Samsung S21 Ultra Vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Battle for the Top Spot

by January 25, 2021 0 comments

When you review something comparing it to something else always gives you a better idea of how the device is going to perform. If you’re looking at the Samsung S21 ultra then you’re probably considering the iPhone 12 Pro Max. These are both expensive smartphones and probably the best phones you can buy today. For someone who’s throwing that kind of cash down you want to make sure you choose the right one.

Design: Look and Feel

I will say this, from a design standpoint they both look absolutely gorgeous. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has this boxy big look. It looks very luxurious with its stainless steel edges and feels very hefty in the hand. The Samsung S21 ultra has more of a futuristic look. It reminds of a cyborg but embedded with cameras into the body. If you’re holding these devices the Samsung S21 Ultra is much nicer in the hand. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is thicker, wider, and it takes up more space in your palm making it more difficult to hold. Whereas the Samsung S21 Ultra even though it has a bigger display the phone is not as wide, so it takes up less space in the hand overall.


Displays are always a touchy subject. They’re both OLED. Samsung S21 Ultra has Samsung’s own dynamic OLED. However, if you want more of a color accurate look and vibe then you’re going to want to go with the iPhone 12 Pro Max. If you want more of a punchy contrast look and feel then you go with the Samsung Galaxy S21 ultra. It’s not going to be as accurate in terms of how they calibrate it, but it just looks amazing.

Then you look at the iPhone but still you can’t help but keep your eyes on the Samsung Galaxy S21 ultra. There’s no 120 hertz on the iPhone and when you use the smartphone every day, and you learn to appreciate that 120 hertz display.

Battery Life:

Well there’s a 5000 mAh battery inside the Samsung S21 Ultra, and I’m getting seven to eight hours of screen on time at 120 hertz with the resolution set to QHD+. I’m finishing the day with 60 to 65 percent. Now the iPhone 12 Pro Max battery life is insane. Even though the battery’s smaller and the optimizations with the processor inside and apples the vertical integration just gives you more battery life overall. Both of these phones are very close in terms of battery life.


With all of us wearing masks the fingerprint scanner is everything. Using facial recognition in the current pandemic situation is neither safe nor advisable. This year Samsung increased the size of the fingerprint scanner. It’s a little faster but not as accurate as the optical scanner you’ve seen on most phones, but it’s a big improvement. On the iPhone you need to put in the passcode to unlock it each time you’re wearing a mask, but the Face ID is still as good if not better on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Software and UI:

The one area I don’t think Samsung is getting enough credit is the software experience. The One UI 3.0 update is absolutely awesome. The notification system combined with Android 11 is a lot more intuitive. Bixby’s still there, but it’s just lurking in the background it’s not in your face bothering you. Now when you swipe right on the Samsung you get Google as you are supposed to get on an Android device. Before you had to install some sort of launcher but that’s no longer the case.


We’re led to believe the more money you spend on a smartphone the better the camera is supposed to be. For example this iPhone 12 Pro Max can zoom in 0.5 times more than all the other iPhones. It also has a bigger sensor that allows in more low light which is supposed to be better for nighttime photography.

The Samsung S21 ultra on the other hand has a 108 MP camera upping the megapixel count compared to the S21. It also has four lenses to work with the wide lens, the ultra-wide lens, a periscope lens that can zoom in up to 10 times in and a regular telephoto lens that can do three times. Here’s the thing however, both of these devices have excellent cameras as they should. So it really comes down to what type of color science you prefer. Samsung has always been known to make photos look super contrasty and they still are, but it’s not as aggressive as they used to be. Samsung’s devices tend to lean towards a cooler tone with a bit of overexposure in some instances whereas the iPhone has more of a balanced white exposure with yellow tones to give the photo more of a warmer look.

When it comes to nighttime photography they both did an amazing job with a slight edge to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. It still leans towards more to a cooler tone. At nighttime the iPhone is really letting those yellows in to give the night look a more warm experience.


As for performance I don’t think it really matters. We’re at the point now where these chips are just so fast. The Snapdragon 888 and the Exynos chip feels insanely smooth considering they packed 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD. In the most high-end Samsung S21 ultra you get the 128 GB or 256 GB with 12 GB of RAM. Even though Apple technically has the fastest A14 Bionic on paper one phone does not feel faster than the other. There’s literally nothing we’re doing on our phones today to really push this hardware.

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