Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max: expectations

Design and display

There will be slight changes in the S23 series design, with the Ultra taking a boxier shape, while the regular S23 and the Plus sibling will drop the camera island plateau on the back, and adopt the individual protruding lenses from the Ultra. The iPhone 14 Pro Max body stayed the same with only a few new colors thrown in for a good measure. It’s an edgy, heavy phone to deal with, especially with one hand, while the Ultra’s curved screen will probably bring it an ergonomics advantage.

The steeper curvature radius of the side frame would make it fairly comfortable to hold and operate with one hand, compared to the blocky iPhone, and the S23 Ultra will also have an S Pen stylus silo for doodling that Apple can’t or won’t replicate.

At the rear, we’d still have three lens rings protruding from the back independently, rather than being a part of an elevated camera island “plateau” as on most every other major phone out there, including the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro Max display

Apple equipped the iPhone 14 Pro Max with a bright OLED panel of the latest generation that will probably be the technology employed on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, too. The Ultra will most likely sport a 6.7″ 1440p panel of Samsung’s 12th-gen OLED display generation, like the one that boosted the peak brightness of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 significantly compared to the Z Fold 3, and brought the record peak brightness of 2000 nits on the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The S22 Ultra already sports top brightness levels in the isolated scenarios that Samsung tests at, so the S23 Ultra panel should be a sight to behold if it one-ups its predecessor in that respect. Even if it doesn’t hit 2000 peak nits, though, Samsung has proven it can make well-calibrated panels with excellent color presentation, just as Apple. Moreover, Apple melted the dynamic refresh rate advantage that the Galaxies had by introducing 1Hz-120Hz range for its iPhone 14 Pro models which previously only dipped at 10Hz.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro Max price

While the starting price of the iPhone 14 Pro Max will probably be $100 cheaper than that of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, once you get into the 512GB and 1TB tiers, the prices are likely to equalize as Apple charges an arm and a leg for extra storage , while Samsung produces its own.

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro Max specs

The Galaxy S23 Ultra hardware surpasses every imaginable iPhone 14 Pro Max specification, save for the display characteristics and processing power.

Camera

One area where the Galaxy S23 Ultra will again be leaps and bounds ahead of its main competitor in Apple’s roster is the camera hardware. The biggest upgrade that will arrive with the Galaxy S23 Ultra will be a new custom 200MP main camera sensor with 0.6 micron pixels that Samsung is preparing exclusively for its 2023 flagship.

While Apple finally ditched its 12MP cameras and equipped the iPhone 14 Pro Max with a 48MP sensor, it’s no match for the kind of detail and resolution that the S23 Ultra will be able to produce.

In a low-light environment, the pixel size would go to 1.12 microns allowing the user to take 50MP photos with increased light sensitivity, while at night the S23 Ultra would introduce an even larger, 2.4 micron binned virtual pixel by combining 16 pixels into one so that a picture can be snapped at 12.5MP. Samsung says that this system will allow users to take sharp photos no matter how much light is available.

Galaxy S23 Ultra camera samples

A leaked low-light camera sample from the S23 Ultra seems to confirm its superior light-catching abilities, while an indoor zoom one lends credence to the increased level of detail theory. Zoom photos and night time ones are where the iPhone may be badly beat by the S23 Ultra, so it would be interested to compare those with the excellent iPhone 14 Pro Max camera set.

The Ultra’s sensor and image processor also support 8K video at 30 frames per second, as well as seamless dual HDR shooting in 4K and FHD modes. The staggered HDR mode combines all three exposures to deliver great-looking HDR photos and videos, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max is unsurpassed when it comes to video capture, so we’d wager to guess that the S23 Ultra will only beat it in video definition.

Samsung is also prepping an answer to Apple’s Action Mode video recording called “Ultra Stabilization,” as per one credible tipster. It would be aptly called “Ultra Stabilization” and be exclusive to the top end Galaxy S23 Ultra model as an extension to Samsung’s resident Super Steady mode that you see pitted against the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s Action Mode below.

