iPhone 11 Pro vs. Galaxy Note 10: Everything a $1,000 phone buys you


Of the three new iPhones Apple announced Tuesday, two of them — the iPhone 11 Pro (starting at $999) and the iPhone 11 Pro Max (starting at $1,099) — break the $1,000 price threshold that Apple itself helped create when it introduced the iPhone X in 2017. Since then, the $1,000 superphone has become the norm for 4G devices, with premium 5G phones like the $1,300 Galaxy S10 5G and Note 10 Plus 5G reaching even higher costs. But what you get for your money doesn’t always line up the same, especially when you compare two phones with the same price.

In the case of the iPhone 11 Pro, its greatest competition are two Samsung phones: the recently launched Galaxy Note 10 ($949) and March’s Galaxy S10 Plus ($1,000). To staunch iPhone fans, these Samsung devices will hardly matter. Rather, their question will come down to which iPhone 11 model to buy. But if you’re asking which high-end phone gives you the best value for money, the trade-offs are interesting and instructive.

Keep in mind that we won’t know which phone is “best” until after testing the iPhone 11 Pro and Note 10 or S10 Plus side-by-side. But we do have a pretty good idea how they’ll compete.

If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest premium phone, the regular iPhone 11 (which updates the iPhone XR) starts at $699, and the Galaxy S10E starts at $750. (If you want to get real low, here are the best phones we’ve tried for under $500.)

Galaxy S10 Plus has the largest OLED screen

For a long time, a bigger screen meant a better screen, but that’s an unfair summation now. If you prefer a smaller display, the iPhone 11 Pro’s 5.8-inch screen still gives you plenty of room to run, without the bulk of a bigger phone.

For pixel density, the Galaxy S10 Plus takes the crown, with 522 pixels per inch versus the iPhone 11 Pro’s 458 ppi and the Note 10’s 401 ppi. That said, these differences are usually negligible to the naked eye. What matters most is how brilliant the clarity, how crisp the detail and how legible the words are in bright light.

iPhone 11 Pro’s triple camera holds a lot of promise

In an Apple first both the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max get a third camera on the back, a 13-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens to go along with the main camera sensor and telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom.

Both Galaxy phones have this too, plus the ability to seamlessly switch among all three lenses. It’s the image quality we’re unsure about. In our previous photo tests, the Galaxy S10 Plus and iPhone XS each have an advantage, depending on the scene. But the iPhone 11 Pro has new sensors that could change the way that it processes pictures.

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