Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, giving the device excellent power and performance. Galaxy AI enhances the user experience with features like live call translation and Note Assistant. The S24 Ultra sports a 6.8-inch AMOLED panel refreshing at 120Hz, with an anti-glare layer for better visibility in harsh lighting.Pros
- Fantastic display
- Powerful raw performance
- Versatile camera system
- Still only 45W charging
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is Apple’s latest flagship device, powered by the A17 Pro, giving it fantastic performance and excellent battery life. Apple shifted to a titanium build for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, making it significantly lighter than its predecessors. It also moved to USB-C charging, ending the reign of the fragile Lightning connector.Pros
- Lighter weight
- Fantastic display
- Great performance
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max represent the top of the food chain for their respective ecosystems, with titanium builds and outstanding cameras giving users a premium experience at a premium price.
Both devices offer impressive raw performance, bright displays, and fantastic software support. It’s a classic match-up between Android and iOS. And while some differences exist, the decision between the two depends on which software experience you enjoy most.
Price, availability, and specs
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is available through Samsung and Best Buy starting at $1,300 — a $100 increase over last year’s model. The base configuration includes 12GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, but 512GB and 1TB models are available. Like in previous years, Samsung offers a free storage upgrade for the device’s initial release period. Samsung sells the Galaxy S24 Ultra in various titanium-named shades, ranging from Titanium Black to Titanium Yellow.
The Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max is sold through Apple and Best Buy with a starting price of $1,199. The base model includes 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, with 512GB and 1TB versions available, like the S24 Ultra. The iPhone 15 Pro Max also adopted a titanium naming scheme, with four colors available: Natural, Blue, White, and Black.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra iPhone 15 Pro Max SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy A17 Pro RAM 12GB 8GB Storage 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB 256GB, 512GB, 1TB Battery 5,000mAh 4,441mAh Ports USB-C USB-C Operating System Android 14 with OneUI 6.1 iOS 17 Front camera 12MP, f/2.2 12MP Rear camera 200MP, f/1.7 main; 12MP, f/2.2 ultrawide; 10MP telephoto (3x); 50MP, f/3.4 telephoto (5x) 48MP main; 12MP ultrawide; 12MP, 5x telephoto Connectivity UWB, NFC UWB, NFC Dimensions 162.6 × 79.0 × 8.6mm 159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25 mm Colors Titanium Black, Titanium Gray, Titanium Violet, Titanium Yellow Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, White Titanium, Black Titanium Display type LTPO AMOLED, 1-120Hz OLED, 120Hz Weight 233g 221g Charge speed 45W wired, 15W wireless 35W wired, 15W wireless IP Rating IP68 IP68 Price $1,300 From $1,149 Stylus S Pen included No Display dimensions 6.8″, 19.3:9 6.7″ Display resolution 3088 × 1440 1290 x 2796 Charge options Wired, wireless, reverse charging USB-C wired, MagSafe wireless Cellular connectivity 5G mmWave & sub-6, LTE LTE, 5G, mmWave Wi-Fi connectivity Wi-Fi 7 Wi-Fi 6E Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.3 Bluetooth 5.3
As you’d expect at this price range, the Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max feature premium build qualities. The use of titanium on the iPhone 15 Pro Max produced a phone that is 0.7 ounces (19 grams) lighter than its predecessor. Curiously, the S24 Ultra only saves 0.07 ounces (2 grams) from the use of titanium in comparison to the S23 Ultra, resulting in a heavier device than the iPhone.
If you’ve seen a Galaxy device in the last two years, you’ll be familiar with S24 Ultra’s design. It’s not the most exciting refresh, but Samsung believes if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, instead focusing on internal improvements. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is protected by Gorilla Glass Armor front and back, providing superior protection against shattering. Like the Galaxy Note phones of old, the S24 Ultra adopts a boxy design, with a flat display leading to a slightly curved frame, aiding the feel in the hand.
Similarly, if you’ve seen an iPhone in the last half-decade, you’ll be familiar with the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s design. Apple never adopted a curved display, and after years of waterfall panels, the tide has turned back in favor of flat glass. Apple uses Ceramic Shield glass manufactured by Corning to protect the front and back of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The device also retains the harsher, squared-off edges the company returned to with the iPhone 12 — a design element previously used as far back as the iPhone 4.
The Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max feature IP68 ratings for dust and water resistance, giving you peace of mind in less-than-ideal conditions.
Samsung and Apple have gone toe-to-toe with display quality for years, and the S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max represent the best both have to offer. The S24 Ultra sports a 6.8-inch QHD Dynamic AMOLED display refreshing at 120Hz. Its colors are saturated with deep contrast, and images pop off the screen. Viewing in sunlight is no issue, as the S24 Ultra has a peak brightness of 2,600 nits — an impressive spec. It’s also an HDR10+ panel, providing fantastic detail and more accurate colors. There’s even an anti-reflective display, reducing the amount of glare outdoors — a welcome quality-of-life improvement.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max ships with a 6.7-inch LTPO Super Retina OLED panel refreshing at 120 Hz with a resolution of 1290 x 2796. It’s an HDR10 display with similarly fantastic color and saturation. Despite a lower peak brightness of 2,000 nits, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is still fully viewable outdoors, with little eye strain required even in direct sunlight. The LTPO technology in both displays allows the refresh rate to go as low as 1Hz to save on battery. All told, you won’t be disappointed with either of these displays.
