Monday, April 22, 2024

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Which should you buy?

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Samsung has just launched the Galaxy S24 Ultra, and it’s the best smartphone the company has ever made. There are a fair few spec upgrades, but even more experience upgrades that go beyond the spec sheet. The Galaxy S24 Ultra competes against the iPhone 15 Pro Max to be the best phone on the planet. But which phone is the better purchase? We explore how the two flagships stack against each other in this Galaxy S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max comparison!

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Specs

Display 6.8-inches AMOLED display
QHD+ resolution (3,120 x 1,440)
120Hz refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz), LTPO 3.0
HDR10+
2,600 nits peak brightness
6.7-inches AMOLED display
FHD+ resolution (2,796 x 1,290)
120Hz refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz), LTPO 3.0
HDR10+
2,000 nits peak brightness
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy Apple A17 Pro
RAM 12GB LPDDR5X 8GB
Storage 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB UFS 4.0 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
Battery and charging 5,000mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
5W reverse wireless charging
No charger in the box
4,422mAh battery
20W wired charging
15W wireless charging with MagSafe
No reverse wireless charging
No charger in the box
Cameras Rear:
– 200MP main
0.6 μm, f/1.7, 85-degree FoV
1/1.3-inch sensor
OIS and EIS

– 12MP ultrawide
1.4 μm, f/2.2, 120-degree FoV
1/2.55-inch sensor

– 10MP telephoto
3x optical zoom
1.12 μm, f/2.4, 36-degree FoV
1/3.52-inch sensor
OIS

– 50MP telephoto
5x optical zoom, f/3.4, OIS

– Laser AF

Front:
– 12MP
f/2.2, 80-degree FoV, AF

Camera app has pro controls

Rear:
– 48MP main
1.22 μm, f/1.78, sensor shift OIS and EIS

– 12MP ultrawide
1.4 μm, f/2.2, 120-degree FoV, AF

– 12MP periscope telephoto
5x optical zoom
1.12 μm, f/2.8, sensor shift
OIS

– ToF 3D LiDAR Scanner

Front:
– 12MP
f/1.9, AF

Camera app does not have pro controls

Video Rear:
8K at 24/30fps (main lens only)
4K at 30/60fps (all lenses)

Front:
4K at 30/60fps

Rear:
4K at 24/30/60fps (all lenses)

Front:
4K at 30/60fps

Audio Stereo speakers
Triple mics
No 3.5mm port
Stereo speakers
Triple mics
No 3.5mm port
Connectivity 5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 7
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC support
UWB
5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC support
UWB
Security Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
7 years of security updates
Face ID
Unspecified years of security updates
IP rating IP68 IP68
S Pen support Yes, integrated No
Software Android 14
One UI 6.1
iOS 17
Materials Gorilla Armor on the front
Titanium frame
Glass back
Ceramic Shield on the front
Titanium frame
Glass back
Dimensions and weight 162.3 x 79 x 8.6 mm
233g
159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25 mm
221g
Colors Titanium Black, Titanium Gray, Titanium Violet, Titanium Yellow

Samsung.com exclusive: Jade Green, Sapphire Blue, Sandstone Orange

Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, and Natural Titanium

Comparing the Galaxy S24 Ultra to the iPhone 15 Pro Max is tricky. The phones compete so strongly against each other that it’s hard to find tangible differences between them, as spec differences are nothing but minute nitpicking.

Take, for instance, the display. The iPhone 15 Pro Max has an excellent display with an FHD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and an impressive 2,000 nits of peak brightness. There’s virtually no fault with the display here; everyone who sees it will be wowed by it.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra homescreen standing

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Galaxy S24 Ultra goes one step ahead with a QHD+ resolution and an even more impressive 2,600 nits of peak brightness. Most users will be hard-pressed to notice the difference these specs suggest, especially now that the Galaxy S24 Ultra has a flat display, and the experience of using either phone is fantastic.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy, which is the best SoC that one could use on an Android flagship in 2024. On the other hand, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is powered by the Apple A17 Pro, the best SoC you can use on a smartphone in 2024. While both the SoCs are excellent, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has the edge here as the Apple A17 Pro is superior to Qualcomm’s offering. You wouldn’t notice the difference between the two in regular use, though.

iPhone 15 Pro with Skate City running on it

Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

When it comes to RAM, the Galaxy S24 Ultra has 12GB LPDDR5X RAM. Apple does not disclose RAM on the iPhone, but we know from teardowns of the iPhone 15 Pro Max that it comes with 8GB RAM. Both figures are plentiful for daily use. iOS uses RAM differently than Android, so while the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s 8GB is enough, the Galaxy S24 Ultra will multitask better. Both phones have similar internal storage options at 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB.

