iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: which 2021 flagship phone is for you?

Apple’s iPhone 13 range is official, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the big and shiny flagship phone leading the charge.

© Provided by TechRadar iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

If it’s to win over the public ahead of the lucrative end of year period, however, it’s going to have to wrestle with the current king of the 2021 smartphone scene – the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

It’s early days, but how do these two ultra-premium smartphones compare spec for spec? Let’s take a look.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra price and availability

The iPhone 13 Pro Max will be available to buy from September 24, 2021. Prices are set to start from $1,099 / £1,049 / AU$1,699 for the 128GB model, while $1,199 / £1,149 / AU$1,869 will get you 256GB, and $1,399 / £1,349 / AU$2,219 will secure you the 512GB model.

There’s also a 1TB model this time around, which will cost you $1,599 / £1,549 / AU$2,569.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra appeared much earlier in the year, on January 29, 2021. The entry-level 128GB model starts at $1,199 / £1,149 / AU$1,849, while the 256GB model costs $1,399 / £1,349 / AU$2,149. Finally, the 512GB model increases that price to $1,599 / £1,549 / AU$2,449.

Perhaps surprisingly, then, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the cheaper phone of the two right across the board – at least in terms of RRP. Thanks to the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s greater age, you should be able to find a tidy discount.

Design

Both of these smartphone designs are pretty iconic. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is a dead ringer for the iPhone 12 Pro Max before it, which itself represented a bold revamp of Apple’s design language.

We hadn’t seen flat, symmetrical surfaces like this since the iPhone 5’s hey day – or the original iPhone SE at least. It also uses shiny surgical-grade stainless steel for the rim, which is more premium than the aluminum used in the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Indeed, the Galaxy S21 Ultra looks like a fairly typical Android flagship – right up until you flip it onto its front. That swooping camera unit is flat-out gorgeous, and makes the iPhone’s nondescript rear look rather dull by comparison.

In terms of colors, the iPhone 13 Pro Max comes in Graphite, Gold, Silver and Pacific Blue. The Galaxy S21 Ultra offers up a wider selection of Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown options.

These are two of the heftier phones on the market, though. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm and 238g, while the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm and 228g. So Apple’s phone is shorter and slimmer, while Samsung’s is narrower and lighter.

Both phones come with an IP68 rating, which means they’re equally good at resisting water and dust ingress. But the iPhone 13 Pro Max has a slightly tougher display, with Apple’s ceramic shield once again providing a four-fold increase in toughness compared to other phones.

There’s a big difference in how these two phones treat the implementation of a front camera. The iPhone 13 Pro Max does with a chunky notch, albeit one that’s 20% smaller than before. The Galaxy S21 Ultra gives you a central hole-punch notch, which is rather less obtrusive.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra screen is 6.8-inch AMOLED, and can run at both a 120Hz refresh rate and a QHD (3200 x 1440) resolution simultaneously.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a smaller, less sharp 6.7‑inch 2778 x 1284 AMOLED. There really isn’t much in it when it comes to raw image quality.

However, for the first time yet, Apple can match Samsung with a 120Hz refresh rate of its own. Both phones apply LTPO technology in order to apply a variable refresh rate.

This means that they can conserve power by scaling back from 120Hz when viewing static images or text. Both can drop as low as 10Hz, but from what we can tell, only the iPhone 13 Pro Max has optimized its UI to respond to the speed of your touch.

The Samsung display gets a little brighter, though, with a peak figure of 1500 nits. The iPhone 13 Pro Max can ‘only’ hit 1200 nits.

Samsung stashes its ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, complete with 1.7x greater surface area, within that display. Apple has resisted re-implementing Touch ID in favor of its Face ID facial recognition system.

Cameras

Apple and Samsung have gone back and forth when it comes to camera mastery in recent years. Right now, they’re both near the top of the game, though they take very different approaches.

The new iPhone 13 Pro Max gives you an improved triple–12MP camera system, led by a main sensor with wider f/1.5 aperture. This is backed by a 12MP ultra-wide that comes with a new macro function, allowing you to get as close as 2cm away from your subject.

You also get a new telephoto lens with a 3X zoom, and it’s capable of shooting in Night Mode now.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Pro’s camera is led by a whopping 1/1.33″ 108MP main wide sensor, which uses 9-to–1 pixel binning technique to create crisp, bright 12MP images.

