iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Main differences to expect
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is quite possibly the best phone available out right now. With a pretty respectable hardware, excellent and very versatile camera, great display, and Samsung-tailored user interface that's fully benefiting from the deep integration with the S Pen stylus, the large phone is one that's usually topping most top charts.
Would that be a subject to change once the iPhone 15 Pro Max comes along? Apple's next pride and glory is most certainly coming this September, and unlike previous years, we'll get to see lots of improvements on board that will make this one a very important yardstick for Apple.
Sure, there are always some major differences between Samsung's and Apple's top phones. However, ignoring the essential operating system and ecosystem differences between the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Galaxy S23 Ultra, we might find out that these two phones aren't that much different from one another. Both are shaping up to be the two very best and super-premium offerings on the 2023 smartphone market.
IPHONE 15 PRO MAX vs GALAXY S23 ULTRA expected differences:
- 6.7-inch (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 6.8-inch (Galaxy S23 Ultra) display
- 3nm Apple A17 Bionic (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy (Galaxy S23 Ultra)
- 48MP (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 200MP (Galaxy S23 Ultra) main camera sensors
- 5-6X optical (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 3X, 10X optical zoom (Galaxy S23 Ultra)
- S Pen stylus support (Galaxy S23 Ultra)
- 27W (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs 45W (Galaxy S23 Ultra) charging speeds
- Face ID (iPhone 15 Pro Max) vs Ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint scanner (Galaxy S23 Ultra)
Table of Contents:
Design and Size
Samsung has found its comfort zone; big changes for the iPhone
We anticipate a major design shift for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which won't necessarily change the way the phone looks, but still change the existing paradigm a lot.
First up, we have some major rumors claiming that Apple will be using a titanium frame on the phone, which would not only tone down the weight but also improve the overall sturdiness of the phone. There are even rumors that the phone might not even be so 'edgy' and instead use a slightly curved backplate, similar to the latest MacBook Pros, which would make it more comfortable to handle.
The bezels are also likely to be the thinnest on any phone out there, measuring just 1.55mm. This will easily dethrone current holder Xiaomi 13's 1.81mm-wide side bezels and make for an extremely posh look.
Another major change that's coming to the iPhone lineup extends to the mute switch, which will be substituted for a customizable Action Button, similar to the one on the Apple Watch Ultra. This will allow iPhone 15 Pro Max users to customize the button and enable different functions with it.
Oh, and Apple is finally joining the USB Type-C club with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Nice!
What about the Galaxy S23 Ultra? This one relies on the same old glass-sandwich design that has mostly remained unchanged in comparison with the Galaxy S22 Ultra. With a very premium design that pairs a flat bottom and top frames with slightly curved display and a built-in S Pen stylus, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the best-designed phones of early 2023.
Although we don't know how much the iPhone 15 Pro Max weighs, there's a high chance that the Galaxy S23 Ultra will be the slightly lighter phone, with the added ergonomics of a slightly curved design that may leave the impression that you're handling a smaller phone.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max will most likely come in Space Black, Silver, and Gold, as well as a new deep red color, a first on an iPhone Pro model. The Galaxy S23 Ultra can be yours in Cream, Lavender, Green, Phantom Black, and a few other exclusive colors over at Samsung.com.
Don't expect a wall adapter in the box of either phone.
The iPHone 15 Pro Max will come with a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display with very smooth 1-120Hz ProMotion display that will allow for a pretty rewarding scrolling experience throughout the interface. However, aside from the thinner bezels and the return of the Dynamic Island punch-hole, there might not be any major improvements to the iPhone 15 Pro Max's display, which will likely reuse the excellent screen of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. That was was great, with very high maximum brightness and excellent color rendition.
Meanwhile, Samsung's 6.8-inch display is interrupted by a single punch-hole, which definitely helps it achieve a cleaner look. The Samsung phone otherwise also offers dynamic refresh rate up to 120Hz, a very sharp QHD+ display, and can also achieve high brightness in certain lighting conditions, albeit not as much as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and possibly, the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra also hides a ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner, which allows you to quickly and effortlessly unlock your phone and authorize online payments. The iPhone 15 Pro Max will not have such an offering and will continue relying on the good ol' Face ID facial biometric. This one is more secure than regular face unlock.
Performance and Software
The best of Qualcomm versus the best of Apple
So, Apple is rumored to put a 3nm Apple A17 Bionic chipset inside the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Utilizing a 3nm manufacturing process would allow for billions of transistors more to be fitted inside the upcoming Apple chip (made by TSMC). This is kind of a big deal as it will improve both performance and energy efficiency across the board, potentially making the iPhone 15 Pro Max a chart-topping performance powerhouse and a very long-lasting phone.
Meanwhile, Samsung uses the 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy in all its Galaxy S23 phones across the globe, a major change for Samsung which has previously used both Snapdragon and Exynos chips on its phones. The chipset inside the Galaxy S23 Ultra is not the garden-variety one, mind you: Samsung has scored a custom, slightly overclocked version of the regular Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, which delivers slightly better performance.
We expect that the Apple A17 Bionic will be much faster and more efficient than the top Qualcomm offering. Such a big jump in silicon density all the way down to 3nm means that the Apple A17 will likely be the best performing chip in the industry for a while, and might even dare rival some desktop chips.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max will come with 8GB of RAM, which is the same amount of memory that the base Galaxy S23 ultra comes with. The difference shouldn't be palpable though, mostly due to the way iOS uses memory and its more frugal management of system resources. So, even though the two devices might come with the same amount of RAM, the iPhone 15 Pro Max might be able to keep more apps in the memory. The 12GB version of the Galaxy should be the best in terms of multi-tasking.
