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iPhone 12 Pro crushes the fastest Android phone in real-life speed test

Published Nov 5th, 2020 11:04AM EST
iPhone 12 Pro vs. Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Image: Apple Inc.

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  • A “real-life” speed comparison between the iPhone 12 Pro and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra shows that the Snapdragon 865+ and its 12GB of memory are no match for Apple’s A14 Bionic coupled with just 6GB of RAM.
  • The newest iPhone is always faster than the best available Android flagships, but Android devices usually come with a lot more memory that helps with multitasking.
  • Apple’s RAM upgrade for the iPhone 12 Pro seems to be paying off, as the test indicates the best Android phones of 2020 have no chance of outperforming the new iPhones.

The iPhone 12 devices all feature the same basic hardware, including the powerful 5nm A14 Bionic processor that has no rival in the industry. To get your hands on an Android phone with a 5nm chip right now, you’d need to go to a country where Huawei is allowed to do business and buy a Google-less Mate 40-series handset. We’ve seen plenty of benchmarks and other speed tests that showed exactly how fast the iPhone 12 is compared to top Android handsets. But none of the 2020 flagships stand any chances against the A14 Bionic, and that’s hardly a surprise. All previous iPhone models outperformed same-generation Android rivals, and older iPhones are usually faster than the next generation of Androids as well.

The latest iPhone 12 performance comparison is of the “real-life speed test” variety, pitting the iPhone 12 Pro against the best Galaxy Note 20 phone, which has been found to be the fastest Android device on the market right now. If previous Notes did have one trick up their sleeves that allowed Samsung to win some of these tests, it’s an abundance of RAM. But this generation, Samsung wasn’t able to overcome the iPhone 12 Pro’s blazing speed despite having twice as much RAM in its flagship phone.

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra features the Snapdragon 865+ processor, a 7nm chip that should deliver even better performance than the 865 that powers the S20 series. The phone also comes with 12GB of RAM on board, double the iPhone 12 Pro’s 6GB. Apple never mentioned the memory upgrade to 6GB of RAM, but teardowns and benchmark tests confirmed it.

YouTube channel PhoneBuff has been the home of real-life smartphone speed tests for years, running the same speed test concept on every new iPhone and Android flagship. The race between the iPhone 12 Pro and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is no different, simulating the kind of mobile experience we’re all familiar with. Smartphone owners use multiple apps at the same time, switching back and forth between them. What we want from phones is to load the apps as fast as possible and keep them loaded in memory for seamless multitasking.

iPhone 12 Pro vs. Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Screenshot from real-life speed test video between iPhone 12 Pro and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Image source: YouTube

This real-life speed test has two “laps.” In the first lap, both the iPhone 12 Pro and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra open the same apps, from productivity to web apps to resource-intensive games. The iPhone 12 Pro loads all the apps almost 15 seconds faster than the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, which is in line with previous comparisons.

The second round consists of the phone opening the same set of apps to simulate multitasking. The robot can’t move to the next app until the app in the forefront is loaded, and that’s where the RAM counts. In recent years, we saw Android phones lagging behind the latest iPhone when it comes to opening apps in the first lap, but they made up for it in the second round. All apps remained loaded on Android, whereas the iPhone would only store a few apps in memory.

This is where the RAM upgrade from 4GB to 6GB really helps. The iPhone 12 Pro kept all the apps in memory and gained an additional 3 seconds on the Galaxy Note 20. It’ll be interesting to see how the iPhone 12 and 12 mini do in the same test. After all, the cheaper iPhone 12 versions only come with 4GB of RAM onboard.

In total, the iPhone completed the test almost 18 seconds faster than the Note 20 Ultra, which might not seem that much. But those seconds can add up during the day. Of course, if you’ve never used an iPhone and don’t want one, then the Note 20 Ultra is really one of the best Android handsets you can buy, assuming the $1,300 price tag isn’t a problem. Otherwise, the more affordable Snapdragon 865-powered phones out there should do great, even if they can’t outperform the iPhone 12.

The full video follows below.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.