We haven’t completed a full iPhone 15 Pro Max review at the time of writing, so it remains to be seen whether it will take Samsung’s spot. But we do know all the specs and features, so based on those – along with early impressions – we’ve compared it to the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Below you’ll find an overview of how these two phones compare for every key spec, from their screens to their cameras and beyond, as well as how they compare for price.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: specs comparison
Before we look in more detail at how the top Samsung and Apple phones stack up, here’s an overview of the key specs of each, so you can see at a glance what’s similar and what’s not.
|iPhone 15 Pro Max||Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra|
|Display:||6.7-inch OLED||6.8-inch OLED|
|Resolution:||1290 x 2796 pixels||1440 x 3088 pixels|
|Chipset:||A17 Pro||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy|
|Rear cameras:||48MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP periscope||200MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto, 10MP periscope|
|RAM:||TBC||8GB / 12GB|
|Storage:||256GB, 512GB, 1TB||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
|Battery:||Up to 29 hours of video||5,000mAh|
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: price and availability
The iPhone 15 Pro Max ships on September 22, and it starts at $1,199 / £1,199 / AU$2,199 for a model with 256GB of storage. But there are also 512GB and 1TB models, with the latter costing $1,599 / £1,599 / AU$2,899.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is out now and starts at $1,199.99 / £1,249 / AU$1,949. That’s also for 256GB of storage, so US starting prices for these two phones are identical, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra costs slightly more in the UK, and slightly less in Australia.
It tops out at $1,619.99 / £1,599 / AU$2,649, which gets you 1TB of storage, as with the iPhone. So at the top end, Samsung’s phone costs more in the US, the same in the UK, and less in Australia.
However, one big caveat here is that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has been out for a while, so it can often be found for a little less than the official prices, whereas the iPhone 15 Pro Max is likely to remain at full price for a while.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: design and display
The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a glass back with a square camera block in the corner, a titanium frame, and a large Dynamic Island in the screen, housing its front-facing camera and Face ID components. It’s 159.9 x 76.7 x 8.3mm, 221g, and comes in Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, and Natural Titanium shades. Oh, and it has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra also has a glass back, but its frame is aluminum rather than titanium, which is a less premium choice. It has a much smaller cut-out in the screen housing a punch-hole camera, and the phone as a whole is far more angular, lacking the curved corners of the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
It also has a very different camera design on the back, with the lenses rising individually out of the rear, rather than having a distinct housing.
It comes in at 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm and 234g, so it’s larger, thicker, and heavier than Apple’s phone, and it’s available in Phantom Black, Green, Cream, Lavender, Graphite, Sky Blue, Lime, and Red shades. So you can get the Galaxy S23 Ultra in a wider selection of colors. Like the iPhone 15 Pro Max, this too has an IP68 rating.
As for their screens, the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch 1290 x 2796 OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, 460 pixels per inch, and a peak brightness of 2,000 nits.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a slightly larger 6.8-inch 1440 x 3088 AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and 500 pixels per inch, so it’s also marginally sharper. But its peak brightness is lower at 1,750 nits. The Galaxy S23’s screen is also slightly curved, whereas the iPhone’s is flat.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: cameras
With the iPhone 15 Pro Max you get a triple-lens rear camera, including a 48MP f/1.8 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide with a 120-degree field of view, and a 12MP f/2.8 periscope, offering 5x optical zoom.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra meanwhile offers a 200MP f/1.7 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide with a 120-degree field of view, a 10MP f/2.4 telephoto with 3x optical zoom, and a 10MP f/4.9 periscope with 10x optical zoom.
So Samsung’s phone has more cameras and far more megapixels in the main camera. It can also optically zoom further and to two different distances. That said, the iPhone’s main camera can take optical quality 2x zoom shots at 12MP.
Still, on paper Samsung’s setup sounds a little more impressive, and it has certainly impressed us, as it’s currently top of our list of the best camera phones.
But iPhones usually have excellent cameras too, and it’s entirely possible the iPhone 15 Pro Max will unseat the Galaxy S23 Ultra – we’ll know for sure once we’ve put it through a full review.
Where things are more equal are their front-facing cameras, as both phones have 12MP ones. Both phones can also record video in 4K quality at up to 60fps, but the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra can additionally record in 8K quality at up to 30fps.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: performance
Both of these phones are extremely powerful, but it’s likely the iPhone 15 Pro Max has the edge, thanks to its new A17 Pro chipset. This is more powerful even than the A16 Bionic in the iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max, iPhone 15, and iPhone 15 Plus, and that chipset still rivals the best ones available to Android phones.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has the best chipset available to Android phones though, specifically the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, which is a slightly overclocked version of the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 – a chipset you’ll find in many of the best Android phones.
Samsung’s phone probably has more RAM too. We say probably, because Apple hasn’t revealed how much RAM the iPhone 15 Pro Max has, but leaks suggest it has 8GB, and with the iPhone 14 Pro Max having just 6GB, we’d be surprised if there was more than 8GB here.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra also has 8GB – at least in the 256GB model. But if you opt for more storage then you’ll get 12GB of RAM.
Still, we’d wager the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the better-performing phone overall, but we won’t know for sure until we’ve spent more time with it. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is plenty powerful enough though, with our review noting that it offers “exceptional performance”, so you’re unlikely to find it lacking for power.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: battery
Apple hasn’t revealed the size of the battery in the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but has said it will last for up to 29 hours of video playback, 25 hours of streamed video, or 95 hours of audio. Those are impressive figures, if identical to the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 5,000mAh battery, which in our review we found lasted for a day and a half with normal usage, and comfortably lasted a day even with heavier use.
So Samsung’s phone impresses here, and Apple’s sounds like it will too. We’ll have to wait and see which one comes out on top.
When it comes to charging though, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra takes the lead, with 45W charging offered. Apple meanwhile doesn’t say exactly what charging power is supported by the iPhone 15 Pro Max but notes that it can get a 50% charge in around 30 minutes with a 20W or higher charger, which rather suggests its maximum supported charging power is around 20W.
Both phones also support wireless charging at up to 15W, and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra additionally offers reverse wireless charging at 4.5W, so you can use it as a wireless charger to slowly juice up other devices.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: verdict
Both of these phones are true flagships, with – at least on paper – exceptional screens and power, and high-spec cameras. In the case of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra we can also say it delivers on those things in practice.
Going by the specs, the iPhone 15 Pro Max may be the more powerful phone, and it uses a more premium metal in its construction, and has a slightly brighter screen. But the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has more cameras, a longer distance optical zoom, and likely more RAM. Samsung’s phone also includes an S Pen stylus, which isn’t something you get with the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Pricing meanwhile is similar on paper, but if you shop around you’ll probably find the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra for slightly less money.
So there are wins and losses for each phone, and which is best will likely come down to what you value most – though we’ll be able to say with more certainty once we’ve finished reviewing the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
More iPhone 15 stories
- iPhone 15: everything we know
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- iPhone 15 Pro: everything we know
- iPhone 15 Pro Max: everything we know
- iPhone 15 price: should you go for iPhone 14 instead?
- iPhone 15 deals: the best offers to look out for
- 7 top new iPhone 15 features
- iPhone 15 USB-C: everything you need to know
- iPhone 15 Pro Max camera: 7 big upgrades
- 15 things we learned at Apple's September 2023 event
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.