Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max
How does Samsung's flagship stack up against Apple's iPhone 14 Pro Max?
Believe it or not, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s biggest rival in the US smartphone space doesn’t come from Google, Motorola, LG, Xiaomi, or any other Android competitor – it’s Apple’s flagship that it seeks to fend off. The iPhone enjoys as much as a hefty 50% market share in the US, with Samsung’s phones a distant second, at just shy of 30%, according to reporting at 9to5mac.
In this article, then, we’re asking and answering the question: what’re the differences between the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro Max?
Comparing the two is a more valuable exercise than ever, as the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset that powers the Galaxy S23 Ultra endeavors to challenge iPhone’s A16 Bionic, but that’s not the only way in which these two powerful phones can square off. Let’s dig into the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max and see how Samsung’s answer to Apple’s most premium handset measures up.
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The Shortcut Skinny: S23 Ultra vs. 14 Pro Max
💰 Price – mostly a dead heat, but Apple’s phone has the cheapest model
⚡️ Processor – iPhone still more powerful, but it won’t matter for most
Battery – jury’s out until the S23 Ultra is tested, but expect similar results
📸 Camera – S23 Ultra more capable, but some may prefer iPhone’s natural look
🧑🎨 Design – S23 Ultra squared-off shoulders while iPhone gets rounded corners
📦 Storage – iPhone keeps 128GB tier, both have 256GB, 512GB and 1TB options
📺 Screen – Galaxy S23 Ultra is slightly larger, higher resolution
🔆 Brightness – 14 Pro Max has higher peak brightness, but both are very bright
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
📸 Best for phone camera enthusiasts who like taking extremely zoomed-in shots
⚡️ Most powerful Android phone in the US market (for now)
✍️ Stylus support gives the S23 Ultra a leg up
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra will be, for most people in the US, the best competitor to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, thanks to similar specs on the whole, a more advanced camera system and extra features like support for its built-in Galaxy S Pen.
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Samsung arguably offers the closest thing to Apple’s ecosystem, thanks to tight integration with the company’s many gadgets, with similar features that allow for seamless handoff and screen mirroring like that found in the best iPad, Macs and iPhones.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra promises an impressive camera, thanks to its 200MP main shooter that enables more detailed zoomed shots than ever. Using pixel-binning to simulate either a 50MP image or a 12.5MP image, depending on the zoom level, this camera is capable of taking far more detailed shots of distant objects than Apple’s phone, which manages a muddy 30X digital zoom at best.
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The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra features an embedded Galaxy S Pen for stylus support too, making it an excellent note-taking device, sure, but which also allows for finer control that fingers can’t manage.
When it comes to the phone’s guts, the Galaxy S23 Ultra battery and processor aren’t necessarily a clear homerun versus the iPhone 14 Pro Max, as the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor doesn’t quite reach the heights of Apple’s chip on power or efficiency – but the performance gap is narrower than it’s been in many years.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra's charging speed is faster, at 45W to Apple’s 20. That said, even Samsung’s phone pales in comparison to speeds offered overseas in phones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Explorer, the current fast-charging champ at a battery-health-be-damned 210W (putting it at 100% in just 15 minutes).
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
⚡️ The Apple A16 Bionic chip remains the most powerful, but the gap is narrowing
🏞️ Samsung’s ecosystem, while growing, still doesn’t match up with Apple’s
💰 Apple still has the cheapest flagship, thanks to a $1,099 128GB tier
The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max is a slam dunk for any Apple fan who likes a big phone and seamless integration with Apple devices, but for anyone not deeply invested in the company’s ecosystem, the case for it thins. It still has a great camera system that’s comparable enough to be subjectively better for normal use, but one which continues to lose ground when it comes to some of the advanced features offered by other phones.
Still, the Pro Max’s A16 Bionic is arguably the best mobile processor in the game, one which is so efficient that even with a nearly 700mAh deficit versus the 5,000mAh battery in the Galaxy S22 Ultra, it manages to come out ahead in head-to-head testing on prominent phone battery tester PhoneBuff’s YouTube channel. Samsung is likely to improve this time around – I don’t expect it to blow the 14 Pro Max out of the water, but we’ll have to wait and see what tests show.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max screen brightness hits a higher 2,000 nits than Samsung’s phone, which maxes out at 1,750 nits, making it slightly easier to see in daylight. But its screen’s pill-shaped camera cutout is a turn-off for some, despite Apple making the most of it by incorporating it into the UI of the phone with some clever notification tricks, compared to Samsung’s tiny hole punch.
It’s starting to show its age in connectivity stats, as well, though those things will only matter to professionals, who might use the phone to shoot ProRAW photos or ProRes videos, and who would be hampered by the slower Wi-Fi 6 throughput and lightning port. Samsung debuted its own native version of RAW photography shortly before the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S22 series phones, lessening the need for a third-party solution to the once-missing feature.