Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs iPhone 12 Pro Max

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If you want the absolutely best phones with big screen, great battery life and everything else, the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the currently available Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max are at the very top of everyone’s list.

Now that the first big leaks about the Galaxy S21 Ultra have given us a clear view of what Samsung’s next flagship will look like, it’s time to compare it against what the iPhone 12 Pro Max brings to the table.
So which one should you get? Let’s start with…

Display

With a fast, 120Hz refresh rate the Galaxy has the smoother moves, …but that might require a 1080p resolution, so the iPhone might end up looking a bit sharper

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is coming with a slightly larger screen size, but the difference of 0.1″ is barely noticeable, and these two are clearly stretching the limits of how big a screen you can get in a non-foldable phone.

The iPhone also has the notch which houses its complex Face ID sensors, while the Galaxy S21 features a much more discrete punch hole front camera. The notch doesn’t get in the way for casual use, but it is noticeable when you watch videos and particularly when you play games, so that’s one trade-off.

The Galaxy also has two other advantages: it has a higher resolution for sharper detail which is noticeable if you read text (you have to manually switch to that though). Most importantly, it also comes with support for 120Hz dynamic fast refresh rate, which makes scrolling and just browsing around the interface feels zippier and smoother than on the iPhone.

Performance

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is said to come with the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip (at least in the United States, international units might ship with a Samsung Exynos processor instead), while the iPhone 12 Pro Max uses the Apple A14 Bionic chip.

Both are built on the most advanced technology: they use 5nm manufacturing, and crash the benchmarks.

In terms of storage, the base Galaxy S21 Ultra model is said to sport 128GB of on board memory, matching the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The Galaxy, however, is expected to retain that microSD card slot that allows an easy way to expand that storage, and that’s an option the iPhone lacks.

Both phones will be available on all three major US carriers, and they will support 5G connectivity in all of its flavors, including the capricious but speedy mmWave technology.

Camera

Two telephoto zoom cameras on the Galaxy might make it the most versatile zoom camera, but only the iPhone has a LiDAR sensor for AR if that’s your jam

The Galaxy S21 Ultra brings a beautifully styled camera system that looks as if it belonged to the frame of the phone, while the iPhone features that recognizable induction stove like design for the cameras. Both are beautiful in their own way, but also both are raised camera beds so if you use the phone without a case, they are the reason why lying flat both phone will wobble.

So what about the actual camera specs?

The Galaxy has the upper hand with two telephoto cameras, it keeps the periscope lens but also adds a secondary short-range zoom lens at 3X zoom. This means that it is absolutely the superior phone for when you have to get a clear picture of something far away.

As for image quality, we’ll reserve judgment until we actually get to test both phones side by side

Battery Life and Charging speeds

  • 5,000mAh (Galaxy S21 Ultra) vs 3,687mAh (iPhone 12 Pro Max)
  • Faster charging on Galaxy

Finally, these two will also differ in their battery sizes. Android phones like the Galaxy S21 Ultra always come with bigger batteries than iPhones, and the S21 Ultra is no exception. It’s projected to come with a 5,000mAh battery cell, compared to a 3,687mAh battery on the iPhone. That means the Galaxy has a nearly 50% larger battery capacity than the iPhone!

Don’t expect this to directly correlate to 50% improvement in battery life, but we do expect the Galaxy to outlast the iPhone in the battery endurance department.

For charging, the iPhone 12 Pro Max supports speeds of up to 20W, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra is expected to support 25W charging. The iPhone was also the first mainstream phone on the market to ship without a charger, and the S21 Ultra might be the first major Android phone to follow this unfortunate move, as per leaks. Expect to have to purchase a charger separately for both these premium phones.

Prices

Last but not least, let’s talk pricing. Leaks point out that market conditions have forced Samsung to lower its flagship phone prices in 2021. In 2020, Samsung launched its flagship S20 Ultra at an exorbitant $1,400, while this year’s Galaxy S21 Ultra might start at about the same price as the $1,100 iPhone.

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G — $1,250 to $1,299 for 128GB model
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max — $1,100 for 128GB model

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