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Samsung Galaxy S21 $99.99 at Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro

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Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Samsung pulled forward its Galaxy S21 series Unpacked announcement for several reasons, chief among which are entering the fight for Huawei's market share carcass at an early stage and to preempt the iPhone 12 models from hijacking the whole Q1 sales season. 

Yes, the first 5G iPhones were released much later than usual, and their peak sales period will spill way into 2021, so Samsung had to counter Apple's 5G onslaught with an answer to each and every member in the iPhone 12 range. Well, save for the iPhone 12 mini, of course, which doesn't appear to be selling that well to begin with, as Apple may have misread the market desire for tiny handsets in 2020. 

We already compared the iPhone 12 vs Galaxy S20 FE, its direct Samsung competitor, and came away impressed with what Samsung has done for a lower price. The iPhone 12 Pro, however, will find an even more formidable match at a much lower price, that's why we are comparing the Galaxy S21 release vs iPhone 12 Pro's specs, pricing, and battery details. Is it even a fair fight?
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12 Pro price, colors, and storage

  • $799 (128GB) vs $999 (128GB)
  • Grey vs Graphite
  • Violet vs Pacific Blue
  • White vs Silver
  • Pink vs Gold


As you can see, from a pricing standpoint the fight is not that fair, since both phones are starting from a $200 price difference for the same base storage position but as far as specs  and build go, the iPhone has the upper hand with a true telephoto zoom and real glass body. Apple improved the storage amount you are getting for a grand this year, lining it up with what Android phones are offering at this price tag.

As far as colors go, the Galaxy S21 is arriving in four colors at launch - gray, pink, violet and white - that are pretty different from the iPhone 12 Pro's Graphite, Pacific Blue Silver, and Gold hues. Knowing Samsung, however, pretty soon there will be a St Patrick's day green edition, a 2021 Olympics model with golden rings, and red S21 versions for the holidays. 

Where the S21 gives ground, however, is the build material, as it is shoehorned into Samsung's Glasstic housing which is nothing else than fancy polycarbonate, whereas the iPhone 12 Pro is entirely made of glass. While that makes it more premium to hold, it's also way heavier, more expensive, and you'd slip both in a case from day one anyway.


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Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12 Pro display size and specs


  • 6.2" 1080p variable 120Hz refresh LTPO vs 6.1" 1170p static 60Hz LTPS flat displays
  • 5nm Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100 vs 5nm Apple A14
  • Integrated vs standalone 5G modems
  • 8GB vs 6GB RAM

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Dimensions

5.78 x 2.82 x 0.29 inches

146.7 x 71.6 x 7.4 mm

Weight

6.66 oz (189 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)

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Dimensions

5.78 x 2.82 x 0.29 inches

146.7 x 71.6 x 7.4 mm

Weight

6.66 oz (189 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)

Compare these and other phones using our Size Comparison tool.

The display size of the Galaxy S21 is slightly larger than on the iPhone 12 Pro, hence the phone is slightly longer, but thanks to the tall aspect ratio it isn't wider, and that's the metric to watch when it comes to one-handed usage. Moreover, Samsung offers more screen real estate, as there is no unsightly notch at the top, just the front camera opening pierced into the screen in a so-called Infinity-O design.


The displays are pretty much of an identical quality - extremely bright and pleasant to look at outdoors, with accurate colors and wide color gamut coverage. Where the iPhone takes a heavy hit, though, is the variable 120Hz refresh rate that the S21 offers, while the iPhone 12 Pro stays stuck in 2019 with its static 60Hz refresh. Smoother scrolling and animations, as well as 120fps gaming are all possible on the Galaxy, but not on the iPhone, and that's one huge point in its favor, despite the lower price point.


As for what's under the hood, Galaxy S21 is powered by the newest Snapdragon 888 in the US which may not beat Apple's A14 in raw benchmarks, but has the exciting advantage to ship with a fully integraated 5G modem, as opposed to Apple's tack-on modular solution that is a battery hog. Consequently, Qualcomm boasts up to three times performance per watt improvement when compared to the Snapdragon 865 in the S20. Ditto for the other S21 processor, Samsung's new Exynos 2100.

The Galaxy S21 benchmark with the Snapdragon 888 shows a somewhat middling performance compared to the A14 due to the fact that it's been carried out at the 1.8Ghz speed of the A55 cores, while the iPhone uses the full 3GHz of its throttle, returning impressive scores. 

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
596684
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
597561
Samsung Galaxy S21+
613916
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
654223
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
474536
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
524200
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
638098

In reality, all chipsets are the best that the mobile processing can offer at the moment, and the S21 can even crunch the numbers to capture the whopping 12-bit color with its main camera, while the iPhone 12 Pro makes do with 10-bit "Dolby Vision".

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12 Pro battery life and charging speeds

  • 4000mAh vs 2815mAh
  • 25W vs 20W wired charging
  • 15W wireless

Unfortunately, Apple downsized the iPhone 12 Pro battery a bit, compared to its 11 Pro predecessor, but compensated with the diminished power draw of the new hardware, so it cites the same battery life. Samsung didn't touch the Galaxy S21 battery one iota, and it ships with a much larger, 4000mAh unit, when sized up to the underwhelming 2815mAh pack of the 12 Pro.

hours Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S21
9h 6 min
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
12h 35 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
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
14h 6 min
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
12h 28 min
OnePlus 8
12h 15 min
 

The S21, however, doesn't impress with battery life compared to its predecessor, despite a modern 5nm chipset and 5G modem hardware, plus a more frugal high 120Hz refresh rate mode. Even running the display in a 60Hz refresh mode results in subpar battery endurance in our browsing and scrolling test, a Chrome vs Safari thing, but it's there, while the gaming and video streaming numbers surpass those of the iPhone 12 Pro. Moreover, the S21 charges much faster than the iPhone, despite having a much larger battery.

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12 Pro camera comparison


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

Don't let the high megapixel count of the Galaxy S21 zoom camera fool you, it's actually the iPhone 12 Pro that features the higher true telephoto zoom range of 2.5x. The Galaxy S21, just like the S20 before it, lack a periscope or telephoto zoom camera.


The iPhone 12 Pro's sensor has pixels 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.

When it comes to video recording, the iPhone 12 Pro 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's Dolby Vision output, too, so we can call it quits in the camera department.

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