One big plus point in favor of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is that it is one of the only smartphones around that comes with an integrated stylus in the form of the S Pen. The S Pen opens up a lot of new functionality for note-taking, doodling, and even signing documents on the go. Samsung also has innovative Air Actions, where you can use the S Pen without touching the display. The iPhone 15 Pro Max completely misses out on the S Pen and does not even support other active stylus that Apple sells for the iPad, like the Apple Pencil.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has the S Pen advantage that the iPhone can’t match.

What the Galaxy S24 Ultra misses out on is MagSafe. It’s pretty handy on the iPhone 15 Pro Max to properly align wireless chargers and attach accessories like pop sockets, wallets, and more. The iPhone 15 Pro Max also has an Action button that you can customize to trigger practically any action you’d like.

Next, the OS is the most significant difference between the two phones. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra launches with One UI 6.1 based on Android 14, while the iPhone 15 Pro Max runs iOS 17. Both OS can perform the same functions but differ fundamentally in their experiences. There’s a good chance that which phone you buy is affected more by the OS than any other factor in this comparison, as everyone already has their favorites by this point in the Android vs iOS debate.

iOS 17 0 3 update iPhone 15 Pro

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

When it comes to software support, Samsung has a slight lead. While Apple has supported iPhones for a very long time with frequent software and security updates, the company does not make any commitments to updates. On the other hand, Samsung has promised seven years of Android platform and security updates for the Galaxy S24 Ultra. We’ve also seen the company diligently roll out security updates every month and quickly update its flagships to the latest Android version.

Apple has a bit of a lead when it comes to the ecosystem experience, though Samsung is not too far away. All of Apple’s products work wonderfully and seamlessly with each other. Samsung’s products do, too, but each of those ecosystem products compares differently against Apple’s products, and the balance tips in Apple’s favor by the end of it.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Design, size comparison, and colorsApple iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra standing

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

With the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple switched to Titanium as the primary build material, and Samsung has done the same with the Galaxy S24 Ultra. The mid-frame you touch on either phone will be Titanium, which is light and robust.

Surprisingly, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is marginally smaller, lighter, and subjectively more comfortable to hold. Apple chamfered the flat mid-frame, which makes the iPhone dig less into your palm. The phone measures 159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25 mm and weighs 221g.

On the other hand, Samsung went sharper and flatter, and the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the boxiest phone it has ever made. The Galaxy S24 Ultra measures 162.3 x 79 x 8.6 mm and weighs 232g, which is a tad bit bigger and heavier.

Samsung has more color options for the Galaxy S24 Ultra, though you can buy a few of them only if you order from Samsung.com. The Galaxy S24 Ultra comes in Titanium Black, Titanium Gray, Titanium Violet, and Titanium Yellow colors everywhere, and you can get the Jade Green, Sapphire Blue, and Sandstone Orange colors exclusively at Samsung.com.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is available in Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, and Natural Titanium colors.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Camera

iPhone 15 Pro Max and S24 Ultra 3

Credit: Damien Wilde / Android Authority

When it comes to cameras, the two phones take fairly different approaches. Samsung banks on pure specs and versatility alongside a good image processing pipeline, while Apple banks harder on the processing with computational photography and barely pays attention to the specifications.

For primary cameras, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra comes with a 200MP sensor that pixel bins down to produce 12.5MP images, bringing the effective size of each pixel to 2.4 μm. On the other hand, the iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a 48MP sensor that pixel bins down to produce 12MP images with an effective pixel size of 2.44 µm.

We’ll be testing the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s cameras in-depth, and we will provide camera samples of the same soon.

iPhone 15 Pro Max primary camera samples

Both phones have a similar 12MP wide-angle sensor with a 120-degree field-of-view.

iPhone 15 Pro Max ultrawide camera samples

The telephoto camera is where the phones differ again. The Galaxy S24 Ultra has two sensors here: a 10MP telephoto sensor that can achieve 3x optical zoom and a 50MP telephoto sensor that can achieve 5x optical zoom. On the other hand, the iPhone 15 Pro Max sticks to a 12MP periscope telephoto sensor for 5x optical zoom, preferring to let the primary camera handle all the ranges below this.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has a laser autofocus module to help the phone focus on images quickly. The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a ToF 3D LiDAR sensor that achieves the same, but it also captures more detailed depth information for augmented reality use cases.

