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iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Which flagship phone wins?

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra
(Image credit: Future)

Our iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra face-off is here to crown a flagship king and also help you decide which device is best for you. While both the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Galaxy S22 Ultra have earned a spot on our best phones list, there's plenty of differences between the two devices.

As you'll see in our Phone 14 Pro Max review (starting at $1,099), Apple's big-screen flagship offers a superb 6.7-inch screen with always-on display functionality (a first for an iPhone) and a new Dynamic Island that replaces the notch. You also get a new 48MP main camera and Action mode video for smoother action.

Meanwhile, our Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review shows why this is the best Android phone around, although it starts at an even higher $1,199. The S22 Ultra packs a 108MP camera with a powerful 10x telephoto zoom, a vibrant 6.8-inch display and faster charging. Plus, it includes an S Pen for taking notes, drawing and more. 

So which phone wins? Our iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra comparison breaks it all down. And be sure to check out this iPhone 14 Pro Max drop test to see how it fared against Samsung's best. 

About our expert
Mark Spoonauer
About our expert
Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the Tom's Guide global editor in chief and has been reviewing phones since the original iPhone and Galaxy S series. He spent several hours with the iPhone 14 Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra side by side and tested and reviewed both phones. 

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22: Specs

iPhone 14 Pro MaxSamsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Pricefrom $1,099from $1,199
Screen size6.7 inches (2796 x 1290, 1-120Hz)6.8 inches (3088 x 1440, 1-120Hz)
CPUApple A16 BionicSnapdragon 8 Gen 1
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Cameras48MP (f/1.78) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 12MP (f/2.8) 3x telephoto, 12MP (f/1.78) 2x telephoto 108MP (f/2.2) main, 12MP (f/2.2 ultrawide), 10MP (f/2.4) 10x telephoto, 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto
Front camera12MP (f/1.9)40MP (f/2.2)
Video4K up to 60 fps8K up to 24 fps
Dust/Water resistanceIP68IP68
ColorsPurple, gold, silver and space blackPhantom Black, Phantom White, Burgundy, Green
Rated battery life13 hours 39 minutes 10 hours and 18 minutes
Size6.33 x 3.05 x 0.31 inches6.43 x 3.07 x 0.35 inches
Weight8.47 ounces8 ounces

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Design

Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 14 Pro Max looks almost identical to its predecessor — with the exception of the Dynamic Island. This replacement for the notch animates with everything from alerts and notifications to live activities, and it's a very clever innovation.

For example, you could see a mini music player at the top of the display on the left and a countdown timer on the right, and as developers tap into Dynamic Display you'll be able to access sports scores, the status of your Lyft ride and more. 

iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Unfortunately, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max is an elegant looking flagship with its matte glass back and stainless steel sides, its heavier and thicker than the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Galaxy S22 Ultra. This is partly because the iPhone 14 Pro Max has even larger cameras. 

The iPhone 14 Pro Max measures 6.33 x 3.05 x 0.31 inches and weighs 8.47 ounces, while the Galaxy S22 Ultra is taller and thicker but significantly lighter at 6.43 x 3.07 x 0.35 inches and 8 ounces.

We also like how the Galaxy S22 Ultra neatly integrates the cameras into the rear of the design. There's not a huge camera bump. Both phones offer IP68 water resistance. 

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Display

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra displays

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S22 Ultra starts with an edge both in terms of size and resolution, offering a 6.8-inch display with 3088 x 1440 pixels. The iPhone 14 Pro Max's panel is a bit smaller at 6.7 inches and 2796 x 1290.

Both panels offer 120Hz refresh rates and can go as low as 1Hz. 

The iPhone 14 Pro Max features an always-on display, which is a first for iPhone. You can see not just the time and battery life but also notifications and widgets, and that's because the always-on display is basically just a dimmer version of the customizable lock screen Apple added to iOS 16

iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The AOD on the Galaxy S22 Ultra is also customizable, but it has a simpler, more streamlined appearance. 

