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Galaxy S10e vs iPhone Xs Max (2021): Which Is Better For You?

As the latest flagship phones from the two most popular brands go head-to-head at three different size and price points, how does Samsung’s cheapest match against Apple’s biggest? With only a 5.8″ display, the Galaxy S10e plays David to the Goliath of the massive 6.5″ iPhone Xs Max. But despite being at opposite ends of their lineups, they’re pretty close in some aspects, and their pros and cons will point you towards the better choice for your next phone.

Galaxy S10e vs iPhone XS Max Comparison Chart

ModelGalaxy S10e 128GBiPhone Xs Max 64GB

Display5.8″ AMOLED6.5″ OLED
Resolution1080 x 2280 pixels1242 x 2688 pixels
Pixel Density438 ppi458 ppi
Screen-to-Body Ratio83.3%84.4%
Height142.2 mm157.5 mm
Width69.9 mm77.4 mm
Thickness7.9 mm7.7 mm
Weight150 g208 g
System ChipQualcomm Snapdragon 855Apple A12 Bionic
ProcessorOcta-core, 2.7 GHz, 2.3 GHz, 1.9 GHzHexa-core, 2.49 GHz, 1.52 GHz
Internal Storage128GB, 256GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB
Expandable MemoryMicroSD (Up to 512GB)None
Front Camera10MP, ƒ/1.97MP, ƒ/2.2, TrueDepth 3D
Rear CameraWide-angle 12MP, ƒ/1.5 or ƒ/2.4, Ultra-wide 16MP, ƒ/2.2Wide-angle 12MP, ƒ/1.8, Telephoto 12MP, ƒ/2.4
BiometricsFingerprint sensor, Facial recognitionFacial recognition
BuildAluminum and glassStainless steel and glass
ColorsPrism Black, Prism Blue, Prism White, Flamingo PinkGold, Space Gray, Silver
Water ResistanceIP68IP68
Battery Capacity3100 mAh3174 mAh
Battery LifeUp to 12 hoursUp to 13 hours
Fast ChargingYesYes (with separate accessory)
PortsUSB-C, 3.55 mm audioLightning
ReleasedMarch 2019September 2018


The iPhone Xs Max is a lot bigger and heavier.

Galaxy S10e vs iPhone Xs Max Design
Here’s the relative difference in size between the Galaxy S10e (left) and the iPhone Xs Max (right).

Let’s start with the most obvious discrepancy — the iPhone Xs Max physically dwarfs the Samsung Galaxy S10e. Featuring a vibrant screen and a shiny stainless steel finish, it simply looks gorgeous front and back, and it’ll definitely feel as premium as its expensive price tag suggests. If you wanted the largest iPhone you can get your hands on, Apple proudly presents its best yet.

Note that we used “hands” though, as the huge size does mean you’ll need two hands to comfortably use the iPhone Xs Max. Unless you have really big hands, its wider and longer dimensions as well as heavier weight can make it unwieldy and prone to slipping from your fingers. Not to worry, as Apple claims it has the most durable glass on a phone, able to survive drops of around 6 feet without cracking. It can also survive being submerged in up to 2 meters of water for thirty minutes. Not that you should try testing either, but it’s a nice thing to remember for your peace of mind.

In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S10e is simply compact by current standards. It’s about 25% lighter than the iPhone Xs Max, with an aluminum finish covered by tough Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides. Unlike the curved screen of its bigger brother Galaxy S10, it features a flat front, which some might prefer since it’s easier to tap along the edges.

Both have comparably large screen-to-body ratios. Samsung’s take on solving the display space taken up by the front camera is a tiny circle at the top-right corner. This seems less intrusive than the black notch at the top of the iPhone Xs Max, although aesthetic preferences will vary. Elsewhere, the S10e has a capacitive fingerprint scanner along the top right edge, a placement that feels natural at least for right-handed people, while Apple opted to remove this biometric feature entirely. Finally, on the bottom of the S10e you can still find a 3.55 mm audio jack, an increasing rarity among top-end smartphones.


The iPhone Xs Max has a huge display.

iPhone Xs Max Display
Everything will look better on the sharp, ultra-bright screen of the iPhone Xs Max.

At 6.5 inches, the Super Retina display of the iPhone Xs Max makes it the largest iPhone ever. It offers 1242 x 2688 pixels’ worth of screen real estate at 458 ppi, and it’s just beautiful to look at. Color hues look more accurate and black levels are deeper thanks to its OLED display’s 124% sRGB color gamut. With a larger screen and body, the black bar at the top also looks much smaller than on other iPhones.

