iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Which is best?

Apple recently launched its latest high-end iPhone, the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Here’s how it compares to Samsung’s own Galaxy S23 Ultra

If you’re looking to upgrade to one of the most powerful smartphones around, you’ve likely considered both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. 

After all, both phones are equipped with flagship chipsets, sharp displays and capable camera arrays, to name just a few of their shared qualities. But, which phone is better? 

Keep reading to find out more about how these two the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra compare. 

Pricing and availability 

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra launched in February 2023 at a price of $1199/£1249/€1199. 

Apple unveiled its latest flagship phone seven months later. The iPhone 15 Pro Max arrived in September 2023 at a cost of $1199/£1199/€1489, making it the cheaper of the two smartphones here in the UK. 

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Design and display 

Despite its slightly lower price, the iPhone 15 Pro Max actually has a more premium build than the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Where the S23 Ultra is built from a combination of aluminium and glass, the 15 Pro Max now features a brushed titanium finish. 

The S23 Ultra does feature a larger 6.8-inch screen compared to the 6.7-inch panel on the 15 Pro Max. However, both phones offer 120Hz adaptive refresh rates and DolbyVision support, producing bright images with deep contrast and vibrant colours. 

There are also a couple of more unique features to contend with. For example, the 15 Pro Max has the Dynamic Island which is Apple’s unique take on the notch, whereas the S23 Ultra offers stylish supports with the S Pen hidden in the chassis. 

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Camera 

When it comes to their respective cameras, both phones feature incredibly powerful camera arrays but the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra takes the lead with its zoom capabilities. 

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is led by a 48-megapixel main sensor, followed by a 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor with a 120-degree field of view and a pair of 12-megapixel telephoto sensors capable of up to 5x optical zoom. 

The S23 Ultra packs a huge 200-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor with the same 120-degree field of view and a pair of 10-megapixel telephoto sensors with support for up to 10x optical zoom. This makes this the stronger choice for snapping photos from afar. 

When it comes to their main cameras, the 15 Pro Max produces realistic colours and plenty of detail without images appearing oversharpened, whereas the S23 Ultra offers punchier colours. It really comes down to personal preference. 

Both cameras are also excellent for shooting video, though the iPhone 15 Pro Max does produce the best video of any phone we’ve reviewed. 

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iPhone 15 Pro Max

Performance 

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the more powerful of the two phones thanks to Apple’s newest chipset, the A17 Pro. 

The A17 Pro is the first Pro chipset for the iPhone and the first 3nm mobile chipset on the smartphone market, vastly outperforming its competition in our tests. 

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is equipped with the also very powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, which has the advantage of higher clock speeds and an additional GPU core compared to the already high-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. 

However, as you can see from the graph above, the 15 Pro Max still manages to outperform the S23 Ultra. 

galaxy s23 ultra camera
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Battery life 

Finally, there’s battery life to consider. We found that both smartphones offered all-day use, with both potentially able to last up to two days with light use and the always-on display disabled.

As you can see from the graph above, the 15 Pro Max saw an 8% drop in battery after 60 minutes of Netflix streaming, while the S23 Ultra lost 7%. The difference was more obvious when faced with 30 minutes of light gaming where the iPhone dropped 9% and the S23 Ultra saw a battery reduction of just 5%. 

Charging time was identical with both phones taking 91 minutes to charge from 0 to 100%. However, the iPhone did appear to charge faster, reaching 37% in the first 15 minutes of charging compared to the S23 Ultra’s 28%.


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