iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Can Samsung's ex-flagship hold the ground?

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iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra

Intro


The iPhone 15 Pro Max is finally here, aiming to make a loud splash in the ocean of phones. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is quite the important milestone for Apple, with refreshed design, a new 5X periscope camera, and USB Type-C are just some of the exciting new features that make the next big iPhone such an important device.

You're not mistaken, we are actually comparing the next iPhone with the former Samsung flagship, the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Why? Well, although the Galaxy S23 Ultra is much newer and improved in many ways, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is still very capable and could stand its own against whatever Apple can throw in the ring in late 2023.

Of course, our iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Galaxy S23 Ultra review is already live, but what if you're rocking the Galaxy S22 Ultra, one of the better value ex-flagships that exist? With the iPhone 15 Pro Max shaping up to be such a big update over the iPhone 14 Pro Max, should you abandon your Android roots and upgrade from the Galaxy S22 Ultra?


iPhone 15 Pro: save $30-$630 with a trade-in at Apple.com

Apple offers its impressive iPhone 15 Pro at deeply discounted prices with the right trade-in. Right now, you can get this top-class smartphone at up to $630 off with a trade-in.
$369
$999
Buy at Apple

iPhone 15 Pro Max: up to $630 off with a trade-in at Apple

With its groundbreaking chipset and high-class titanium frame, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a real mobile gem. It's now available on Apple at an impressive trade-in discount of up to $630.
$569
$1199
Buy at Apple

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, 512GB, at Amazon

Get the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra at Amazon, fully unlocked and with 512GB of internal storage space. At present, the smartphone isn't on sale at the merchant.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra main differences:
  • 6.7-inch (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 6.8-inch (Galaxy S22 Ultra) display
  • 3nm Apple A17 Pro (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 for Galaxy (Galaxy S22 Ultra)
  • 48MP (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 108MP (Galaxy S22 Ultra) main camera sensors
  • 12MP FaceTime (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 40MP (Galaxy S22 Ultra) selfie camera
  • 5X optical (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 3X, 10X optical zoom (Galaxy S22 Ultra)
  • S Pen stylus support (Galaxy S22 Ultra)
  • 4,422mAh vs 5,000mAh battery
  • 25W (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 45W (Galaxy S22 Ultra) charging speeds
  • Face ID (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs Ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint scanner (Galaxy S22 Ultra)

Table of Contents:

Design and Size

Titanium vs Armor Aluminum


The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a little different from most of its predecessors, as it employs a fresh new design. Gone is the stainless-steel frame of previous iPhone Pro Max phones, substituted for a fancy contoured titanium frame. The new design has not only helped the iPhone become noticeably lighter without sacrificing any of the robustness. 

The iPhone 15 Pro Max also has a USB Type-C port at the bottom, a major development for Apple forced by the EU. Cupertino has relied on its proprietary Lightning port for over a decade, so joining the USB club is big news that opens up the iPhone to a much wider ecosystem of devices. The iPhone 15 Pro Max support USB 3.0 speeds, theoretically allowing up to 10Gb/s of data throughput.


The Dynamic Island punch-hole cutout is making a comeback, but the bigger deal at the front of the next large iPhone will be its much, much slimmer bezels. While there's still ways to go, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is now closer to that edge-to-edge fullscreen utopia.

Another major change is the removal of the mute switch and the introduction of the new Action Button in its place. This one is very similar to the Apple Watch Ultra's customizable button and allows you to map different functions, like quickly accessing the camera, the flashlight, certain accessibility features, and specific Shortcuts.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra isn't much different, employing a traditional glass sandwich design that does not compromise on the premium feel of the phone. This one comes with a slightly curved display and backplate, which is definitely improving the overall ergonomics of the otherwise huge Samsung phone

The S Pen on the phone was at the time a major development on the Samsung scene. Having axed the Galaxy Note lineup, Samsung decided to bring the S Pen over to the flagship Galaxy S series, which generally jibed well with the overall utility of the large-screen Galaxy flagship. The Galaxy S22 Ultra was the first product of the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S merger.

iPhone 15 Pro Max comes in Natural Titanium, Blue Titanium, Black Titanium, and White Titanium. The Galaxy S22 Ultra, on the other hand, came in Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, and Burgundy, a very solid selection of hues. 


Display Differences



Apple didn't change the display of the iPhone 15 Pro Max at all, so the new iPhone comes with a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, of course HDR capable. It has a dynamically switchable ProMotion refresh rate that will be able to go up to 120Hz for the ultimate and quite rewarding scrolling experience. Frankly said, we don't think any revisions are currently necessary as we will most certainly get a superb display, with exceptional maximum brightness, beautiful colors, top contrast, and so on. 

Generally, the same can be said about the Galaxy S22 Ultra's 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED display. Samsung's AMOLED displays are usually among the best ones over at the Android side, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra was no different. The only downside of this sharp and vivid display is that it technically can't achieve the same levels of maximum brightness that the iPhone 13 Pro Max and 14 Pro Max hit, and naturally, the iPhone 15 Pro Max widens that gap by having a much brighter display. 

