Once every six months, we update this material together with one of the flagship smartphones from Apple or Samsung. This time we have a new product — the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Both companies did not make “major” changes in their latest smartphones, but each of them still has its advantages and similarities, which we will pay attention to in the article.
Many details in the comparison of these gadgets have remained unchanged since the release of the iPhone 14 Pro Max last fall. Therefore, in order not to repeat ourselves once again, we will leave a link to the previous article.
Traditionally, let’s start with a comparison table:
|iPhone 14 Pro Max
|Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
|Dimensions and weight
|160.7×77.6×7.85 mm, 240 g
|163.4×78.1×8.9 mm, 234 g
|RAM and storage
|6 GB + 128 GB-1 TB
|8/256 GB, 12/256 GB-1 TB
|Apple A16 Bionic
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
|Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, UWB, Emergency SOS
|Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, UWB
|6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
Aspect ratio: 19.5:9
Update frequency: 1-120 Hz
|6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Aspect ratio: 19.3:9
Update frequency: 1-120 Hz
|Rear camera module
Wide-angle sensor: 48 MP, ƒ/1.78
Ultra-wide: 12 MP, ƒ/2.2, 120°
Telephoto: 12 MP, ƒ/2.8, 3×
Wide-angle sensor: 200 MP, ƒ/1.7
Ultra-wide: 12 MP, ƒ/2.2, 120°
Telephoto: 10 MP, ƒ/2.4, 70 mm, 3×
Telephoto: 10 MP, ƒ/4.9, 230 mm, 10×
|12 MP, ƒ/1.9
|12 MP, ƒ/2.2
|Apple iOS 16
|Google Android 13 with OneUI 5
|From 59 999 hryvnias
|From 57,999 hryvnias
Compared to last year’s Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, the S23 Ultra model has slightly changed its shape, just like the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the smartphone now has flatter edges. The new Ultra now has a wider frame than the previous one, although the body itself remains more “aerodynamic” on the sides, leaving sharper corners. But the change in the shape of the S23 Ultra can hardly be called fundamental. To what extent the smartphone has become more convenient, or vice versa, it is still difficult to judge. It is quite possible that the user will not feel much change at all during “long-distance” use.
The size of the body remained slightly larger in Samsung, although the display is a tenth of an inch larger than that of the iPhone. But Apple’s flagship is still offered in a smaller version, which will be a much more fundamental point in ease of use for those buyers who need a more compact gadget.
Very picky users can also feel the difference in case materials, where Samsung still uses an aluminum chassis alongside glass panels (the new generation of Gorilla Glass Victus 2, by the way), and the iPhone will offer stronger steel instead of aluminum. However, the iPhone is still heavier, including for this reason, even though the S23 Ultra has even gained a few grams since last year.
Another difference, which is unlikely to be fundamental for most users, is protection against water and dust. In both flagships it is IP68, but in the specifications of the S23 Ultra, the condition of immersion to a depth of one and a half meters is mentioned, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max can dive up to six meters deep (in both cases, the time of such an immersion should not exceed 30 minutes).
Subjectively, even with slight changes in shape and physically larger size (163.4×78.1×8.9 mm vs. 160.7×77.6×7.85 mm), the S23 Ultra case will be more comfortable than the iPhone 14 The Pro Max, after all, it still has rounded sides, not rectangular. We will leave other aspects of the design to the discretion of the reader because here everyone has their standards and ideas of what will be better.
Closing the design topic, it is worth noting the colors. The basic “palette” of options in both smartphones is similar (with the exception that the iPhone has Silver in the standard options, and the S23 Ultra has Green), but in certain markets, Samsung offers additional options that are exclusive when ordering online. There are four more colors — Lime, Sky Blue, Graphite, and Red.