Any decision between the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max primarily comes down to software. If you’re not thoroughly engrained in either ecosystem, there are pros and cons to consider. The Galaxy S24 Ultra ships with One UI 6.1, which is Samsung’s Android 14 skin. It features several AI enhancements, allowing live call translations and Note Assistant, which gives users more S-pen functionality. One UI 6.1 is reliable and smooth, and if you’re comfortable with a heavily modified version of Android, it’s among the best. Samsung also upped support this year, offering seven years of security updates and major Android upgrades. As always with Android, One UI is customizable, from themes and colors to widgets and functionality. If you like controlling your device, the S24 Ultra is your choice.
By comparison, iOS 17 on the iPhone 15 Pro Max can feel slightly restrictive. Apple controls much of the user experience, with limited customization or side loading available. iOS is relatively inoffensive and works well if you stay on the rails. First-party software like Safari and iTunes work well, and social media apps are often fine-tuned to work better with iOS. While Apple doesn’t use the term AI for its software enhancements, artificial intelligence is at work in iOS 17 with contextual responses and voice cloning. If you’re comfortable with a walled-garden approach to your software, iOS has many advantages. Apple doesn’t quote a support timeframe, but previous devices received 6 or 7 years of software support.
Not surprisingly, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, Qualcomm’s latest and greatest. The SD8G3 is tailored for the AI wizardry of One UI 6.1, allowing the S24 Ultra to complete intensive tasks on the device without needing cloud computing. In addition, its raw performance is outstanding, giving you all the power you need for daily tasks and even the most intensive AAA mobile games. Even though that extra power might not be needed just yet, with the S24 Ultra’s long support cycle, it’s important for future-proofing, ensuring your Ultra is snappy for years to come. The S24 Ultra also supports Wi-Fi 7, another feature with the future in mind.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is powered by Apple’s A17 Pro chipset. It’s a 3nm process with outstanding benchmarks and real-world performance. Like the S24 Ultra, you can edit photos and video on the fly, with fantastic performance in almost any game you play. Don’t be put off by the difference in RAM between the S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Apple’s software handles RAM management differently, and despite the iPhone 15 Pro Max only having 8GB, it doesn’t lead to a significant difference in performance between the two.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra was outstanding with battery life, and the S24 Ultra shows similar promise. The SD8G3 is better with thermal control, and a cooler device is more power-efficient, giving users an all-day battery life and over 7 or 8 hours of screen time out of its 5,000mAh cell. When it’s time to recharge, the Galaxy S24 is capable of 45W wired charging with 15W wireless charging. Reverse wireless charging is also available when you want to impress your friends.
Apple’s silicon is incredibly power-efficient, and the A17 Pro sips power, allowing for similarly impressive battery life. It’s common to hit 7 or 8 hours of screen time, depending on which apps are used, with little battery anxiety by the end of the day. The iPhone 15 Pro Max definitely gets the most out of its 4,440mAh battery, but when it’s time to top off, it maxes out at merely 27W wired and 15W wireless. So if fast charging is important to you, the iPhone is one to avoid.
Samsung replaced the 10x optical zoom with a 50MP 5x for the S24 Ultra, with the company using AI enhancements to handle zoom over 5x. It also features a 200MP main shooter, a 12MP ultrawide, and a 10MP 3x optical zoom. Photos from the S24 Ultra are sharp and saturated with good contrast, and Samsung’s computational model has resulted in fantastic night photos with reduced image noise over previous years. Laser autofocus ensures a blur-free image and has been standard on Galaxy Ultra devices since the disastrous S20 Ultra. With One UI 6, Samsung added much of the Camera Assistant app functionality to the main camera app, allowing users to improve the shutter speed. Selfies are handled by a 12MP front-facing camera with portrait mode.
Apple counters with a triple camera setup on the iPhone 15 Pro Max: a 48MP main lens, a 12MP 5x periscope sensor, and a 12MP ultrawide. While both phones are capable of great still photography, your preference will determine which computational model you prefer. Samsung often creates a punchier image, while Apple’s photos tend to be warmer. If you prefer a more natural image, the iPhone will serve you well, but the S24 Ultra is probably the photo you want for social media. Both are fantastic, but the S24 Ultra holds a slight edge in still photography, while Apple retains its crown for producing the best video.
Which is right for you?
Even though the S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max are outstanding devices capable of meeting most user’s needs, the S24 Ultra holds a slight edge overall. It gives users a bit more freedom, a more versatile camera system, and the added functionality of the S-pen.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Premium performance at a premium price
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra might not be the most exciting update, but it checks all the boxes for a premium flagship device. If you’re used to the freedom of Android and love to customize your device, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the best choice, with its bright display and outstanding software support.
However, if you’re already in the Apple ecosystem with many purchased apps, neither device does enough to push anyone to the other side. If you’re used to iOS, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is fantastic, with many years of support left.
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
Excellent choice for playing it safe
The iPhone 15 Pro Max gives iOS users exactly what they would expect. It’s not going to ruffle any feathers or win any design awards, but the iPhone 15 Pro Max offers fantastic performance, impressive battery life, and the ease of use long-time users have come to expect from their Apple products.
Alex Mitchell is your go-to expert for all things mobile. With a passion for the latest smartphones, apps, and mobile innovations, Alex provides in-depth reviews, insightful analyses, and breaking news about the ever-evolving world of mobile technology. Stay connected with Alex to navigate the fast-paced realm of mobile devices.