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Display Measurements:



Aside from accommodating the front-facing camera, the Dynamic Island punch-hole is also home to the Face ID paraphernalia. That's right, we have Apple's facial recognition tech on board the iPhone 15 Pro Max, as we don't really expect an in-display fingerprint scanner to make it on board the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Guess what, such a sensor is found on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, allowing you to unlock the phone and authorize payments with your fingertip. A picture-based face unlock is also on board the S22 Ultra.

Performance and Software

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is likely no match for the 3nm Apple A17 Pro


The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes along with the 3nm A17 Pro chipset, the first 3nm mobile chipset out and about. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip. Qualcomm's 4nm foray was a powerful, yet slightly overheating affair that didn't deliver exemplar battery life and was considered by many a compromise. Actually, battery life regressed in comparison with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, so the Galaxy S22 Ultra didn't exactly live up to the major hype prior to its announcement. 

That said, the Apple A17 Pro totally beats the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in terms of performance, but thermal throttling might hinder the sustained performance of either phone. That said, the iPhone 15 Pro Max surely beats the Galaxy S22 Ultra in terms of performance.

Performance Benchmarks:


Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max2958
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra1656
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max7288
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra3551
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max4236
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra2203
3DMark
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max2632
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra1624

The base Galaxy S22 Ultra starts with 8GB of RAM, and guess what, that applies to the iPhone 15 Pro Max as well, with the latest large iPhone scoring a bump from 6GB RAM to 8GB RAM.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max will be launching with iOS 17 out of the box, and we expect Cupertino to grace its next showpiece with at least five years of major software and security updates, though in the best case scenario we'd expect support until the end of the decade. 

The Galaxy S22 Ultra was also the first phone to offer four years of major software updates. As it arrived with Android 12, the phone is expected to be updated to Android 16. Meanwhile, Samsung will offer security support for five years, or until 2027.

iOS 17 will be available on the iPhone 15 Pro Max as soon as it arrives to the market. The piece of software was previewed at Apple’s WWDC developer-centric event in June 2023. Aside from iOS, we also saw what macOS, iPadOS, and watchOS will have in store for us this fall.

Some new features in iOS 17 include improvements to Phone, Messages, FaceTime, as well as Find My, and Maps. iOS 17 users will be able to enjoy smarter Visual Look Up, and AirTags will be shareable to other people. There are also interactive widgets, which will let you enable or disable interface features with a simple tap. Finally, you will no longer have to say “Hey, Siri” to invoke the assistant –– a simple “Siri!” is enough.

However, later in 2024, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will get the next iOS 18 update, while the Galaxy S22 Ultra will also be receiving its taste of the next Android update, Android 15, later this year. 

Apple released the big iOS 17.1 software update, which includes several improvements, around the end of October 2023. There have been significant improvements made to the new StandBy feature, which displays information while the phone charges. The Apple Music user experience has undergone many improvements. Furthermore, by enabling AirDrop over cellular networks, iOS 17.1 enables you to exchange large files even when two iPhones are not nearby. Additional improvements and bug fixes are included in the iOS 17.1 software upgrade. Numerous consumers have reported that there are still problems with Wi-Fi and keyboard latency on the iPhone 15 series

Camera

Apple has joined the periscope party


The main camera of the iPhone 15 Pro Max sticks to the 48MP resolution, but has scored some intriguing improvements, like a new Photonic Engine and improved Smart HDR, which extend the iPhone's photography potential a lot. Photos are now 24MP by default, improving detail and sharpness, as well as three custom wide-camera focal lengths that will unlock the photographer in you.

It's been a while, and while most Android manufacturers have explored periscope cameras on their phones, Apple has sort of stayed away from those cool new far-zooming cameras. This changes with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which comes with a 5X periscope camera that will let you zoom further away, at up to 120mm of focal length.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra, on the other hand, comes with Samsung's previous camera, helmed by the 108MP main camera. That one was generally good, though it had some excessive oversharpening in some situations, as well as the tendency to lift up the shadows and deliver somewhat gloomy and bleak-looking photos. 

However, the Galaxy S22 Ultra employs the second iteration of Samsung's periscope lens that debuted a year prior on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It is a 10X periscope that lets you zoom far, and in tandem with the digital zoom feature of the phone, lets you zoom in to 100X. Surely, images at such ridiculous magnifications are barely usable, but for bragging rights alone, you can't really beat the Galaxy S22 Ultra, or its successor, or even its predecessor!

The ultra-wide lens of the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a standard 12MP one with a relatively small 1/2.55" sensor, but it is capable of capturing quite a lot of scene in the frame. The iPhone 15 Pro Max's ultra-wide camera has scored some minor improvements of its own as well.

At the front, the Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with an impressive 40MP selfie camera, which was excellent. Have in mind that the Galaxy S23 Ultra's 12MP selfie camera achieves slightly better results despite having lower resolution. The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a 12MP FaceTime camera; no specific improvements are hinted for that one. 


