iPhone 12 vs Galaxy S20: Which should you buy?

Iphone 12 Vs S20 Design
Iphone 12 Vs S20 Design (Image credit: iMore)

Here we have a classic case of convenience versus value, but don't get me wrong; both smartphones have plenty to offer. The iPhone just has slightly more convenience with Face ID functionality, a faster processor, and cool MagSafe features. On the other hand, the Galaxy S20 offers a better display, more storage and RAM, and better camera zoom features for roughly the same amount of money. Let's go over some of the specs to get started.

Apple iPhone 12 vs. Samsung Galaxy S20: Key differences

Iphone 12 Vs Galaxy S20 Buy

Iphone 12 Vs Galaxy S20 Buy (Image credit: iMore)

When comparing the specs of the iPhone 12 and the Galaxy S20, they don't look incredibly different on paper. The iPhone 12 has a slight edge on physical materials, while the S20 pulls ahead on RAM and battery size. Here's the rundown:

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Header Cell - Column 0 iPhone 12Galaxy S20
DesignCeramic Shield front + Glass back and aluminum designGlass front (Gorilla Glass 6), glass back (Gorilla Glass 6), aluminum frame
ColorsBlack, White, (PRODUCT)RED, Green, BlueCosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black, Aura Blue
Display6.1‑inch OLED display, 60Hz refresh rate6.2-inch AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate
CameraDual lens 12-megapixel wide and 12MP ultra-wide rear, 12MP TrueDepth frontTriple lens 64MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 3x hybrid zoom
Storage64GB, 128GB, 256GB + 4GB RAM128GB + 8GB RAM
Battery2,815mAh, Fast charging (20W charger sold separately), Qi wireless charging4,000mAh, 25W fast charging, Qi wireless charging
IP ratingIP68IP68
Headphone jackNoneNone
Size and weight5.78 x 2.81 x 0.29 inches, 164g5.97 x 2.72 x 0.31 inches, 163g
SoftwareiOS 14Android 11, Oxygen 11

The two smartphones are remarkably similar in weight, size, and waterproof design, although there are some noticeable differences in the camera and display. Let's see how it all plays out in functionality.

Apple iPhone 12 vs. Samsung Galaxy S20 design: Durability vs. display

The iPhone 12 and the Galaxy S20 both leaped forward in design features and materials. The stainless steel and glass construction is beautiful, although the iPhone 12 does have a stronger ceramic shield screen that is up to 4X more drop-proof than the Gorilla Glass 6 screen on the S20. What it lacks in strength, the S20 screen makes up for in display capabilities.

The Galaxy S20 features a 6.2-inch AMOLED display with brighter, more vivid colors than the iPhone 12. It also supports 120Hz refresh rate for smoother video playback and animations, as compared to the 60Hz refresh rate in the iPhone. Let's not forget that the Galaxy S20 also has an edge-to-edge display, without that infamous black notch that we still see on the iPhone 12. So when it comes to overall display quality, the S20 does win.

Both phones offer several colors to choose from; the iPhone 12 comes in four colors (Black, White, (PRODUCT)RED, Green, and Blue) while the Galaxy S20 offers three (Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, and Cloud Pink). Color choice is totally up to personal preference, but we tend to prefer the iPhone's classic color offering. Finally, both smartphones are identical when it comes to water resistance at an impressive IP rating of IP68.

Apple iPhone 12 vs. Samsung Galaxy S20 performance: Speed vs. storage

Iphone 12 Vs S20 Function

Iphone 12 Vs S20 Function (Image credit: iMore)

A smartphone's speed and performance can run off several factors, processor and RAM being the most important. When it comes to speed, you can't beat the new A14 chip that the iPhone 12 is rocking. This makes it possible for the phone to blaze through basic functions and gameplay at lightning-fast speeds. On the other hand, the Galaxy S20 has 8GB of RAM, double that of the iPhone 12. It's not far behind when it comes to overall speed.

The iPhone offers several storage capacity options, including 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB, but the S20 comes in with 128GB for roughly the same price as the 64GB iPhone 12. In other words, you get more storage for your money with the S20 for both memory and RAM capacity.

When it comes to speed, you can't beat the new A14 chip that the iPhone 12 is rocking.

As for the battery, the Galaxy S20 has a larger battery, 4,000mAh versus 2,815mAh on the iPhone 12. This results in a longer battery life of about two hours if you're not using the 120Hz refresh rate setting. Using a higher refresh rate cuts down the S20 battery life significantly. The Galaxy S20 also charges a tad bit faster with its 25W fast charger. Unfortunately for the iPhone 12, it does not include a charging adapter.

