If there’s one smartphone battle that’s guaranteed to get people hot under the collar, it’s the fight between the Samsung S24 Ultra versus the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

I’m already salivating at the thought of the comments section.

Some people will, literally (I think) set their trousers on fire if you say their preferred device is worse than the other one. I don’t want anyone to set their trousers on fire, obviously, but it appears to be inevitable if the comments sections of my Samsung versus iPhone videos are anything to go by.

This particular comparison between, arguably, the two biggest flagship smartphones on the market, will not be a deep spec dive, because that isn’t what I’m about. What matters to me is which one feels better in the key areas of smartphone ownership.

You may not agree with my conclusions. You might think I should undertake more rigorous testing or research. You may even think I’m an idiot. But what you’re about to read is purely an opinion. Please keep that in mind before setting your own trousers on fire.

S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Price

The S24 Ultra gets off to a pretty bad start with this one because its base price is £50 more expensive than the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Things improve if you decide to increase the storage (which you should for phones with such photographic capabilities) because, for the 512GB and 1TB versions, the S24 Ultra suddenly becomes £50 cheaper than the iPhone. I have no idea why, but that’s nice.

Samsung is also far more generous – usually – with its trade-in deals. Equally, while the launch offer of double storage has ended, depending on when you hit the Samsung website, you can probably find a sweetener or two during the checkout process.

You never get that with Apple.

S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Look and feel

The iPhone is still, arguably, the most impressive flagship smartphone on the market when it comes to sheer presence. It looks and feels like it has been honed from a single piece of titanium, carved out of the Rock of iPhone on Planet Apple. It is jewellery-like, in certain lighting conditions.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung S24 Ultra design

To own one, you probably also need to drive a Porsche, attend gatherings where people walk around with small, weird food on trays, and be the only person at dinner parties talking about how genre-defining 23 Billion Bicycles in Bedford (or whatever it was called) by Katie Melua was.

The switch to titanium was a brilliant one. The iPhone 15 Pro Max looks and feels expensive; you’re getting a lot for your money.

S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max

But I prefer how the S24 Ultra looks. This is no big deal; they’re both great-looking phones. I just like the S24 Ultra more, and I don’t care if you think they copied Apple because, come on, guys – what difference does that make to anything?

S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Display

Hold onto those trousers.

I’m going to say it.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra has the best smartphone display on the market.

There, I said it.

Samsung S24 Ultra display

Since publishing my two-week review of the S24 Ultra, I’ve been told numerous times that this is technically incorrect. That is utterly irrelevant as far as I’m concerned; no matter what the numbers, specs, and benchmarks say, the S24 Ultra simply has a much better display than any smartphone I’ve used – in my opinion.

There doesn’t need to be a reason behind this opinion. Equally, my S24 Ultra appears to be one of the ‘good ones’ – it doesn’t suffer from the washed-out display everyone keeps talking about. That sounds to me like a manufacturing batch issue, which Samsung will fix. If yours has a problem – return it and ask for a new one, and while you’re waiting, just nip into your local for a pint and wait for this all to blow over.

I prefer the S24 Ultra’s display over the iPhone’s because it feels more immersive (and proves there’s no need for a Monkey Island), has squared edges, is more vibrant, appears to be brighter, and looks sharper.

Other opinions are available.

S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Camera system

This is easily the most subjective point of comparison between these two devices – no arguments.

Samsung S24 Ultra camera

Samsung S24 Ultra

Well, actually, loads of arguments. But, hey, welcome to the world of smartphone reviews. However, to quell those arguments a little, I’m not going to show side-by-side comparisons in this review – just an equal selection of my favourite photos from both devices, because they both take really good photographs.

iPhone 15 Pro Max photo

iPhone 15 Pro Max

Straight up, the iPhone 15 Pro Max camera system is more reliable than the S24 Ultra – but the margin is far narrower than it was between the last two generations of these devices.

Samsung S24 Ultra phot example

S24 Ultra

Gone are the days of the always-slow shutter lag on the S23 Ultra; the S24 Ultra is a serious performer when it comes to capturing fast-moving objects such as children and animals.

iPhone 15 Pro Max photo example

iPhone 15 Pro Max

However, I prefer the images produced by the S24 Ultra, overall. I think it has gained a Pixel-like quality, which, if you know me, is always going to win the day.

Samsung S24 Ultra phot example

S24 Ultra

My Eight or Sixteen podcast co-host, Rob, prefers the slightly more natural tones of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which, again, reveals how subjective this is.

iPhone 15 Pro Max camera

iPhone 15 Pro Max

The good news is they both have optical 5x focal lengths, which is the new standard in smartphone photography, as far as I’m concerned. If you ain’t got that, you ain’t coming in. Sorry.

Samsung S24 Ultra

S24 Ultra

Video-wise, they’re actually on par – which is, again, a big step up from Samsung ‘S’ devices of old.

iPhone 15 Pro Max photo example

iPhone 15 Pro Max

I won’t dig any further into the photographic differences between these two phones today, but please let me know if you’d like a more in-depth comparison at some stage, and I will duly oblige.

