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iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung S21 Ultra (2021): Which Is The Best Premium Flagship Smartphone?

The Samsung S21 Ultra has finally met its match now that the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max is here. The competition is extremely tight between these two models, both delivering eye-catching displays, advanced photography capabilities, and impressive performance. However, which one truly deserves the title of best premium flagship smartphone? To help you answer this question, here’s an in-depth comparison of the two powerhouses, covering their design, cameras, performance, and battery life.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung S21 Ultra Comparison Chart

ModeliPhone 13 Pro MaxSamsung S21 Ultra
 Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (256GB, Graphite) [Locked] + Carrier SubscriptionSAMSUNG Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G Factory Unlocked Android Cell Phone 256GB US Version Smartphone...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
DurabilityIP68 ratingIP68 rating
Display Size6.7 inches6.8 inches
Refresh Rate10Hz to 120Hz10Hz to 120Hz
Brightness1,000 nits821 nits
Zoom3x optical zoom10x optical zoom
CamerasWide – 12MP, f/1.5
Ultra-wide – 12MP, f/1.8
Telephoto – 12MP, f/2.8
Wide – 108MP, f/1.8
Ultra-wide – 12MP, f/2.2
Telephoto – 10MP, 3x zoom, f/2.4
Telephoto – 10MP, 10x zoom, f/4.9
Processor A15 Bionic chipSnapdragon 888
Storage Space128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Battery LifeOver 12 hours11.5 hours
Weight8.05 ounces8.08 ounces

Design and Display

The Samsung S21 Ultra has a sleeker design while the iPhone 13 Pro Max is more durable.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung S21 Ultra design
Both the iPhone 13 Pro Max (left) and the Samsung S21 Ultra (right) have variable refresh rates.

Thanks to their edge-to-edge displays, both the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Samsung S21 Ultra look extra sleek and premium. However, the Samsung S21 Ultra looks just a little bit more seamless because of its tiny punch hole front camera. While Apple has already shrunk the size of the Face ID notch on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, it’s still hard not to notice it. If you flip them over, you’ll see that the Samsung S21 Ultra’s camera array is also more discreet while the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s is larger in order to accommodate the new camera. In addition, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is heavier than its competitor but that’s probably because of the bigger battery.

While the Samsung S21 Ultra scores more points when it comes to design, the iPhone 13 Pro Max wins in terms of durability. They both have IP68 ratings, meaning they’re sand, dirt, and dust-proof, but the iPhone 13 Pro Max has better water-resistance. It can survive up to six meters of water while the Samsung S21 Ultra can only handle 1.5 meters. To add to that, the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s ceramic shield display should be able to withstand some pretty rough handling.

As for displays, both the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Samsung S21 Ultra have variable refresh rates of 10Hz to 120Hz. So whatever it is that you’re doing on your phone, they’ll optimize the viewing experience for you. However, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is able to edge out its competitor when it comes to brightness and color accuracy.

Camera

The iPhone 13 Pro Max delivers better quality images and videos than the Samsung S21 Ultra.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung S21 Ultra camera
Both the iPhone 13 Pro Max (left) and the Samsung S21 Ultra (right) can blur out the background in videos.

Both equipped with triple camera systems, the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Samsung S21 Ultra are tied on paper. But if you were to put them to the test in real life, the iPhone 13 Pro Max shows that its photography skills are unmatched. For starters, Apple gave it a bigger sensor which is able to let in 49% more light. This allows it to perform better in low light conditions than the Samsung S21 Ultra. In addition, the iPhone 13 Pro Max delivers sharper images and is able to make colors pop while keeping them accurate. This holds for all of its modes, whether regular, portrait or selfie.

As for video quality, both the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Samsung S21 Ultra shine in this department although the former excels just a little bit more. The most impressive thing about it would have to be its new Cinematic Mode which blurs out the background while keeping the focus on the subject. And even if you shift the focus to another subject, the blur automatically follows. This effect gives your footage that professional touch even though you’re limited to 1080p. To top things off, the depth of field is adjustable which videographers would definitely appreciate. While the Samsung S21 can blur the background of your videos too, it’s not able to do so as seamlessly.

It’s worth noting, however, that the Samsung S21’s zoom feature produces sharper results with less noise. With its telephoto lens, you can enjoy up to 10x optical zoom while the iPhone 13 Pro Max can only manage 3x.

Performance

The iPhone 13 Pro Max outperforms the Samsung S21 Ultra thanks to its A15 Bionic chip.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung S21 Ultra performance
The iPhone 13 Pro Max (left) has the A15 Bionic chip while the Samsung S21 Ultra (right) has the Snapdragon 888.

When it comes to performance, there’s simply no contest between these two rivals. The iPhone 12 Pro Max was already considered the most powerful smartphone you could get your hands on. Its A14 Bionic chip is able to trump the Samsung S21 Ultra’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 888 processor. Equipped with Apple’s new A15 Bionic chip, it goes without saying that the iPhone 13 Pro Max can outperform the Samsung S21 Ultra any day. Not only can it beat all of the other flagship Android smartphones out there but you can be sure that it will continue to run fast for you in the years to come.

However, these two models are tied in the 5G department, both able to support all of the carriers in the US. Apple did say though that by the end of this year, the iPhone 13 Pro Max will be able to support over 200 carriers in 60 countries. If that’s true, the Samsung S21 Ultra will have some catching up to do.

Battery

The iPhone 13 Pro Max can outlast the Samsung S21 Ultra.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung S21 Ultra battery
You get to enjoy an additional 2.5 hours of usage with the iPhone 13 Pro Max compared to its predecessor.

Apple didn’t divulge the exact size of the battery they put in the iPhone 13 Pro Max but they did say that it’s bigger than the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s. Because of this upgrade, the iPhone 13 Pro Max can go beyond the 12-hour mark which is the longest that any other iPhone model can manage. The Samsung S21 Ultra falls short of this, only able to last up to 11.5 hours before its juices run out. As for charging, neither of them ships with a charging cable and they’re also not the most impressive speed-wise.

Verdict

The iPhone 13 Pro Max wins against the Samsung S21 Ultra in almost all aspects.

The Samsung S21 Ultra is one of the most impressive Android smartphones out there but it’s simply no match for Apple’s newest model. The Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max wins in almost all aspects, including camera capabilities, durability, and battery life. Its biggest advantage, however, would have to be its mighty processor. Because of its A15 Bionic chip, it can outperform any smartphone that’s currently on the market, including the powerful Samsung S21 Ultra. While the Samsung S21 Ultra could once show off its 120Hz refresh rate, the iPhone 13 Pro Max took away that bragging right too.

FAQs

📌 When is the release date of the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max?

The iPhone 13 Pro Max hit stores on September 24, 2021 together with all the other new iPhone 13 models.

📌 How much is the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max?

You can get the 128GB version of the iPhone 13 Pro Max for a starting price of $1,099. For the 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB versions, you’d have to pay $1,199, $1,399, and $1,599 respectively.

📌 Is it worth upgrading to the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max?

Apple did a great job of packing the iPhone 13 Pro Max with impressive upgrades that make it a worthy successor to the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It has a brighter screen, a higher refresh rate, a more advanced camera system, a more powerful processor, and a more dependable battery life.

📌 Which one is better, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max or the Samsung S21 Ultra?

The iPhone 13 Pro Max wins against the Samsung S21 Ultra in almost all aspects, including durability, camera capabilities, performance, and battery life.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.