iPhone 16 Pro Max vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: differences, predictions, expectations

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Intro

Apple’s next beastly smartphone is on the horizon — the iPhone 16 Pro Max should be launching in 5 months or less. And, you know how it goes — high profile phones get tons of leaks, and tons of big name analysts speculating, digging, figuring out what Apple has planned. So, we can kind of, sort of, start getting an idea of what the iPhone 16 Pro Max will be like.

And, of course, we can start asking the bug questions — like how is it going to compare to the big, mean Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra?

iPhone 16 Pro Max vs iPhone 15 Pro Max differences:

Table of Contents:

Design and Size

Important changes

The iPhone 16 Pro Max will inherit the same design we are familiar with — titanium frame, flat sides, Dynamic Island and all. Though rumors do insist an even thinner bezel this year around — with a screen that will now grow to 6.9 inches in diagonal. That would make it ever so slightly larger than the Galaxy S24 Ultra‘s 6.8 inch panel.

The rumors continue to state that the iPhone 16 Pro Max will grow up to be slightly taller and narrower, at 163mm x 77.58mm, whereas the Galaxy S24 Ultra is 162.3 x 79, with some more horizontal width to make the S Pen writing more comfy.

We expect to see the Action Button to make a return — first introduced with the iPhone 15 Pro models, it replaces the Mute toggle and can be programmed to various functions. Rumors also insist that Apple will add another button — a Capture button for the camera. Supposedly a capacitive area, which will let you quickly use or control the camera. We don’t know, but it all sounds very un-Apple to us, to add so many hardware components, but we’ll see.
Samsung doesn’t use extra hardware buttons beyond the power and volume (thankfully, the Bixby button is a thing of the past). But has an S Pen, nicely nested into the bottom of the phone. Both devices will have USB Type C ports on the bottom, supporting USB 3 speeds.

As for colors, we’ve been hearing that Apple is working on another finishing technique that will give us a glossier look, instead of the brushed titanium of the 15 Pro series. Weird, we kind of like the brushed finish. As for colors, they will reportedly circulate around White, Gray, Rose, and Space Black. The Galaxy S24 Ultra comes in a plethora of colors — Gray, Black, Violet, and Yellow, plus three more exclusive colors from the Samsung store — Orange, Blue, and Green.

How you unlock the devices will be a very different experience. The Galayx S24 Ultra uses an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner under the display — it’s excellent, but still requires you interact with the screen of the device. Apple’s iPhones have been using Face ID for years now — just lift the phone up and it’s unlocked.

Display Differences

So, the iPhone 16 Pro Max will have the largest screen on an iPhone ever — 6.9 inches, if the rumors are all on point. It will very probably be an OLED panel (made by Samsung or LG), with a 120 Hz ProMotion moniker. As with the previous models — you will have that Always-On feature, which drops the refresh rate to 1 Hz and keeps your wallpaper or custom picture still over the entirety of the screen.

Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra uses the homemade AMOLED panels, also with a 1 Hz – 120 Hz variable refresh rate. It’s excellent and allows for a lot of tuning from the phone’s settings. It also has Always On, though a bit more conservative. While the iPhone can go all black and clock only for the AOD feature, the Samsungs are pretty much limited to that right now, and can’t do the “all screen wallpaper” while the phone is asleep. We’d say that doesn’t matter much as its a distracting feature anyway, but nonetheless, it’s a thing.

Neither of these phones will get you a complete uninterrupted picture, as each of them has a cutout for the selfie camera on the front. Well, on the Samsung it’s much smaller, as it’s simply a tiny circle for the one camera. Apple has the whole Face ID array mounted there and the cutout is a huge pill-sized hole, which Apple proudly calls the Dynamic Island. See, the software interacts with it and pretends the black bar is a multitasking widget of sorts. Now that is very Apple.

Performance and Software

Delving deeper into 3 nm… for some

The iPhone 16 Pro Max is expected to take another stab at the 3 nm process with its chipset — probably to be called Apple A18 Pro. TSMC has been working hard to improve yield and quality of its new N3E line. Hopefully, we will see better optimizations and thermals to go along with the results of that hard work.

The A17 Pro was already a very well-performing chip. Unfortunately, it needed to throttle pretty fast after a couple of minutes of hard work. Apple did tune it up with a few patches, but it all left a taste in our mouths like the chip didn’t live up to its potential.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 inside the Galaxy S24 Ultra is also quite the preformer, capable of standing toe-to-toe versus Apple’s silicon. Especially considering that it takes a bit more stressing to make it throttle.

