Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: don’t buy the wrong one

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Renders of the Galaxy S24 and iPhone 15 next to each other.Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S24 is the newest flagship phone on the market, joining its stablemates, the Galaxy S24 Plus and Galaxy S24 Ultra in Samsung’s latest range. While not obvious from the outside, the Galaxy S24 has had some hefty upgrades — including a new, more powerful processor, an improved and larger display, and Samsung’s all-new Galaxy AI. With prices starting at $800, the Samsung Galaxy S24 is a strong choice if you’re looking for a great flagship smartphone that doesn’t cost four figures.

Contents

  • Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: specs
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: design and display
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: performance, battery life, charging
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: cameras
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: software and updates
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: special features
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: price and availability
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: Which should you buy?Show 3 more items

But it’s not alone in this space. Apple’s iPhone 15 also starts from $800 and has a strong processor, a great camera, battery life, and the polished iOS 17. Both devices have a lot to love, and you may be unsure which of these two suits you better.  That’s why we’ve compared the Samsung Galaxy S24 and Apple iPhone 15, pitting the two head to head, explaining the differences, and letting you know which is better.

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Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: specs

Samsung Galaxy S24
Apple iPhone 15

Size
147.1 x 70.6 x 7.6 mm (5.79 x 2.78 x 0.30 inches)
147.6 x 71.6 x 7.8 mm (5.81 x 2.82 x 0.31 inches)

Weight
168 grams (5.89 ounces)
171 grams (6.03 ounces)

Screen size
6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X (Dynamic 1-120Hz)
6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED (60Hz)

Screen resolution
2340 x 1080 resolution at 416 pixels per inch
2556 x 1179 resolution at 461 pixels per inch

Operating system
Android 14 with One UI 6.1
iOS 17

Storage
128GB, 256GB
128GB, 256GB, 512GB

MicroSD card slot
No
No

Tap-to-pay services
Google Pay, Samsung Pay
Apple Pay

Processor
Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
Apple A16 Bionic

RAM
8GB
6GB

Cameras
Rear: 50-megapixel primary, 12MP ultrawide, and 10MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom

Front: 12MP

Rear: 48MP primary, 12MP ultrawide

Front: 12MP

Video
Rear: Up to 8K at 30 frames per second (fps), 4K at 60 fps, FHD at 120 fps, and 960 fps for slow motion

Front: Up to 4K at 60 fps

Rear: Up to 8K at 30 frames per second (fps), 4K at 60 fps, FHD at 120 fps, and 960 fps for slow motion

Front: Up to 4K at 60 fps

Bluetooth
Yes, Bluetooth 5.3
Yes, Bluetooth 5.3

Ports
USB-C
USB-C

Biometrics
Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor and face recognition
Face ID facial recognition

Water resistance
IP68
IP68

Battery
4,000mAh

Super Fast Charging 2.0 (25W)

Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 (15W)

Wireless PowerShare (4.5W)

3,349mAh

Fast charging

Fast wireless charging 2.0 (15W)

Reverse wireless charging (4.5W)

App marketplace
Google Play Store
Apple App Store

Network support
5G
5G

Colors
Cobalt Violet, Amber Yellow, Marble Gray, Onyx Black
Black, blue, green, yellow, pink

Price
From $800
From $800

Available from
All major offline and online retailers
All major offline and online retailers

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: design and display


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Two Samsung Galaxy S24 units standing upright next to each other.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Holding a green iPhone 15 in a rose garden.

Apple iPhone 15 Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

These are two beautiful phones with two distinct but similar designs. The glass and metal builds are sleek and stylish, with great-looking rear panels and plenty of color options. Both fronts have slim bezels and an all-encompassing display, only broken by openings for the front-facing cameras. The iPhone 15’s front camera has a significantly larger cutout to allow for the Face ID array, but Apple has included the Dynamic Island to help this blend in a little better. The Galaxy S24’s much smaller hole punch may be preferable to those who want their display to be a bit more uninterrupted.