It also has its own 12MP ultrawide sensor, along with a pair of 10MP telephoto sensors – one for 3x optical zoom, and the other for 10x.

Hardware differences aside, Apple and Samsung famously approach color science a little differently. Samsung typically punches its colors up to a more Insta-worthy level, while Apple keeps things a little cooler and more natural.

Talking of software, the iPhone 13 Pro Max includes a new feature that lets you select from different Photo­graphic Styles, changing the Tone and Warmth without pushing the subject out of whack. You also get Smart HDR 4, which can make adjustments for multiple people in a scene.

When it comes to video, the Galaxy S21 Ultra can capture 8K 24fps, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max can only hit 4K at 60fps. But again, Apple’s strength is in its algorithmic mastery.

That includes a new Cinematic mode that can intelligently refocus according to a subject’s gaze, as well as predict when a subject is about to come into view. Later in the year, ProRes mode will let you record, edit, and deliver broadcast-ready content on the go at 4K/30fps.

Specs and performance

We don’t have the iPhone 13 Pro Max with us to test just yet, but we’re going to make a bold prediction – it’ll be quite a bit more powerful than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Okay, that wasn’t such a bold prediction. Apple’s iPhones are always the most powerful in their class, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s A15 Bionic chip is on course to continue that trend.

What’s more, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra falls closer to the iPhone 12 Pro Max than the iPhone 13 Pro Max in terms of its vintage. It’ll likely take the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra to compete with the iPhone 13 Pro Max on power, and even then, we don’t fancy its chances.

Apple claims that its 6-core CPU and 5-core GPU are both 50% faster than the leading competition on the Android side, which would presumably include the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Samsung doesn’t really help itself on the performance front either. Depending on where you are in the world, you’ll either get a Galaxy S21 Ultra with a Snapdragon 888 processor (in the US and China), or the Exynos 2100 (everywhere else). The latter isn’t a bad chip, but it’s not as fast as the Snapdragon 888.

In storage terms, both phones give you a choice of 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of internal capacity. But the iPhone 13 Pro Max also supplies a 1TB option.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra hits back with support for Samsung’s S Pen stylus. Whether you’re jotting notes for automatic transcription, or sketching a masterpiece, Samsung’s stylus is versatile and powerful. Apple has its own competitive Pencil, of course, but it hasn’t yet seen fit to add support for it to the iPhone range.

Both phones are 5G ready, as you might expect.

Battery

Samsung’s phone has a 5000mAh battery, while we don’t yet know the capacity of the iPhone 13 Pro Max cell.

While Apple has confirmed that the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s battery is larger than the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s 3687mAh equivalent, it’s almost certainly not larger than 4000mAh.

Such a capacity comparison isn’t too helpful, however, because iOS and Android use the power allotted to them very differently.

All we know is that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will get you through a full day of moderate usage with ease, even with a QHD resolution and 120Hz refresh rate operating away together.

We also know that the iPhone 12 Pro Max had the best stamina in the entire range, easily lasting through a full day of fairly resource-intensive tasks. Apple has claimed that the iPhone 13 Pro Max will get 1.5 hours of extra life out of a single charge, which should result in some seriously impressive battery life.

Neither the iPhone 13 Pro Max nor the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the most advanced when it comes to recharging, with both manufacturers leaving you to supply a charger for yourself. The Galaxy S21 Ultra only supports up to 25W wired charging, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max only goes up to 20W.

Both support up to 15W wireless charging, which again isn’t all that competitive with some of their Android-based rivals.

Takeaway

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will be one of the oldest flagships Apple will have to face by the time the iPhone 13 Pro Max hits the market. Generationally speaking, its iPhone 12 Pro Max is more of a contemporary.

Despite that, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra remains the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s biggest competitor at launch. It’s still arguably the best all-round smartphone on the market, with specs like a 10x telephoto camera and a QHD display that ostensibly outdo Apple’s new challenger.

Of course, the iPhone 13 Pro Max brings its own camera tricks to the party, not to mention a 120Hz display that closes the gap, and a level of power that no Android phone is likely to match for the foreseeable future.

We’ll have to wait and see if Apple’s latest lives up to its bold claims, but make no mistake – these two phones are likely to be in a two horse race for pockets and critical acclaim alike come the end of this year.

