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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max: Which should you buy?

Apple? Samsung? iOS? Android? You can only choose one.
By
March 24, 2023

Samsung might not have invented Android, but the Apple vs Samsung debate is as old as time. Both brands stand at the top of their respective ecosystems — in Apple’s case because it’s the only ecosystem — which means they’ll be compared for as long as they exist. With the launch of the new Galaxy S23 series, it’s time for the comparisons to begin anew. Let’s compare every aspect of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max to see which one is right for you.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max: At a glance

Apple and Samsung have their share of differences, but a lot ties them together, too. Outside of Android vs iOS, you might even find some similarities between the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro models. Here are just a few points to get started with:

  • The iPhone 14 Pro is the most affordable of the three at $999, followed by the iPhone 14 Pro Max at $1,099 and the Galaxy S23 Ultra at $1,199.
  • Samsung supports faster charging speeds with 45W wired and 15W wireless charging, to Apple's 20W wired and 15W MagSafe wireless speed. The Galaxy S23 Ultra also has the largest battery at 5,000mAh.
  • Apple relies on its A16 Bionic chipset to power the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, while Samsung uses a version of Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
  • The Galaxy S23 Ultra also has the edge in terms of RAM, offering either 8GB or 12GB, depending on your storage option. Both the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max come with 6GB of RAM.
  • Samsung packed four rear cameras onto the Galaxy S23 Ultra compared to just three on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, adding a second telephoto for up to 100x hybrid zoom.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S23 UltraApple iPhone 14 ProApple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Display
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
6.8-inch Dynamix 2x AMOLED
QHD+ resolution
1,750 nits
120 Hz refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz)
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
6.1-inch LTPO Super Retina XDR OLED
1,179 x 2,556 resolution
2,000 nits
120Hz refresh rate
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
6.7-inch LTPO Super Retina XDR OLED
1,290 x 2,976 resolution
2,000 nits
120Hz refresh rate
Processor
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Apple A16 Bionic
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Apple A16 Bionic
RAM
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
8 or 12GB LPDDR5
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
6GB
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
6GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
256, 512GB, or 1TB
No microSD card support
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
128, 256, 512GB, or 1TBGB
No microSD card support
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
128, 256, 512GB, or 1TBGB
No microSD card support
Power
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
5,000mAh
45W wired charging
USB-PD 3.0 (PPS)
15W wireless charging
Wireless PowerShare
No charger in box
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
3,200mAh battery
20W wired charging
15W MagSafe wireless charging
7.5 Qi wireless charging
No charger in box
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
4,323mAh battery
20W wired charging
15W MagSafe wireless charging
7.5 Qi wireless charging
No charger in box
Cameras
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Rear:
- 200MP main sensor (f/1.7, OIS)
- 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2)
- 10MP 3x telephoto lens (f/2.4, OIS)
- 10MP 10x telephoto lens (f/4.9, OIS)

Front:
- 12MP wide (f/2.2)
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Rear:
- 48MP wide (1.22μm, ƒ1.8, 24mm)
- 12MP ultrawide (1.4μm, ƒ2.2, 13mm, 120-degree FoV)
- 12MP telephoto (1.0μm, ƒ2.8, 77mm, 3x optical zoom)

Front:
- 12MP wide (ƒ1.9, 23mm)
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Rear:
- 48MP wide (1.22μm, ƒ1.8, 24mm)
- 12MP ultrawide (1.4μm, ƒ2.2, 13mm, 120-degree FoV)
- 12MP telephoto (1.0μm, ƒ2.8, 77mm, 3x optical zoom)

Front:
- 12MP wide (ƒ1.9, 23mm)
Video
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Rear:
8K at 30FPS
4K at 60FPS
1080p at 120FPS

Front:
4K at 60FPS
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Rear:
- 4K at 24/25/30/60fps

Front:
- 4K at 24/25/30/60fps
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Rear:
- 4K at 24/25/30/60fps

Front:
- 4K at 24/25/30/60fps
Audio
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Stereo speakers
No 3.5mm port
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Stereo speakers
No 3.5mm port
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Stereo speakers
No 3.5mm port
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC support
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6, Dual Band
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC support
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6, Dual Band
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC support
Security
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
In-display fingerprint
5 years security updates
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Face ID
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Face ID
Software
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Android 13
OneUI 5.1
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
iOS 16
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
iOS 16
Materials
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front and back
Armor Aluminum frame
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Corning-made glass front
Corning-made glass back
Stainless steel frame
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Corning-made glass front
Corning-made glass back
Stainless steel frame
Durability
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
IP68 certified
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
IP68 certified
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
IP68 certified
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm
233g
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
147.5 x 71.5 x 7.9mm
206g
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
160.7 x 77.6 x 7.9mm
240g
Colors
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender
Samsung Exclusives: Lime, Graphite, Sky Blue, Red
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Deep Purple, Gold, Silver, and Space Black
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Deep Purple, Gold, Silver, and Space Black

The Galaxy S23 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max represent the best of Samsung and Apple, respectively. However, they also show that you don’t have to massively overhaul a device year in and year out. Minor refinements tell the tale on both sides, while the form factors are mainly unchanged.