So, the new A18 Pro has some work to do — live up to the legacy of Apple chips having incredible performance, but be cool about it, maaan.

It will also probably be paired with a new Neural Engine to take care of new generative AI features that Apple is preparing for us. After all, the future is now, and everything is AI. We are curious to see Apple’s take on the whole thing.

The iPhone 16 Pro Max will also upgrade to Wi-Fi 7, supposedly to facilitate a 4X data speeds over the previously-used Wi-Fi 6E. The Galaxy S24 Ultra already does support Wi-Fi 7.

When it comes to software, we have two well-matured operating systems here — Apple’s iOS versus Samsung’s One UI. Well, in 2024, the battle will not be about split screen and multitasking — it will be about AI. Galaxy AI is already here, and offers article and recording summary, live translations, and generative image editing, which is pretty hit-and-miss. Apple, reportedly, is cooking something AI-related as well, but everything is behind thick curtains. The earliest we might learn what it’s about is at WWDC — in June.

Camera

Ultra Max Super, all of the megapixels
The iPhone 15 Pro Max came with a pretty big upgrade — a new, 5x tetraprism lens over a 12 MP sensor, and it already had a 48 MP main camera sensor from the iPhone 14 Pro. This year, Apple will be upgrading the ultra-wide camera to 48 MP, analysts say. Additionally, Apple is trying to develop new lens coating to deal with the lens flare that has become kind of a meme over the past 4 years — especially night shots are often dotted with small flares of light, captured and bouncing between the phone’s multi-layer lenses.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has a 200 MP main camera, which performs admirably in every comparison, a 50 MP 5x zoom camera, 10 MP 3x zoom camera, and 12 MP ultra-wide camera. Yeah, you read that right — Samsung has two zoom cameras, one dedicated to portraits, the other working hard for that Space Zoom feature (up to 100x).

It’s interesting that Apple is (reportedly) putting focus on the ultra-wide camera here. Supposedly stepping back from the super zoom race? Though, Cupertino has never expressed a clear interest in actually working on those crazy zooms, probably for the better.

Supposedly, the iPhone 16 Pro camera module will benefit from new manufacturing processes that will help it shrink by a little bit. That’d be a welcome change — we really like the discreen lense rings of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, while the iPhone Stove™ design is due for a refresh.

Audio Quality and Haptics

iPhones sound great — especially the ones that have more room for the sound to bounce in. Those being the Plus and Pro Max models. We expect the same deep bass and sparkly highs from the iPhone 16 Pro Max

Samsung has also upped its game in audio over the last few years, especially since it bought audio expert JBL. The Galaxy S24 Ultra has a bit more of a mid hump and less of a deep bass than the current crop of iPhones. It’s not a bad sound, though different. It can sound a bit harsh in the high mids, but the iPhones can distort in the high sparkle. So, both can sound good, but can be pushed to sound not-so-good.

Same with haptics — the iPhones’ Taptic engine has been incredible since inception. Precise and pleasing clicks with every interface interaction. But Android land has caught up, and Samsung’s vibration is almost as good — it’s sometimes weirdly delayed, or not as pronounced. But that’s nitpicking from a person who has to use them both and look hard for those nits.

Battery Life and Charging

5,000 vs amost-5,000

The iPhone 16 Pro Max will supposedly get the biggest-battery-in-an-iPhone-ever — 4,676 mAh. That’s an upgrade over the 4,422 mAh of the previous model, still not quite close to the 5,000 mAh of the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

But… in this universe, it’s not always about the capacity — it’s how you utilize it. iOS is exceptionally good at preserving the battery life and killing ap processes that don’t need to be working. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is already a 2-day phone, easily. The Galaxy S24 Ultra, even though with a bigger tank, does push you a bit more towards the charger.

When it comes to charging, the S24 Ultra pulls 45 W over a wire, 15 W wirelessly. We haven’t heard anything about an iPhone charging upgrade — that would mean a repeat of the 25 W wired and 15 W wireless speecs. Well, Apple could always surprise us.

Specs Comparison

Summary

As usual, we expect the iPhone 16 Pro Max to be a scary competitor for the Galaxy S24 Ultra and a worthy successor the the iPhone 15 Pro Max. As long as the AI features don’t fall on their face, and the camera improvements continue at a steady pace, it’ll be a solid flagship for 2024. Will it be the flagship? Well… stay tuned, as are we.


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