iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Early Comparison

The annual rivalry between Samsung and Apple’s latest flagship smartphones continues in 2023. Apple has officially announced that the next Apple event is on September 12th, and we can expect the new iPhone 15 Pro Max to come out at this time. The 15 Pro Max might go head to head with the S23 Ultra even in price this time.

Samsung’s new launches are well over six months away, so it is exciting to speculate on how Samsung’s latest flagship, S23 Ultra, will compete on paper with the iPhone 15 Pro Max. This is a theoretical comparison of the specifications based on a culmination of all the latest leaks of the iPhone 15 Ultra. It’s not conclusive, but it gives a general idea of how these phones stack against each other.

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra

1. Displays

We know that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will have a new Samsung M13 panel with razor-thin bezels and 120Hz LTPO AMOLED. The phone will probably get a brightness upgrade to 2500 Nits, or they could stick to 2000.

The S23 Ultra has a 1440P 120Hz AMOLED screen, and it uses the M12 panel, with some slightly newer tech to improve efficiency. It is behind the existing 14 Pro Max in terms of highlight control during HDR video playback, doesn’t support Dolby Vision HDR, and also loses out on maximum brightness. The S23 Ultra also has a slight purple blotching at the least brightness in low light, which none of the iPhones have.

The existing 14 Pro Max also has better PWM frequency dimming for flicker-sensitive people. So, considering the iPhone 15 Pro Max will get an even better display, we can say this round goes to the iPhone unless future comparisons prove otherwise.

Winner: iPhone 15 Pro Max

s23 ultra

2. Performance & Battery

Samsung has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SOC, and Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max will ship with the 3nm TSMC A17 Bionic SOC. We’re not sure about a difference in GPU performance; that’s inconclusive at the moment. However, the 8 Gen 2 GPU is superior to the current A16 Bionic.

The 3nm node will massively boost efficiency and improve Apple’s already excellent lead in CPU. The lack of a cooling system lets down Apple’s outstanding performance. It can’t sustain its performance for long and has to throttle down.

Samsung’s performance is capped due to the GOS limitations, and neither of these phones uses their maximum potential.

We can’t comment on battery life yet, but the iPhone could have an edge here thanks to the 3nm chip. It’s also getting larger batteries than last year. The Samsung will probably still charge faster. It uses 45W of power, while Apple is apparently upgrading the speed to 35W. If Apple optimizes it well, they could still match.

Winner: Inconclusive 

3. Cameras

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is sticking with the IMX803 for its primary sensor, so there aren’t many upgrades in this department. However, the new 5X or 10X periscope camera will bring massive improvements to zoom. Apple could finally match Samsung in zoom photos.

If Samsung continues to optimize its hardware well, Apple’s lead in video could also shrink. Samsung’s extremely versatile shooting experience is let down by lackluster shutter speed. Capturing any moving subject or kids with the S23 Ultra remains extremely difficult. Also, the output is often noisy and oversaturated.

Samsung has a clear edge with intermediate zoom this time around. While Apple’s older lens was a 3X telephoto, the new one will move to 5X or 10X. This will leave the 2X to 5X range unattended. Recognizing the issue, Samsung has a dedicated 3X lens that massively aids in portrait photos.

Apple’s color science is also imperfect, with wonky skin tones and poor dynamic range performance. Both phones will probably trade blows in this segment, so we can’t pick a winner.

Winner: iPhone for videos & shutter speed, Samsung for versatility and dynamic range. 

Cameras s23 ultra


The iPhone 15 Pro Max is getting a new titanium frame to reduce weight. Samsung has aluminum, and titanium is much more durable.

Samsung runs One UI 5.1 (Android 13), and the iPhone 15 Pro Max will ship with iOS 17 out of the box. We can’t pick a winner between iOS and Android, and both will offer the best software experience on the market.

In other upgrades, the iPhone 15 Pro Max will get an action button and USB C. We’re not sure if it’s a 16-pin port, and Apple could use a custom one to maintain exclusivity. The transfer speeds aren’t known yet, though the cable will mostly support only up to USB C 2.0.

Overall, the phones stack up very well against each other. The iPhone 15 Pro Max will have the usual perks of an iPhone, like the Apple Ecosystem and quality of apps. The fantastic shutter speeds, color science consistency, and the 3nm SOC make it a compelling phone.

However, Samsung claps with better color science, versatility, software features, an equally good ecosystem, intermediate zoom, and a proper cooling system. There’s no exact winner between the two, and your choice should rest on personal preference of platforms.

Ankan is a tech enthusiast with a particular passion for Samsung gadgets. He has extensive hands-on experience testing out the latest Samsung smartphones, tablets, wearables, and other devices. At SamInsider, he provides reliable coverage of everything happening in the Samsung world. Email: techblizpro@gmail.com (Follow on X/Twitter)

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