Samsung Galaxy Note 20 has been announced, so we now know what Samsung’s late year power center smartphone looks like.
This is an annual upgrade on the Galaxy Note 10, with some new features and upgrades in a few different areas. It’s also a chance for Samsung to improve the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra from earlier this year, which debuted much of the technology we can see in the new phone.
While the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 was released along with an even more powerful Note 20 Ultra (instead of a Plus model, like the Note 10 Plus), we focus on the standard model in this article and compare it to its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 1
Price and availability
The prices of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 10 are quite easy to compare, as both are only available in the same RAM and storage configuration – that is, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. At least that’s the case in the UK, but in the US you only get 128 GB with the Note 20.
The Galaxy Note 10 costs $ 949 / £ 869 / AU $ 1,499 for it, while the Note 20 is $ 999 / £ 849 (about AU $ 1,550). It is worth noting that the phone in the US is 5G, while in the UK it is 4G only – which may explain why the phone costs more than the Note 10 in the US but even less in the UK, but again it also has less storage in the US.
Keep in mind that 5G contracts often cost more than 4G contracts, so the price of using the phone in the US is likely to be higher than in the UK.
In general, note 20 and note 10 note the same price point, so it is good to compare them spec-for-spec. Even though it is much older, the Galaxy Note 10 is now often discounted.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is quite a bit larger than Galaxy Note 10, and we will move on to why in the section “Display”. The newer phone is 10.1 mm longer, 3.4 mm wider and 0.4 mm thick, and it is also 24 g heavier than the Note 10’s 168g body, but since it is really light for a flagship smartphone, none of the phones are too heavy.
Both phones have glass screens and backs, with aluminum frames, so they will feel equal in the hand.
The handsets also have both USB-C ports for charging and connecting to other devices, but no 3.5mm headphone jacks, so if you want to connect headphones, you must use an adapter or do so wirelessly.
You get an S Pen with both phones, which can be used to mark the screens, and they also have extra features that we will move on to later.
In terms of colors, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is available in bronze, green and gray variants, while the Note 10 came in black, white, red, pink and ‘Aura Glow’, so it was undoubtedly a more vibrant device, while Note 20: s colors are more subtle. The colors you can buy probably depend on your country though.
One of the biggest differences between the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 10 is just that – how big they are. Note 10 has a 6.3-inch screen but Note 20 is noticeably larger at 6.7 inches above.
It’s not the only screen difference – Note 10’s screen curves at the edges, where Note 20s are completely flat. Both have a hole cut for the forward-facing camera in the same place, but in the middle of the screen.
The resolutions for the two screens are quite similar, with the Galaxy Note 10 having a resolution of 2280 x 1080 and the Note 20 beating it by a smaller amount of 2400 x 1080. Because the Note 20 is much larger, but its pixels per range is lower at 393 compared to Note 10’s 401.
Both Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 10 have a 60Hz refresh rate, which makes them different from the Galaxy S20 series and Note 20 Ultra, which both go up to 120Hz.
Camera and battery
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 has a 12MP headwidth, 12MP ultra-width and 64MP telephoto camera, while Note 10 has 12MP main, 16MP ultra wide and 12MP telephoto snapper.
While on paper that can make the Note 20 sound look like a small upgrade (or even a downgrade for the ultra-wide camera), the phone has newer sensors that can ‘see’ more light, so pictures should look better lit. with more vibrant colors.
The newer phone takes advantage of many shooting modes introduced in the Galaxy S20 series, and not available in Note 10. These include ‘Single Take’ which shoots an image on multiple sensors to give you a variety of options, Live Focus Video for background blur effects in video, and super-slow mo photography.
In terms of video, the Galaxy Note 10 can do that at 4K, but the Note 20 can reach 8K, so if you need super-high-definition video, the newer phone is for you.
The forward-facing camera is 10MP on each phone, but as we have said sensor differences mean that the newer handset will probably take better snaps.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has a rather petite 3,500 mAh battery, which is much smaller than Galaxy Note 20’s 4,300 mAh, but by and large both are on the small side. To say that Note 10 should keep you about a day between charges, and we can expect similar results from Note 20.
Both phones are exactly the same in terms of wired charging speeds at 25W, so if all you need is a device that charges quickly, they will both suit your needs.
The handsets also have both wireless charging and reverse wireless charging, so you can use the devices to power up other technical parts as long as they can be charged wirelessly.
Specifications and features
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 packs the state-of-the-art Android chipset that was available at launch, in the Snapdragon 865 Plus, which will provide better processing speeds than the Note 10’s Snapdragon 855. As previously mentioned, it is paired with 8 GB of RAM in both devices.
This is the chipset that the phones will get in the US, but if you are in Europe you will pick up phones with Samsung’s own Exynos chipset, which is unchanged because they are behind the Snapdragon equivalents used. There, the Note 10 has the Exynos 9825 and the Note 20 has the Exynos 990, which is the same as the Galaxy S20 series in Europe.
One thing that is worth noting is that neither the Galaxy Note 10 nor the Note 20 have the option of external storage cards, so you are stuck with 256 GB in the Note 10 and either 128 GB (if you are in the US) or 256 GB (in the UK) for not 20.
Many people buy Samsung Galaxy Note phones to use the S Pen, which they all have. This allows you to scribble or sketch instead of using your finger for various tasks, and it has some other cool tricks as well. For example, you can use the S Pen as a remote control for the camera application, so you can stand back and take a photo without having to touch the phone.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 launched Android 9, while you get Android 10 out of the box on Note 20. Although you can easily upgrade to Android 10 on Note 10, Note 20 will probably hold new upgrades a little longer in the future. Both will probably be upgraded to Android 11 when it is released though.
On both phones, Android is loaded with One UI, Samsung’s customized user interface, which is largely a visual change.
As we already said, while the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 was a 4G single phone, the Note 20 comes in both 4G and 5G versions depending on the country you are in. If you are looking for a faster data connection or a more future-proof gadget, Maybe the 5G phone is better for you, even though it will not be available to users in all countries.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is something of an annual iterative update of its predecessor – there are no major changes, but you get upgrades and adjustments in a few areas.
Note 20 probably has better cameras, a larger battery and a newer chipset – it is also much larger. It does not have the previous screen’s curved screen, nor does it match that phone’s pixels per inch on the screen, but in general it is an upgrade.
While the phones are launched at about the same price points, the Note 10 is now slightly more affordable thanks to a year of reductions and cuts, so it can still be a tempting purchase for people who do not need all the upgrades that the Note 20 provides.
However, given that the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is 5G compatible in some regions, the biggest competitor is probably not the Note 10, but other new 5G phones at similar or cheaper prices. So if you are looking for a 5G phone, you might want to take a look at our list of the best 5G phones instead.