iPhone 15 Pro Max versus Galaxy S21 Ultra: A showdown between new tech and a seasoned flagship

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Galaxy S21 Ultra: Can an aging Samsung flagship still be competitive?

  Reading time 5 minutes

The iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Galaxy S21 Ultra represent two high-end devices from tech giants Apple and Samsung, respectively. Despite the Galaxy S21 Ultra being an older model, it still packs a punch in many categories. This article delves into performance, camera quality, design, battery life, and software experience to determine if the S21 Ultra can stand toe-to-toe with Apple’s latest flagship.


The iPhone 15 Pro Max features Apple’s latest A17 Bionic chip, promising top-notch speed and efficiency. On paper, its CPU and GPU outperform most competitors, including the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which houses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (in the U.S.) or the Exynos 2100 (internationally). However, for everyday tasks, such as browsing and app usage, both devices deliver impressive performance, and the differences might be negligible for the average user.

  • A17 Bionic Chip (iPhone 15 Pro Max): Superior speed, efficiency, and AI capabilities.
  • Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100 (Galaxy S21 Ultra): Still powerful and capable for most tasks.

Camera Quality

Camera capabilities often make or break a smartphone, particularly at the flagship level. The iPhone 15 Pro Max features a sophisticated quad-camera system with significant software enhancements. Night mode, ProRAW, and improved image stabilization set it apart. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s quad-camera setup, with its impressive 108MP primary sensor and 100x Space Zoom, still holds its ground remarkably well.

  1. iPhone 15 Pro Max: Quad-camera system with night mode, ProRAW, and enhanced stabilization.
  2. Galaxy S21 Ultra: Quad-camera with a 108MP main sensor and 100x Space Zoom, still competitive.


Design preferences can be subjective, but both devices offer premium builds. The iPhone 15 Pro Max retains the sleek, ergonomic design that Apple is known for, with a continued emphasis on minimalism and premium materials. The Galaxy S21 Ultra, on the other hand, features a slightly curved screen and a matte finish back, giving it a unique aesthetic. Both phones are durable and have IP68 ratings for water and dust resistance.

  • iPhone 15 Pro Max: Sleek, minimalist design with premium materials.
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra: Unique curved screen, matte finish, and IP68 rating.

Battery Life

Battery life is a decisive factor for many smartphone users. The iPhone 15 Pro Max benefits from the efficiency of the A17 Bionic chip, offering prolonged battery life for routine usage. While the Galaxy S21 Ultra also provides strong battery performance, the older hardware might slightly lag behind Apple’s latest technology in terms of efficiency and longevity.

Comparing iPhone 15 Pro Max and Galaxy S21 Ultra: Is Samsung's older model still a contender?

Software Experience

Apple’s iOS and Samsung’s One UI (based on Android) offer distinct software experiences. The iPhone 15 Pro Max ships with iOS 17, promising a streamlined, intuitive interface with security and privacy at the forefront. In contrast, the Galaxy S21 Ultra runs on One UI, providing extensive customization and a feature-rich experience. Preference in operating systems remains individual, but both ecosystems have their strengths and unique attributes.

  1. iOS 17 (iPhone 15 Pro Max): Streamlined, intuitive, and secure experience.
  2. One UI (Galaxy S21 Ultra): Customizable with a rich set of features.


While the iPhone 15 Pro Max undoubtedly boasts the latest and greatest technology, the Galaxy S21 Ultra remains a competitive option. Its powerful camera, unique design, and robust performance make it a viable contender, even in the face of newer competition. Ultimately, the choice between these two flagships may come down to personal preference, loyalty to an operating system, and specific feature priorities.


1. Is the Galaxy S21 Ultra still worth buying?

Yes, the Galaxy S21 Ultra remains a powerful and feature-rich phone, making it a good choice even with newer models available.

2. How does the battery life of the iPhone 15 Pro Max compare to the Galaxy S21 Ultra?

The iPhone 15 Pro Max generally offers slightly better battery efficiency thanks to its A17 Bionic chip, although both phones have strong battery performance.

3. Which has a better camera system, iPhone 15 Pro Max or Galaxy S21 Ultra?

Both phones have advanced camera systems, with the iPhone 15 Pro Max focusing on software enhancements and the Galaxy S21 Ultra offering high resolution and zoom capabilities.

4. Which is more durable, the iPhone 15 Pro Max or the Galaxy S21 Ultra?

Both phones have premium builds with IP68 ratings for water and dust resistance, making them equally durable.

5. Do I need to switch ecosystems to use the iPhone 15 Pro Max if I’m currently using a Galaxy S21 Ultra?

If you switch from the Galaxy S21 Ultra to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, you will be transitioning from Android to iOS, so it may require some adjustment to a new ecosystem.