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Phone Comparisons: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

AH Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max comparison
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Apple announced its new iPhones quite recently, and we’re here to compare the most expensive one to Samsung’s flagship. We’ll compare the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max in this article. Both of these phones are quite pricey, and they also represent the best Samsung and Apple have to offer at this point in time. Both devices are quite large, heavy, and also flashy, in a way.

We’ll kick things off by comparing their specs, and will then move to the design, display, performance, battery, camera, and audio sections. There’s a lot to talk about here, as the two phones are quite different in pretty much every way. They’re both great in their own regard, but chances are not both will fit your needs. So, let’s get started, and compare the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S21 UltraApple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Screen size6.8-inch WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X curved display (120Hz adaptive refresh rate)6.7-inch OLED ProMotion flat display (120Hz adaptive refresh rate)
Screen resolution3200 x 14402778 x 1284
SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 888 / Samsung Exynos 2100Apple A15 Bionic
RAM12GB/16GB (LPDDR5)6GB
Storage128GB/256GB, non-expandable (expandable in some countries)128GB/256GB/512GB (NVMe); non-expandable
Rear cameras108MP (f/1.8 aperture, OIS, 0.8um pixel size. Produces 12MP images with 2.4um pixel size)
12MP (ultrawide, Dual Pixel AF, 120-degree FoV, f/2.2 aperture, 1.4um pixel size)
10MP (telephoto, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, f/2.4 aperture, 1.22um pixel size, optical zoom 3x)
10MP (telephoto, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, f/4.9 aperture, 1.22um pixel size, 10x optical zoom, 100x Space Zoom)
12MP (f/1.5 aperture, 1.9um pixel size, sensor-shift OIS, dual pixel PDAF)
12MP (telephoto, f/2.8 aperture, 77mm lens, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom)
12MP (f/1.8 aperture, 13mm lens, 120-degree FoV)
TOF 3D LiDAR scanner (depth)
Front cameras40MP (f/2.2 aperture, 80-degree FoV, 0.7um pixel size, PDAF)12MP (f/2.2 aperture, 23mm wide-angle lens)
Battery5,000mAh, non-removable, fast battery charging (USB PD 3.0), Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare4,373mAh, non-removable, 20W wired charging, 7.5W/15W wireless charging
Dimensions165 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm160.8 x 78.1 x 7.7mm
Weight227/229 grams240 grams
Connectivity5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, Lightning
SecurityIn-display fingerprint scanner (ultrasonic)Advanced facial scanning
OSAndroid 11
One UI 3.0
iOS 15
Price$1,199.99$1,099
BuySamsungApple

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max: Design

Both the Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro Max are quite large. They are actually both large, wide, and heavy. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is a bit taller and thicker, but it’s also noticeably narrower than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. At the same time, both of its 5G variants (Sub6 and mmWave) are lighter than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Those two variants weigh 227 and 229 grams, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max weighs 240 grams. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is very wide, it’s actually wider than any other major Android flagship out there. Needless to say, that’s not great for one-hand usage.

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Still, neither of these two phones is ideal for one-hand usage. They’re both large, and slippery at the same time, which is an unfortunate combination. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is more difficult to use with one hand, due to its wide frame and the fact it has flat edges. It’s simply a more cumbersome experience. It looks great with those edges, but it takes some getting used to. It’s actually a similar experience as with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, in fact, as the design really didn’t change all that much.

Both devices have a glass back, but their frame is made of different materials. Samsung used aluminum for the Galaxy S21 Ultra, while Apple used stainless steel for the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Stainless steel is heavier than aluminum, which definitely plays a part in the weight department. Both phones have thin bezels, though the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s are thinner. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has a small display camera hole at the top of the display, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max boasts a rather noticeable notch. That notch is narrower this time around, but it’s also taller at the same time.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max: Display

Both of these phones have big, beautiful displays, amongst the best in the market. The iPhone 13 Pro Max actually brings one major boost in that department, a 120Hz refresh rate. We’ll talk about that soon. The Galaxy S21 Ultra features a 6.8-inch 3200 x 1440 Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a display camera hole. That is an LTPO panel, with a 120Hz refresh rate, and HDR10+ support. It has a peak brightness of 1,500 nits, and it’s protected by the Gorilla Glass Victus. The display on the Galaxy S21 Ultra is curved, by the way.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra AH 6

The iPhone 13 Pro Max includes a 6.7-inch 2778 x 1284 Super Retina XDR OLED ProMotion display. This display is flat, and has a notch at the top. This is also an LTPO panel, and it does support a 120Hz refresh rate, and HDR10 content. It has a peak brightness of 1,200 nits, by the way. This panel is protected by scratch-resistant ceramic glass. It remains to be seen how well will it fight scratches, but the one on the iPhone 12 series was prone to micro scratches. Using a screen protector may be a good idea.

