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iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung S21 Ultra: What’s the difference?

Phone advice | by Denise Timmis | Aug 05, 2022

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung S21 Ultra: What’s the difference?

Unsure whether to opt for Apple or Android? We’re here to help. We’ll give you our thoughts on the iPhone 13 Pro Max v Samsung S21 Ultra toss-up—covering everything from displays and videos to processing and protection.

 

If, by the end of this guide, you’re edging towards one of these handsets, check out our refurbished phones page for some huge savings. Let’s begin.   

Size and design

The iPhone 13 Pro Max and S21 Ultra are both robust handsets, weighing around 228g. However, the S21 Ultra’s slimmer profile and curved edges make it slightly easier to carry in hand.

 

Aesthetically, both phones are gorgeous. The Samsung S21 Ultra features a minimal design, smooth aluminium finish, discreet selfie snapper, and a sleek all-screen front. Likewise, the 13 Pro Max boasts a premium glass build and a neat three-camera set-up around the back.

 

Protection is paramount if you’re prone to accidents. Thankfully, both phones are IP68 certified, offering some of the best dust and water resistance technology around. If this is an important purchase factor, take a closer look at the 13 Pro Max—its Ceramic Shield offers added protection and water resistance up to 6 metres for 30 minutes.

 

The S21 is available in Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown. The iPhone 13 Pro Max comes in Graphite, Silver, Gold, and Sierra Blue.

 

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung S21 Ultra dimensions: 

 

 

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Height 

160.8mm

165.1mm

Width 

78.1mm

75.6mm

Depth 

7.7 mm 

8.9 mm

Weight 

240 g

227 g

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verdict: Ceramic shield protection gives Apple the edge this time.

Display

 

This pair of handsets have premier displays. The S21 Ultra boasts a beautiful 6.8-inch AMOLED screen, while the 13 Pro Max features a 6.7-inch OLED. Both phones have a maximum 120HZ refresh rate, making scrolling and general screen interaction seamless. And if your phone is forever in hand, you’ll be pleased to hear that both handsets use LPTO technology to conserve battery life.

 

You could argue the S21 Ultra’s higher resolution range makes for more colour clarity and sharpness. It can also reach 1500 nits, bettering the 13 Pro Max’s 1200 limit, resulting in more vibrant screen experiences.

 

S21 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max display comparison:

 

iPhone 13 Pro Max Display: 

 

Type: Super Retina XDR OLED, 120Hz, HDR10, Dolby Vision, 1000 nits (HBM), 1200 nits (peak)

 

Size: 6.7 inches, 109.8 cm2 (~87.4% screen-to-body ratio)

 

Resolution: 1284 x 2778 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio (~458 ppi density)

 

Protection: Scratch-resistant ceramic glass, oleophobic coating

 

Samsung S21 Ultra Display:

 

Type: Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1500 nits (peak)

 

Size: 6.8 inches, 112.1 cm2 (~89.8% screen-to-body ratio)

 

Resolution: 1440 x 3200 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~515 ppi density)

 

Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, Always-on display

 

Verdict: The Samsung 21 Ultra pips the prize for best display.

 

Camera

Looking for a phone with a top-notch camera? You won’t go far wrong with the S21 Ultra or iPhone 13 Pro Max.

 

The latter has an exceptional triple 12MP camera set-up, boosted by a powerful sensor with a wide f/1.5 aperture. It also features a 12MP Ultra-Wide lens with macro mode, affording detailed shots of subjects from distances as close as 2cm. You’ll also get a Telephoto lens with 3x zoom (which also shoots in Night Mode) and a suite of Photographic Styles—adding customisation to your shots.

 

In the Android camp, the S21 Ultra boasts a mammoth 1/1.33” 108MOP primary wide sensor. It also features a 12MP ultra-wide snapper and two 10MP telephoto lenses—one for 3x optical zoom, the other for 10x. You’ll get an equally impressive macro mode and a periscope lens that flawlessly captures zoomed-in subjects.

 

For videos, the iPhone 13 Pro Max features a new Cinematic mode which cleverly adjusts camera focus to new subjects. At the same time, ‘Pro Res’ allows users to record, edit, and stream content at 4K/30fps.

 

But which camera is king? Well, that depends on how you plan to use your phone. The iPhone 13 Pro Max produces more quality in low light, but the S21 Ultra excels when taking zoomed shots. In truth, there’s not much in it—both phones have state-of-the-art cameras, making them the envy of rival manufacturers.  

 

 

 

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Dual 

12 MP, f/1.5, 26mm (wide), 1.9µm, dual pixel PDAF, sensor-shift OIS
12 MP, f/2.8, 77mm (telephoto), PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom
12 MP, f/1.8, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide), PDAF
TOF 3D LiDAR scanner (depth)

108 MP, f/1.8, 24mm (wide), 1/1.33", 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS

10 MP, f/4.9, 240mm (periscope telephoto), 1/3.24", 1.22µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS, 10x optical zoom

10 MP, f/2.4, 72mm (telephoto), 1/3.24", 1.22µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom

12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/2.55", 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, Super Steady video

Features 

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

LED flash, auto-HDR, panorama

Video 

4K@24/30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, 10-bit HDR, Dolby Vision HDR (up to 60fps), ProRes, Cinematic mode, stereo sound rec

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

 

Verdict: Everyone’s a winner in the snapper stand-off—it’s a tie.

 

Specs, performance, and battery life

 

Don’t get us wrong—the Samsung 21 Ultra is super-fast, but its Exynos 2100 chipset can’t compete with the 13 Pro Max’s A15 bionic processor. Combined with a six-core CPU and five-core GPU, Apple’s flagship phone makes streaming, gaming, and multitasking effortless. However, one thing the S21 Ultra does do better is RAM.

 

Onto software now, and the S21 Ultra runs Android, while the 13 Pro Max uses Apple’s flagship iOS system. It isn’t easy to settle the debate on which is best as it often boils down to personal taste. But to stick our noses in it: iOS offers enhanced privacy and lets you swap files between other iOS devices. Yet, Android has fewer restrictive features, so you can import photos or transfer files via any laptop.

 

Looking for a handset that keeps going from dawn to dusk? Choose the Samsung S21 Ultra— it’s fitted with a 5,000mAh battery that offers more talk time and video playback than the 13 Pro Max.

Regarding storage, both phones offer 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB options. But if you’re super keen on memory space, an enormous 1TB variant is available on the 13 Pro Max.

 

 

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Chipset 

Apple A15 Bionic (5 nm)
 

Exynos 2100 (5 nm) - International

CPU 

Hexa-core (2x3.23 GHz Avalanche + 4x1.82 GHz Blizzard)

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

GPU 

Apple GPU (5-core graphics)

Mali-G78 MP14 - International

Battery type 

Li-Ion 4352 mAh, non-removable (16.75 Wh)

Li-Ion 5000 mAh, non-removable

Charging 

Fast charging (27W, unofficial rating), 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 S21 Ultra is fast, but the 13 Pro Max is faster.  

 

Conclusion

 

It’s decision time—and boy, it’s tough. All in all, though, we’d argue the iPhone 13 Pro Max is our preference thanks to a leading chipset and raft of nifty camera features. However, if you’re reluctant to abandon Android, the Samsung S21 Ultra is a super contender.

 

Buy refurbished Samsung S21Ultra

Buy refurbished iPhone 13 Pro Max

 

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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