September 27, 2021

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12: Battle of the giants

The Samsung Galaxy S21 and Apple iPhone 12 series are among the best phones on the market. But which is right for you?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs iPhone 12 Pro 1

Credit: Adam Molina / Android Authority

Samsung and Apple are two of the most popular smartphone brands in the US, and the Samsung Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12 are their latest and greatest flagship series. Both have a range of devices going all the way up to ultra-premium, but which one takes the cake in a head-to-head comparison?

Aside from the obvious choice between Android and iOS, picking a winner isn’t so easy. Here’s everything you need to know about the Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 21, from specs to unique features and more.


Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12


Specs

  Apple iPhone 12 Mini Samsung Galaxy S21 Apple iPhone 12 Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
Display 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
HDR, True Tone
Wide color (P3)
2,000,000:1 contrast ratio
625 nits max brightness (typical); 1200 nits max brightness (HDR)
Ceramic Shield front
6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 421ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
2,532 x 1,170 resolution
HDR, True Tone
Wide color (P3)
2,000,000:1 contrast ratio
625 nits max brightness (typical); 1200 nits max brightness (HDR)
Ceramic Shield front
6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 394ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
Processor Apple A14 Bionic Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100 Apple A14 Bionic Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100
RAM 4GB 8GB 4GB 8GB
Storage 64 / 128 / 256GB 128 or 256GB 64 / 128 / 256GB 128 or 256GB
MicroSD No No No No
Battery Qi wireless charging up to 7.5W
Up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes with 20W adapter or higher (sold separately)

MagSafe:
Wireless charging up to 15W
Magnet array
Alignment magnet
Accessory Identification NFC
Magnetometer

4,000mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
Qi wireless charging up to 7.5W
Up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes with 20W adapter or higher (sold separately)

MagSafe:
Wireless charging up to 15W
Magnet array
Alignment magnet
Accessory Identification NFC
Magnetometer

4,800mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
Cameras Rear:
-Wide-angle 12MP, Æ’/1.6, OIS, 7-element lens
-Ultra-wide 12MP, ƒ/2.4, 120° field of view, 5-element lens, lens correction

2x optical zoom out, digital zoom up to 5x, Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3

Video:
HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 30fps
4K video at 24fps, 30fps, or 60fps
1080p HD video at 30fps or 60fps
720p HD video at 30fps
OIS for video (Wide)
2x optical zoom out, digital zoom up to 3x

Front:
-TrueDepth 12MP, Æ’/2.2

Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3

Rear:
– Wide-angle: 12MP, Æ’/1.8, 1.8µm with OIS and dual-pixel AF
– Telephoto: 64MP, Æ’/2.0, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Ultra-wide: 12MP, Æ’/2.2, 1.4µm with 120-degree FoV

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom
30x “Space Zoom”

Front:
– 10MP, Æ’/2.2, 1.22µm, with dual-pixel AF

Rear:
-Wide-angle 12MP, Æ’/1.6, OIS, 7-element lens
-Ultra-wide 12MP, ƒ/2.4, 120° field of view, 5-element lens, lens correction

2x optical zoom out, digital zoom up to 5x, Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3

Video:
HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 30fps
4K video at 24fps, 30fps, or 60fps
1080p HD video at 30fps or 60fps
720p HD video at 30fps
OIS for video (Wide)
2x optical zoom out, digital zoom up to 3x

Front:
-TrueDepth 12MP, Æ’/2.2

Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3

Rear:
– Wide-angle: 12MP, Æ’/1.8, 1.8µm with OIS and dual-pixel AF
– Telephoto: 64MP, Æ’/2.0, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Ultra-wide: 12MP, Æ’/2.2, 1.4µm with 120-degree FoV

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom
30x “Space Zoom”

Front:
– 10MP, Æ’/2.2, 1.22µm, with dual-pixel AF

Connectivity 5G (sub‑6GHz and mmWave)
Gigabit LTE with 4×4 MIMO and LAA
Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
Bluetooth 5
Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
NFC
Express Cards with power reserve
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou
Digital compass
Wi‑Fi
Cellular
iBeacon microlocation
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
5G (sub‑6GHz and mmWave)
Gigabit LTE with 4×4 MIMO and LAA
Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
Bluetooth 5
Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
NFC
Express Cards with power reserve
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou
Digital compass
Wi‑Fi
Cellular
iBeacon microlocation
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
Operating System iOS 14 One UI 3.1
Android 11
iOS 14 One UI 3.1
Android 11
Water resistance IP68 IP68 IP68 IP68
Security Face ID Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock Face ID Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Color Black, White, Product Red, Green, Blue 128GB in Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, and Phantom White

256GB only in Phantom Gray

Future colors: Phantom Gold and Phantom Red

Black, White, Product Red, Green, Blue 128GB in Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black

