Update: Samsung has added two more banks in the UAE that support Samsung Pay and the article has been updated accordingly.
Samsung Pay was released for consumers in the UAE six months ago, and last week Apple followed suit by making Apple Pay available in the UAE as well. Both these services allow the user to pay at thousands of locations using their Galaxy smartphones or iPhones.
We compared Samsung Pay to Apple Pay to find out which one was easier to set up, which banks were supported, and, where you could use these services. That last one was a bit tricky to measure since there are thousands of places that accept both. We’ll get into how we decided to test that later, but let's start by talking about which devices support these platforms.
Which phones do Samsung Pay and Apple Pay work with?
Samsung Pay is available on the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8 devices as well as the Galaxy S6 edge+ along with Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy Note 8. Also supported are 2016 and 2017 versions of Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 models as well as 2017 model of Galaxy A3. On the wearable side, it works with Gear S3 and Gear Sport (with limited functionality.)
The total number of devices that work with Samsung Pay are twelve phones and two wearables.
Apple Pay is available on the iPhone SE, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and, the iPhone X. All three generations of Apple Watch are also supported as well as any Mac that is 2012 or newer.
The total number of devices that work with Apple Pay are ten phones, three wearables and a lot of Macs.
Looking at the total number of devices supported by either platforms, Apple Pay pulls ahead of Samsung Pay.
Which banks support Samsung Pay and Apple Pay?
What you need to be clear about is that Apple and Samsung are not financial institutions. Instead they are solutions that enable you to use your bank’s debit or credit card through your phone.
Not all banks are supported by either platform but we have listed the banks that are currently working on these platforms as of late October.
Samsung: ADCB, Emirates NBD, HSBC, Mashreq, NBAD, RAK Bank, Standard Chartered, Emirates Islamic, Sharjah Islamic Bank.
Apple: Emirates NBD, HSBC, Mashreq, RAK Bank, Standard Chartered, Emirates Islamic
Samsung Pay supports three more banks than Apple Pay at the moment which puts Samsung Pay in the lead with the number of supported banks.
Setting up Samsung Pay and Apple Pay, and their respective apps
The setup process is fairly easy for both of these platform - just make sure your phone is updated to the latest OS. You need a Samsung account to use Samsung Pay or an Apple account to use Apple Pay. The process of adding a bank’s card is similar in both.
On the iPhone, you launch the Wallet app and proceed to add a card. You can then scan the card using the camera or type out the details manually. Once you have added the card, the bank sends you a verification code that’s needed to complete the process. When your iPhone is set up, Apple also lets you set up your Apple Watch if you have one that is already paired with the iPhone.
On your Galaxy phone, the process is fairly similar. You open up the Samsung Pay app and add your card using the camera or typing it manually. Samsung gives you one additional option which is to tap your card on the phone if your card is equipped with NFC chip. Once you card is added, you verify it with your bank.
Following the card setup, Samsung doesn’t automatically let you set up your Gear Watch - you’ll have to separately do that instead. However, aside from your bank card, the Samsung Pay app also allows you to add loyalty cards from the likes of Emirates airlines or the many supermarkets present around Dubai. The Samsung Pay app also has a section for ongoing promotions and vouchers encouraging its usage.
Although the setup process of adding a bank card is similar on both Apple and Samsung devices, we prefer Samsung Pay because of the versatility of the app allowing you to store loyalty cards as well as learn about promotions and receive vouchers.