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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max: Which should you buy?

The age-old Samsung vs Apple fight continues.
By
August 5, 2022
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max rear on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S22 series is here! Once again, there are three phones, with the Galaxy S22 Ultra taking the top of Samsung’s flagship roster. There are notable changes to the Ultra this time around, though, that not only make it stand out from the rest of the series but make it an even more exciting prospect against the competition.

Who’s the competition? The iPhone 13 Pro Max, of course! Apple has its own large, top-of-the-line flagship that’s primed to take on the latest and greatest from Samsung. Here’s our look at the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max.

See also: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra hands-on | Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review


Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max


Design and display

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max front on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

If you’ve seen an iPhone in the last few years, you’ve seen the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The Apple flagship keeps the design language from its predecessor, and there are no real surprises here. You get some refinements with a notch that is 20% smaller but without compromising Face ID’s capabilities. A keen eye might notice the smaller notch, but the phone otherwise looks practically identical to its predecessor.

There are some useful upgrades with the display hardware, though. The Pro Max’s 6.7-inch OLED display has a 120Hz refresh rate, making an already smooth software experience even better. The iPhone 13 Pro and the Pro Max are the first phones from Apple to come with this upgraded feature.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra color family on wood
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

On the other hand, the Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with a completely new design — for the S-series, that is. However, Samsung’s Galaxy Note series fans will be right at home with the newly re-designed Ultra. The rectangular shape and curved sides are design elements last seen with the Note 20 series.

The S22 Ultra’s camera array doesn’t have the contour cut of its siblings, with the cameras sitting flush with the flat back of the phone instead. And of course, nothing is more telling that the S22 Ultra is a Note in disguise than the fact that it comes with an S Pen. Not everyone likes this new direction, though, given that you’d be compromising on a few specs and features if you want to stick to the usual S-series design with the base Galaxy S22 or Galaxy S22 Plus.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra angled in hand
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The S22 Ultra is a Galaxy Note with a different name, but fans of either series will love the phone’s beautiful display. The 6.8-inch AMOLED screen has a Quad HD+ resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. Samsung’s display prowess always shines through, and the S22 Ultra is no exception. If you want a phone with one of the best displays in the game, this is among the best.

There isn’t much difference in size between the two phones. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has an ever so slightly smaller display, so it’s a touch narrower and thinner than the S22 Ultra but is a little heavier. They are both equally unwieldy, and while you get durable glass and metal builds, you might want to consider getting a case to keep these thousand-dollar buys safe.

 Protect your phone: The best iPhone 13 Pro Max cases | The best Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra cases


Hardware and cameras

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra display
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

A peek under the hood of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra will show you the new and shiny Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor or the Samsung Exynos 2200 in specific markets. This is ably backed by 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and you can get up to 1TB of storage built-in, even though this top-end model will push you past the $1,500 mark. Unsurprisingly, you will get extremely smooth performance with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, no matter what you decide to throw at it.

Read more: Which countries are getting the Snapdragon or Exynos models of the Galaxy S22?

Of course, Apple’s A15 Bionic processor that powers the iPhone 13 Pro Max is a beast. Early tests show that the Apple processor benchmarks better than the latest from Qualcomm. Very little of that difference will translate to real-world performance, with the 13 Pro Max being also an exceptionally smooth phone.

Keeping the Galaxy S22 Ultra running is a 5,000mAh battery, the same as its predecessor. You get a significant upgrade in speed, though, with the S22 Ultra fast charging at 45W compared to the 25W charging of the S21 Ultra, along with 15W reverse wireless charging. The Galaxy S21 Ultra offered impressive battery life, and we can expect more of the same with the S22 Ultra. And you can get back up and running much faster too, with a suitable charger.

Neither phone comes with a charger in the box.

Meanwhile, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max has a 4,352mAh battery and comes with fast charging capabilities. In his review, our Robert Triggs noted that the iPhone 13 Pro Max was very difficult to run down and offered battery life that rivaled or was better than its Android counterparts. When it comes to wireless charging, you’ll need a MagSafe charger to enjoy 15W charging. The phone is compatible with standard Qi chargers, but that is limited to 7.5W charging.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max camera module ultra close 3
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Now we get to arguably the main event with both phones — the cameras. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s camera setup might have a new look, but the hardware mostly stays the same. The 108MP primary sensor returns, flanked by a 10MP periscope telephoto capable of 10x zoom, a 10MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom, and a 12MP ultrawide lens. On the front, housed in a punch hole notch, is a 40MP selfie shooter. It’s a solid camera setup that shouldn’t fail to impress, even though it’s without any exciting upgrades that some may have been hoping for.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in lavendar with plant
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The same holds for the iPhone 13 Pro Max as well. It’s a fantastic camera and part of our best camera phones roundup. You get a 12MP ultrawide, wide, and telephoto on the back, and a 12MP selfie camera. The Galaxy S22 Ultra has the 13 Pro Max beat on the specs sheet, but that’s hardly ever the right factor to consider when it comes to quality.

We know the iPhone 13 Pro Max has one of the best cameras around, and we expect big things from the S22 Ultra in our testing, so the upcoming camera shootout will be exciting.


