SmartphoneTech

Compare iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

This review compares the differences between the tech specs of the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is officially launched on 14 Sep 2021 at the Apple online event at 1PM ET., and the launch also includes Apple Watch 7, iPad Mini, and Airpods 3.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G was launched in January this year, which means Apple has 9 more months of time put into the development of the new iPhone 13 design. This comparison feels like the “battle of the titans”, between two of the most popular smartphone series in recent years. However, both brands need to look behind their back at other upcoming black horses who are still chasing or has already broken new records with better design.

Compare Form Factor

Tech Specs iPhone 13 Pro Max (5G) S21 Ultra 5G iPhone 12 Pro Max (5G)
Release Date 14-Sep-21 14-Jan-21 13-Nov-21
Form Factor
Size 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm
6.3 x 3.1 x 0.3 in
165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
6.5 x 2.98 x 0.35 in
160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4mm
6.3 x 3.1 x 0.29 in
Weight 238g (8.4 oz) 227 g (8.01 oz) 226 g (8 oz)
IP Rating IP68 (6m for 30mins)
IEC standard 60529
IP68 (1.5m for 30mins)
IEC standard 60529
IP68 (6m for 30mins)
IEC standard 60529
Material Front: Ceramic shield, crack and scratch-resistant
Back: Textured matt glass Frame: Stainless steel
Front & Back: Corning® Gorilla® Glass Victus™
Aluminum frame
Front: Ceramic shield.
Back: Textured matt glass
Frame: Stainless steel
Colors Graphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue Phantom black , silver, navy, titanium, brown. Silver, graphite, gold, pacific blue

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is slightly heavier than both S21 Ultra 5G and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The 7.65mm thickness is slightly thicker than the iPhone 12 Pro by about 0.25mm, but it is still significantly thinner than the S21 Ultra by a hefty 14%. If we consider adding a casing for the S21 Ultra, the overall thickness will exceed 10mm.

The length and width remain as last years’ model, which means it will fit well into those tight sports pouches that you have been using for the iPhone 12 Pro.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max continues to use the ceramic shield, which based on our review, shows that it is stronger than earlier versions of Corning Gorilla Glass used by Samsung Galaxy phones. In tests conducted, the screen do not crack as easily as the Samsung, proving that the “Ceramic Shield” of the iPhone is better than the earlier Gorilla Glass such as the ones on Galaxy Note 10.

Although both phones have an IP68 rating, they have different specifications. For the iPhone 13 and 12 Pro, they are certified to a depth of 6 meters in water and for 30 mins. Whereas for the Samsung Galaxy S21, the IP68 rating is certified to 1.5 meters for 30mins, which is much shallower. Unless you need to bring the phone for diving, the depth should not be a concern.

Compare Display

Tech Specs iPhone 13 Pro Max (5G) S21 Ultra 5G iPhone 12 Pro Max (5G)
Display
Screen Type Super Retina XDR display   Dynamic AMOLED 2X Super Retina XDR display
Screen Size 6.7″ 6.8″ 6.7″
Resolution 2778×1284 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio,
458 ppi
3200 x 1440 pixels, 20:9 ratio,
515 PPI
2778×1284 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio,
458 ppi
Brightness Max 1000 nits max brightness (typical);
1,200 nits max brightness (HDR)
1500 nits peak (typ) 800 nits max brightness (typical);
1,200 nits max brightness (HDR)
Refresh Rate 120 Hz, adaptive 120 Hz 120 Hz
Color Gamut Wide Color (P3) DCI-P3 Wide Color (P3)
Eye Care True Tone Eye comfort shield True Tone

The differences between the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Galaxy Ultra 5G is about the same as last year iPhone 12 Pro Max. The main difference is the increase of typical maximum brightness from 800 to 1000 nits, while the resolution and pixel density remains lower than S21 Ultra.