256GB only in Phantom Black

Future colors: Phantom Gold and Phantom Red

Dimensions and weight 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm
135g
71.2 x 151.7 x 7.9mm
171g
146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm
164g
75.6 x 161.5 x 7.8mm
202g

  iPhone 12 Pro Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra iPhone 12 Pro Max
Display 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
2,532 x 1,170 resolution
HDR, True Tone
Wide color (P3)
2,000,000:1 contrast ratio
800 nits max brightness (typical); 1200 nits max brightness (HDR)
Ceramic Shield front
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Curved WQHD+
3,200 x 1,440 at 515ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
2,778 x 1,284 resolution
HDR, True Tone
Wide color (P3)
2,000,000:1 contrast ratio
800 nits max brightness (typical); 1200 nits max brightness (HDR)
Ceramic Shield front
Processor Apple A14 Bionic Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100 Apple A14 Bionic
RAM 6GB 12 or 16GB 6GB
Storage 128 / 256 / 512GB 128 / 256 / 512GB 128 / 256 / 512GB
MicroSD No No No
Battery Qi wireless charging up to 7.5W
Up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes with 20W adapter or higher (sold separately)

MagSafe:
Wireless charging up to 15W
Magnet array
Alignment magnet
Accessory Identification NFC
Magnetometer

5,000mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
Qi wireless charging up to 7.5W
Up to 50% charge in around 30 minutes with 20W adapter or higher (sold separately)

MagSafe:
Wireless charging up to 15W
Magnet array
Alignment magnet
Accessory Identification NFC
Magnetometer

Cameras Rear:
-Wide-angle 12MP, Æ’/1.6, dual OIS, 7-element lens, 100% Focus Pixels, Night Mode
-Ultra-wide 12MP, ƒ/2.4, 120° field of view, 5-element lens, lens correction, Night Mode
-Telephoto 12MP, Æ’/2.0, dual OIS, 6-element lens

2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, 4x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 10x, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3, Apple ProRAW

Video:
HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 60fps
4K video at 24fps, 30fps, or 60fps
1080p HD video at 30fps or 60fps
720p HD video at 30fps
OIS for video (Wide)
2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 4x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 6x

Front:
-TrueDepth 12MP, Æ’/2.2

Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3

Rear:
– Wide-angle: 108MP, Æ’/1.8, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Telephoto: 10MP, Æ’/2.4, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 3x optical zoom
– Telephoto: 10MP, Æ’/4.9, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 10x optical zoom
– Ultra-wide: 12MP, Æ’/2.2, 1.4µm with dual-pixel AF and a 120-degree FoV
– Laser AF sensor

10x optical zoom
100x “Space Zoom”

Front:
– 40MP, Æ’/2.2, 0.7µm, with phase-detection AF

Rear:
-Wide-angle 12MP, Æ’/1.6, dual OIS, sensor-shift OIS, 7-element lens, 100% Focus Pixels, Night Mode
-Ultra-wide 12MP, ƒ/2.4, 120° field of view, 5-element lens, lens correction, Night Mode
-Telephoto 12MP, Æ’/2.2, dual OIS, 6-element lens

2.5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, 5x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 12x, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3, Apple ProRAW

Video:
HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 30fps
4K video at 24fps, 30fps, or 60fps
1080p HD video at 30fps or 60fps
720p HD video at 30fps
OIS for video (Wide)
2.5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, 5x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 7x

Front:
-TrueDepth 12MP, Æ’/2.2

Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3

Connectivity 5G (sub‑6GHz and mmWave)
Gigabit LTE with 4×4 MIMO and LAA
Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
Bluetooth 5
Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
NFC
Express Cards with power reserve
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou
Digital compass
Wi‑Fi
Cellular
iBeacon microlocation
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
5G (sub‑6GHz and mmWave)
Gigabit LTE with 4×4 MIMO and LAA
Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
Bluetooth 5
Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
NFC
Express Cards with power reserve
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou
Digital compass
Wi‑Fi
Cellular
iBeacon microlocation
Operating System iOS 14 One UI 3.1
Android 11
iOS 14
Water resistance IP68 IP68 IP68
Security Face ID Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock Face ID
Color Silver, Graphite, Gold, Pacific Blue 128 GB in Phantom Silver and Phantom Black

256 and 512GB in Phantom Black

Future colors: Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown

Silver, Graphite, Gold, Pacific Blue
Dimensions and weight 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm
189g
75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm
229g
160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4mm
228g

Features

Both the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S21 lineups are feature-packed, with just about anything you could want in a smartphone. They’ve got excellent camera performance, top-notch specs, and head-turning designs.

Each phone has multiple camera lenses. The iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 both have 12MP wide-angle and 12MP ultra-wide lenses. The Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus also have 12MP wide-angle and ultra-wide sensors, with an additional 64MP telephoto shooter that should provide much better long-distance photos (if you’re into that kind of thing).

