iPhone 12 Pro vs Galaxy S20 Plus: Which should you buy?

Design Copy
Design Copy (Image credit: iMore)

They say that the middle child is easily overlooked, but that is not the case with the iPhone 12 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+. Both of these smartphones offer state-of-the-art features that are not outshined by their bigger siblings. The iPhone 12 Pro has an incredible camera with new low-light and video settings that blow other smartphone cameras out of the water. However, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ wins on zoom and offers a beautiful display that gamers will love. It's a tough call, so let's look at the facts you need to make a decision.

iPhone 12 Pro vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: Key differences

Iphone 12 Vs Galaxy S20 Differences Copy

Iphone 12 Vs Galaxy S20 Differences Copy (Image credit: iMore)

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20+ are considered a sort of middle child in each brand's flagship smartphone lineup. Despite this similarity, they are very different.

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Header Cell - Column 0 iPhone 12 ProGalaxy S20+
DesignCeramic Shield front + Glass back and aluminum designGlass front (Gorilla Glass 6), glass back (Gorilla Glass 6), aluminum frame
ColorsSilver, Graphite, Gold, Pacific BlueCosmic Grey, Cosmic Black, Cloud Pink
Display6.1‑inch OLED display, 60Hz refresh rate6.7-inch AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate
CameraTriple lens 12-megapixel wide and 12MP ultra-wide rear, 12MP TrueDepth frontTriple lens 64MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 3x hybrid zoom
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512 GB + 4GB RAM128GB, 512GB + 12GB RAM
Battery2,815mAh, Fast charging (20W charger sold separately), Qi wireless charging4,500mAh, 25W fast charging, Qi wireless charging
IP ratingIP68IP68
Headphone jackNoneNone
Size and weight5.78 x 2.81 x 0.29 inches, 164g6.37 x 2.90 x 0.31 in, 186g
SoftwareiOS 14Android 11, Oxygen 11

The most noticeable of these is the size difference; the Galaxy S20+ is 6.7 inches to the iPhone 12 Pro's 6.1 inches. That's not the only way the two handsets differ; check out the specs below.

iPhone 12 Pro vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: Samsung brings the display

Right off the bat, we can see that the Galaxy S20+ display is bigger, brighter, and more advanced than the iPhone 12 Pro. This is a bigger screen to begin with (6.7 inches), and the AMOLED screen is a bit brighter with slightly more vivid colors. While these colors might not be reproduced as accurately on the Galaxy, it is pretty to look at. What really sets it apart is a 120Hz refresh rate that will make video playback and gameplay smoother and more streamlined than the iPhone 12 Pro, which sports a 60Hz refresh rate.

Now, the iPhone 12 Pro does boast 2532 x 1170 pixels on its OLED display, which is nothing to sneeze at. While it doesn't quite measure up to the brighter, smoother graphics on the Galaxy, the iPhone 12 display is pretty dang impressive in its own right.

The Galaxy S20+ display is bigger, brighter, and more advanced than the iPhone 12 Pro, but the iPhone offers an attractive look and more durable screen.

As for appearance and construction, the iPhone 12 Pro has a newly designed squared shape that is refreshing to behold compared to all the curved surfaces of other smartphones. The aluminum frame houses a new ceramic shield screen that is four times as durable as all the iPhone screens that came before it. This also makes it more durable and shatterproof than the Gorilla Glass screen you'll see on the Galaxy S20+.

While these two smartphones are both rated at a water resistance of IP68, the iPhone can actually be submerged to a depth of 20 feet and stay under for an entire hour. The Galaxy S20+ can only be submerged up to half that depth and timeframe. Both smartphones are available in four smart colors, so choosing your design preference will depend mostly on your personal taste. The main takeaway here is that the iPhone is more durable and waterproof, but the Galaxy has better graphics.

iPhone 12 Pro vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: That A14 Bionic chip, though

Iphone12 Galaxys20 Performance

Iphone12 Galaxys20 Performance (Image credit: iMore)

Samsung may have won on design, but Apple wins on overall performance. The new A14 Bionic chip is the fastest smartphone chip there is, and it blazes through everyday activities with flawless speed. The same holds true with heavier operations like games. You won't find an activity that this chip can't handle. The Samsung Galaxy S20+ does rock the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, which is certainly no slacker as far as chips go. Since the Galaxy also has 12GB of RAM — triple that of the iPhone 12 Pro — it can certainly perform quickly under pressure. It might not be as lightning fast as the iPhone, but the Galaxy S20+ is not far behind.

Samsung may have won on design, but Apple wins on overall performance. The new A14 Bionic chip is the fastest smartphone chip there is.

When it comes to battery life, the Samsung Galaxy S20+ presents a strange dichotomy. This phone has a huge 4,000mAh battery, much larger than the 2,815mAh battery in the iPhone 12 Pro. Despite this fact, the Galaxy can only give you 13 hours of video playback on one charge, while the iPhone can do a full 17 hours. The reason for this is simple — the 120Hz refresh rate on the Galaxy sucks down battery like there's no tomorrow. If this presents a big problem, you can dial down the refresh rate in settings, but then you're losing one of the major advantages of this smartphone.