Both phones have a 12MP front camera, but the iPhone has a wider aperture and autofocus.

iPhone 15 Pro Max front camera samples

Overall, Samsung and Apple have some of the best cameras in the business, and we expect the Galaxy S24 Ultra to be equally placed against the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Historically, the iPhones have better consistency across different lenses, and better video recording capabilities, whereas Samsung has shined with its versatility and offering social-media-ready photos.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Battery life and charging

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra colors on notepad

Galaxy S24 Ultra

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra has a beefy 5,000mAh battery with support for 45W fast charging. We’ll be running our battery life and charging tests to know how well this number performs, but we’re confident that this should be enough for a day’s use. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has the same battery size and charging speed, so we can draw a reasonable inference on how the Galaxy S24 Ultra could perform.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra lasts a day and a half of comfortable use, though it uses a different processor. It can fully charge its battery in an hour, which isn’t the fastest for an Android phone but is better than the iPhone. We can expect the Galaxy S24 Ultra to offer similar numbers.

Apple doesn’t disclose the iPhone’s battery life, but we know from teardowns and regulatory filings that the iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a 4,422mAh battery and possibly 27W fast charging. The number is smaller than that of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, but thanks to extensive iOS optimizations, the iPhone 15 Pro Max can easily last over one and a half days, in my experience. Charging the phone from 0% to 100% takes over two hours.

Battery life on both phones is great, but the iPhone has disappointing charging speed.

For wireless charging, both phones support 15W wireless charging, but through their proprietary solutions. If you want to charge through the Qi wireless charging standard, the Galaxy S24 Ultra drops to 10W, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max drops to 7.5W. The Galaxy S24 Ultra also supports reverse wireless charging, while the iPhone 15 Pro Max does not.

Note that neither phone comes with a charger in the box, so do remember to pick up a good, compatible charger.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Price and availability

Apple iPhone 15 Pro All colors 2

Credit: Aamir Siddiqui / Android Authority

  • Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (12GB + 256GB): $1,299.99
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (12GB + 512GB): $1,419.99
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (12GB + 1TB): $1,659.99
  • Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max (8GB + 256GB): $1,199
  • Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max (8GB + 512GB): $1,399
  • Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max (8GB + 1TB): $1,599

Samsung launched the Galaxy S24 Ultra on January 17, 2024. It is available to pre-order, with store availability from January 31, 2024. Pre-order offers include a free storage upgrade, a $100 Samsung credit (if purchased through Samsung.com), and 20% off on Samsung Care Plus with Theft and Loss plan.

Apple launched the iPhone 15 Pro Max on September 12, 2023. It was available to pre-order from September 15, 2023, with store availability from September 22, 2023. You can easily buy the phone these days as it is available everywhere.

The two phones are pretty close in pricing. There is a $100 price difference in the first storage option, but it comes down with trade-in offers, as Samsung usually offers a better price for your older phone. With offers, Samsung competes quite well against the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s pricing.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Which should you buy?

iPhone 15 Pro Max and S24 Ultra 1

Credit: Damien Wilde / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and the iPhone 15 Pro Max are two of the best smartphones you can buy in 2024. These are big phones, and their features are unapologetically overkill for most users. You should consider purchasing them only if you want the best and don’t mind paying top dollar. Both phones will serve you well for many years.

That said, the Galaxy S24 Ultra pips the iPhone 15 Pro Max in several specifications, but only by a small margin. You get a higher resolution display, faster wired charging, more versatility with your camera setup, and the unique S Pen on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Samsung’s One UI 6.1 experience is also great and makes you feel right at home with all its features. These extras easily justify the marginally higher pricing.

On the other hand, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has the best SoC in the market and is better to hold in the hand. iOS 17 provides a uniform and consistent user experience that the masses are familiar with. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is also known for consistency on its cameras and is especially preferred by social media content creators and videography enthusiasts.

Both phones are overkill flagships, and your choice will be ultimately influenced by whether you want an Android phone or an iPhone.

What phone you finally pick up will strongly depend on whether you are an Android or iOS user and what ecosystem you are already a part of.

FAQ

When did the iPhone 15 Pro Max come out?

The iPhone 15 Pro Max was launched on September 12, 2023, while open sales began on September 22, 2023.

Are the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max waterproof?

Yes, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max are waterproof. Both have an IP68 rating for water resistance, though the iPhone 15 Pro Max is rated for more depth in freshwater than the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Are the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max dual SIM and eSIM?

The iPhone 15 Pro Max supports dual SIM through eSIMs. Your phone will need to be carrier-unlocked to use it across two different carriers simultaneously. The Galaxy S24 Ultra supports dual SIM through physical SIM plus eSIM or dual eSIMs.

Do the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max support fast charging?

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra supports fast charging up to 45W, though it is still slow compared to other Android phones. Apple does not disclose the fast charging specification on the iPhone, but regulatory listings and leaks suggest the iPhone 15 Pro Max supports fast charging up to 27W, which is quite slow.

Do the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max have wireless charging?

Yes, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max both support wireless charging at up to 15W through their respective proprietary wireless chargers. They also support Qi wireless charging, albeit at slower speeds.

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