OK, so you're ready for a phone upgrade. Naturally, you fancy the latest features and technology, but you're too canny to pay full price for a brand-new handset. Two of your strongest options are either a refurbished Apple iPhone 13 or a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S21 from Envirofone.
If you want the best looks, features, and performance, and are less bothered about brand, which of these two flagship phones ticks all your boxes? That question is meat and drink to us at Envirofone, so here’s our two cents on the Apple iPhone 13 v Samsung Galaxy S21 debate.
iPhone 13 v Samsung S21, the overview
Samsung launched three Galaxy S21 models in January 2021: the Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, and the S21 Ultra. The Apple iPhone 13 is slightly newer, arriving in October 2021 with four variants: the iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 mini, the iPhone 13 Pro, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Size and design
Weight-conscious? There's not much between the two models. The Samsung is slightly lighter—169g versus 173g, but that's only four grams difference—the weight of a single A4 sheet of paper, or four paper clips.
Size-wise it's a similar story. The iPhone 13 measures 146 x 71.5 x 7.65mm, while the S21 is a tad taller and thicker at 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm.
The iPhone 13 has a higher quality feel, with an aluminium body, a glass back, and a choice of five colours: Product Red, Starlight, Midnight, Blue and Pink. The S21 has a practical but less prestigious plastic back, and you can only choose from four colours: Phantom Violet, Phantom Grey, Phantom White, and Phantom Pink.
Verdict: The iPhone 13 just edges ahead on design and colour choice.
Display quality, performance, and battery life
The major difference between these two smartphones is their operating systems. The iPhone 13 runs on Apple’s own iOS15 software, whereas the S21 features Google’s Android 11, now upgradable to Android 12.
The Galaxy S21's 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display is a fraction bigger than the iPhone 13's 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED. Screen resolution-wise, the iPhone has the edge with 2532 x 1170 pixels, compared to the Galaxy's 2400 x 1080. On the other hand, the Galaxy 21 boasts a 120Hz refresh rate—you'd have to upgrade to an iPhone 13 Pro to match that.
If you like to dig deep into the tech that powers your phone, you'll want to know that the iPhone 13 generation is the first to feature Apple’s A15 Bionic chipset. It features a six-core CPU, a four-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine capable of 15.8 trillion operations per second. Apple claims that this is the fastest chip found in any smartphone.
How does the Galaxy S21 match up? Well, it also features a new chipset, the Exynos 2100. This is similarly based on a 5nm process and offers comparable battery life to the iPhone 13—significantly better than previous Galaxy models. The S21 wins on RAM with 8GB, twice what the iPhone 13 offers. However, Apple would contend that their phones get by with less RAM because of how iOS works, so this is not a significant difference in terms of performance and battery life.
Verdict: It’s hard not to be impressed by Apple’s A15 chipset. The iPhone 13 wins again.
Cameras and photography
iPhone 13 sports a dual-lens rear camera, featuring 12-megapixel wide and ultra-wide-angle lenses, capable of 5x digital zoom. Up front, there's a 12-megapixel TrueDepth selfie camera. But the star of the iPhone 13 show is Cinematic Mode, offering a shallow depth of field when recording in 1080p at 30fps. According to Apple, this enables anyone to capture Hollywood-style cinematic quality when shooting video.
Samsung's S21 goes one better with a triple-lens rear camera. There's a 64-megapixel telephoto lens offering 3x hybrid optic zoom and up to 30x super resolution zoom, in addition to the wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle options. However, Samsung's selfie camera offers only 10 megapixels, against the iPhone's 12. The S21 can't compete with Apple's Cinematic Mode, but can capture 8K video at 24fps, 4K at 60fps, and includes support for HDR10+.
Verdict: The S21's telephoto lens edges it for still photography.
These two superb smartphones offer decent upgrades over earlier models, especially when considering battery life and processing power. Both retail at almost the same price when new, confirming that they are comparable in style and performance. In short, your decision will come down to personal preference and the way you use your phone.
Both handsets feature pin-sharp OLED displays, although Samsung's 120Hz refresh rate makes switching between applications slightly smoother. The iPhone 13 is more stylish with its glass rear and a wider choice of colours. If you shoot a lot of videos, you'll probably prefer Apple's new Cinematic Mode. If still photography is your thing, the S21's third lens with extra zoom capability may have you leaning towards the Samsung option.
Ready to buy?
Whatever your decision, you can be confident that your refurbished tech from Envirofone will combine great savings with good-as-new quality. And why not get even better value by selling your existing phone and putting the proceeds towards your new one?
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