The Galaxy S10e’s smaller 5.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED display offers less resolution and pixel density, a 1080 x 2280 pixels and 438 ppi, but it’s no less impressive for it. Everything looks sharp and well-contrasted, with colors staying the same despite its automatic reduction of harmful blue light. It’s also just as bright as the iPhone Xs Max at 603 vs 606 nits. Even though it’s the much cheaper phone, the Galaxy S10e still clearly looks like the premium device that it is.


The Samsung Galaxy S10e is nearly as fast as the iPhone Xs Max.

Galaxy S10e Performance
With the same CPU as Samsung’s flagship S10, the S10e can run resource-intensive games easily.

As part of each company’s flagship line, both the S10e and Xs Max pack the best chipsets and processors Samsung and Apple offers. Benchmark testing show that Apple’s six-core A12 Bionic is only slightly ahead of the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855. On AnTuTu, the iPhone Xs Max received an overall score of 354.804, while the Galaxy S10e received 340.345. On Geekbench 4, the former scored 11,515 vs the latter’s 10,513.

Despite getting lower benchmark scores, this actually goes in favor of the Galaxy S10e when you consider the price difference between the two. You can essentially expect the same level of performance that the iPhone Xs Max is capable of in a cheaper, more compact body. What’s even more impressive is that the S10e has the clear edge on the Xs Max when it comes to 3D graphics, with a score of 6037 vs 4212 on 3DMark’s Sling Shot Extreme Unlimited benchmark test, letting you play even the most demanding mobile games smoothly.


The iPhone Xs Max has better cameras.

iPhone Xs Max Cameras
You can get more detailed and color-accurate photos with the iPhone Xs Max.

Both devices sport two rear cameras and one front-facing camera with all the bells and whistles each company can muster. It’s another plus for the Samsung Galaxy S10e, since it features all but one of the main cameras of the more expensive S10. However, actual image quality is better on the iPhone Xs Max, which takes photos with sharper details, better white balance, and more precise colors.

Though it still takes great photos overall, the Galaxy S10e can produce some inconsistent pictures, such as casting warm tones on indoor shots and giving a cooler hue to outdoor scenes. This does add a bit of drama to the photos, which could reduce the amount of editing you need to do if you like adding filters and effects. With three cameras and a bevy of shooting modes, you get plenty of options in crafting your stills. Live Focus mode lets you adjust field-of-depth and background blur, and among the new Scene Optimizer modes is Bright Night, which drastically improves visibility in low-light conditions such as night skies.

One feature that sets their front cameras apart is that the iPhone Xs Max has built-in Depth Control, which they call TrueDepth 3D. This lets you manually adjust the shallow depth-of-field in selfies to get your desired bokeh effect. The S10+ has a similar sensor but this, along with another telephoto lens at the back, is not included in the S10e.

Storage, Battery, and Other Features

The iPhone Xs Max can offer double the internal storage, but the Galaxy S10e supports MicroSD.

Galaxy S10e Battery
A fast wireless charger can be bought separately for both phones.

Like all previous iPhone generations, the Xs Max has no expandable memory, so you’ll have to be careful with the storage tier you select. You can get up to 512GB of internal storage though, which is perhaps more than you’ll realistically need anyway. On the other hand, the Galaxy S10e is more flexible, since you can get the minimum storage of 128GB and socket a MicroSD later on, which should end up being more cost-effective too.

Battery capacities and runtimes are very similar, which marks another point for the S10e considering its smaller frame. Moreover, the included charger already enables fast charging — you’ll have to buy a separate cable to recharge the iPhone Xs Max just as quickly.

Unlike the ultrasonic fingerprint reader that’s built into the Galaxy S10’s screen, the S10e has a capacitive sensor located along its top-right side. It’s at a natural spot for right-handed people but it’s a bit too high, so you’ll often have to adjust your grip to reach it. Although there’s no fingerprint sensor on the iPhone Xs Max, its Advanced Face ID has been made faster and more secure than ever.


The Samsung Galaxy S10e easily offers better value, as the iPhone Xs Max is truly a luxury device.

At its spot at the very top of Apple’s new iPhones, there’s no question that the Xs Max is the very best iPhone you can get. It features some of the most advanced cameras and processors that you can get in a phone, and it comes in a spectacular build only overshadowed by how amazing its huge Super Retina display looks. But with such a huge price tag — the 512GB tier costs as much as a MacBook Pro — it won’t be for everyone. If you want a humongous display and topnotch cameras, and you don’t care how much it costs, get the iPhone Xs Max.

Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S10e presents an incredible value for its price. It has the same processor and main cameras as its pricier brothers, packaged in a compact body that still oozing with premium appeal. It’s just as fast and powerful, especially for gaming, and it offers expandable storage as well as fast charging right out of the box. It’s a great choice for those who want a top-end Android device that’s still within a reasonable price range.

Last update on 2022-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.