Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max
(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

If you're interested in buying a flagship phone, the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro Max are two of the best choices at the moment. Samsung's 2022 flagship is powered by the latest Qualcomm chip, has a sublime 120Hz AMOLED screen with QHD+ resolution, standout cameras, large battery with all-day battery life, and you even get an integrated stylus.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is basically the follow-up to the Note 20 Ultra, with the only difference being that it is now sold as a Galaxy S device. And the iPhone 13 Pro Max isn't short on features either; it gets a 120Hz OLED screen, the A15 Bionic is arguably the fastest mobile platform around, the cameras are even better this time around, and it lasts well over a day with heavy use.

Both phones start at over $1,000, so let's take a look at what you're getting with either device, and which phone you should pick up.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max: Design

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

These are two of the biggest phones in the market today, and they sport familiar designs. The Galaxy S22 Ultra follows a similar aesthetic as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, so you get a large screen that's tall and wide. 

There are smooth flowing curves at the front and back, and they go a long way in ensuring the S22 Ultra is comfortable to hold and use. The burgundy color variant makes the phone look upmarket, and at the back you'll find a new camera layout with individual modules jutting out directly from the chassis.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is larger of the two phones, but it is also more comfortable to use thanks to dual curved sides.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra should feel immediately familiar if you've used a Note phone in the past, and while it has a dual curved screen, the curvature is fairly minimal, and there's more than enough room on the sides to hold the device.

On the subject of familiarity, the iPhone 13 Pro Max has a largely unchanged design from its predecessor, offering a rectangular chassis with flat sides. Round the back, you'll find a glass back with a matte finish and a large camera island with three rings for the camera modules.

At 78.1mm wide, it comes in slightly larger than the S22 Ultra (77.9mm), and you'll notice that in day-to-day use. The iPhone lacks curved sides, so it isn't anywhere as comfortable to use as the S22 Ultra, and even though it is thinner at 7.7mm (the S22 Ultra comes in at 8.9mm), it is heavier at 240g (versus 228g). 

The S22 Ultra has a layer of Corning's latest Gorilla Glass Victus+ for the front and back panes of glass, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max comes with a custom version of Gorilla Glass that's touted to be among the toughest in the industry. 

I tested the Victus+ layer on my S22 Ultra recently; it fell flat onto tiled floor from a height of 5 feet but came away unscathed.

I definitely prefer the Galaxy S22 Ultra on the design front; it's just easier to use and fits better in your hand. You'll need to invest in a case if you want to use the iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max: Screen

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Both phones have vibrant screens with the latest tech. The Galaxy S22 Ultra features a 6.8-inch AMOLED panel with a QHD+ (3088x1440) resolution, and it has 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, and maximum brightness that goes up to 1,750 nits for HDR content and 1,200 nits for daily use.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch OLED screen with a resolution of 2778x1284, and it includes Dolby Vision, HDR10, and maximum brightness of 1,200 nits. In a first for the series, the phone gets 120Hz refresh which dynamically scales based on the content you're viewing.

These are two of the best screens you'll find today: both phones go up to 120Hz and have HDR10+ along with stereo sound.

Samsung also has a similar feature, with the S22 Ultra able to go from 1Hz to 120Hz. You won't find a vast catalog of games that run at 120Hz, but for most day-to-day use cases, you'll see an immediate difference when switching from a phone with a regular 60Hz screen.

As for the quality, these are two of the best OLED screens you'll find on any phone today. Regardless of whatever you're doing — scrolling through social media, playing games, or streaming videos — you'll find both screens to be very enjoyable. 

One feature that's missing on the iPhone is always-on mode; although recent iPhones come with OLED screens, iOS still doesn't have a way to preview notifications and view the time and battery details when the screen is off.

There's stereo sound on both devices, and that makes a lot of difference particularly when you're playing games. The S22 Ultra gets just a little bit louder and is more detailed, but the iPhone holds its own.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max: Hardware and battery life

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

These are two of the costliest phones you can buy today, and they're packed to the gills with features. Both phones have the basics: you get IP68 dust and water resistance as well as 15W wireless charging as standard.

