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iPhone 12 vs Samsung S21: What’s the difference?

Phone advice | by Denise Timmis | Jun 10, 2022

iPhone 12 vs Samsung S21: What’s the difference?

Are you considering switching from Apple to Android? Unsure which phones provide better value for money? We’re here to help. We’ll give you our two cents on the iPhone 12 v Samsung S21 debate—covering everything from processing power to camera quality. If you’re clear on which handset to buy by the end of this article, head over to our refurbished phones page for some money-saving deals.

So, let’s get started, shall we?


Size and design

If you were to place each phone in your hand blindfolded, you’d struggle to tell the difference. The Samsung Galaxy S21 is marginally heavier, weighing 8g more at 172g, while the iPhone 12 is slightly shorter, slimmer, and wider.

Designs do differ, though. The Galaxy S21 is wrapped in Samsung’s plastic ‘Glasstic’— but there’s nothing cheap about its make-up. You’ll get angular curves and a matte finish that feels oh-so-smooth. It also features a punch-hole selfie camera and a trio of neat cameras on the back.

In contrast, the iPhone 12 is clad in premium glass and features a two-camera set-up on the reverse. Its notch is larger than the S21’s and offers less screen space. But the iPhone 12 certainly wins on protection, withstanding water up to six metres for 30 mins—compared to the S21’s 1.5 metres for 30 mins.

The iPhone 12 is available in various colours, including Purple, Blue, Green, Red, White, and Black. There are slightly fewer S21 shades to choose from: Phantom Gray, Phantom White, Phantom Pink, and Phantom Violet.


iPhone 12 vs Samsung S21 dimensions: 


iPhone 12

Samsung Galaxy S21









7.9 mm


164 g

169 g


Verdict: Draw.



Both the iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21 have spectacular screens. They boast high-pixel OLED displays, which project superb colour and clarity. There is a big difference, though: the S21’s display refresh rate is twice as high as the iPhone 12’s, reaching a maximum of 120Hz. This makes scrolling and interacting with your phone smoother.


S21 vs iPhone 12 display comparison:

iPhone 12 Display: 

  • Type: Super Retina XDR OLED, HDR10, Dolby Vision, 625 nits (HBM), 1200 nits (peak)
  • Size: 6.1 inches, 90.2 cm2 (~86.0% screen-to-body ratio)
  • Resolution: 1170 x 2532 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio (~460 ppi density)
  • Protection: Scratch-resistant ceramic glass, oleophobic coating, Wide color gamut, True-tone

Samsung S21 Display: 

  • Type: Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1300 nits (peak
  • Size: 6.2 inches, 94.1 cm2 (~87.2% screen-to-body ratio)
  • Resolution: 1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~421 ppi density)
  • Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, Always-on display

Verdict: The Samsung S21’s dazzling display wins it.


Camera and Photography

The Samsung S21 features a 12MP f/18 primary camera, a 64MP f/2.0 telephoto, and a 12MP f2.2 ultra-wide lens. Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 has just the two lenses, featuring a 12MP primary camera and a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide lens. Both handset’s impressive megapixel and aperture ranges take phenomenal pictures in low light. Similar selfie snappers also provide fantastic quality for video calling.

The Samsung S21 has a 3x optical zoom telephoto lens that allows you to capture subjects from distances with outstanding clarity and precision. Although the iPhone 12 has a 3x digital zoom function, snaps often appear softer than the Galaxy S21.

We’re also a big fan of the S21’s Director’s View, which lets you video record from front and back cameras at the same time—perfect if you’re a vlogger. However, the iPhone 12’s video performance edges it for us. Although it doesn’t reach the S21’s 8K resolution, videos appear smoother and more vivid in low light.


iPhone 12 vs S21 camera comparison:


iPhone 12

Samsung Galaxy S21


12 MP, f/1.6, 26mm (wide), 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS
12 MP, f/2.4, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/3.6"

12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.76", 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
64 MP, f/2.0, 29mm (telephoto), 1/1.72", 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS, 1.1x optical zoom, 3x hybrid zoom
12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/2.55” 1.4µm, Super Steady video


Dual-LED dual-tone flash, HDR (photo/panorama)

LED flash, auto-HDR, panorama


4K@24/30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, HDR, Dolby Vision HDR (up to 30fps), stereo sound rec.

8K@24fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR10+, stereo sound rec., gyro-EIS

Verdict: It’s tight, but we’re edging towards the iPhone 12.  


Specs and performance

Under the Samsung Galaxy S21’s hood is an Exynos 2100 chipset, whereas the iPhone 12 features an A14 bionic processor. We’d argue the A14 chip is slightly faster, making gaming, streaming, and multitasking smoother. In the S21’s defence, however, you’ll get double the amount of RAM (8GB).  

One of the crucial differences is software, and there are pros and cons for both. The Galaxy runs on Android, whereas the 12 features Apple’s iOS operating system. Android arguably makes customisation more straightforward and has fewer restrictive features, such as allowing users to import photos or transfer music files via their laptop.

Nevertheless, iOS generally tends to get apps and games before Android. Apple’s privacy is also more advanced, and its AirDrop feature allows you to transfer files between other iOS devices swiftly. The iPhone 12 also features Face ID recognition, which we’d argue makes for a better user experience than the S21’s fingerprint scanner.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 has a larger battery that weighs in at 4,000mAh. This is a little deceiving, though, as the higher display refresh rate drains battery life. Both phones support fast and wireless charging—the Samsung Galaxy S21 also offers Wireless Power Share.


Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12 performance comparison:


iPhone 12

Samsung Galaxy S21


Apple A14 Bionic (5 nm)

Exynos 2100 (5 nm) - International
Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm)


Hexa-core (2x3.1 GHz Firestorm + 4x1.8 GHz Icestorm)

Octa-core (1x2.9 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3x2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4x2.2 GHz Cortex-A55) – International

Octa-core (1x2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3x2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4x1.80 GHz Kryo 680


Apple GPU (4-core graphics)

Mali-G78 MP14 - International
Adreno 660

Battery type 

Li-Ion 2815 mAh, non-removable (10.78 Wh)

Li-Ion 4000 mAh, non-removable


Fast charging 20W, 50% in 30 min (advertised)
USB Power Delivery 2.0
MagSafe wireless charging 15W
Qi magnetic fast wireless charging 7.5W

Fast charging 25W
USB Power Delivery 3.0
Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging 15W
Reverse wireless charging 4.5W

Verdict: The iPhone 12’s processing power trumps the S21.



Still puzzled? Fair enough—it’s a close race. What it boils down to is value. If you’re after a handset with a superior camera and exceptional display quality, the Samsung S21 edges the contest. If, however, you’re searching for fast processing power and love iOS, then the iPhone 12 is the phone for you.

Whatever you decide, refurbished iPhone and Samsung handsets are available from Envirofone for a fraction of retail prices. Better yet, you can save more money by selling your iPhone or Samsung to us and putting the cash towards your next handset!

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