  • Apple iPhone 13 launch event – 6 things you might have missed
Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Prince William sparks hopes of a reunion with Prince Harry following Earthshot Prize Awards

Could a royal reunion be on the cards in 2022? That’s the hope following an announcement from Prince William that his Earthshot Prize Awards ceremony for next year will be ... Read more »

S. Korea to actively respond to U.S. info-sharing request on chipmakers: minister

SEOUL, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) — South Korean Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Monday the country plans to closely cooperate with local chipmakers to respond to the U.S.’ latest request for ... Read more »

WA's Brockman sworn in as Senate president

West Australian Liberal Slade Brockman has been sworn in as the new Senate president. © Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS The Liberals’ Slade Brockman won the vote for Senate president 45 to ... Read more »

Woman 'unhappy' with how boyfriend has divided bills after moving in together

A woman who has recently moved in with her boyfriend admits she is “unhappy” with how they have divided their finances but having never done it before, isn’t sure of ... Read more »

Princess Mary's son is all grown up on his 16th birthday

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Prince Christian of Denmark marked his 16th birthday by posing for new photos that prove he is all grown up. Two portraits posted ... Read more »

The world will be asked to work together on climate. What chance that'll happen?

The final topic at COP26 in Glasgow — to the extent that any discussion on decarbonisation can be final — is how we “work together to deliver”. © Provided by ... Read more »

Who is Sean Penn's ex, Leila George?

Sean Penn and Australian actress Leila George have called it quits. George, 29, filed for divorce from the Mystic River star, 61, in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, October ... Read more »

Cop26: 70 climate scientists urge PM to end new oil and gas investment ahead of Glasgow summit

Scores of the most respected climate scientists in the world have called on Boris Johnson to bring an end to new oil and gas development in the UK ahead of ... Read more »

Why every parent should consider organic food

Over the past decade, organic food has become increasingly popular. Research shows organic foods, including fruit, vegetables, eggs and dairy, may have nutritional, environmental and animal welfare benefits. So, it’s clear ... Read more »

Victoria to move towards home quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has suggested the state will axe hotel quarantine for fully vaccinated international arrivals and move to a home-based program, similar to the one proposed by New ... Read more »

Victorian business groups have welcomed the fast-forwarded lockdown plan, but want further support for retailers and live music

© Provided by Business Insider Australia Melbourne’s harshest lockdown restrictions will lift from Friday, Premier Daniel Andrews said, given Victoria’s high COVID-19 vaccination rate. The change will see hospitality and ... Read more »

Two men stabbed inside Melbourne shop

Two men have been taken to hospital after being stabbed by another man inside a Melbourne shopping centre. © Daniel Pockett/AAP PHOTOS A man is in custody after two men ... Read more »

Two in hospital, man in custody after shopping centre stabbing in Brunswick, Melbourne

© Provided by ABC NEWS The shopping centre on Sydney Road has been closed while police investigate. (ABC: Sephanie Ferrier) Two men are in hospital and a third has been arrested after ... Read more »

Shoppers race to buy the $6 'must-have' top from Kmart

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Shoppers are obsessing over a $6 top from Kmart that pairs perfectly with any outfit, with many saying it’s the must-have staple every ... Read more »

The simple makeup swap that will change your skin

© Provided by Are Media Pty Ltd When it comes to makeup, not all products are created equal: some are better than others at giving our skin the love it ... Read more »

James Stewart shares family beach day

© Provided by Are Media Pty Ltd The often private Home and Away star James Stewart has celebrated his first weekend out of lockdown with his wife Sarah Roberts, and ... Read more »

Inside the lavish Bachelorette mansion

© Provided by Are Media Pty Ltd The Bachelorette Australia is filmed in a mansion located in picturesque Dural, NSW, about 36 kilometres north-west of the Sydney CBD. It is ... Read more »

Sunrise 'baffled' by Sam Armytage's new gig on Farmer Wants A Wife

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Samantha Armytage’s surprise return to Channel Seven has ruffled quite a few feathers among her former colleagues at Seven, reports claim.  The 45-year-old ... Read more »

BREAKING NEWS: MAFS stars Melissa Rawson and Bryce Ruthven welcome their twin boys 10 weeks early

© Provided by Are Media Pty Ltd Married at First Sight’s Melissa Rawson and Bryce Ruthven have welcomed twin boys into the world 10 weeks early. The couple announced the ... Read more »

Victoria recorded 1,903 new Covid-19 cases overnight

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Victoria has recorded 1,903 new Covid-19 cases and seven deaths overnight as the state prepares for an early exit from its long-running sixth lockdown. ... Read more »

The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Monday October 18.

