166.9 x 76.0 x 8.8mm, 220g 75.1 x 160.4 x 8.2mm 193g 77.8 x 158 x 8.1mm 226g

With the Pixel 4 XL and Galaxy S20 Ultra, you're getting an Android phone with the respective device maker's own proprietary experience and customizations. The Pixel runs a mostly pure Android experience, with features Google has kept close to its Pixel line. With the S20 Ultra, you're getting the latest version of Samsung's One UI, and with the iPhone 11 Pro Max, you're getting iOS 13.

The $899 price for the Pixel 4 XL is the price Google announced at launch, but, currently, Google has it listed for $699 as part of a promotion. If you're more keen on saving some money than having the latest Samsung device, be patient for sales on the S20 Ultra, or take advantage of the promotions we're currently seeing on the Pixel line. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is rarely (if ever) discounted by Apple, but carriers often offer some sort of incentive to switch or trade-in a phone. Otherwise, it's $1,099 is more or less set. 

Leaving the prices out of the equation, it's hard not to immediately pick the S20 Ultra as the best phone, on paper, out of the group. With the Ultra's starting point of 12GB of memory compared to the Pixel 4 XL's 6GB and the and iPhone 11 Pro Max's 4GB, and the ability to add up to 1TB of storage via MicroSD support, the S20 Ultra is nothing short of a powerhouse.

That doesn't even touch on the added 5G connectivity and the four-camera setup that tops out at 108-megapixels for the standard camera that the Ultra has. The S20 Ultra's camera also has up to 100x hybrid zoom feature.

When you add price into the equation and look over the spec sheet, it's clear why the Ultra is the most expensive phone out of the three at $1,399.

It's not included in the chart above, but the Galaxy S20 Plus compares just as favorably to the competition as the S20 Ultra, but with a slightly different camera setup and a slightly smaller display. The S20 Plus starts at $1,199, not much more than the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and should be more than enough phone for consumers and business users alike.

That said, if you're set on getting a top-of-the-line phone, the S20 Ultra is as good -- and expensive -- as it gets right now.

If you're ordering a Galaxy S20 this Friday, which model are you getting and why? Let us know in the comments below. 

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