The iPhone goes for a slightly more realistic look in the above series of sample photos, while the Galaxy S22 Ultra delivers a slightly more vivid and brighter depiction of the scene.

Main Camera - Low-light




Once the lights go down, it's the Galaxy that has the better dynamics and better detail resolve, just check out the tree leaves at the back and how well these are depicted over at Samsung's side. 

Zoom Quality



At 5X digital zoom, the iPhone's new telephoto lens shines. While the galaxy is perfectly capable of capturing a decent image at such a magnification, it's the Apple device that delivers a more natural and well-defined photo, with intricate details in the brickwork being way more distinct. 


Once the lights go down, the Galaxy S22 Ultra's periscope struggles due to the slow f/4.9 aperture, which doesn't really shine in challenging lighting conditions. At both 5X and 10X, the iPhone delivers better and more usable photos thanks to its much faster f/2.8 aperture. 

Ultra-wide Camera



Both devices fit a lot of scene in a single ultra-wide photo, but the difference in processing and color science are staggering. The Galaxy S22 Ultra foregoes any semblance of realism and goes for slightly oversaturated and too-processed photos, while the iPhone delivers realistic colors, dynamics, and overall dynamics. 

Selfies



When it comes to selfies, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has a respectable 40MP camera, but it doesn't produce drastically better selfies than the regular FaceTime front camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. In fact, we prefer the predictability one gets from the Apple-made front-facing shooter, which always delivers on the selfie front.

Video Quality


In terms of video, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a serious contender with tons of improvements on the video-recording front. 4K60 ProRES video-recording to an external drive, as well as Log video recording are just two of the highlights. The Galaxy S22 Ultra, on the other hand, also supports various bells and whistles, chief among which is 8K video recording. 

In terms of quality, we have to give it to the iPhone, which is once again the most capable contender and is arguably one of the best phones to consider if you're serious about shooting videos with your phone.

Video Thumbnail

Audio Quality and Haptics


With a bottom-firing speaker and an earpiece, the Galaxy S22 Ultra didn't make a strong case for its speaker, with slightly emphasized highs but lacking heft in the mid and base frequencies. 

Meanwhile, most iPhone Pro Max models since the iPhone 12 Pro Max have had exemplar loudspeaker quality, delivering richer and fuller sound with lots of depth, making them one of the best-sounding phones you can get, period. The iPhone 15 Pro Max actually improves on that in comparison with last year's iPhone 14 Pro Max and comes with one of the best-sounding pair of speakers we've heard. 

Battery Life and Charging

Big hopes for the iPhone 15 Pro Max

With a 4,422mAh battery, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is easily the best endowed iPhone ever in terms of battery size. Alas, however, as this isn't actually about to deliver drastically better battery life than last year's iPhone 14 Pro Max.

We aren't impressed with the battery life of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, even though it had a large 5,000mAh battery. It fared worse than its predecessor in our custom battery tests, and fared particularly unimpressive in our custom video playback test, with an overall endurance of just 7 hours and a half. The phone's gaming score of slightly above 10 hours was impressive, though. 

That said, the iPhone 15 Pro Max totally beats the Galaxy S22 Ultra in the trio of custom battery tests that we conduct on new devices, with the displays set at 200 nits of brightness. In our custom video playback, 3D gaming, and web browsing tests, all of which replicate real-life load, the iPhone lasts longer than the Galaxy S22 Ultra. 

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:


Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max9h 45 min
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra7h 27 min
Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max19h 20 min
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra13h 17 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max9h 36 min
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra5h 21 min

The iPhone 15 Pro Max arrives with 25W wired charging, so no improvement year-over-year, as well as 15W MagSafe wireless charging. That's slower than most of the iPhone's competitors, including the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is no different––its 45W wired charging support lets it fully charge in one hour, a neat round number. Wireless charging of this one is capped at 15W; the phone also supports reverse wireless charging, allowing you to quickly top up your accessories. 

Charging is one area in which the Galaxy S22 Ultra wins one back, as it fully juices up twice as fast as the iPhone. Back to the drawing board, Apple.

PhoneArena Battery Charging Results:



Specs Comparison


Although the iPhone 15 Pro Max specs are still up in the air and definitely subject to change (nothing is official until it's official), we can sort of compare the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra's specs to determine which one has the upper hand. 


Summary and Final Verdict


The iPhone 15 Pro Max is setting itself as the yardstick for all other phones to match against in late 2023 and early 2024. With improved performance thanks to the foray into 3nm territory, a new periscope camera, as well as refreshed design, USB Type-C, and a new titanium build, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will likely take its well-deserving spot at the upper portion of the top charts.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a slightly aging but still capable former flagship that can still be considered a good buy, especially if you find a killer deal on the former Samsung pride and glory. 

So, should you upgrade from the Android ex-flagship to Apple's newest phone? If you don't mind switching ecosystems, then yes. However, you might be better off waiting for the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which is just around the corner, but if you want the best of the best right now, you might as well go with the iPhone 15 Pro Max—or the Galaxy S23 Ultra


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