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra ships with Android 13 and the updated One UI 5.1 skin right out of the box, while the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max offer iOS 16 (updatable to iOS 16.3). Both platforms will feel familiar to their respective users, with iOS 16 focused on several new lock screen customizations while One UI 5.1 packs plenty of widget controls and the ability to use a video as your lock screen.

Perhaps each brand’s update commitment is more important than the software itself. Samsung Android updates are unmatched, bringing four full Android updates and five years of security patches to the table. Regardless, Apple seems willing and able to beat all others, offering six years of coverage across the board. Of course, continued updates are more manageable when you control all aspects of designing and distributing the hardware and software.

Both the iPhone 14 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra look like their predecessors on the outside, but there are plenty of changes inside.

Mentioning hardware, Apple prefers to keep things in-house. It ships the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max with its powerful A16 Bionic processor under the hood. The powerhouse is backed by 6GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage, should you need that much. On the other hand, Samsung rolls with the best of Qualcomm — currently, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy. You can either back it with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage or increase it to 12GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage.

Like the generations before them, both the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are built tough. You’ll find IP68 ratings on all three devices, and Samsung’s combination of Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and Armor Aluminum can take a beating. Apple uses a stainless steel frame with Corning’s Ceramic Shield glass.

If you’ve used an iPhone 13 Pro, Pro Max, or a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, a lot will feel familiar. However, there are more upgrades to discuss, so let’s keep moving.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max: Size comparison

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Comparing the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s footprint against that of the latest iPhones isn’t much different than it was with the previous generations. Since neither side has changed its design language much — or hardly at all — all three phones feel familiar. All three have flat edges on the top and bottom, allowing them to stand on their own, though the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers sharp corners to the iPhone’s rounded edges.

As seen above, Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is slightly taller and wider than the high-end iPhone 14 Pro Max. The differences aren’t drastic — a few millimeters here and there — but it’s the thickest of the trio, too. Whether you opt for the iPhone 14 Pro Max or Galaxy S23 Ultra, you’re guaranteed to feel it weigh down your pocket. If you want a smaller, more manageable device, it has to be the iPhone 14 Pro.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the size comparison is that the iPhone 14 Pro Max is heavier than the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The difference might come from the stainless steel frame instead of the aluminum option, but we’re again talking about a difference of a few grams.

In the end, if you’ve held the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, iPhone 13 Pro, or iPhone 13 Pro Max, you already have a general idea of what the new generation feels like. However, you may want to feel the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s new, flatter sides for yourself — they really do make a difference.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max: Camera

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera module
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

For the first time in a couple of years, both Apple and Samsung decided to upgrade their main cameras. In the iPhone’s case, that means moving from the old, reliable 12MP sensor to a new 48MP model. For Samsung, the classic 108MP shooter from the last few Ultras is gone in favor of the Isocell HP2 with its massive 200MP count.

Outside of that, both flagships tell a tale of continuity. The Galaxy S23 Ultra still carries a pair of 10MP telephoto sensors — one set to 3x and the other to 10x — and a 12MP ultrawide lens. It’s one of the most flexible setups, offering up to 100x hybrid zoom. Apple kept things pretty consistent for its peripheral lenses, too. The beefed-up primary sensor remains flanked by a 12MP ultrawide lens and a 12MP telephoto, which means you’ll find a familiar zoom range of up to 30x.

If you’re familiar with either Apple’s or Samsung’s camera app, that familiarity will continue. Neither one rocks the boat too much, offering a solid mix of shooting modes and pro-level features. Of course, Samsung’s Expert RAW feature still lies in a separate app, so you may have to bounce between the two if you want photos that are easily editable in Lightroom.

Both the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max carry Apple’s familiar 12MP selfie camera on the front, too. However, it now resides as part of the Dynamic Island instead of hiding in a notch. Perhaps more important is that Apple’s TrueDepth selfie camera now offers autofocus, too — a first for the company.