S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: AI

There’s a lot of AI stuff packed into the S24 Ultra. I’ve concluded that, despite the focus placed on Galaxy AI (understandably) by Samsung’s marketing department, you’ll either find a couple of features that work for you occasionally or ignore them entirely.

That’s fine. Artificial intelligence is now a prerequisite for all tech releases, but you don’t have to use it if there’s no tangible benefit. For me, the ability to remove reflections from photos is super useful, and Circle to Search is proving handy when I want to confirm what I’m looking at.

There’s a lot of chatter about Samsung charging for its AI features from 2025 onwards. At the time of writing, nothing has been confirmed. Indeed, Samsung’s Head of Mobile, T.M. Roh stated in a recent interview that they’re still figuring out the revenue model for Galaxy AI. What might happen, he tells us, is that premium AI features come with an additional fee from that point onwards. But nothing is confirmed. So, once again, let’s tread lightly with the conjecture, shall we?

As for the iPhone 15 Pro Max and AI, well, iOS has been relying heavily on machine learning behind the scenes for many years, but we’re yet to see Apple’s take on public-facing AI-based features. All eyes are, therefore, on WWDC. It needs to be a big one, Tim.

S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: Performance

These are both very quick, smooth, premium-feeling smartphones when it comes to performance. Trust me – you won’t feel shortchanged with either, no matter what you do with them.

Where I feel slightly shortchanged is with the battery performance on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. It just isn’t as good as any of the recent Android phones I’ve tested – including the S24 Ultra.

This isn’t because I’m using the iPhone more, either. Arguably, I’m using the S24 Ultra more at the moment, yet it still sips far more gently from its battery reserves.

I think the big difference is the standby time. We don’t talk enough about how much better standby battery performance is on devices running Android 13. It makes a huge difference to the ownership experience.

S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: iOS vs Android

I can’t tell you which operating system wins in the battle of iOS versus Android, because there’s no such thing as a right answer to that question. I also can’t think of a more inane argument. You like what you like, and you should never feel bad about it because someone tells you you’re wrong.

These are mobile operating systems, not scientifically proven facts.

For me, iOS offers the best ecosystem because I don’t have to use Windows. And, yes, I know Samsung has an ecosystem for the S24 Ultra. But I’m a Mac user; I don’t want to use Windows ever again, ever.

iOS vs Android

I also love my Apple Watch Ultra too much to give it up, and I’m afraid the Galaxy Watch6 doesn’t come close (although this year’s is a lot better than the Watch5).

The third-party app experience is better on iOS, too. I have no idea why, but certain developers seem to favour iOS and give it more of their time. A bunch of apps I use on my iPhone just feel more polished than they do on Android – Spark, Instagram, WhatsApp, and, weirdly, YouTube Studio are the most prominent examples. It’s such a shame.

The war that still rages between iOS and Android fans is as boring as it is hilarious, so I’ll leave this here and let you fight it out in the comments.

While you’re doing that, I’m going to move on to my big conclusion.

Conclusion

For some reason, I keep picking up the S24 Ultra before I do the iPhone 15 Pro Max. This might be New Gear Syndrome, but I have a feeling it’s going to last.

I won’t bore you again with why the iPhone is still my main device, but it is. Regardless, the S24 Ultra is the smartphone I’m enjoying the most at the moment. For me, it’s the best smartphone I’ve ever used and, obviously, the one to beat this year.

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S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max FAQ

Which phone has a bigger screen?
 
The Samsung S24 Ultra has a bigger screen than the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The iPhone 15 Pro Max’s screen size is 6.7″ with a resolution of 1290×2796 pixels compared to 6.8″ and 1440×3120 pixels for the S24 Ultra.
 
Which phone has a longer battery life?
 
The Samsung S24 Ultra has a longer battery life on average than the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Thanks to it’s larger battery, with a capacity of 5000mAh, the S24 Ultra comfortably retains battery power more than the iPhone 15 Pro Max which has a capacity of 4441mAh.
 
Does the Samsung S24 Ultra take better photos than the iPhone 15 Pro Max?
 
There is no easy answer to this question. Both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Samsung S24 Ultra take high-quality photos but have a distinct style. The Samsung S24 Ultra produces photos that have more vibrant colours with higher contrast than in real life, whereas the iPhone has more muted tones. They both have 48MP zoom camera lenses with the iPhone marginally coming out on top here in terms of picture quality. The main difference is in low-light conditions. Whilst the S24 Ultra is a huge improvement on the S23 Ultra, the iPhone 15 Pro Max still takes better low-light photos.
 
Which phone can compete with iPhone 15 Pro Max?
 
Depending on your personal preferences, most flagship phones from major brands such as Samsung and Google can match or better the iPhone 15 Pro Max in some areas. The iPhone still has a faster and smoother processing unit with arguably a better build quality (although the gap has now closed significantly after the titanium Samsung S24 Ultra). Smartphone cameras are all at a point now where the quality is similar across major brands, it’s just the photo style that makes a difference. If you like brighter colours that pop out of the screen, the S24 Ultra or Pixel 8 Pro may be your pick.
 
What is the Android equivalent of iPhone 15 Pro Max?
 
The most comparable device to the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the Samsung S24 Ultra or the Google Pixel 8 Pro. Both phones has excellent processors, high quality cameras and premium-feel build qualities.