In terms of overall display quality, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is pretty stunning. On our lab tests, the iPhone 14 Pro Max reached up to 1,565 nits with HDR content. Apple's panel registered 117.5% of the sRGB color gamut and 83.2 % of the DCI-P3 color space. The Delta-E reading for color accuracy was 0.26, where 0 is perfect.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra display

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S22 Ultra reached a lower 1,359 nits with HDR content, and it registered 137.5% and 97.4% on the sRGB and DCI-P3. And its Delta-E rating was a slightly better 0.25. That makes Samsung’s panel more colorful and accurate but a bit dimmer. Also note that Samsung offers a Vivid display mode if you want even more saturation. 

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Cameras

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra back showing cameras

(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 14 Pro Max and Galaxy S22 Ultra both sit high on our best camera phone list, and that's due to a powerful combination of hardware and computational photography capabilities.

Apple's flagship starts with a new 48MP wide camera with a quad-pixel sensor that delivers brighter and more detailed photos. You also get a new 2x telephoto option and better low-light performance thanks to Apple's Photonic Engine. 

The Galaxy S22 Ultra has an even sharper 108MP main sensor, and it boasts dual telephoto lenses at 3x at 10x zoom. Add in Nightography for low-light photo capture and you have formidable camera phone. 

Let’s start with this shot of pansies. The purple and yellow pops more through the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max brings out more details on the petals. This one is really close.

As for the portrait mode, the iPhone 14 Pro Max and S22 Ultra both deliver a solid image. I slightly prefer the coloring on my face in the iPhone shot, as it looks like a more natural skin tone. And there's more texture in my shirt. 

Turning to this photo of peppers, the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers more contrast and depth as you zoom in, and the colors from the S22 Ultra are a bit too oversaturated. I’d give the edge to Apple here.

With this image of Halloween decorations, the iPhone 14 Pro Max wins for me because the oranges, whites and sunflowers in its photo look richer; there’s also a bit of a haze over the S22 Ultra’s photo. However, Samsung’s phone does a better job illuminating objects in the shadow.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max wins this night mode comparison hands down. The stone wall surrounding the fire pit is much sharper on the iPhone, and the green cushions and surrounding lights are brighter.

Indoors, I give the nod to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. While the iPhone does a better job capturing the flickering candles, the Samsung captures a much brighter image of the boot on the mantle. 

One area where the Galaxy S22 Ultra still wins is zoom. At 15x you can make out more detail in this gross silver and orange slug, and the bark in the tree looks sharper, too. Plus, this is the max zoom level for the Pro Max, while the S22 Ultra can get to 30x and even 100x (with some shakiness).

Indoors at 10x zoom, the Galaxy S22 Ultra struggles a bit with the lighting and coloring, as the black cat and books should be black as they are in the iPhone photo. But when you zoom in, the lettering on the book and the candles are sharper. 

Both the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Galaxy S22 Ultra capture a pleasing selfie. I give the nod to the iPhone with its better detail in my hair, face and shirt. There’s some smoothing going on with the S22 Ultra in my face and the image is a touch hazy.

Winner: iPhone 14 Pro Max

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Video

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a bit more future proof in the video department, as it can record video at 8K and 24 fps. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is capped at 4K and 60 fps. 

To compare video overall video quality, I shot this short clip of a pond and waterfall in 4K @ 30 fps on both phones, and the difference is night and day. The iPhone 14 Pro's footage is much crisper and more vibrant. And while there's a bit of lens flare through the iPhone, the Galaxy S22's video has a much stronger haziness that mars the video. 

When I compared the iPhone 14 Pro Max Action mode versus the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s Super Steady Mode, I found both phones offered smooth footage when running down a hill. However, when I viewed the videos on an HDR display the iPhone 14 Pro Max's clip was significantly brighter, especially in the grass and blue sky. 

Winner: iPhone 14 Pro Max

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Performance

iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 14 Pro Max’s A16 Bionic is Apple’s first chip built using the 4-nanometer process, and it’s once again the fastest chip in a phone. The CPU is rated to be only 10% faster than the A15 Bionic, but it offers 50% more memory bandwidth, which aids gameplay and graphics. 

On Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance, the iPhone 14 Pro Max hit 1,882 in single-core and 5,333 in multicore. The Galaxy S22 Ultra Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip was far behind with 1,249/3,392 on the same tests. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Asphalt 9

(Image credit: Future)

On the graphics front, the iPhone 14 Pro Max notched 12,363 or 74 frames per second on the 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited benchmark. The Galaxy S22 Ultra had a score of 9,499 and 56.87 fps. 

On our video editing test, which involves transcoding a 4K video to 1080p in the Adobe Premiere Rush app, the iPhone 14 Pro Max averaged 30 seconds. The Galaxy S22 Ultra needed 47 seconds.

Winner: iPhone 14 Pro Max

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Software and special features 

Emergency SOS via satellite on iPhone 14

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 14 Pro Max has a number of special features, including the Dynamic Island, always-on on display and and Action mode video.

Coming this fall are two safety features in Emergency SOS vis Satellite (opens in new tab) and crash detection. The former feature will connect you to emergency services when you can't connect via cellular or Wi-Fi, and the latter can call 911 for you in case you are in a car crash and notify your closest contacts. 

The underlying software is iOS 16, which offers plenty of great perks. You can now customize the lock screen, and you can edit and even recall iMessages. There's also a terrific new Fitness app for staying on top of your workout and being active, and iCloud Shared Photo Library (coming soon) makes it easier to share photos with family members.

Apple generally supports its iPhones for at least 5 years, with some phones receiving software updates 6 to 7 years after their release. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra S Pen

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra's hallmark special feature is its S Pen, which is integrated into the design. So you can just eject the pen when you want to take notes, draw or perform finer photo edits. 

Other special features include Director's View for recording with the front and back cameras at once (the iPhone requires a third-party app), object eraser for removing unwanted stuff from your images and the ability to charge other devices with Wireless PowerShare. 

Currently, the Galaxy S22 Ultra runs Android 12, which offers more personalized wallpapers and widgets, smoother performance, a helpful new conversation widget and privacy upgrades. An upgrade to Android 13 could arrive this fall. The S22 series will receive update up to 4 years. 

Winner: Draw

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Battery life and charging

The iPhone 14 Pro Max wins when it comes to battery life. On our web surfing battery test, which is over a 5G connection at 150 nits of screen brightness, this handset lasted an average 13 hours and 39 minutes. That's enough to hit second place on our best phone battery life list.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra lasted 10:18 on the same test, so the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers better endurance. 

Unfortunately, the iPhone 14 Pro Max doesn't charge very fast. We got to only 42% in 30 minutes with a 30W charger (and 50% is the claim). By comparison, the Galaxy S22 Ultra got to 58% in 30 minutes with its 25W charger. Using a 45W charger, this phone reached 67% in 30 minutes. 

Winner: iPhone 14 Pro Max

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Verdict 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 14 Pro Max and Galaxy S22 Ultra are both excellent smartphones, but based on our testing and side-by-side comparisons, the iPhone 14 Pro Max wins this close face-off. 

iPhone 14 Pro Max Galaxy S22 Ultra
Design (15 points)1214
Display (15 points)1415
Cameras (20 points)1917
Video (10 points)108
Performance (10 points)108
Special features/software (10 points)99
Battery life and charging (20 points)1815
Overall 9286

It essentially comes down to the cameras. While the Galaxy S22 Ultra has some key strengths in this area, such as its longer zoom, the iPhone 14 Pro Max generally delivered better image quality. The same thing goes for video.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max also offers stronger overall performance and longer battery life, which are important advantages. 

On the other hand, the Galaxy S22 Ultra wins in some areas. It offers a sleeker and more portable design, a bigger and more colorful display and an integrated S Pen for those who find that useful. Plus, the S22 Ultra has faster charging.

Overall, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is our top pick, but Android fans willing to splurge will love the S22 Ultra. 

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.