Among the many flagship phones launched in 2023, the S23 Ultra still stands out as the most balanced option. It has the best software update promise out of all the currently sold Android flagship phones and a great software experience overall. It’s among the top-selling Android flagships and packs very powerful hardware.
The cameras are best in class, and the phone also uses Qualcomm’s latest 8 Gen 2 SOC worldwide. The overall critical reception was fairly positive, but the phone has to compete with the new iPhone 15 Pro Max. There were many upgrades to the 15 Pro Max, and it’s a generational leap forward.
Choosing one phone between the two can get confusing since they both offer top-end specifications. In this on-paper comparison, we’ll explore what’s new with the iPhone and hopefully help simplify your purchase decision.
iPhone 15 Pro Max: What’s new?
The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a new 48MP main sensor, and Apple did not reveal the size. It crops in 2X for near-lossless zoom. It also has options to shoot in 28mm and 35mm for closer fields of view. The zoom is now much better, thanks to a new 5X telephoto camera. It can go much farther, thanks to software processing. We cannot tell whether this is a periscope camera yet.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max also has a much better display with M13 Samsung materials. It has Dolby Vision HDR support. It also comes with the all-new A17 Pro (3nm TSMC fabrication). This returns excellent benchmark scores, and the new GPU makes the gaming experience much better. It supports hardware ray-tracing, and you can play console-level AAA Titles on your smartphone.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max also uses Grade-5 Titanium. It’s one of the most durable materials on the market. This seriously reduces the weight while massively improving the durability of the phone. It has excellent corrosion resistance and is fairly resistant to fingerprints.
After ten years of the lightning port, Apple finally switched the iPhone to USB Type C. The Pro models get USB Type C 3.0 speeds.
iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Comparison
The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a triple camera setup, with a new undisclosed 48MP Sony sensor as its main, a 12MP ultra-wide, and a new 12MP 5X telephoto camera. The S23 Ultra has a large 1/1.3″ 200MP HP2 primary sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a 10MP 1/3.52″ 3X telephoto camera, and a 10MP 1/3.52″ 10X periscope telephoto camera.
It’s obvious that Samsung still wins at long-range zoom, but Apple wins the intermediate zoom. The primary camera round remains a tie, and we can’t conclude this section without more conclusive camera samples. The A17 Pro’s new ISP massively helps with low light, but the 8 Gen 2’s ISP is not too behind either.
The iPhone still maintains and solidifies its edge in video recording capabilities. It can take videos at 4K 30 cinematic mode, supports the Pro Res standard, and can also record videos in a super-steady action mode at 2.8K resolution.
The advantage of using a sensor with a higher megapixel count is zooming into images. While it comes at the cost of noise, especially when the light dips, 200MP photos retain excellent sharpness of text when you zoom in to the main image. This also allows for a better near-lossless sensor crop image at 2X magnification.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max uses newer materials for a more color-accurate screen that’s also brighter. However, the Dynamic Island cutout still interferes with content, and Samsung’s approach with a hole-punch cutout is more visually appealing.
The iPhone has a resolution that’s approximately 1350P, and Samsung has a proper QHD+ panel. Samsung’s screen should theoretically appear sharper since it also has a higher PPI count.
The A17 Pro SOC on the 15 Pro Max uses TSMC’s 3nm fabrication process. This makes it a bit more efficient than the 4nm processing on the S23 Ultra. The new fabrication, with great software tuning, will mean that the iPhone retains its edge in raw CPU power.
The iPhone comes with native hardware Ray Tracing support, and this new GPU obliterates the one on the 8 Gen 2. It can run AAA console-level titles and is a delight for gamers.
4. Battery & Charging
The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a 4700mAh battery, which is slightly smaller than the S23 Ultra. Thanks to a combination of more efficient and lighter software, 3nm SOC, and better app optimization, the battery life shouldn’t be an issue on either device.
The S23 Ultra charges at a peak of 45W. We don’t know the wattage for the iPhone yet, though both should charge to full in under an hour and a half. We have to wait for further battery tests to find out.
5. Software Experience
The S23 Ultra runs One UI 5.1 (Android 13) out of the box, and it has its own feature set that appeals to the Samsung user base. Good Lock Modules, the Galaxy ecosystem features, Secure Folder & Knox, and more are features you can find on One UI.
The Apple Ecosystem consists of its own set of first-party perks like Universal Control, AirDrop, and Continuity Camera. The 15 Pro Max will ship with iOS 17 and will get updates until iOS 22 at least, and the Galaxy S23 Ultra will get Android 17 as its last update. Apple still takes the lead in terms of software updates. However, which software actually is better is preferential.
With several key categories getting a tie, this comparison comes to a natural conclusion. If you prioritize video recording, you’re in the Apple Ecosystem, and you appreciate the app quality of iOS, the 15 Pro Max is the better phone.
If you’re into the Samsung ecosystem and you want the focal length flexibility, feature-rich software, and the perks of Android, the S23 Ultra is the better phone for you.