Performance and software

According to preliminary benchmarks, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip seems to be on par with the iPhone 14’s Apple A15 processor, at least in the multi-core results, despite being clocked lower, and it only gives way to the new Apple A16 in the 14 Pro Max.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra, however, may get a custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which will be clocked higher than the stock 3.2 GHz version that Qualcomm announced, at the long-rumored 3.36 GHz. It still notched a benchmark score akin to the 1521/4689 score that appeared on Geekbench before, so this might be the top level of performance that can be expected from Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

Since the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s 5G modem will be a generation behind the Galaxy S23 Ultra connectivity, let’s see what are the new Qualcomm X70 5G modem features:

  • Snapdragon X70 unlocks advanced capabilities such as Qualcomm 5G AI Suite, Qualcomm 5G Ultra-Low Latency Suite, Qualcomm 5G PowerSave Gen 3 and 4X
  • sub-6 carrier aggregation to achieve unmatched 5G performance.
  • Harnessing the power of AI to enable breakthrough 5G speeds, coverage, low latency and power efficiency to fuel the 5G Connected Intelligent Edge
  • World’s only comprehensive 5G modem-RF system family capable of supporting every commercial 5G band from 600 MHz to 41 GHz, offering flexibility to OEMs for
  • designing devices capable of supporting global operator requirements
  • Unmatched global band support and spectrum aggregation capabilities including world’s first 4X downlink carrier aggregation across TDD and FDD, mmWave-sub-6 aggregation
  • Standalone mmWave support to allow MNOs and service providers to deploy services such as fixed wireless access and enterprise 5G, without needing sub-6 GHz spectrum
  • Unmatched uplink performance and flexibility with uplink carrier aggregation and switched uplink support across TDD and FDD
  • True global 5G multi-SIM including Dual-SIM Dual-Active (DSDA) and mmWave support
  • Upgradeable architecture allowing rapid commercialization of 5G Release 16 features through software updates

As for the software, the Galaxy S23 Ultra will be running on Android 13 with Samsung’s One UI 5 slapped on top, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max runs on iOS 16 and the two systems are very different from one another, so it’s a matter of habit and personal preference.

Battery life and charging speeds

The iPhone 14 Pro Max has an excellent battery endurance, but the battery life of the Galaxy S23 series is also expected to get a bump from the utilization of a new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor made on a second-gen 4nm technology, as well as the new OLED panel generation that it may bring to the table.

In our battery benchmark tests, however, the iPhone 14 Pro Max managed to outrun the Galaxy S22 Ultra in certain scenarios, so its successor the Galaxy S23 Ultra will probably have a hard time surpassing the iPhone’s endurance in those tests.

Where the Galaxy S23 Ultra would shine in comparison with the top iPhone, however, is charging speed. While not of the Chinese flagship phone rank, Samsung’s rapid charging speeds are pretty decent as it takes it about an hour to fill up a 5,000 mAh battery pack. Compare that to the iPhone 14 Pro Max which takes almost two hours to top up a smaller unit, and Samsung again comes out ahead of its Apple rival as far as charging times are concerned.

Summary

Even those heavily invested in the Apple ecosphere may be tempted to snatch the Galaxy S23 Ultra off the shelves when it hits retail in mid-February. Samsung’s 2023 flagship would offer a more ergonomic design with integrated S Pen stylus, and its under-the-hood upgrades such as a new 4nm processor would match the iPhone spec for spec.

Samsung will have to bring its A-game to counter the new iPhone 14 Pro Max camera and its brightest phone display and it will, as the Galaxy S23 Ultra is supposed to sport the largest camera sensor on an S-line phone so far, plus the latest 5G modem from Qualcomm that the iPhone lacks.

Don’t even get us started about the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s advantage in the optical zoom department before the tired 3x telephoto of the iPhone 14 Pro Max that has been Apple’s modus operandi for years on end now. Still, once you get in Apple’s grips, it’s hard to break with the company and its product, so it remains to be seen if the slightly more expensive Galaxy S23 Ultra will manage to put a dent in the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s record high market share .

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