So, as you can see, both displays look excellent on paper. Both panels offer vivid colors, deep blacks, excellent color balance, and stellar viewing angles. They’re extremely fluid thanks to the high refresh rate, and considering these are LTPO panels, they also offer an adaptive refresh rate, which will benefit battery life. Both displays are amazing, to say the least, and probably the best in the business. Both have been manufactured by Samsung Display, by the way.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max: Performance

Is the performance any good, though? Well, yes, it’s excellent, in fact. That’s what we’re used to seeing from Samsung and Apple flagships, though. That is not surprising considering they come with extremely powerful hardware. The Galaxy S21 Ultra includes the Snapdragon 888 SOC, or Exynos 2100, depending on the market. In addition to that, Samsung included 12GB or 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and also UFS 3.1 flash storage.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max comes with the Apple A15 Bionic processor, and 5-core graphics. It packs in 6GB of RAM, which is plenty for iOS. Both Android 11 on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and iOS 15 on the iPhone 13 Pro Max are really well-optimized. The performance is excellent, to say the least. You won’t see any lag on either device, no matter what you throw at them. They’re excellent in regular, everyday tasks, and can chew through pretty much anything.

If you’re a gamer, you’re also good to go. These two phones can run even the most demanding apps from their respective app stores. They won’t even get too hot in the process, which is great. All in all, they’re excellent performers, no matter what way you look at it.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max: Battery

The Galaxy S21 Ultra packs in a 5,000mAh battery, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max comes with a 4,373mAh battery. The Galaxy S21 Ultra’s battery pack is considerably larger, but iOS handles the battery a bit differently. This battery pack inside the iPhone 13 Pro Max is more than enough for the device. The Galaxy S21 Ultra offers stellar battery life, as we’ve found out in our review earlier this year. It’s easily one of the best mainstream Android smartphones when it comes to battery life.

When it comes to the iPhone 13 Pro Max, well, you won’t have to worry about battery life either. This phone is a road warrior when it comes to battery life. It’s by far the best phone for battery life when it comes to iPhone 13 models. The iPhone 12 Pro Max was great, and this handset will offer even better battery life. Both of these phones can go well over 6 hours of screen on time, if you need them to.

IN regards to charging, well, neither phone offers particularly fast charging. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is limited to 25W wired, 15W wireless, and 4.5W reverse wireless charging. The iPhone 13 Pro Max offers 20W wired, and 7.5W or 15W wireless charging. 7.5W is for Qi magnetic charging, while 15W is for MagSafe wireless charging. Their competitors have already released phones with 120W charging, so this is not particularly fast. Do note that neither phone ships with a charger either.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max: Cameras

The Galaxy S21 Ultra has four cameras on the back, and one on the front. The iPhone 13 Pro Max includes three on the back (+a LiDAR scanner), and one on the front. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is equipped with a 108-megapixel main camera, 10-megapixel telephoto, 10-megapixel periscope telephoto, and 12-megapixel ultrawide cameras. The iPhone 13 Pro Max includes a 12-megapixel main camera, 12-megapixel telephoto, and 12-megapixel ultrawide camera.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra AH 05

The cameras on both phones are excellent. The two companies used really competent sensors, and lenses, and also done a great job with the software. By default, the images on the Galaxy S21 Ultra are a bit more contrasty, but both phones produce excellent images in good lighting. Those shots have plenty of details, they’re sharp, and colorful, with excellent dynamic range. The white balance is also on point, especially when it comes to the main cameras.

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When the light goes away, both phones keep on performing great. They can light up even the darkest of corners, and balance images really well. They handle street flares really well, and even manage to produce a lot of detail, while keeping the noise at a minimum. Such shots are quite different, though, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max images look more true to life. Ultrawide cameras on both phones do a great job, especially in good lighting.

The selfie camera on the Galaxy S21 Ultra does a better job than the one on the iPhone 13 Pro Max. It manages to get more details into the shot, and it also does a better job in regards to the white balance. The iPhone 13 Pro Max rear cameras do a better job with portrait mode, while Apple’s flagship also handles video recording a bit better. All in all, both phones are great in regards to camera performance.

Audio

Both the Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro Max come with a set of stereo speakers. Both sets of speakers are quite good, though there are some differences between them. The ones on the Galaxy S21 Ultra do get a bit louder, though both sets are quite sharp, and offer great sound overall.

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Neither of the two phones offers a 3.5mm headphone jack. You’ll either need to use a dongle, headphones that already come with a proper adapter (Type-C or lightning, depending on the phone), or simply use Bluetooth headphones. If you do use a good pair of headphones, you can squeeze out really compelling sound from both phones.