As for the differences in the displays, only one detail has changed — the S23 Ultra now has a smaller bending angle of the screen on the sides, which also increased the ratio of its area to the entire front surface from 89.5% to 90.2%. (For comparison, in the iPhone 14 Pro Max, this indicator is 88.3%.) But due to the smaller angle of the side bends, the S23 Ultra display has become closer to the iPhone 14 Pro Max. If in a year the Korean manufacturer decides to remove such bends altogether, then in the next comparison there will be one point of difference less. And so far, subjectively, the S23 Ultra remains a bit nicer in this regard. But Apple also has its answer in the form of a Dynamic Island notch, which makes the iPhone look more original, at least at the beginning of use (only because of the software, which is interesting to interact with in this way).
Samsung, however, also did not come unprepared, because its screen supports work with the S Pen, which is always “with you”. It still leaves the user with the added option of making handwritten notes, sketches, drawings, highlights on screenshots, etc. more conveniently. The Note S23 Ultra is still one of the few smartphones that have this functionality. Rumors that the iPhone will also receive a similar solution have been spreading on the Internet for more than a year, but so far, unfortunately, Apple has not decided on such an “innovation”.
Another detail that Apple stopped adding to its smartphones is the fingerprint scanner. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, like its predecessors, has an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the display. The iPhone 14 Pro Max pairs this with Face ID sensors, which work significantly better than the front-facing camera that Android smartphones typically use to scan faces to authenticate the owner.
And when we mentioned the front camera, it is worth noting that iPhone 14 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra have become closer to each other here. The thing is that in the S23 Ultra, its resolution has decreased from 40 to 12 MP, equaling this figure in the iPhone. Here, Apple wins purely on paper, because the aperture value of the iPhone’s front camera is ƒ/1.9 compared to ƒ/2.2 in the S23 Ultra. But in fact, both cameras will provide the user with good quality photos.
One of the biggest points of contention will be the other camera – the main wide-angle one. This time the S23 Ultra has its resolution increased to 200 MP, which also allows the smartphone to find more light and focus better, and generally collect more information for post-processing algorithms. The iPhone also does these tricks, but with fewer megapixels (48), there are fewer capabilities. It will be interesting to see the comparison of these cameras in the hands of professional photographers.
The S23 Ultra’s other cameras don’t seem to have received significant upgrades. But there are still more of them than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which has only one telephoto camera, not two. Meanwhile, among the benefits of the iPhone’s capabilities is LiDAR, which helps with augmented reality, among other things.
Processors and other components also remain an important difference. This time, in contrast to Apple’s A16 Bionic, the Samsung-exclusive version of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen2, which has a slightly higher than standard frequency, has been put forward. That is, this year Samsung abandoned its Exynos chips, which had their own problems. Among the memory combinations, the S23 Ultra can offer more RAM (8-12 GB vs. 6), but there are some changes in the drives. And while the S22 Ultra used UFS 3.1 non-volatile memory, the new model gets UFS 4.0. The iPhone still offers NVMe here.
The communication capabilities of these devices differ in the Wi-Fi sectors, where Samsung can offer support for tri-band Wi-Fi 6e, and in the iPhone only Wi-Fi 6. But in return, Apple’s smartphone has satellite communication for emergency calls for help where no cellular coverage (the list of countries where it works is still limited, but the company is working on support). According to rumors, such a “chip” was supposed to appear in Samsung, but, as we can see, not this year.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has not changed its battery capacity or fast charging capabilities. On paper, Samsung is ahead of Apple in all indicators, but battery life tests, unfortunately, are more often on the side of the iPhone. It will be interesting to see how the new Ultra model copes. But another advantage of Samsung here is the support for reverse charging, which is absent in the iPhone’s arsenal of capabilities.
Finally, the prices. In the US, the difference between the base models is $100: the iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at $1,099, and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at $1,199. But the official prices in Ukraine prevail in the other direction: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at 57,999 hryvnias, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at 59,999. But here, too, it is worth considering that the basic Samsung model offers 256 GB of storage, while the iPhone has half as much.
So both flagships still leave a lot of room for controversy, with each of these devices having their strengths and weaknesses. Each of them has its advantage in some way, which does not help the customer who chooses the best among the best. Therefore, we would also be interested to know what are the key advantages of one smartphone over another for our readers. We encourage you to comment.