Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus vs Apple iPhone XS Max

Here we compared two flagship smartphones: the 6.7-inch Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (with Exynos 2100) that was released on January 14, 2021, against the Apple iPhone XS Max, which is powered by Apple A12 Bionic and came out 29 months before. On this page, you will find tests, full specs, strengths, and weaknesses of each of the gadgets.

Key differences

An overview of the main advantages of each smartphone
Reasons to consider the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
  • Higher display refresh rate – 120 Hz
  • Comes with 1626 mAh larger battery capacity: 4800 vs 3174 mAh
  • Has 2x more RAM: 8GB versus 4GB
  • Modern USB Type-C port
  • Shows 20% longer battery life (30:26 vs 25:24 hours)
  • 37% better performance in AnTuTu Benchmark (737K versus 538K)
  • Better camera quality (According to DxOMark rating)
  • Compatible with the latest Wi-Fi 6 wireless networks
  • Delivers 35% higher peak brightness (890 against 658 nits)
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Slow-motion recording at 960FPS
  • Uses a faster type of memory: LPDDR5 2750 MHz
Reasons to consider the Apple iPhone XS Max
  • The rear camera has a 2x optical zoom
  • Apple releases software updates and supports their phones a few years longer than Samsung
  • 16% higher pixel density (456 vs 394 PPI)
We may receive a commission from Amazon for purchases made using the links below, but this has no bearing on our assessment methodology.

Review

Display
Screen quality, color accuracy, brightness
Performance
CPU/GPU performance in apps and games
Battery
Battery life, charging type and speed
Camera
Photo and video recording quality
Connectivity
Networks, ports, data transmission
NanoReview score
Final comparison evaluation

Value for money

You can enter your local price of these phones (in USD or any other currency) and click on the "Calculate" button to see which one has a better value for money.
Price

Tests and specifications

Comparison table of technical specifications and tests

Display

Type Dynamic AMOLED OLED
Size 6.7 inches 6.5 inches
Resolution 1080 x 2400 pixels 1242 x 2688 pixels
Aspect ratio 20:9 19.4:9
PPI 394 ppi 456 ppi
Refresh rate 120 Hz 60 Hz
Max rated brightness 1300 nits 625 nits
HDR support Yes, HDR10+ Yes, Dolby Vision
Screen protection Gorilla Glass Victus Tempered glass
Screen-to-body ratio 88.3% 85.41%
Display features - DCI-P3
- Always-On Display
- DCI-P3
- Always-On Display
Display tests
RGB color space 98.9% 98.8%
PWM 240 Hz 240 Hz
Response time 6.2 ms 11.2 ms
Contrast ∞ Infinity ∞ Infinity
Peak brightness test (auto)
890 nits
658 nits
Sources: NotebookCheck [3], [4]

Design and build

Height 161.5 mm (6.36 inches) 157.5 mm (6.2 inches)
Width 75.6 mm (2.98 inches) 77.4 mm (3.05 inches)
Thickness 7.8 mm (0.31 inches) 7.7 mm (0.3 inches)
Weight 200 g (7.05 oz) 208 g (7.34 oz)
Waterproof IP68 IP68
Rear material Glass Glass
Frame material Metal Metal
Colors Black, Silver, Gold, Red, Purple Silver, Gold, Gray
Fingerprint scanner Yes, in-display No
Screen-to-body ratio
88.3%
85.41%

Performance

Tests of Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus and Apple iPhone XS Max in the benchmarks
SoC
Chipset Samsung Exynos 2100 Apple A12 Bionic
Max. clock 2840 MHz 2490 MHz
CPU cores 8 (1 + 3 + 4) 6 (2 + 4)
Architecture - 4 cores at 2.2 GHz: Cortex-A55
- 3 cores at 2.8 GHz: Cortex-A78
- 1 core at 2.9 GHz: Cortex-X1
- 4 cores at 1.6 GHz: Tempest
- 2 cores at 2.49 GHz: Vortex
Lithography process 5 nanometers 7 nanometers
Graphics Mali-G78 MP14 Apple A12 Bionic GPU
GPU clock 760 MHz 1100 MHz
FLOPS - ~560 GFLOPS

Benchmarks

Geekbench 5 (Single-Core)
Geekbench 5 (Multi-Core)
AnTuTu Benchmark 9
737350
538212
CPU 189103 145567
GPU 274155 170450
Memory 137436 100025
UX 131951 112820
Total score 737350 538212
3DMark Wild Life Performance
Stability 67% 66%
Graphics test 33 FPS 34 FPS
Graphics score 5538 5726
Sources: 3DMark [3], [4]

Memory

RAM
RAM size 8 GB 4 GB
Memory type LPDDR5 LPDDR4X
Memory clock 2750 MHz -
Channels 2 2
Storage
Storage size 128, 256 GB 64, 256, 512 GB
Storage type UFS 3.1 NVMe
Memory card No No

Software

Operating system Android 11 (Can be upgraded to Android 13) iOS 12 (Can be upgraded to iOS 16.2)
ROM One UI 5.0 -
OS size 27.2 GB 16 GB