Compare Hardware

Tech Specs iPhone 13 Pro Max (5G) S21 Ultra 5G
Hardware & OS
OS Apple iOS 15 Android 11, One UI 3.1
Chipset A15 Bionic chip (5nm) Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 888
5nm power-efficient
Processor New 6‑core CPU with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores
New 16‑core Neural Engine
USA/China: Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680)
Worldwide: Octa-core (1×2.9 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×2.2 GHz Cortex-A55)
GPU Apple GPU (5 cores) Mali-G78 MP14
Adreno™ 660 GPU
RAM/Storage 6GB/128GB, 6GB/256GB,
6GB/512GB, 6GB/1TB
(NVMe)
note: RAM info TBC
12GB/128GB, 12GB/256GB, 12GB/512GB, 16GB/512GB
(UFS 3.1)
SIM Card Single Nano SIM +  eSIM
Dual eSIM support
Dual Nano SIM or
Single Nano SIM and eSIM
Security Face ID 2D Face unlock,
In-screen fingerprint (Ultrasonic)
Stylus Support No Yes, S Pen
Sensors Face ID
Accelerometer
LiDAR Scanner
Three-axis gyro
Digital compass
Ambient Light Sensor
Proximity Sensor
Barometer
Accelerometer
Fingerprint Sensor (Ultrasonic)
Gyro Sensor
Geomagnetic Sensor
Hall Sensor
Light Sensor
Proximity Sensor
Barometer

The iPhone 13 Pro Max uses a new 5nm A15 Bionic with a new 6-core processor, 16-core neural engine, and 5-core GPU. The new processors are more powerful with more features but are also energy efficient. It is noteworthy that the iPhone 13 uses 4-core GPU but Apple indicated that it is a “new” version, meaning the actual specs could be different.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max still has no stylus support and fingerprint sensor, despite the fact that Face ID is not going to work with a mask on during the ongoing pandemic. The fingerprint sensor has been used widely as a security feature in many types of devices and with a very long history. They have been used not just on phones, but computers, notebooks, and door security systems. Whoever suggested removing this feature on a smart device is not so smart.

Compare Battery

Tech Specs iPhone 13 Pro Max (5G) S21 Ultra 5G
Battery
Capacity Capacity TBC. Non-removable. 5000mAh (typ), non-removable.
Type Lithium Ion Lithium Ion
Wired Charging Fast charging 20W
50% in 30 min
Fast Charging 25W
Wireless Charging MagSafe charging up to 15W
Qi charging up to 7.5W
Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging 15W
Reverse Wireless
Charging
No 4.5W

We would normally compare battery life by looking at the capacity even though we know it does not tell us the battery life.

The capacity of the iPhone 13 Pro Max is kept a secret during the Apple Event briefing, and the only message we get is that the battery life of the iPhone Pro Max is the best ever in the history of the iPhone. Apple emphasizes the battery life of the iPhone 13 Pro Max is significantly improved by at least 90 mins under normal use, or in the case of video playback, as much as additional 2 hours or 12% more battery life than the previous iPhone. This could also be attributed to the A15 Bionic chip which is touted to have better efficiency.

The assurance provided by Apple about the battery life is reassuring and better than just stating the capacity. We are going to say that, if you are not going to give us the specs and numbers, then you have to tell us what we are going to experience, which in this case is a noticeable increase in battery life.

On the other hand, the S21 Ultra’s written specification of 5000 mAh battery gives us the reason to omit the battery life specs, as we are confident even if its not better than iPhone 13 Pro Max, it is not by a significant margin.

Why we do not bother comparing battery life is because they are heavily dependent on the other factors during usage, such as background apps, screen brightness, sound level, and wireless connection, etc. There is no meaning to compare those battery lives in hours.

Compare Cameras

Tech Specs iPhone 13 Pro Max (5G) S21 Ultra 5G
Rear Camera
Resolution 12 MP, f/1.5 (wide)
12 MP, f/2.8 (telephoto)
12 MP, f/1.8, 120˚ (ultrawide)
TOF 3D LiDAR scanner (depth)
Quad Camera:
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
Video recording 4K: 24/25/30/60fps
1080p: 25/30/60fps
720p: 30fps
ProRes 4K: [email protected]
Cinematic Mode: [email protected]
8K: 24 fps
4K: 30/60fps
1080p: 30/ 60 /240fps
720p: 960fps
Front Camera
Resolution 12 MP, f/2.2 40 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/2.8″, 0.7µm, PDAF
Video capture: 4K: 24/25/30/60fps
1080p: 25/30/60fps
All other modes at 30fps
4K(30/60fps), 1080p(30fps)

While Apple hides away the “geeky” details of certain specifications such as RAM, battery capacity, ceramic shield, and processor clock speed, they appear to be focused on the long list of new features in the cameras which other smartphones do not provide.