Speaking of the displays, both are gorgeous OLED panels with true blacks and vibrant colors. There’s only a small difference in screen size, and while the iPhone 15 has a slightly sharper resolution, it’s really not by very much at all, and you’ll struggle to see a significant difference. There’s definitely a difference in the refresh rate, though, and while the iPhone 15’s 60Hz refresh rate is helped by the general speed and smoothness of the device, it’s hard to argue for it when it’s up against the S24’s much higher refresh rate. Samsung has upgraded the Galaxy S24’s display to a dynamic 1-120Hz refresh rate, so it’s smooth when it needs to be and battery-saving when it doesn’t. You also get an always-on display in the S24, which you just don’t get with the iPhone 15.

It’s hardly controversial to say both of these are gorgeous phones, and it’s hard to pick a winner on just design. However, the Galaxy S24 is clearly the winner here, with a much more advanced refresh rate.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: performance, battery life, charging

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S24 has a new processor behind the wheel: The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. We haven’t had much chance to take it for a spin yet, but it’s more than safe to assume it’ll be a powerful piece of processing tech and capable of anything you might want from a smartphone. Few games or apps are likely to put a dent in its capabilities, and it’ll run smoothly and without any lag if the previous generation of chips is any guide.

The Apple iPhone 15 doesn’t benefit from the latest processor from Apple (that’s the A17 Pro in the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max), but it’s still a powerful piece of kit and likely able to go toe-to-toe with the Galaxy S24’s chip. While one may be technically more powerful than the other, it won’t make a real-world difference in your use.

It’s hard to gauge the Galaxy S24’s battery since we haven’t had much time with it yet, but it’s fair to expect it to come near the performance of the Galaxy S23. Last year’s Samsung flagship managed two days on a single charge, admittedly when being used as a secondary phone — but it’s likely that puts it at least equal to or better than the iPhone 15’s battery life, which lasted well over a day on a single charge. Charging speeds on both could definitely be faster, but they’re certainly not disappointing. The Galaxy S24’s 25W charging speed does give it an edge in charging speed, but it’s not enormous and, again, won’t make much of a difference in real-world use.

It’s a tough one to call, as both are powerful, long-lasting devices. We’re calling this one a tie for now.

Winner: Tie

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: cameras

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Camera quality is one of the hottest battlegrounds between Apple and Android fans, and we’re sorry to say that while both are strong camera phones, there’s definitely a winner here. At least for the moment.

We’ll start with the iPhone 15. As you might expect, it’s one of the best around, and Apple has equipped the iPhone 15’s two lenses with some excellent capabilities. There’s a 48-megapixel main lens paired with a 12MP ultrawide lens, and it produces some very strong shots. Details are superb, and the new Auto Portrait mode is perfect for grabbing shots of even the most active subjects. The 48MP main lens also functions as a decent 2x telephoto alternative, thanks to the high megapixel count, helping to make up for the lack of a true telephoto lens.

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

But does it make up for not actually having that third lens? That’s a hard call, but probably not. The Samsung Galaxy S24 has that third lens, a 3x 10MP telephoto lens, and it does make the difference in this matchup. The Samsung Galaxy S24’s triple-lens setup comprises a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide, and the aforementioned 10MP telephoto zoom camera — and the extra lens gives the Samsung phone a versatility the iPhone can’t really match.

It’s a close call, and this might have gone the other way with one extra lens on the iPhone, but for now, we’re giving this to the Samsung Galaxy S24.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: software and updates

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S24 runs Samsung’s One UI 6.1 skin over Android 14, which looks and feels great. Samsung’s software is much better than it used to be, and One UI is something of a triumph. Whether you prefer it or a more stock flavor of Android comes down to personal preference, but it’s not something that should put you off the phone.

The iPhone 15 runs iOS 17; similarly, it’s a strong operating system. It’s easy to use, well laid out, and, thanks to the powerful processor, it’s smooth and sleek.