However, the Galaxy S23 Ultra will most likely be the more productive phone as far as the user experience is considered. With true multitasking, split-screen view, as well as fully-fledged DeX desktop-like solution, not to mention the usability boon of the S Pen stylus, you will most certainly be able to do much more simultaneously on the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
When it comes to storage, we expect that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will be available in 128, 256, 512GB, and the ultra-spacious 1TB version. Quite a diverse selection that can fit just about anyone's specific needs. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage, which is less flexible but on the upside, you get 256GB of storage with the base version of the phone!
The iPhone 15 Pro Max will come with iOS 17 out of the box and receive at least five years of major software and security updates, at least until 2028. The Galaxy S23 Ultra will receive software support for four more years, until 2027, and security updates till 2028.
Apple joins the periscope game
The iPhone 15 Pro Max will most likely retain the high-res 48MP main camera that debuted with the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but is heavily rumored to employ an even larger sensor. This would help the next iPhone deliver even better photos than its predecessors, with better detail resolve and potentially much better low-light image quality. The iPhone 14 Pro Max has been lacking when it comes to low-light photography, especially when compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra, so this is an area in which we'd love to see an improvement.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra, however, totally wins in the pure specs game, as it comes with a 200MP camera with a large 1/1.3" ISOCELL HP2 sensor. In good lighting, the Galaxy S23 Ultra uses quad-pixel binning to produce very detailed 50MP photos, but when the light goes down, Samsung's best phone will combine 16 pixels into one to produce 12.5MP photos with excellent dynamics.
The big change, however, will be the new periscope camera of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which would deliver 5X-6X optical zoom for greater zooming capabilities. Hybrid zoom, however, should reach much further. However, the iPhone's new periscope camera wouldn't be able to match the 10X periscope camera of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which allows for up to 100X digital zoom, which is as long as they come, at least in the U.S.
The front-facing camera on the Galaxy S23 Ultra has actually been demoted to 12MP all the way from 40MP on the S22 Ultra, but that hasn't deteriorated the image quality; in fact, it has improved in some situations. We don't know if the iPhone 15 Pro Max will score a new FaceTime camera, chances are we will still get the 12MP one from the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
When it comes to video, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has scored improved image stabilization as well as Staggered HDR that delivers excellent dynamic range. 8K video at 24 and 30fps is supported.
At the same time, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will likely once again set the industry standard for video recording, much like all previous top-end iPhones.
Audio Quality and Haptics
The iPhone 15 Pro Max will come with stereo speakers: bottom-firing loudspeaker and another one in the earpiece. With the iPhone 14 Pro Max, we got one of the best-sounding phones, so the expectations are already quite high for its successors. The same applies to the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which also comes with exemplar audio reproduction.
When it comes to haptics, iPhones have set the bar for years now with their super-accurate and exact vibrations, delivered by the Taptic Engine. The Galaxy S23 Ultra's haptic feedback wouldn't disappoint you, either: it's superb as well.
Battery Life and Charging
We don't know what battery the iPhone 15 Pro Max will come with. Chances are it will have a battery in the 4,200-4,300mAh ballpark, similar to its predecessor. However, thanks to the new and more efficient 3nm chipset, we honestly expect the iPhone 15 Pro Max to have a much better battery life in comparison with the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The latter fared quite well in our custom battery tests, so things are looking up for Apple's next trend-setter.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra, on the other hands, has a 5,000mAh battery, which helps it endure quite a lot, too. However, at least in our custom battery benchmark tests, the Galaxy S23 Ultra lasts less than the iPhone 14 Pro Max on a full charge. This could mean that the iPhone 15 Pro Max could do the same.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max will likely support up to 27W wired charging, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra supports 45W wired charging. There will also be 15W MagSafe wireless charging on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, as well as 15W Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The Samsung phone also has reverse wireless charging.
Wondering about those iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Galaxy S23 Ultra specs? Here's what we know so far, based on rumors:
|iPhone 15 Pro Max||Galaxy S23 Ultra|
|Size, weight||159.86 x 76.73 x 8.25 mm||163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9 mm|
|6.8" Dynamic AMOLED|
1440 x 3088 pixels
|Snapdragon 8 Gen 2|
|8GB + 256GB|
12GB + 512GB
12GB + 1TB
12MP 5X-6X zoom
10MP 3X zoom
10MP 10X zoom
|Battery||4323 mAh*||5000 mAh|
15W wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
Summary and Final Verdict
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is shaping up to be a major evolutionary step for Apple, introducing lots of changes to an already established and quite successful lineup. Still, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is likely perfecting all the essential aspects of a regular user's phone experience: camera, performance, battery life, and design are all likely getting improved.
However, these changes wouldn't come cheap. Apple is rumored to deliver a $100 hike across the board. This means the iPhone 15 Pro Max might start at $1,199 for its entry-level 128GB model. This will be one of the first times when Apple's increased the pricing of its best iPhone. But then again, this price hike might not happen.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is very probably the best Android phone available right now. It strikes an awesome balance between available features, hardware, camera versatility, and overall value, even though it also has an official $1,199 starting price. With lots of trade-in offers and deals available almost all the time, you might usually find Samsung's best phone available for less.
Things that are NOT allowed: