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Samsung Galaxy S21+ $449.99 at Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
While Samsung's Galaxy S21 Ultra is in a league of its own in terms of hardware with the 10x optical periscope zoom, the giant 5000mAh battery, and the 5nm Snapdragon 888 with integrated 5G modem, it's the S21+ that is the actual direct competitor for Apple's 2020 flagship, the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

They both start at similar prices, lack periscope zoom (not that any iPhone will have it soon), and sport the same screen diagonals. Will the Galaxy S21+ be a fine match for the iPhone 12 Pro Max that is proving more and more popular on the market by the day? Let's find out...

Galaxy S21 Plus vs iPhone 12 Pro Max price, colors and storage


  • $999 vs $1099 for 128GB
  • Black vs Graphite
  • Violet vs Pacific Blie.
  • Silver
  • Red/Pink (in Korea) vs Gold

Fair is fair - the Galaxy S21+ offers more features, like a display with high 120Hz refresh rate, at a tad lower price. Its fused camera island corner design is also more interesting than what the cartoonish matte/gloss undertaking that the iPhone 12 Pro Max offers.


The iPhone 12 Pro Max, however, offers the toughest Ceramic Shield display cover glass of any phone out there, and is the most water-resistant general purpose handset as well, being able to withstand submergence in up to the whopping twenty feet of water. Still, we like how Samsung blends the camera corner with the sides better, making for one elegant and uninterrupted look.

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Galaxy S21 Plus vs iPhone 12 Pro Max specs and display size


  • 6.7" 1080p 120Hz vs 6.7" 1284p 60Hz displays
  • Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100 vs Apple A14 5nm chipsets
  • Integrated vs standalone 5G modem
  • 8GB vs 6GB RAM

Samsung Galaxy S21+
Dimensions

6.35 x 2.98 x 0.31 inches

161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm

Weight

7.13 oz (202 g)

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Dimensions

6.33 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

160.84 x 78.09 x 7.39 mm

Weight

8.03 oz (228 g)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Dimensions

6.5 x 2.98 x 0.35 inches

165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm

Weight

8.04 oz (229 g)

Samsung Galaxy S21
Dimensions

5.97 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm

Weight

6.03 oz (171 g)

Samsung Galaxy S21+
Dimensions

6.35 x 2.98 x 0.31 inches

161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm

Weight

7.13 oz (202 g)

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Dimensions

6.33 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

160.84 x 78.09 x 7.39 mm

Weight

8.03 oz (228 g)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Dimensions

6.5 x 2.98 x 0.35 inches

165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm

Weight

8.04 oz (229 g)

Samsung Galaxy S21
Dimensions

5.97 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm

Weight

6.03 oz (171 g)

Compare these and other phones using our Size Comparison tool.

While Apple has a leg up when it comes to raw single core power of its A14 chipset in the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the Galaxy S21+ has one undeniable advantage in the chipset realm - it sports an integrated 5G modem

Both Snapdragon 888 and the Qualcomm X60 modem are made on the latest 5nm process, ensuring frugal battery draw compared to tack-on 5G modem solutions like the one found in the 12 Pro Max. 

Check out the S21+ (SM-G996B) vs iPhone 12 Pro Max benchmark scores below - as usual, Apple kills it in the single core results, but let's not forget that this particular S21+ version is the global one with Exynos 2100 at 2.2GHz, not the Snapdragon 888 model that the US is getting. Moreover, the A14 runs at its top 3GHz clock speeds, too. When comparing the Snapdragon model of the S21+ against the 12 Pro Max, the difference in single-core performance is equally startling, yet it runs on even lower core clocks than the Exynos model. 

AnTuTu is a multi-layered, comprehensive mobile benchmark app that assesses various aspects of a device, including CPU, GPU, RAM, I/O, and UX performance. A higher score means an overall faster device.

Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S21+
613916
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
638098
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
654223
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
474536
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
524200

Moving on to the display quality, while the iPhone has a slightly more pixel-dense 6.7" OLED screen, it gives way in one of the hottest metrics these days - screen refresh rate. It is only able to pull off 60Hz refresh, circa 2019, while being only slightly better than Samsung's phone in white balance and color gamut presentation, at a higher price than the S21+. Here Apple definitely dropped the ball. 


