7 features Apple should steal from Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

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Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra vs. Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
There are some features in the new Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra that Apple should put in the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Samsung’s newly unveiled Galaxy Note 20 Ultra will have to take on the iPhone 12 Pro Max after Apple launches it this autumn.

Samsung’s top-tier handset offers seven features iOS fans should hope will show up in Apple’s next flagship iPhone. But the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra also has some real problems.

Let’s start with the positives, though.

1. Larger screen

The largest version of the new Note packs a whopping 6.9-inch display. That’s an increase from its predecessor, which isn’t surprising. As smartphones have become such an important part of so many people’s lives, displays have grown ever larger. Watching video, like on YouTube and TikTok, has helped accelerate this trend.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max includes a generous 6.5-inch display, but numerous unconfirmed reports indicate the 2020 version will grow to a 6.7-inch screen. So apparently we won’t have to wait long for a larger iPhone.

2. Periscope camera

A highlight of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s camera is a periscope lens. This bends light around a corner, allowing the lens to be longer, bringing significantly better optical zoom. Samsung’s new model offers a 5x zoom.

The iPhone 11 series maxes out at a 2x optical zoom. Unfortunately, Apple might not offer better telephoto capabilities until 2022, when it reportedly will add its own periscope lenses to handsets.

3. 5G cellular-wireless networking

Samsung leapt on the 5G bandwagon early. It began offering devices with this faster form of cellular-wireless networking before there were widespread networks to support it. And the newest Note adds to the company’s roster of 5G-capable handsets.

The replacement for 4G LTE is expected to provide faster average connection speeds, and lower latency, too. These performance boosts will prove necessary for next-generation apps and services that don’t yet exist. While Apple remains carefully noncommittal about the upgrade, it’s an open secret that the iPhone 12 will be the first iOS device with a 5G modem.

4. Gorilla Glass

The latest handsets from Samsung use the new-and-improved version of Gorilla Glass. Its developer, Corning, promises this is much more more scratch-resistant and shatter-resistant than its predecessor.

For some reason, Apple never talks about using Gorilla Glass. But Corning is happy to point out that every iPhone has used this protective material, and broadly hinted the iPhone 12 series will, too.

5. 120 Hz screen refresh

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the first in this series with a display that refreshes at 120 Hz, twice that of earlier models. This provides “buttery smooth visuals,” according to Samsung.

The iPad Pro series made the jump to a 120 Hz screen back in 2017. There have been rumors that Apple will bring this feature to the 2020 iPhone, too. But these unconfirmed reports don’t come from the most reliable sources.

6. Apple Pencil support

The centerpiece of the Note series has always been the S Pen, a stylus for taking handwritten notes. Some people have asked for an iPhone with support for Apple Pencil for many years. And rumors occasionally indicate this feature might arrive on iPhone. It hasn’t happened.

Still, conditions are better than ever. As mentioned, the iPhone 12 Pro Max reportedly will sport the largest screen of any Apple handset ever. That makes hand-writing notes more practical. Also, Scribble in iPadOS 14 brings true handwriting recognition. Add this tech to iOS, and an Apple Pencil could replace the tiny iPhone keyboard.

7. Reverse wireless charging

Many Samsung handsets, including its latest, include Wireless PowerShare. This allows one device to send power to another, perhaps to give it an emergency charge.

Reverse wireless charging was widely rumored to arrive in the iPhone 11. Some remnants of the necessary hardware are in that device, but that’s all. An unconfirmed report indicated the feature got snuffed because Apple wasn’t satisfied at the charging rate. Ironing out the wrinkles and adding reverse wireless charging to future iPhones would let users easily recharge their AirPods from their handsets.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra features Apple shouldn’t copy

Despite having some nice features, about a decade of Apple-versus-Samsung sales data indicates the upcoming iPad 12 Pro Max will solidly outsell the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. There are a handful of reasons why the new model will likely continue that trend.

The most obvious is price. Samsung’s new top-tier model starts at $1,299.99. The Apple rival coming this autumn is rumored to start at $1,099.

Apple probably shouldn’t copy the performance of Samsung’s new handset, either. There hasn’t been time for benchmarks yet, but it’s unlikely the Qualcomm 865 Plus processor will make the new Note faster than the A13 chip in the iPhone 11 series from 2019. And the new A14 processor coming in the 2020 models is expected to blow it out of the water.