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The Samsung S21 Ultra and the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max are two of the very highest-end smartphones available today. They both represent the best of what their individual manufacturers can do.

If you’re in the market for a true top of the line phone, these two are doubtlessly on your shortlist–but of course you’d be interested in advice to help you choose just one, right? In this Samsung vs. iPhone article, we’ve put together a list of considerations that can help you make that choice. Read on!

Basic Specs

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (left), iPhone 12 Pro Max (right)

These two phones run each other close in terms of their physical attributes. The S21 Ultra measures 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm and weighs in at 229 grams, whereas the 12 Pro Max is 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4 mm and weighs 228 grams.

In terms of screen size, the Galaxy Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen is slightly larger at 6.8 in than the iPhone’s 6.7 in Super Retina XDR OLED screen. But the Galaxy pulls ahead in terms of screen resolution, boasting 3200 x 1440 pixels (515 pixels per square inch) to the iPhone’s 2778 x 1284 pixels (458 pixels per inch).

The Galaxy uses quite a bit more RAM than the Apple does, at either 12GB or 16GB versus the Apple’s 6GB.

Both phones offer the same internal storage tiers–128GB, 256GB and 512GB, and neither comes with a card slot to expand internal storage.


iPhone 12 Pro Max (left), Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (right)

Both these phones’ manufacturers elected to take their design forward quite a bit vis-a-vis their predecessors. The Galaxy’s edge-to-edge display boasts almost razor-thin bezels and a punch-hole selfie camera–plus a redone rear camera bump that’s better and more stylishly integrated into the phone.

As for the iPhone, it’s got a smaller notch up top than older iPhones, and of course its edges are now flat instead of rounded.

The S21 Ultra can be had in Phantom Silver and Phantom Black, whereas the 12 Pro Max comes in Graphite, Silver, Gold and Pacific Blue.

Performance and Battery Life

Samsung saw fit to assign its own Exynos 2100 processor to duty in the S21 Ultra. Thanks to this as well as the fact that the phone boasts 12GB or 16GB of RAM, even the most demanding games, and instances where you need to use multiple apps, just fly by.

For the iPhone’s part, however, it’s powered by the A14 Bionic–Apple’s latest and greatest mobile chip–which is so efficient and powerful that 6GB of RAM is all this phone needs to make it a performance monster too.

As far as batteries go, on paper the Galaxy has a clear edge with its 5000mAh battery, comfortably larger than the iPhone’s 3687mAh battery. That being said, under most usage scenarios, both phones will last more than a day on a single charge.

Camera Set

iPhone 12 Pro Max (left), Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (right)

Samsung has been trumpeting the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s camera as one of the world’s most powerful and capable, and it really does turn heads thanks to its whopping 108MP main wide lens (the rest of the Galaxy’s camera set is hardly chopped liver: 12MP ultrawide, a 10MP telephoto lens, and another 10MP telephoto lens with better zoom capabilities). The S21 Ultra’s selfie snapper is a 40MP affair.

For the iPhone’s part, its main snapper is a triple 12MP camera that might seem to lose out to the Galaxy’s camera set in terms of sheer megapixel count but is actually ahead in some areas such as low-light photography. The iPhone’s selfie cam is a fixed-focus 12MP lens.

In terms of video, the Galaxy is capable of taking 8K at 30 frames per second (fps), 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps, and HDR12. The iPhone can manage 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 120 fps, and HDR10.

Both phones take superb photos and video and they excel in different areas–while the Galaxy pulls ahead in terms of its amazing zoom capabilities (and has a nifty Vlogger View mode that allows video capture using both front and rear cameras simultaneously), the iPhone is superior in other areas such as night shots and outdoor shots.


iPhone 12 Pro Max (left), Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (right)

The Galaxy runs on Samsung’s OneUI 3, the company’s skin for Android 11, whereas the iPhone runs on iOS 14. Both OSs have their advantages and drawbacks, such that it might be best to leave the question of superiority to one’s personal preferences.

What’s not in doubt is that the iPhone is still ahead in terms of updates. New versions of iOS are rolled out to all iPhone users worldwide at the same time and, moreover, iPhones continue to be compatible with newer iOS versions for several years after purchase.

Samsung can’t quite say the same given that updates aren’t always immediately available and that its phones aren’t always supported for very long.

Interesting Features

iPhone 12 Pro Max (left), Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (right)

Last up is a set of interesting features that might endear either phone to potential users.

The Galaxy is the first of Samsung’s S series phones to support its S Pen, which up to this point has been an exclusive accessory for the Note series. The S Pen is a boon to those who like to use stylii on their phones, and this compatibility is a major plus for the S21 Ultra. However, the S21 Ultra doesn’t come with a slot for the S Pen, neither can it use all of the S Pen’s special features.

For its part, the iPhone works with Apple’s MagSafe accessories. Users can attach various accessories to the rear of the phone via magnets, allowing for magnetic charging. The feature also works with certain MagSafe-compatible cases.

Finally, both of these phones support the cutting-edge 5G wireless network technology, promising ultrarapid mobile connection when 5G really gets up to speed here in the Philippines.

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