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Apple used to enjoy a hefty lead on updates, thanks to its long history of updating phones way past when other manufacturers would have given up. That’s changed recently with Android manufacturers like Google offering support for much longer, and with the Galaxy S24 range, Samsung promises an incredible seven years of updates.

That takes the Galaxy S24 up to the level of the iPhone 15, and it’s a big step in the right direction. However, Samsung still has some way to go where update speed is concerned. Since Samsung has to make its own One UI interface for every new version of Android, it can take months for a new update to finally hit Samsung devices. That’s not the case for Apple’s devices, as all devices get updates on or near day one of release, giving the iPhone 15 the edge here.

Winner: Apple iPhone 15

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: special features

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Flagship smartphones are playgrounds for new special features, so there’s no shortage of fun to be found on both of these. Apple is generally more conservative on this front, but there’s still plenty to highlight here. The latest addition is the Dynamic Island, which debuted on the base iPhone range after being introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro line.

Dynamic Island uses the space around the large selfie timer cutout to highlight timers, playing media, and anything else you may need, such as small but constant reminders. Getting a countdown to your pizza’s arrival is fun, even if it’s always wrong. Dynamic Island has been a bit of a letdown, given how much Apple originally pushed it, so don’t expect this to be a defining part of your iPhone 15 use. This is especially true when you can add Dynamic Island to any Android phone.

MagSafe will likely be something you use more often and allows for more reliable wireless charging and the attachment of other magnetic accessories. Siri is as useful (or not, depending on whether you use it or not) as ever, and Face ID is incredibly convenient to use. But the iPhone’s standout special feature will always be the mute switch on the side. This will likely turn into the Action button next year on the iPhone 16, echoing the change in the iPhone 15 Pro, but for now, it’s still here — and it’s still excellent.

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Samsung can be a little more experimental, and the Galaxy S-range bears the mark of that long legacy. Many of Samsung’s older experiments still hang around in the newest models, including useful features you might have forgotten, like the desktop-emulating DeX mode. As an Android phone, it also has access to the Google Assistant. But that’s not the peak of AI brilliance now, as the Samsung Galaxy S24 also includes something new: Galaxy AI. The jury’s out on whether this actually provides much of a boost for the phone, and while it’s left a good first impression, we’ll have to wait and see on this front.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 has several useful features, but we’re not actually sure whether they’ll be something you use every day or not. The iPhone 15’s mute switch and Face ID are definitely more useful, special features, and some of the biggest reasons to prefer an iPhone at this stage.

Winner: Apple iPhone 15

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: price and availability

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S24 is available for preorder and will be fully released on January 31. It starts from $800 for the 128GB variant, and you’ll be able to find it in a number of retailers and at most major carriers.

The Apple iPhone 15 is currently available for sale and also starts from $800 for 128GB of storage. Like the S24, you’ll find the iPhone 15 at pretty much every U.S. carrier and at most retailers that stock smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: Which should you buy?

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

This article boils down to this one question: Which of these two excellent phones should you buy? Unfortunately, it’s not a question with a straightforward answer. The Samsung Galaxy S24 technically wins out in this comparison, with wins for its advanced display refresh rate and versatile camera. But the appeal of an iPhone runs deeper than mere specs, and we all know the answer to which phone you buy is a deeply personal decision. Your own history with these two brands will play a huge role in your choice, too.

Also, take a look at the rest of the tech ecosystem you use. If you use Apple devices primarily elsewhere, like iPads or MacBooks, then keep in mind that the iPhone 15 will automatically mesh more strongly with those devices, allow you to take phone calls on your iPad or Macbook, and generally “play nice.” The Samsung Galaxy range, on the other hand, supports a closer link to Windows PCs with the Link to Windows feature.

It may seem like a cop-out, but it’s absolutely true. It also helps that the iPhone 15 is an excellent phone on its own merits. If you want the best smartphone out of the pair of them, then the Samsung Galaxy S24 is the way to go. But if you’re already invested in Apple’s ecosystem, the Apple iPhone 15 may be a better fit for you.


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