Apart from sheer performance, it's also important to look at convenience and usability. Apple builds their tech around usability, and it shows. The iPhone 12 comes with the oh-so-convenient FaceID, which allows you to instantly log in to your phone and all apps just by looking at the screen. It also comes with a wide range of cool MagSafe accessories for more convenient charging, mounting, and accessorizing. Apple will certainly continue to release tons of cool new accessories for this technology as well. Add to that the benefits of the Apple ecosystem, such as iCloud, inter-device compatibility, and iMessages, and Apple definitely wins on convenience and ease-of-use.

Apple iPhone 12 vs. Samsung Galaxy S20 camera: Details vs. zoom

Iphone 12 Vs Galaxy S20 Camera

Iphone 12 Vs Galaxy S20 Camera (Image credit: iMore)

It's hard to criticize the cameras on either of these models; they both take a good photo. However, due to improved sensors on the iPhone 12, you get better detail and exposure on most photos. This shows especially in low light and Night Mode. It produces gorgeous, detailed photos that seem to suck in ambient light and improve color accuracy. The Galaxy S20 also offers Night Mode, but it's just not on the same level.

In normal lighting, there are a few more dimension and crisp details in the photos produced by the iPhone 12 when compared to the S20. The difference is much less pronounced. The S20 does increase saturation in its photos, so you'll get brighter, more vivid colors, but the colors are not always 100% accurate to true life.

Two things that the Galaxy S20 offers are 30X digital zoom and 8K video recording, neither of which is offered by the iPhone 12.

Two things that the Galaxy S20 does offer are 30X digital zoom and 8K video recording. While both of these phones offer some small optical zoom (up to 2X), the iPhone 12 only offers 5X digital zoom. Yes, digital zoom does decrease the quality of the photos, but it would be nice to have more. The S20 offers up to 30X digital zoom, and while photo quality does suffer, at least you have the option.

As for 8K video, the Galaxy S20 does record videos at this quality. Whether or not you have a device that can reproduce 8K video quality is another story. If you do happen to have capable monitors, be warned; the file sizes are enormous. Regardless, it is a nice offering that you won't get from the iPhone 12, which records in 4K.

Apple iPhone 12 vs. Samsung Galaxy S20 Price: Samsung packs in value

Technically, the Samsung Galaxy S20 does claim a retail price of $999, which is significantly more expensive than the baseline iPhone 12. However, I don't think I've ever seen the S20 not offered on sale at $800 either on Amazon or from one of the other Samsung dealers. In short, the Galaxy S20 is usually sold at around $800. That's the same price you will pay for an entry-level iPhone 12.

One thing you have to consider here is what you get for that $799. The Galaxy offers 128GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, and they include both a 25W charging adapter and wired earphones for that price. Compare this to 64GB of memory, 4GB of RAM and no adapter or earphones included whatsoever with the iPhone 12, and the S20 does look like the better deal. The iPhone 12 comes with a load of benefits, of course, such as FaceID, MagSafe technology, and a better camera, but we think the S20 wins when it comes to sheer bang for buck.

Apple iPhone 12 vs. Samsung Galaxy S20: Which should you buy?

You probably already have a good idea of which smartphone will work for you. It depends on which features are most important to your lifestyle. If you tend to be rough on your phones and break a lot of screens, for example, the iPhone 12 does offer that ceramic shield — the strongest screen you'll find on any smartphone.

The iPhone is also faster and packs in a ton of super-convenient features that will make life easier in countless ways. Gamers will enjoy the lightning-fast processor, while busy professionals will appreciate added features like FaceID, Apple device compatibility, and MagSafe technology. Photographers may also prefer the iPhone 12 since it produces better photo quality overall.

If you appreciate a good package deal, you may prefer the Galaxy S20, but the iPhone 12 is faster and packs in a ton of super-convenient features that will make life easier in countless ways.

On the other hand, The Samsung Galaxy S20 packs in more storage if you have a ton of content on your phone, and the camera offers 30X zoom. If you find yourself using your camera's zoom features often, you will enjoy the added zoom on the S20. Videographers may also find the 8K video recording very tempting if they have the storage space and 8K device compatibility to handle that.

If you appreciate a good package deal, you may also prefer the Samsung Galaxy S20 since it offers more storage and includes both a charging adapter and wired earphones. This may be more attractive for budget shoppers that need to lower their overall spend on a smartphone purchase.

At the end of the day, you'll want to take a good look at how you plan to use your smartphone before deciding. Both the Apple iPhone 12 and the Samsung Galaxy S20 are incredibly advanced smartphones with a lot to offer. However, they are very different, so consider the features each has to offer and pick one that best fits your own budget and lifestyle. Either way, you're getting a lot of phone for the money.

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.