Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max: Which One Is Better?

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max: Which One Should You Buy?

One of the best high-end smartphones on the market now is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. Both Samsung and Apple’s latest smartphones are packed with cutting-edge technology and have high-resolution cameras.

To help you decide between the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro Max, we’ve put together a comparison chart.

Dimensions and Build Quality

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm; 227 grams; IP68 dust and water-resistant
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65 mm; 240 grams; IP68 dust and water-resistant

iPhone 13 Pro Max features a stainless steel chassis while the Galaxy S21 Ultra has an aluminium frame, making them both super-premium devices. The front and back are both made of toughened glass to prevent them from shattering or cracking. They are both dust and water-resistant to the IP68 standard, which is shared by Samsung and Apple.

In comparison, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a USB-C port, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max has a Lightning connector. 5G, Wi-Fi 6/6E, Ultra-Wideband, and more are all available on both phones.


  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x; 1440 x 3200 resolution; 515 PPI; 1500 nits peak brightness; 120Hz dynamic refresh rate; HDR10+; Gorilla Glass Victus; Always-on Display
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display; 2778 x 1284 resolution; 458 PPI; 1000 nits typical brightness/1200 nits peak brightness; HDR; Ceramic Shield protection; 120Hz ProMotion; True Tone display

The screens of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro Max are practically identical, measuring 6.8 inches and 6.7 inches, respectively.

High-resolution OLED screens with a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate are both available. The displays on both phones are among the greatest in the industry, so you can’t go wrong with either.

The display of the Galaxy S21 Ultra only has one advantage: Always-on Display, which Apple continues to omit from its iPhones.


  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100; 5nm fab; Adreno 660/Arm Mali-G78 MP14
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: A15 Bionic; 5nm fab; new 16-core Neural engine; 5-core GPU

The A15 Bionic inside the iPhone 13 Pro Max is two to three generations faster than the Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100 ticking inside the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The latter’s chip is among the fastest in the Android ecosystem, but it simply cannot hold a candle in front of the A15 Bionic in power and efficiency.

The 5-core GPU of the A15 Bionic is also noticeably faster than the Adreno/Mali GPU found inside the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Samsung’s offering might be among the best performing Android smartphones out there, but it pales in comparison to Apple’s chip prowess.

RAM and Storage

The Galaxy S21 Ultra ships with twice the amount of RAM (12GB) and storage (256GB) as the base iPhone 13 Pro Max variant, though you can configure the latter with up to 1TB storage. The base iPhone 13 Pro Max variant will only let you record ProRes videos in Full HD resolution—you need one of the higher storage variants if you want to shoot in 4K.

Despite the Galaxy S21 Ultra coming with twice the amount of RAM, it is not significantly better than the iPhone 13 Pro Max in multitasking and keeping apps in its memory. Both devices are pretty much the same in this regard, with the iPhone again making do with its limited hardware thanks to Apple’s software optimizations.


iPhone 13 Pro max camera
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: 108MP f/1.8 primary, 0.8µm large pixels, OIS and PDAF; 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide (120-degree FoV); 10MP f/2.4 3x optical zoom sensor with OIS; 10MP f/4.9 10x optical zoom with OIS; 100x digital zoom; Front: 40MP f/2.2 with autofocus
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: 12MP f/1.5 primary, dual-pixel PDAF, sensor-shift stabilization; 12MP f/2.8 telephoto lens, 3x digital zoom, OIS; 12MP ultrawide camera with f/1.8 aperture (120-degree FoV), macro photography; Front: 12MP f/2.2 camera

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra might have a noticeably higher resolution primary camera than the iPhone 13 Pro Max, but their overall image quality is largely the same. The image resolution is also the same, as the S21 Ultra outputs pixel-binned 12MP photos.

Both phones offer arguably the best camera experience on smartphones out there, and you cannot go wrong with either of them.

The sensor-shift stabilization on the iPhone 13 Pro Max gives it a slight edge, as it can offer longer handheld exposure times in low-light shots than the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra does have a more versatile zoom camera setup. Apart from a 3x optical zoom lens, it has a 10x telephoto lens as well, allowing it to capture sharp and usable photos even at higher zoom levels. In fact, Samsung offers 100x digital zoom on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, though the results at such zoom levels are barely usable.

The front camera of both devices is also essentially the same despite Samsung’s offering packing a higher 40MP resolution. The iPhone can capture noisy selfies in low-light situations, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra tends to oversharpen them.


Galaxy S21 Ultra with the box
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: 5000mAh battery; 25W fast wired charging; 15W wireless charging; 4.5W reverse wireless charging
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: 4352mAh battery; 15W MagSafe wireless charging support; 7.5W with Qi wireless chargers; 50% charge in 35 minutes with 20W wired adapter

On paper, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a noticeably bigger battery than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. However, real-life tests have shown the iPhone 13 Pro Max to last a few hours longer than Samsung’s offerings in almost every situation.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the longest-lasting smartphone in many of the tests conducted online. This is due to Apple’s tight integration between hardware and software that allows it to optimize its iPhones and get the best battery life possible from them despite a relatively small battery.

While not mentioned, the iPhone 13 Pro Max supports wired charging speeds of up to 27W, though both phones take 30 minutes to go from zero to 50%. The iPhone takes longer to reach its full capacity as Apple tends to trickle charge the battery after around 70% to increase its lifespan.

Both phones support 15W wireless charging speeds, but the iPhone 13 Pro Max can only achieve these speeds when used with a MagSafe charger. It also lacks reverse wireless charging, which can be helpful to charge your wireless earbuds or other accessories wirelessly when you are on the go.


  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: starts from $1,199
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: starts from $1,099


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