Galaxy S21 Ultra vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Which Should You Buy?

The Galaxy S21 Ultra (Samsung) was introduced to rival the iPhone 12 Pro Max (Apple). The mobile phones considered the most powerful of the moment, bring similarities of datasheet concerning 5G networks and absence of charger and headphones in the box. However, they present differences in specifications such as camera and operating system. Check below a comparison between the super-powerful smartphones.

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs iPhone 12 Pro Max Specifications

SpecificationsGalaxy S21 UltraiPhone 12 Pro Max
LaunchJanuary 2021October 2020
Current price$1,199$1,099
Screen6.8 inches6.7 inches
Screen resolutionQuad HD + (3200 x 1440)2778 x 1284 pixels
ProcessorExynos 2100Apple A14 Bionic
RAM12 and 16 GB6 GB
Storage128, 256 and 512 GB128, 256 and 512 GB
Memory cardno supportno support
Main cameraQuadruple Camera: 108, 12, 10 and 10 MPTriple Camera: 12, 12 and 12 MP
Front camera40 MP12 MP
Operating systemAndroid 11iOS 14
Battery5,000 mAh3,687 mAh
Dimensions and weight75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9 mm; 229 g160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4 mm; 226 g
Available colorsBlack, Silver and VioletBlue, Gold, Silver and Graphite
Source: Samsung, Apple and GSM Arena

Screen and Design

iPhone 12 pro max

The screens of the two smartphones do not show significant differences in terms of size. While the iPhone 12 Pro Max features 6.7 inches, the Galaxy S21 Ultra delivers 6.8 inches. The first major difference is the display technology. The Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with Dynamic AMOLED 2X, a technology that succeeds Super AMOLED and tends to deliver even more image quality mainly in terms of contrast and accuracy. The iPhone 12 Pro Max uses OLED.

Another difference appears in the resolution of the panels, an aspect that Galaxy S21 Ultra takes the upper hand. The South Korean giant’s mobile phone offers a Quad HD+ display (3200 x 1440 pixels), while Apple’s device comes with 2778 x 1284 pixels.

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Also, the refresh rate is another aspect that sets the two phones apart. The Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with variable technology that goes from 10 to 120 Hz, to adjust according to demand without consuming much battery. The iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with only the 60 Hz option.

However, the Apple smartphone took the title of the best screen in the world by the specialized website DisplayMate in November 2020. The device also comes with Ceramic Shield, which promises to be the most resistant glass on the market against falls and scratches.

In terms of design, the two are very different. While the iPhone 12 Pro Max still brings a wider notch to house audio output and front lens, the Galaxy S21 Ultra uses a centralized hole to accommodate the front camera. Both smartphones are also IP68 certified for water and dust resistance.


Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Galaxy S21 Ultra uses a quad camera, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max brings a triple camera. Samsung’s main camera is 108 MP and ultra-wide 12 MP. The arrangement also brings two more sensors, which are the telephoto cameras, both with 10 MP, but with different apertures, f/4.9 and f/2.4. The front camera registers selfies up to 40 MP.

The sensors of the iPhone 12 Pro Max are distributed between main, ultra-wide, and a telephoto camera. All cameras come with 12 MP. A highlight of the iPhone is the LiDAR sensor, responsible for creating the depth map of the environment to optimize the experience with the photos. Like the rear sensors, the front camera also offers 12 MP.

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In a ranking made by the specialized site DxOMark, the iPhone 12 Pro Max was behind mobile phone cameras like Huawei Mate 40 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra. Even though it didn’t get the first place, the smartphone received a significant score and compliments to the autofocus and accurate exposure but was left with the powerful zoom present in the rivals.

Galaxy S21 Ultra also brought us a new feature the Dual Zoom technology that uses both telephoto lenses. In effect, the tool will allow up to 100 times the time to take pictures by combining an optical and digital zoom.

Performance and storage

Galaxy S21 ultra

The two devices bring three storage possibilities: 128, 256, and 512 GB. Another feature in common is the lack of support for the memory card, making it impossible to expand the space for data via microSD. As for RAM, Apple does not disclose this specification, but specialized sites report that the smartphone has 6 GB. The Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with options of 12 GB and 16 GB of RAM.

The Galaxy S21 line launches the chipset Exynos 2100, a processor with 5 nanometers, just like the A14 Bionic seen on the iPhone 12 line devices. Besides the version with the own chip of the manufacturer which is used worldwide, Samsung makes available for some regions such as the United States the mobile phones with Snapdragon 888, by Qualcomm.


As well as RAM, there is no official information about the battery capacity of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. However, experts say that the Apple cell phone component carries 3,687 mAh. The company promises that the smartphone has an autonomy that delivers 20 hours of video playback, 12 hours of streaming, and 80 hours of audio playback.

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The apple company generated controversy by removing the plug adapter from the iPhone 12 line and Samsung followed in the footsteps of its rival with the Galaxy S21, failing to deliver this item as well.

Samsung provided 5,000 mAh for the battery capacity of the Galaxy S21. Recharging can be done with fast charging or without the use of wires. Besides, it also brings the possibility of reverse charging.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max uses MagSafe technology, a set of magnets present in the devices of the line that allow charging by magnetism. The system can also be used to attach hoods and other accessories.

System Version

iOs 14 features

The iPhone 12 Pro Max has left the factory with iOS 14 and should receive the update for iOS 15. Apple’s operating system update is expected to be presented at this year’s WWDC event. The Galaxy S21 arrives with Android 11, Google’s most recent operating system.

Additional Features

5G connectivity

Both mobile phones are equipped with 5G and NFC internet to make proximity payments. One of the highlights of the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the support for the S Pen electronic pen, an accessory that until then was exclusive to the Galaxy Note line models. There is no space to house the item in the structure of the device, but Samsung may present little hoods with this feature that may still come with the S Pen.

The UWB chip is also present on the S21 Ultra to perform actions such as unlocking and starting the car that is compatible with the technology.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with the MagSafe magnet system that can also accommodate a small wallet with credit card support, for example. The cell phone also features Face ID, unlocking using facial recognition.


The iPhone 12 Pro Max arrived in the market in November for prices that starting from $1,099 depending on the storage capacity.

Galaxy S21 Ultra was announced in January of this year for the price of $1,999.

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