As for the camera hardware specifications, iPhone 13 Pro Max continues to use the 12MP camera lenses as per the previous model, which has a much lower resolution when compared to S21 Ultra. However, Apple packs and advertises a lot of features such as ProMotion, Cinematic stabilization, smart focus where the camera focuses on the person depending on where he is looking. There are so many features to cover that they would be best reviewed by an expert photographer in a separate post.

A 12MP camera does not always mean that it will produce a worse photo than a 50MP camera, as it depends on other factors, one of which is the camera sensor size. The larger the sensor, the more light it captures, and so in theory it should provide a better quality photo image. In this case, the Mi Ultra 11 still wins because it has one of the largest camera sensors in the market.

In short, we would not pick the S21 Ultra as the winner even though it has a 108MP camera lens. Even the Sony flagship DSLR camera, A7 RVI-A Full Frame Mirrorless Camera has only 61 MP.

The remaining comparison of the technical specifications is covered in the summary table below.

Also Read: Compare iPhone 13 Pro Max Vs Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

Full Comparison Table Between iPhone 13 Pro Max and Samsung S21 Ultra 5G

Tech Specs iPhone 13 Pro Max (5G) S21 Ultra 5G
Release Date 14-Sep-21 14-Jan-21
Form Factor
Size 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm
6.3 x 3.1 x 0.3 in
165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
6.5 x 2.98 x 0.35 in
Weight 204 g (7.19 oz) 227 g (8.01 oz)
IP Rating IP68
IEC standard 60529
IP68
IEC standard 60529
Material Front: Ceramic shield, crack, and scratch-resistant
Back: Textured matt glass and
stainless steel design.
Front & Back: Corning® Gorilla® Glass Victus™
Aluminum frame
Colors Graphite, Gold, Silver, Sierra Blue Phantom black, silver, navy, titanium, brown.
Display
Screen Type Super Retina XDR display   Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Screen Size 6.7″ 6.8″
Resolution 2778×1284 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio,
458 ppi
3200 x 1440 pixels, 20:9 ratio,
515 PPI
Brightness Max 1000 nits max brightness (typical);
1,200 nits max brightness (HDR)
1500 nits peak (typ)
Refresh Rate 120 Hz, adaptive 120 Hz
Screen-to-body 86.0% 89.8%
Contrast Ratio 2,000,000:1
Colors 10 bit, or > 1 billion colors 16million
Color Gamut Wide Color (P3) DCI-P3
Eye Care True Tone Eye comfort shield
Hardware & OS
OS Apple iOS 15 Android 11, One UI 3.1
Chipset A15 Bionic chip (5nm) Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 888
5nm power-efficient
Processor New 6‑core CPU with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores
New 16‑core Neural Engine
USA/China: Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680)
Worldwide: Octa-core (1×2.9 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×2.2 GHz Cortex-A55)
GPU Apple GPU (5 cores) Mali-G78 MP14
Adreno™ 660 GPU
RAM/Storage 8GB/128GB, 8GB/256GB,
8GB/512GB, 8GB/1TB
(NVMe)
12GB/128GB, 12GB/256GB, 12GB/512GB, 16GB/512GB
(UFS 3.1)
SIM Card Single Nano SIM +  eSIM
Dual eSIM support
Dual Nano SIM or
Single Nano SIM and eSIM
Expansion Card No No
3.5mm Ear Jack No No (USB-C)
Speaker Two, Stereo Two, Stereo, AKG Tuned
Security Face ID 2D Face unlock,
In-screen fingerprint (Ultrasonic)
Stylus Support No Yes, S Pen
Sensors Face ID
Accelerometer
LiDAR Scanner
Three-axis gyro
Digital compass
Ambient Light Sensor
Proximity Sensor
Barometer
Accelerometer
Fingerprint Sensor (Ultrasonic)
Gyro Sensor
Geomagnetic Sensor
Hall Sensor
Light Sensor
Proximity Sensor
Barometer
Battery
Capacity Capacity TBC. Non-removable. 5000mAh (typ), non-removable.
Type Lithium Ion Lithium Ion
Wired Charging Fast charging 20W
50% in 30 min
Fast Charging 25W
Wireless Charging MagSafe charging up to 15W
Qi charging up to 7.5W
Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging 15W