As for the hardware itself, you'll find two of the best mobile chipsets in the market today. Qualcomm's 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is a powerhouse that handles anything you throw at it with ease, including demanding games. 

There's no scenario where the Galaxy S22 Ultra feels slow or laggy, and that won't change for several years. The best Android phones all feature the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and in terms of hardware, the S22 Ultra ticks all the right boxes. 

With the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the A15 Bionic has the distinction of offering the best single- and multi-core scores in the industry, so you're looking at figures that outmatch the best that Qualcomm has to offer.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryGalaxy S22 UltraiPhone 13 Pro Max
Operating systemAndroid 12, One UI 4.1iOS 15.4
Display6.8-inch 120Hz LTPO AMOLED, 3088x1440, HDR10+, Gorilla Glass Victus+6.7-inch 120Hz OLED, 2778x1284, HDR10+ Dolby Vision, Corning glass
ChipsetSnapdragon 8 Gen 1, 1 x 2.8GHz Cortex X2, 3 x 2.50GHz Cortex A710, 4 x 1.80GHz Cortex A510, Adreno 730, 4nmA15 Bionic, 2 x 3.22GHz Avalanche, 4 x 2.2GHz Blizzard, 5nm
Storage128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB, UFS 3.1128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
MicroSD slot
Rear camera 1108MP, f/1.8, 0.8um, OIS, PDAF, 8K at 24fps, 4K at 60fps12MP, f/1.5, 1.9um, OIS, PDAF, 4K at 60fps
Rear camera 212MP, f/2.2, 1.12um, 120-degree wide-angle12MP, f/1.8, 120-degree wide-angle
Rear camera 310MP, f/4.9 1.12um, OIS, PDAF, 10x optical zoom12MP, f/2.8, OIS, PDAF, 3x optical zoom
Rear camera 410MP f/2.4 1.12um, OIS, PDAF, 3x optical zoomToF LiDAR module
Front camera40MP, f/2.2, 0.7um, autofocus, 4K at 60fp12MP, f/2.2, autofocus, 4K at 60fps
Connectivity5G Sub-6/mmWave, SA and NSA, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, A-GPS, UWB5G Sub-6/mmWave, SA and NSA, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, A-GPS, UWB
AudioUSB-C, stereo speakersLightning, stereo speakers
ChargingUSB-C PD 3.0, 45W wired charging, 15W wireless charging27W wired charging, 15W MagSafe wireless charging
Water resistanceIP68IP68
SecurityIn-display fingerprint (optical)Face ID
ColorsBlack, White, BurgundyGold, Silver, Sierra Blue
Dimensions163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm, 228g160.8 x 78.1 x 7.7mm, 240g

It's not just the A15 Bionic that makes the iPhone stand out; games are generally better optimized for iOS, and visually-intensive titles are a delight to play on the device.

However, where Samsung wins out is productivity. This comes down to the fact that you get an integrated stylus. The S Pen is back, and it is just as noteworthy as previous iterations.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is faster and lasts longer, but the S22 Ultra is the obvious choice for productivity.

You can take notes, doodle, remotely control the cameras, and do so much more with the stylus, and it makes the device a productivity powerhouse. It is a huge differentiator, and we're glad that Samsung reintroduced the stylus, this time with the Galaxy S series.

As for battery life, both phones manage to last over a day with ease, but the iPhone 13 Pro Max has a distinct edge in this area. That's down to the more efficient A15 Bionic and the fact that the phone has a larger battery. More often than not, you'll get a day and a half of use with a full charge.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra also lasts a full day with ease, but it doesn't quite last as long as the iPhone. That said, it has the edge on the charging front, offering 45W wired and 15W wireless charging as standard. With the iPhone, you get 27W wired and 15W MagSafe wireless charging, and in a sign of the times, neither phone comes with a bundled charger.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

One of the main reasons for paying over $1,000 for a flagship is for the cameras, and in this area, both devices have a lot to offer. The S22 Ultra has four cameras in total: a 108MP main lens joined by a 12MP wide-angle with 120-degree field-of-view, and two 10MP zoom lenses, one with 3x optical zoom and another that goes up to 10x. 

You'll find a trio of 12MP lenses on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, and there's also