Which Phone to Buy: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra or iPhone 15 Pro Max?

Released in just half a year of each other, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max are two of the most popular top-tier phones to date.
As Samsung and Apple dominate the smartphone market, it’s not surprising that the two top-tier smartphones are compared to each other.
With that in mind, how does Samsung’s current top-tier smartphone really compare to Apple’s? Keep reading to discover more about each smartphone’s key features and variances and see which smartphone best fulfills your needs.

Pricing and availability

Since both phones were recently launched, it is unsurprising that they are on the higher end of the price range for smartphones. The S24 Ultra, however, is slightly pricier and is currently available for £1249/€1569/$1299 while the iPhone 15 Pro Max retails for £1199/€1449/$1199.

Design

The Samsung S24 Ultra has a slightly larger screen size, measuring at 6.82 inches compared to the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s slightly smaller 6.7 inches. The S24 Ultra has a few design changes from its predecessors, including a flat display and thinner bezel. The iPhone, in comparison, sticks with its flat sides and slightly rounded edges, and also has slightly thinner bezels than the iPhone 14 Pro.
Both have also upgraded their finish and now feature a titanium body, making each device tougher and more durable. While the iPhone 15 Pro Max has Apple’s Ceramic Shield to protect the screen, the S24 Ultra is the first smartphone to use Gorilla Glass Armor protection, which promises to be up to 4x stronger than previous screens and reduces reflections by 75%.

Camera

The Samsung S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max have quite a few differences when it comes to their camera setup. While they both feature a 12MP front-facing camera and a 12MP ultrawide lens on the rear, there are some other differences to note.
To begin, the S24 Ultra’s main camera lens boasts a resolution of 200MP, which is significantly higher than the iPhone’s 48MP. On paper, this seems like a significant difference, however in his iPhone 15 Pro Max review, Max Parker stated “the iPhone remains incredibly reliable, producing a usable image pretty much every single time – I can’t say this about the Galaxy Ultra series.”
The S24 Ultra also made a controversial change from its predecessor, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and reduced the 10MP 10x periscope lens to just 5x. This makes it comparable to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which has upgraded its previous 3x zoom to a 5x zoom.
The launch of the S24 Ultra also came with Samsung’s introduction of Galaxy AI, which features heavily in the camera and photo gallery. AI-powered photo editing tools offer a range of features, including bespoke edit suggestions based on each shot, Generative Edit to fix a crooked image and generative fill to erase distractions.
Although the iPhone 15 Pro Max was hailed for photography, and was scored highly for this ability, it does not come with a similar dedicated AI editing tool. You can, however, still enhance and edit images.

Performance

As top-tier smartphones, it’s unsurprising that they both host the newest chips available for their respective operating systems. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra uses the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy, a custom version of Qualcomm’s top-end 2024 chipset, whereas the iPhone 15 Pro Max runs on Apple’s A17.
Both chipsets are not too dissimilar from each other, as both phones can have up to 1TB of storage. One key difference here is that the S24 Ultra has 12GB of RAM whereas the iPhone 15 Pro Max has 8GB, which is an increase on the previous 6GB but still not as high as the S24 Ultra.
In our benchmark tests, the S24 Ultra achieved an impressive 2229 single-core score and a 6853 multi-core score, whereas the iPhone 15 Pro Max achieved a massive 2900 single-core score and a 7134 multi-core score. If you plan on using your smartphone for gaming, then it’s worth noting that the S24 Ultra scored a slightly better 63fps compared to the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s 60fps.
Both also come with the most recent Android and iOS updates, with the S24 Ultra running Android 14 and the iPhone 15 Pro Max running iOS 17. Interestingly, the S24 Ultra comes with Samsung’s OneUI skin on top. This version of OneUI introduces tweaks and new features to enhance the S24 Ultra’s experience, including a redesigned notification shade with a better quick settings layout and easy access to the full quick settings menu, which is very similar to the iPhone feature.

Battery life

Both the S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max use USB-C to charge, with Apple finally making the change from Lightning to USB-C at the September launch.
In our benchmark tests we found the S24 Ultra took 71 minutes to get from 1-100%, whereas the iPhone 15 Pro Max took 91 minutes. Equally, 60-minutes of Netflix streaming drained the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s battery by 8% but only drained the S24 Ultra’s by 6%.
In his review of the S24 Ultra, Lewis Painter revealed “I’d still get to bedtime after a 16-hour day full of texting, gaming and plenty of scrolling on TikTok with around 50-60% left” but in his iPhone 15 Pro Max review, Max Parker said “most days throughout the review period I have ended up with 20-30% left in the tank.”

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