To get a telephoto lens on the iPhone, you’ll have to step up to the 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max models, which have an additional 12MP sensor. The latter also has a larger main sensor for improved low light performance. The Galaxy S21 Ultra takes things to a whole other level, with a 108MP wide-angle, two 12MP telephoto (3x and 10x), and 12MP ultra-wide cameras. This makes it the most versatile of the bunch, but ultimately the best photos will come down to software tuning — stay tuned for our own testing.

As for the specs, you’re getting top-of-the-line performance no matter which phone you buy. Both the Snapdragon 888 and Apple Bionic A14 processors are best-in-class. Unlike in previous years, the Samsung Exynos 2100 shouldn’t be too far behind either based on initial impressions. The Galaxy models have more RAM, but due to iOS optimization, you won’t notice a difference.

Read also: 2021 SoC showdown: Snapdragon 888 vs Exynos 2100 vs Kirin 9000 vs Apple A14

The main thing that separates each of these phones is size. The iPhone 12 Mini is the smallest of the bunch, measuring just 5.4-inches. The standard iPhone 12 is also smaller than the smallest Galaxy S21 phone, at 6.1-inches vs 6.2-inches. The largest devices are 6.7-inches and 6.8-inches, with the Galaxy S21 Ultra barely edging out the iPhone 12 Pro Max as the largest option available.

When it comes to truly unique features, however, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the only one that’s a leg ahead. This year, for the first time, it will have S Pen support — something that was previously exclusive to the Galaxy Note series.

Price

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs iPhone 12 Pro 2

Credit: Adam Molina / Android Authority
  • Galaxy S21: $799/€849/£769
  • S21 Plus: $999/€1,049/£949
  • S21 Ultra: $1,199/€1,249/£1,149
  • iPhone 12 Mini: $699/€809/£699
  • iPhone 12: $799/€909/£799
  • iPhone 12 Pro: $999/€1,159/£999
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: $1,099/€1.259/£1,099

When it comes to pricing, Samsung has stepped back from the exorbitant prices of last year’s Galaxy S20 lineup. Each of the new phones starts $200 cheaper than their predecessors. This makes them attractive options for anyone looking for a flagship Android phone.

The Apple iPhone models are also relatively affordable, with the iPhone 12 Mini providing an inexpensive entryway into the iOS ecosystem. If you can, however, it’s worth bumping up to the iPhone 12 for the added screen real estate.

Related: The best Samsung Galaxy deals

The highest-end iPhone 12 Pro Max starts at $1,099, which is a bit less than the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Considering Samsung’s offering has more impressive camera optics (on paper) and S Pen support, it may warrant spending a bit more.

That said, you’ll have to buy the S Pen separately, which will run you about $30. It’s also worth noting that none of these phones come with chargers in the box. You’ll therefore have to shell out even more if you don’t have one handy.

Samsung Galaxy S21


$799
.00



Buy it Now


Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus


$999
.00



Buy it Now


Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra


$1199
.00



Buy it Now


Apple iPhone 12 series
Four to choose from
There are a total of four new iPhones in Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup: the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Brighter displays, faster processors, and more durable build quality are what you can expect with all four of these new phones.


Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12: Which should you buy?

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12 Pro 3

Credit: Adam Molina / Android Authority

Usually, it’s easy to declare a winner in at least a few categories, but when it comes to the Galaxy S21 series vs the Apple iPhone 12 series, it’s not so simple. All of the phones in each lineup perform extremely well. You’re unlikely to be disappointed no matter which one you pick.

That said, for the very budget-conscious the iPhone 12 Mini is a great option. It starts at $699, which is a full $100 less than the cheapest Galaxy S21 phone. It does, however, have huge bezels, a small screen, and somewhat limited battery life.

See also: Which Samsung Galaxy S21 phone is right for you?

Between the iPhone 12/12 Pro and the Galaxy S21/S21 Plus, the choice will likely come down to whether you want to use Android or iOS. Pricing is almost identical in the US, although in the rest of the world the Galaxy S21 series is slightly cheaper. Feature sets are also very similar. Nevertheless, the S21 series offers larger screens.

If you can afford the best flagship smartphones out there, the Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro Max are fantastic options. S Pen support is a nice touch on the S21 Ultra, but if what you’re looking for is everyday performance and great cameras, they’re both first-in-class. Granted, they’re also very large so be prepared to use them two-handed.

Another thing to keep in mind is that only the iPhone 12 series has officially been released. You can pre-order the Galaxy S21 devices, but they won’t ship until the end of January. We’ll revisit this comparison once we’ve had more hands-on time with Samsung’s latest. Stay tuned for more info soon!


That’s it for our Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12 comparison! Which one are you considering?

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