For both speed and battery life, the iPhone 12 Pro has a slight edge over the Samsung Galaxy S20+. Regardless, either handset will perform on a level that is unmatched among smartphones.

iPhone 12 Pro vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: Lighting versus zoom

Iphone 12 Versus Galaxy S20 Camera Copy

Iphone 12 Versus Galaxy S20 Camera Copy (Image credit: iMore)

Smartphone photographers can't go wrong with either of these models when it comes to the camera. The two models do offer different strengths, however. Both the iPhone 12 Pro and the Galaxy S20+ offer high-quality photography by way of a multiple-lens 12MP camera on the iPhone 12 and a 64MP camera on the Galaxy S20+. While the 64MP camera can provide a lot of detail, it also creates huge file sizes, so the average user would likely prefer the 12MP photo setting. One big differentiator between the two cameras is zoom.

The latest batch of Samsung smartphones has made enormous progress with zoom capabilities. With 3X optical zoom and 30X digital zoom, you won't find any smartphone that can perform equally in this arena. The optical zoom will retain the details and clarity of 12MP or 64MP resolution. Of course, the digital zoom will sacrifice quality as you continue to zoom in past the optical 3X mark, but it is impressive nonetheless. In comparison, the iPhone 12 Pro has 2.5 optical zoom and 10X digital zoom. So if you really enjoy some extreme zoom-in situations, you will probably prefer the Galaxy camera despite the loss of quality.

On the other hand, the iPhone 12 Pro has that LiDAR sensor that helps the lens to suck in light quickly, brightening up images in low-light situations automatically. The result is that evening, indoor, and nighttime photos are brighter and clearer than the same photos taken with the Galaxy S20+. In normal lighting, the two cameras offer a very similar high-quality photo.

Now, if you're talking video quality, both phones offer 4K recording, but the iPhone 12 Pro will record Dolby Vision HDR content that can be edited right on your device. This is a big deal for videographers and may be enough to tip the scales in the iPhone's favor. In the end, your camera preference will depend on which aspect is more important to you — big zoom or low-light photography and DolbyVision video.

iPhone 12 Pro vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: iPhone 12 Pro is more affordable or is it?

If you compare the baseline price point between these two handsets, the iPhone 12 Pro is slightly less expensive at $999, as opposed to $1,050 for the Galaxy S20+. It seems like, for once, the iPhone 12 Pro is more affordable. But wait.

Let's look at what comes in the box! The Galaxy S20+ comes in a handy package that includes a 25W fast charging adapter and wired USB-C headphones. This is as one would expect with an expensive smartphone, but the iPhone 12 Pro is the first iPhone model that does not include these goodies. Now you have to buy the USB-C fast charging adapter and wired headphones separately. This will bring the overall price tag over $1,050, making the Samsung S20+ the more affordable choice, after all.

iPhone 12 Pro vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: Which should you buy?

Point for point and spec by spec, the iPhone 12 Pro might have slightly more to offer than the Galaxy S20+, but not by much. This decision will largely depend on your own preferences and uses for a smartphone. If graphics are a huge deal for you, you may prefer the Galaxy for its larger, brighter display and higher refresh rate. This phone can guarantee smooth playback and gameplay as well as gorgeous, vivid colors. If that's a priority, then you'll love the Galaxy S20+.

Photographers and videographers will likely prefer the iPhone 12 Pro, on the other hand, since it produces better images in general, not to mention 4K Dolby Vision HDR video. Then again, if you're big on using that zoom button, then the Galaxy might suit you better. You have to consider how you plan to use the camera.

Point for point and spec by spec, the iPhone 12 Pro might have slightly more to offer than the Galaxy S20+, but not by much.

Another thing to consider, of course, is the ecosystem. Anyone with many Apple products or friends who use iPhones may find the Apple ecosystem more comfortable and convenient. The same holds true for PC aficionados and Android lovers. Ecosystem is a huge deal when it comes to smartphones, so be sure to consider which one fits better into your lifestyle.

As for price, these two handsets have a very similar price point when you consider what comes in the box, so price shouldn't be a huge deciding factor for this purchase. If you love a package deal, the Samsung S20+ may look more attractive since it comes with a charging adapter and a pair of headphones. But if you consider the processor and the camera quality, the iPhone 12 Pro also packs in a lot of value for the price. The bottom line is, it's important to consider all the differentiating factors of these two smartphones and decide which one will work better for your unique needs.

Jaclyn Kilani

Jaclyn Kilani is a content writer at iMore. She's a longtime Apple addict with a flair for creating (written works, design, photos; you name it!) on her devices. Jaclyn has also worked in the marketing sector for over 16 years, dabbling in a bit of everything from writing to graphic design and digital marketing. In her heart of hearts, however, she is a born writer and an avid reader who adores everything about the written word. Someday she may even churn out a book or two. Throughout her career, Jaclyn has also developed something of an addiction to all things Apple. Her professional and personal life is enhanced by an ever-growing collection of iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Apple Watches, and even AirTags. Luckily, this expensive habit is of great use to her work at iMore, where she writes with authority on Apple products and the accessories that go with them.