Price and colors

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in black white and blue cards
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (8GB/128GB): $1,199
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12GB/256GB): $1,299
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12GB/512GB): $1,399
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12GB/1TB): $1,599
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max (128GB): $1,099
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max(256GB): $1,199
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max(512GB): $1,399
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max (1TB): $1,599

The iPhone 13 Pro Max starts at $100 cheaper than the Galaxy S22 Ultra for the 128 and 256GB storage options but catches up with the higher storage models. Both phones hold the same starting prices as their predecessors. They both cost a pretty penny, though, especially if you want to splurge on the higher storage versions.

In terms of colors, the iPhone is available in Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, and Graphite. The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s new design means that you won’t get the two-toned color options available with the S21 series or its smaller siblings. The Galaxy S22 Ultra colorways include Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, and Burgundy. However, there are three Samsung.com-exclusive colors, Graphite, Red, and Sky Blue, that might pique your interest more.

See more: Which Samsung Galaxy S22 color is for you?

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Ultra-premium build quality • Gorgeous screen • Solid performance
Can Samsung's merged Note and S series device satisfy demanding users?
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra combines the best of the Galaxy S Ultra with the best of the Galaxy Note Ultra to check off almost all the boxes for power users. In addition to top specs and extensively-supported, feature-packed software, the Galaxy S22 Ultra boasts the S Pen and a plethora of productivity tools unmatched by the competition. While it's somewhat lacking in soul, that doesn't take away from the technical marvel that is the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max display outside
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
The largest of the 2021 models with all the features in tow.
The biggest and best iPhone 13 brings all the bells and whistles. Not only does it have the largest display, but it also has the longest battery life, and every new iPhone feature Apple has up its sleeve.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S22 UltraiPhone 13 Pro Max
Display
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Edge display (curved)
19.3:9 aspect ratio
QHD+ resolution (3,088 x 1,440)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz)

iPhone 13 Pro Max
6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
19.5:9 aspect ratio
2,778 x 1,284 resolution
ProMotion 120Hz

Processor
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
US: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Global: Exynos 2200
iPhone 13 Pro Max
Apple A15 Bionic
RAM
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
8GB or 12GB
iPhone 13 Pro Max
6GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
128GB, 256GB, or 512GB with additional 1TB option
No microSD card support
iPhone 13 Pro Max
128, 256, 512, or 1TB
no microSD card support
Power
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
5,000mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging

No charger in box
iPhone 13 Pro Max
4,352mAh battery
Fast wired charging
15W Magsafe wireless charging
7.5W Qi wireless charging

No charger in box
Cameras
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Rear:
- 108MP wide (0.8μm, ƒ2.2, 23mm, 85-degree FoV)
- 12MP ultrawide (1.4μm, ƒ2.2, 13mm, 120-degree FoV)
- 10MP telephoto (1.12μm, ƒ4.9, 230mm, 11-degree FoV, 10x optical zoom)
- 10MP telephoto (1.12μm, ƒ2.4, 69mm, 36-degree FoV, 3x optical zoom)
- Laser autofocus

Front:
- 40MP wide (ƒ2.2, 23mm, 80-degree FoV)
iPhone 13 Pro Max
Rear:
-Wide-angle 12MP, ƒ/1.5, dual OIS, 7-element lens, 100% Focus Pixels, Night Mode
-Ultra-wide 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 120° field of view, 5-element lens, lens correction, Night Mode
-Telephoto 12MP, ƒ/2.8, dual OIS, 6-element lens

Front:
-TrueDepth 12MP, ƒ/2.2

Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6E (6GHz)
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
Ultra-wideband support (UWB)
iPhone 13 Pro Max
5G (sub‑6GHz and mmWave)
Gigabit LTE with 4x4 MIMO and LAA
Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2x2 MIMO
Bluetooth 5
Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
NFC
Express Cards with power reserve
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou
Digital compass
Cellular
iBeacon micro-location
Security
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
4 x 9mm size
5 years security updates
iPhone 13 Pro Max
Face ID

Software
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Android 12
One UI 4.1
iPhone 13 Pro Max
iOS 15
S Pen support
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Yes, with storage slot
iPhone 13 Pro Max
No
Durability
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
IP68 certified
iPhone 13 Pro Max
IP68 certified
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm
229g
iPhone 13 Pro Max
160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm
240g
Colors
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Burgundy
iPhone 13 Pro Max
Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max: Which should you buy?

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra bottom edge
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

It’s getting harder to choose between phones nowadays, and it’s never a simple choice when it comes to Apple vs Samsung. For most potential buyers, it will likely once again come down to which ecosystem you are already invested in.

Both the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Galaxy S22 Ultra offer gorgeous, large displays, excellent performance, fantastic cameras, and impressive battery life. The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s S Pen could sway some new buyers, though. The stylus is surprisingly useful, and any Galaxy Note owner will attest to how second nature it is to use the S Pen whenever possible. However, if you weren’t impressed by the S Pen before as a Galaxy Note series staple, it’s not going to change your mind now.

The S Pen is the only real differentiating factor between these two flagships.

The feature set is ultimately quite similar, even if the wrapping is entirely different. Neither side does anything groundbreaking that will convince swathes of buyers to jump across the fence. The Galaxy S21 Ultra’s S Pen support is unique in this lineup. However, an iPhone user who the Galaxy Note didn’t sway before won’t find that a compelling reason this time either.

Both Android and iOS are fully mature platforms at this point, and both flagships are among the best around. If you are considering a switch, these are two series to jump between. But if you’re already invested in a particular ecosystem, neither provide compelling enough reasons to switch things up, only because of how similar the smartphone experiences ultimately are.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max: Which would you buy?

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