Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro Max are among the best flagship phones on the market right now. They represent the best of what Samsung and Apple have to offer, bringing the latest technology available and high-resolution cameras.
Read the comparison below if you want to buy the Galaxy S21 Ultra or iPhone 13 Pro Max but are confused about which option is right for you.
Dimensions and build quality
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm; 227 grams; IP68 dust and water resistant
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65 mm; 240 grams; IP68 dust and water resistant
Both phones have a super premium build, with the iPhone 13 Pro Max using a stainless steel frame and the Galaxy S21 Ultra using an aluminum frame. On the front and back, both these phones use durable hard glass to ensure they don’t crack or break easily. Both Samsung and Apple are dust and water resistant to IP68 standards.
The only problem with the iPhone 13 Pro Max is that it has a Lightning connector, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a more common USB-C port. Both phones are equipped with 5G connectivity, WiFi 6/6E, Ultra-Wideband, etc..
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: Dynamic AMOLED 2x 6.8 inches; resolution 1440 x 3200; 515 PPI; 1500 nits maximum brightness; 120Hz dynamic refresh rate; HDR10+; Gorilla Glass Victus; Always-on Display technology.
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display; 2778 x 1284 resolution; 458 PPI; typical brightness 1000 nits/maximum brightness 1200 nits; HDR; Ceramic Shield protection features; 120Hz ProMotion; True Tone technology
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro Max have almost identical screens, 6.8 inches and 6.7 inches respectively.
Both phones are equipped with high-resolution LTPO OLED panels with a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate, which means they can automatically adjust the refresh rate depending on the content being displayed. You will not regret choosing either of these options, as they are rated as the best on the market.
The screen of the Galaxy S21 Ultra has one advantage: Always-on Display, which Apple continues to miss on its iPhone.
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100; 5nm fab; Adreno 660/Arm Mali-G78 MP14
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: A15 Bionic; 5nm fab; New 16-core Neural Engine; 5 core GPU
The A15 Bionic inside the iPhone 13 Pro Max is two to three generations faster than the Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100 integrated inside the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Samsung’s chip is one of the fastest in the Android ecosystem, but it can’t match the A15 Bionic in terms of power and efficiency.
The A15 Bionic’s 5-core GPU is also significantly faster than the Adreno/Mali GPU found inside the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Samsung’s offering may be one of the best performing Android smartphones out there, but it pales in comparison to Apple’s chip power.
RAM and Memory
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: RAM 12/16GB; 256GB/512GB memory
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: RAM 6GB; Memory 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
The Galaxy S21 Ultra ships with twice as much RAM (12GB) and storage (256GB) as the base iPhone 13 Pro Max version, although you can opt for a different version of the 13 Pro Max with more storage. up to 1TB. The basic iPhone 13 Pro Max version will only let you record ProRes videos in Full HD (you’ll need one of the versions with higher memory if you want to shoot in 4K).
Although the Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with twice the amount of RAM, it doesn’t outperform the iPhone 13 Pro Max in multitasking and keeping apps in memory. Both devices are quite similar in this respect, with the iPhone once again able to accept limited hardware thanks to Apple’s software optimization.
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: 108MP f/1.8 main, 0.8µm large pixels, OIS and PDAF; 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide (FoV 120 degrees); 3x 10MP f/2.4 optical zoom sensor with OIS; 10MP f/4.9 10x optical zoom with OIS; 100x digital zoom; front camera: 40MP f/2.2 with autofocus
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: 12MP f/1.5 primary, dual pixel PDAF, sensor-shift stabilization; 12MP f/2.8 telephoto lens, 3x digital zoom, OIS; 12MP ultra-wide camera with f/1.8 aperture (120-degree FoV), macro photography; Front camera: 12MP f/2.2
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra may have a significantly higher resolution main camera than the iPhone 13 Pro Max, but the overall image quality of the two phones is roughly the same. Image resolution is similar, as the S21 Ultra outputs 12MP pixel-binning photos.
Both phones offer the best smartphone camera experience available, and you won’t regret either.
The sensor-shift stabilization on the iPhone 13 Pro Max gives this phone a slight edge, as it can provide longer exposure times in low-light shots than the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra has a more flexible zoom camera setup. In addition to the 3x optical zoom lens, the S21 Ultra also has a 10x telephoto lens, allowing it to capture sharp and usable photos even at higher zoom levels. In fact, Samsung offers 100x digital zoom on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, although the results at such a zoom level are barely usable.
The front camera of both devices is essentially the same, although Samsung offers a higher 40MP resolution. The iPhone can take noisy selfies in low light, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra tends to make the photos blurry.
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: 5000mAh battery; 25W fast wired charging; 15W wireless charging; 4.5W . reverse wireless charging
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: 4352mAh battery; 15W MagSafe wireless charging support; 7.5W with Qi wireless charger; 50% charge in 35 minutes with 20W . wired charger
In theory, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a significantly larger battery than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. However, actual tests have shown that the iPhone 13 Pro Max lasts several hours longer than Samsung products in most situations.
iPhone 13 Pro Max is the smartphone with the longest lifespan in many tests conducted online. This is because Apple’s tight integration of hardware and software allows it to optimize its iPhones and get the best battery life possible, despite its relatively small battery.
Although not mentioned, the iPhone 13 Pro Max supports wired charging speeds of up to 27W. However, both iPhones take longer to reach full capacity because Apple tends to slowly charge the battery after about 70% to increase its lifespan.
Both phones support 15W wireless charging speeds, but the iPhone 13 Pro Max can only achieve this speed when used with a MagSafe charger. It also doesn’t have reverse wireless charging, which can be useful for wirelessly charging Bluetooth headphones or other accessories when you’re on the go.
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: Starting at $1199
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: Starting at $1099
The Galaxy S21 Ultra has a higher starting price than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. However, that is only in theory as the device is often discounted by various retailers to less than $1000. On the other hand, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is rarely discounted, especially if you’re going to buy the unlocked version.
Despite the small price difference, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is still a more attractive phone as software updates mean it can easily last for about 5 years or more, an aspect that doesn’t make it any better. Galaxy S21 Ultra is a bit weak. Samsung will provide the Galaxy S21 Ultra with 3 years of operating system updates.
Should you buy the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the iPhone 13 Pro Max?
Aside from the hardware differences, the most significant difference between the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the operating system they run: Android versus iOS. Which is right will depend on your use case and what you expect from your phone.
However, no matter which device you choose, remember these two phones represent the best ecosystem available today and you won’t regret choosing them. However, if you value battery life and a consistent experience, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the more appealing option.