© Getty Images The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Monday October 18. Rush for hair, restaurant bookings in Vic as the state opens five days ... Read more »

Sarah Snook reveals she secretly married Aussie comedian Dave Lawson

Australian actress Sarah Snook revealed she secretly tied the knot with comedian Dave Lawson earlier this year. In an interview with Vogue Australia, the Succession star, 33, said the pair ... Read more »

How to watch Fear the Walking Dead season 7 online from anywhere

Are you ready to step back into the post-apocalyptic world of walkers that Robert Kirkman created? Well, season 7 of Fear the Walking Dead is returning to our screens and ... Read more »

Hope tourists may return before Christmas

Tourists, migrant workers and international students could start flooding back to Australia before Christmas. © Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS People have been told to be cautious as the nation reopens ... Read more »

Eastern suburbs cocaine crackdown: $50,000 in drugs seized, 17 charged

A taxi driver allegedly carrying 34 bags of cocaine in his vehicle is among 17 people charged with drug-related offences after a police blitz in Sydney’s eastern suburbs at the ... Read more »

Newlywed husband sparks internet debate after putting wife on budget

A newlywed husband has sparked an internet debate this week after sharing that he was putting his wife on a ‘spending ban’ just months after their wedding. The man took ... Read more »

Big investment in green hydrogen production by Ineos

Chemical giant Ineos is to invest around £1.69 billion in green hydrogen production. The company said it will be Europe’s largest ever investment in electrolysis projects to make green hydrogen ... Read more »

Virgin Media O2 launches first joint product in bid to take on BT

Virgin Media O2 has launched its first joint product since the two company’s £31 billion merger earlier this year to take on BT. Customers of both brands can expect their ... Read more »

Molecule could prevent damaging cell changes caused by type 2 diabetes – study

Researchers have identified a molecule that could help prevent damage to cells caused by type 2 diabetes and obesity. They say a large proportion of the damaging chemical changes that ... Read more »

"She didn't deserve to die." 11 months after Melissa Caddick disappeared, her husband has spoken.

This post deals with suicide and might be triggering for some readers. © Getty Images “She didn’t deserve to die.” 11 months after Melissa Caddick disappeared, her husband has spoken. ... Read more »

Search for 4-year-old girl Cleo Smith ramps up in Western Australia

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo A desperate search for a missing four-year-old girl has entered its third day with police releasing footage of the remote campsite from where ... Read more »

Barnaby Joyce warns on Coalition after net zero impasse

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has warned of a “ripple effect” through the Coalition if his party is put under pressure to endorse a cut in carbon emissions to net zero ... Read more »

New trailers: The Beatles: Get Back, Narcos: Mexico, The Batman, Hawkeye, and more

Happy Succession day to all of us who are celebrating, the show returns tonight and I look forward to being welcomed back by the dissonant piano chords of its theme ... Read more »

Fauci says people 'react against me' when 'truth becomes inconvenient'

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Dr. Anthony Fauci has argued that he has been an easy target for conspiracy theorists because he makes recommendations based on ‘science, data and ... Read more »

ICAC inquiry into former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian begins today

An ICAC hearing into former New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is set to begin today. The public hearing will form part of an investigation into whether Ms Berejiklian breached ... Read more »

International travel 'vaccine passports' to be available this week

Australians are a step closer to travelling overseas as the Federal Government starts to roll out technology that proves your COVID-19 vaccine status around the world. From tomorrow, any Aussie ... Read more »

Man charged with assault over hammer attack and carjacking in Adelaide's south

© Provided by ABC NEWS (News Video) A man has been arrested over last week’s brazen hammer attack in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, in which an elderly driver was struck as he gave ... Read more »

Ex-Labor mayor to front corruption inquiry

A mayor of a council in Melbourne’s northeast who quit the Labor party after being accused of branch stacking is set to appear before an anti-corruption inquiry.  © Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS ... Read more »

Net zero by 2050 climate plan may not be decided by COP26, as Nationals' Barnaby Joyce warns against being 'forced into a corner'

© Provided by ABC NEWS The Nationals are still deciding on a climate plan for carbon neutrality by 2050. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty) Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce says his party ... Read more »

Victoria records 1903 cases of COVID-19 as Melbourne on cusp of freedom

Victoria has recorded 1903 new local coronavirus cases today as the state prepares for lockdown to be lifted this week. Another seven people died from the virus yesterday. There were ... Read more »