Battery

Specifications
Capacity 4800 mAh 3174 mAh
Charge power 25 W 18 W
Battery type Li-Ion Li-Ion
Replaceable No No
Wireless charging Yes (15 W) Yes, Qi (10 W)
Reverse charging Yes, (wireless) No
Fast charging Yes (54% in 30 min) Yes (50% in 30 min)
Full charging time 1:12 hr 03:29 hr
Battery life tests
Web browsing 09:17 hr 09:13 hr
Watching video 15:27 hr 10:50 hr
Gaming 05:07 hr 04:41 hr
Standby 101 hr 80 hr
General battery life
30:26 hr
25:24 hr

Camera

Specs and camera test of smartphones
Main camera
Matrix 12 megapixels 12 megapixels
Image resolution 4000 x 3000 4032 x 3024
Zoom Optical, 1.1x Optical, 2x
Flash Dual LED Quad LED
Stabilization Optical Optical
8K video recording Up to 24FPS No
4K video recording Up to 60FPS Up to 60FPS
1080p video recording Up to 60FPS Up to 60FPS
Slow motion 960 FPS (720p) 240 FPS (1080p)
Angle of widest lens 120° -
Lenses 3 (12 MP + 64 MP + 12 MP) 2 (12 MP + 12 MP)
Wide (main) lens - 12 MP
- Aperture: f/1.8
- Focal length: 26 mm
- Pixel size: 1.8 micron
- Sensor: 1/1.76", Sony IMX555 (Exmor-RS CMOS)
- Phase autofocus (Dual Pixel)
- Optical stabilization
- 12 MP
- Aperture: f/1.8
- Focal length: 28 mm
- Pixel size: 1.4 micron
- Sensor: 1/2.5", Apple iSight X (CMOS)
- Phase autofocus
- Optical stabilization
Telephoto lens - 64 MP
- Aperture: f/2.0
- Focal length: 28 mm
- Pixel size: 0.8 micron
- Sensor: 1/1.72", Samsung Bright S5KGW2 (ISOCELL Plus CMOS)
- Phase autofocus (Dual Pixel)
- Optical stabilization
- 12 MP
- Aperture: f/2.4
- Focal length: 52 mm
- Pixel size: 1 micron
- Sensor: 1/3.4" (CMOS)
- Phase autofocus
- Optical stabilization
Ultra-wide lens - 12 MP
- Aperture: f/2.2
- Focal length: 13 mm
- Pixel size: 1.4 micron
- Sensor: 1/2.55", Sony IMX563 (Exmor-RS CMOS)
- Phase autofocus (Dual Pixel)
-
Camera features - Bokeh mode
- Pro mode
- RAW support
- Bokeh mode
- Pro mode
- RAW support
Samples Photo samples of Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus from DxOMark Photo samples of Apple iPhone XS Max from DxOMark
Selfie camera
Megapixels 10 megapixels 7 megapixels
Image resolution 3872 x 2592 3088 x 2316
Aperture f/2.2 f/2.2
Focal length 26 mm 32 mm
Pixel size 1.22 microns -
Sensor type Exmor-RS CMOS BSI CMOS
Sensor size 1/3.24" -
Video resolution 2160p (4K) at 60 FPS 1080p (Full HD) at 60 FPS

DxOMark camera tests

Photo quality
Video quality
Generic camera score

Connectivity

Wi-Fi standard Wi-Fi 6 (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax) Wi-Fi 5 (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac)
Wi-Fi features - Dual Band
- Wi-Fi MiMO
- Wi-Fi Direct
- Wi-Fi Hotspot
- Wi-Fi Display
- Dual Band
- Wi-Fi MiMO
- Wi-Fi Direct
- Wi-Fi Hotspot
- Wi-Fi Display
Bluetooth version 5 5
Bluetooth features LE, A2DP SPP, PBAP/PAB, PAN, OPP, MAP, LE, HSP, HFP, HDP, GAP, GAVDP, DIP, AVRCP, A2DP
USB type USB Type-C No
USB version 3.2 2
USB features - Charging
- USB-Storage mode
- USB-Host mode
- OTG
- Charging
- USB-Storage mode
- OTG
GPS GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo GPS, GLONASS, Galileo
NFC* Yes Yes
Infrared port No No
Network
Number of SIM* 2 1
Type of SIM card Nano Nano
Multi SIM mode Standby -
eSIM support* Yes Yes
Hybrid slot No No
LTE Cat* 24 16
5G support Yes No

Sound

Speakers Stereo Stereo
Headphone audio jack No No
FM radio No No
Dolby Atmos Yes Yes
Speakers test
Max. loudness
87.8 dB
77.2 dB

Other

Category Flagship Flagship
Announced January 2021 September 2018
Release date February 2021 September 2018
SAR (head) 0.54 W/kg 0.99 W/kg
SAR (body) 1.33 W/kg 0.99 W/kg
Sensors - Hall-effect sensor
- Barometer
- Proximity sensor
- Gyroscope
- Accelerometer
- Ambient light sensor
- Compass
- Fingerprint
- Barometer
- Proximity sensor
- Gyroscope
- Accelerometer
- Ambient light sensor
- Compass
- Face recognition sensor
*Disclaimer! NFC, GSM network support, and some other specs can be different depending on the country.

Conclusion

After analyzing all the data, we think that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is definitely a better buy.

Cast your vote

So, which phone would you choose?
31 (45.6%)
37 (54.4%)
Total votes: 68

User opinions

You can share your opinion or ask a question in the comments below