Galaxy S21 Plus vs iPhone 12 Pro Max camera


  • 12 MP main sensors
  • 64MP crop vs 12 MP telephoto zoom cameras
  • 12MP ultrawide-angle cameras

The iPhone 12 Pro Max ships with the largest camera sensor that Apple has ever put in a phone, yet its pixels are still a tad smaller than those in, say, the S20+ main sensoir which found its way into the S21+ as well. Did Apple drop the ball in the camera department as in the display panel refresh rate metric? Not really, as you can see from the Galaxy S21+ vs iPhone 12 Pro Max camera samples.


As usual, more often than not one could tell when a picture is from an iPhone by simply comparing the warm yellow cast over the photo with whatever other phone is thrown at it, and here in the comparison with the S21+ the 12 Pro Max doesn't disappoint. While Samsung also used to love warm, yellowish overtones, and they sometimes rear their heads agains the iPhone, Apple on the whole uses much warmer and crowdpleasing white balance for its shots. 

The iPhone returns a slightly better dynamic range during daytime, able to capture the highlights like shining sun and bright objects with a tad less halo, while lightening up the shadows. At night, however, the roles are reversed, as the improved Night Mode on the Galaxy S21+ captures lights and colors better, and its photos are a tad brighter to boot.

We already noted this in our Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12 Pro comparison, but the high megapixel count of the Galaxy S21+ zoom camera is nothing to admire, as it's the iPhone 12 Pro Max with the true telephoto zoom range of 2.5x. The Galaxy S21+, just like the S20+ before it, doesn't have a periscope or telephoto zoom camera. 

It simply crops from the high-res 64MP secondary sensor, and Samsung itself admits that what it calls a "telephoto camera" actually sports a lens that is very much wide-angle, almost as wide as the lens on the main camera. The "telephoto" lens only provides a 1.06 zoom compared to the regular camera, so all the zooming is actually almost entirely based on software - cropping and merging with the information from the main and/or ultrawide sensors. The end results are pretty good anyway, but it's not a true telephoto, and no amount of 30x zoom gimmick can change that.

When it comes to video recording, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a powerful image processor that lets it record the whopping 60fps Dolby Vision 4K HDR video, and display it on the the iPhone's big 6.7"screen in most of its glory. It is 10-bit HDR footage, not 12-bit Dolby Vision that the S21+ is capable of, but nevertheless an impressive feat to achieve, and a heretofore prerogative of expensive standalone cameras.

On the other hand, the Galaxy S21+ 5nm chipsets are able to pull off 8K video for the rare occassion you need high-def video to watch on your 8K TV. Of course, this one is a pain to upload, watch or edit, but the the same can be said for the iPhone 12 Pro Max's Dolby Vision output, too.

Galaxy S21 Plus vs iPhone 12 Pro Max battery life and charging speeds


  • 4800mAh vs 3617mAh
  • 25W (up to 45W) vs 20W fast wired charging
  • 15W wireless charging

Samsung took a note of the surpisignly robust sales of the middle child in the S20 series, and paid special attention to the S21+, equipping it with a battery nearly as large as the one in the S21 Ultra. At 4800mAh, with the help of the integrated 5nm chipset and 5G modem that is now using a new, more frugal antenna isolation, the pack promises long hours of battery life even at 120Hz display refresh, and it delivers. 

hours Higher is better
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
14h 6 min
Samsung Galaxy S21+
12h 11 min
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
16h 7 min
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
11h 57 min
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
12h 23 min
Samsung Galaxy S21
9h 6 min
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
12h 28 min
OnePlus 8
12h 15 min

The overall rating of the three test components - browsing, gaming, and YouTube streaming - is commensurate with the iPhone 12 Pro Max endurance at 60Hz, yet the S21+ battery advantage is in charging, too. Samsung provides very fast fill-up for the 4800mAh battery, at about an hour and change with the stock 25W charger, compared to the iPhone's nearly two hours.

Perhaps we should no longer say stock, as the charger won't be available in the Galaxy S21+ box at launch but the fact that it charges twice faster than the iPhone 12 Pro Max with a battery life about as long. The 12 Pro Max doesn't ship with a charger in the box, and you'd have to shell out for Apple's new 20W charger if you don't have an old 18W brick chilling around, but Samsung is pulling the same trick with the S21 series now. Sad times.

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