Reverse Wireless
Charging
No 4.5W
Charging Technology PD 2.0 PD 3.0
Rear Camera
Resolution 12 MP, f/1.5 (wide)
12 MP, f/2.8 (telephoto)
12 MP, f/1.8, 120˚ (ultrawide)
TOF 3D LiDAR scanner (depth)
Quad Camera:
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
Camera Features – 3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 6x optical zoom range
Digital zoom up to 15x
– Night mode portraits enabled by LiDAR Scanner
– Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
– Portrait Lighting with six effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High‑Key Mono)
– Dual optical image stabilization (Telephoto and Wide)
– Sensor‑shift optical image stabilization (Wide)
– Six‑element lens (Telephoto and Ultra Wide); seven‑element lens (Wide)
– True Tone flash with Slow Sync
– Panorama (up to 63MP)
– Sapphire crystal lens cover
– 100% Focus Pixels (Wide)
– Night mode
– Deep Fusion
– Smart HDR 4
– Photographic Styles
– Macro photography
– Apple ProRAW
– Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos
– Lens correction (Ultra Wide)
– Advanced red‑eye correction
– Photo geotagging
– Auto image stabilization
– Burst mode
– Image formats captured: HEIF and JPEG
– LED flash
– Auto-HDR
– Panorama
– Scene optimizer
– Shot suggestions
– Filter and beauty effects
– Night mode
– Portrait mode
– Food mode
– Tracking auto-focus
– Scan QR codes
– Location tags
– AR Emoji
Video recording 4K: 24/25/30/60fps
1080p: 25/30/60fps
720p: 30fps
ProRes 4K: [email protected]
Cinematic Mode: [email protected]
8K: 24 fps
4K: 30/60fps
1080p: 30/ 60 /240fps
720p: 960fps
Video Features: – Dual optical image stabilization for video (Telephoto and Wide)
– Sensor‑shift optical image stabilization for video (Wide)
– 3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 6x optical zoom range
– Digital zoom up to 9x
– Audio zoom
– True Tone flash
– QuickTake video
– Slo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps
– Time‑lapse video with stabilization
– Night mode Time‑lapse
– Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p, and 720p)
– Continuous autofocus video
– Take 8MP still photos while recording 4K video
– Playback zoom
– Video formats recorded: HEVC and H.264
– Stereo recording
– Video stabilization
– HDR 10+ videos
– Auto HDR
– HEVC format
– Portrait mode
– Director’s view mode
– Pro video mode
– Super Slow-Mo Mode
– Slow motion mode
– Hyperlapse mode
Front Camera
Resolution 12 MP, f/2.2 40 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/2.8″, 0.7µm, PDAF
Video capture: 4K: 24/25/30/60fps
1080p: 25/30/60fps
All other modes at 30fps
4K(30/60fps), 1080p(30fps)
Features: – Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
– Portrait Lighting with six effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High‑Key Mono)
– Animoji and Memoji
– Night mode
– Deep Fusion
– Smart HDR 4
– Photographic Styles
– Apple ProRAW
– Slo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps
– Time‑lapse video with stabilization
– Night mode Time‑lapse
– Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p, and 720p)
– QuickTake video
– Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos
– Lens correction
– Retina Flash
– Auto image stabilization
– Burst mode
– Dual video call
– Auto HDR
– Wide angle for group selfies
– Save selfies as previewed
– Set selfie color tone
– AR Emoji
Connectivity
Bluetooth Ver 5.0, A2DP, LE 5.2, A2DP, LE
Wi-Fi Ver Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, dual-band, hotspot. Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax 2.4G+5GHz, HE160, MIMO, 1024-QAM
Connector Lightning USB Type-C 3.2
GPS Built‑in GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS and BeiDou GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo
NFC Yes with reader mode Yes
Infra-Red Port No Yes
Network 5G, 4G LTE, HSPA, GSM 5G, 4G LTE, HSPA, GSM

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