On paper, Samsung appears to have downgraded the selfie camera, dropping from 40MP to 12MP. In practice, it’s more of a side grade, as the larger pixels will mean that it does not have to pixel bin by default. There’s more to a camera than the sheer megapixels, and you’d never notice the change in sensor while snapping away.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max: Battery and charging

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra charger
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Both Apple and Samsung continue to take their own — generally opposite — approaches regarding battery life and charging. Samsung is all about how much size matters, packing a 5,000mAh cell into its Galaxy S23 Ultra. It’s backed by 45W wired charging and 15W wireless charging, and the phone offers Reverse PowerShare for good measure. Our early returns have been excellent so far, getting close to two full days of usage with between six and eight hours of screen-on time mixed between social media, video streaming, and some gaming. Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is also slightly faster to achieve a full charge than its predecessor, thanks to maintaining those 45W speeds slightly longer.

Just keep in mind that you’ll need a USB Power Delivery PPS charger to hit top speeds on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Luckily, we’ve already done the legwork to bring you a few recommendations for the best Samsung Galaxy S23 chargers.

Over on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, battery size isn’t as big of a deal. Both offer smaller cells, 3,200mAh and 4,323mAh, respectively. However, Apple’s penchant for optimization means that it can stretch those small batteries far as can be. We easily achieved a day of use from the iPhone 14 Pro, with the larger iPhone 14 Pro Max stretching a bit longer. Granted, the always-on display seems to cut the longevity a bit, but that’s the price of progress. Apple is pretty content to let slower charging rule, opting for 20W wired and 15W MagSafe wireless speeds.

Don’t expect a charger in either box — both companies have retired them.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max: Price

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra colorways 4
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (8GB, 256GB): $1,199
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (12GB, 512GB): $1,379
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (12GB, 1TB): $1,619
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro (6GB, 128GB): $999
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro (6GB, 256GB): $1,099
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro (6GB, 512GB): $1,299
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro (6GB, 1TB): $1,499
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (6GB, 128GB): $1,099
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (6GB, 256GB): $1,199
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (6GB, 512GB): $1,399
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (6GB, 1TB): $1,599

Despite all rumors to the contrary, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra retails for the same price as the Galaxy S22 Ultra before it. It’s one of the more expensive flagship devices, starting well beyond the $1,000 mark, but you get quite a lot for your money. The Galaxy S23 Ultra now ships with double the base storage of its predecessor — 256GB to the previous 128GB.

As always, Samsung is ready to embrace color with its latest flagship. The Galaxy S23 Ultra comes in Phantom Black, Lavender, Cream, and Green from all retailers, with a few more options exclusive to Samsung. If you’re willing to buy from the source, you can also check out Graphite, Red, Sky Blue, and Lime Green.

Apple also managed to keep its asking price in check, carrying over the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max pricing. It’s slightly older than the Galaxy S23 Ultra, so discounts are a bit easier to find, but you can still expect to shell out a pretty penny if you want to upgrade your storage. There are no special iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max colors, either. Deep Purple, Space Black, Gold, and Silver are your options whether you buy from Apple, Amazon, or a carrier.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max: Which should you buy?

samsung galaxy s23 ultra hero
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

When it comes right down to it, it’s tough to pick an outright winner between the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. Not because they’re not good phones, but because they’re targeted at two different groups. At Android Authority, you’ll likely find more Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultras in our pockets, but many people prefer the comfort and familiarity of iOS. Whichever way you go, you’re getting a flagship-grade smartphone at the top of its respective game.

If you love Android, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is an easy choice. However, some will prefer the comfort and familiarity of iOS.

Samsung has the edge in terms of flexibility — both in the S Pen and the 100x camera zoom. It has a bigger battery with faster charging, and there’s no shortage of RAM to power your apps. However, Apple manages to push its battery to the max thanks to excellent optimization. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will also continue to receive software support after the Galaxy S23 Ultra has retired, meaning you’ll get a little more value for your money in the long run.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro: Which would you rather buy?

471 votes

Ultimately, the one factor that can’t help you decide is price. Both the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max start close to $1,000, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra kicks off at $1,199. Of course, you’ll have to consider your budget, but both phones offer the latest and greatest.

See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
New 200MP main camera
Beautiful display
S Pen functionality
See price at Amazon
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
Premium design and build
Upgraded main camera
Dynamic Island
See price at Amazon
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Unbeatable software support
Powerful SoC
Dynamic Island

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro: FAQ

Ultimately, choosing between the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Galaxy S23 Ultra comes down to preference and budget. Samsung gives you a powerful S Pen and rounded edges, while the iPhone touts its Dynamic Island and flat side rails.

Well, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a bigger battery at 5,000mAh, but your results may vary. If you’re a heavy gamer, you may not see as many hours of screen-on time as someone streaming music.

Both phones carry IP68 ratings for water and dust resistance, though Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is the first to sport Gorilla Glass Victus 2.

Both phones can wirelessly charge at 15W, though the iPhone 14 Pro adds MagSafe compatibility to the mix.