Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16 — how 2024's biggest phone battle is shaping up

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16
(Image credit: OnLeaks / SmartPrix / MacRumors)

If there's a smartphone matchup that figures to define 2024, it's the inevitable Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16 face-off. These two upcoming models represent the most affordable flagships from the two biggest phone makers. What Samsung and Apple do tends to set the tone for the rest of the smartphone world.

The Galaxy S24 kicked off the phone wars when it launched earlier this year during Galaxy Unpacked, so now the ball's in Apple's court to respond back with the iPhone 16. Samsung has certainly raised the bar for all other releases this year, thanks in part to its set of Galaxy AI features that make up the most compelling parts of the phone.

The iPhone 16 launch is still a little bit further off. Barring any surprises, we're not going to see Apple's new phones until the fall of 2024. Even so, details about the next version of Apple's flagship devices are trickling out, with many iPhone 15 Pro features finding their way to the standard model.

This Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16 comparison looks at the upcoming battle between the two entry-level models. (For what's happening on the high end of the product lines, check out our Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. iPhone 16 Pro Max face-off.) It may be early to compare these two phones, but it's already shaping up to be quite an interesting showdown.

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16: Specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Samsung Galaxy S24 (rumored)iPhone 16 (rumored)
Screen size6.2-inch AMOLED6.3 inches
Refresh rate120Hz (adaptive)60Hz (fixed)
CPUSnapdragon 8 Gen 3A18 / A17 Pro
Storage128GB, 256GB128GB, 256BGB, 512GB
Rear cameras50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (3x optical zoom)48MP main, 12MP ultrawide
Front camera12MP12MP
Battery size4,000 mAhUnknown

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16: Price and availability

Samsung kept the pricing of the Galaxy S24 firmly at $799 for the base model with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. What's nice is that there are 7 different color options to choose from if you get the phone directly from Samsung, which is far more than what most phones offer.

A lot can change between now and September 2024, but we'd have a hard time believing Apple would make a change to its pricing for the iPhone 16, especially since the entry-level model currently matches the S24's $799 cost. Apple has held the line on iPhone pricing for the last few years, only increasing the cost of the iPhone 15 Pro Max by $100 over its predecessor. (And in that case, it increased the base storage of the phone to 256GB to take the sting out of the cost.)

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16: Design and display

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung made iterative changes to the Galaxy S24, but otherwise it bears a resemblance to its predecessor. The display and rear panel on the S24 are both flat, joined by an aluminum frame. Where we see the biggest design change are the bezels, since they're trimmed down even more to make it look like the screen covers nearly the entire facade.

Likewise, the iPhone 16 is likely to retain the iPhone 15's basic look with one key difference. Early design prototypes show the rear camera array of the iPhone 16 with vertically stacked lenses; on the iPhone 15, those lenses are arranged diagonally. The likely reason is giving Apple's entry-level flagship the ability to capture spatial video as the iPhone 15 Pro models can do now. This would let you view 3D-like clips on the Apple Vision Pro headset. 

iPhone 16 dummy units

(Image credit: @SonnyDickson on X)

Another design change apparently headed to the iPhone 16 is the addition of the Action button that Apple introduced to its iPhone 15 Pro models. The button functions as a shortcut trigger, and you can customize it to do things like launch apps, turn on the phone's flashlight or fire up the camera. A second button — a so-called Capture button — could wind up on the iPhone 16, too, presumably to give users direct access the camera at any time. Dummy units leaked of the handset alongside other iPhone 16 models allude to this possibility.

Samsung kept the same display size on the Galaxy S24, a 6.2-inch AMOLED panel with a resolution of 2340 x 1080 resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. Even though the company claims a maximum brightness of 2,600 nits, our own display benchmark testing reveals a peak brightness output of 1,340 nits, which is less than the iPhone 15's 1,401-nit reach.

There's not as much pressure for Apple with the iPhone 16, since its current model outshines its rival. However, the biggest area of opportunity for Apple would be to upgrade beyond a fixed 60Hz display refresh rate, compared to the 120Hz variable rate that the Galaxy S24 offers. Don't expect anything to change with the iPhone 15, as display expert Ross Young doesn't expect Apple to use the necessary LTPO panel on its entry-level flagship phone until 2025.

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16: Cameras

Samsung galaxy s24 review

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to the hardware, Samsung didn't make that many changes with the Galaxy S24. It's still rocking a 50MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide shooter and 10MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom.

Despite being the newer phone, we were actually surprised by how things turned out when we took 200 photos between the Galaxy S24 and iPhone 15. This is another case of how a main camera's performance can make all the difference. Knowing how that camera shootout turned out, you could say Apple's in a good position heading into the fall when it's expected to release its new iPhones.

There have been a number of iPhone 16 camera are rumors, with the most of the rumored changes targeting the iPhone 16 Pro models. (The standard Pro could adopt the new telephoto lens Apple added to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and both iPhone 16 Pro models are expected to see a higher resolution ultrawide lens.)

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16: Performance

Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

iPhones usually smoke Samsung's flagships in speed competitions, but things could get interesting now that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset is being fully embraced by Android phones like the Galaxy S24.  Our own benchmark tests show that it's a powerhouse, beating out the iPhone 15 in the multicore Geekbench 6 test. We're even more astounded by its graphic processing power, easily producing the smoother frame rates than the iPhone 15 in 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited test.

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Galaxy S24 benchmarks
Samsung Galaxy S24iPhone 15
ProcessorSnapdragon 8 Gen 3A16 Bionic
Geekbench (single core/multicore)2235 / 69222518 / 6179
Wild Life Unlimited (fps)120.472.1
Adobe Premiere Rush (Mins:Secs)0:410:24.9

Rumors suggest that every iPhone 16 model will feature some version of the A18 silicon currently in development. For the standard iPhone, that will mean jumping from the A16 Bionic straight to the A18 lineup.

That could be a significant move, as the A18 would be built on a 3nm process. The A16 Bionic inside the iPhone 15 Pro is a 4nm chip, and when chipsets get smaller, their transistors move closer together. That generally translates to better performance and greater power efficiency.

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16: Battery life and charging

Apple iPhone 15 review.

(Image credit: Future)

Power efficiency is just one of the key features of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, and as a result, we see greater leaps with the Galaxy S24's battery life over the Galaxy S23.

In Tom's Guide's battery benchmark test, the Galaxy S24 held out for 13 hours and 28 minutes, with its display set to the default adaptive refresh rate. That's more than two hours longer than the iPhone 15, which goes to show the power efficiency of Qualcomm's chip.

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Galaxy S24 battery life
Row 0 - Cell 0 Samsung Galaxy S24iPhone 15
Battery size4,000 mAh3,349 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)13:2811:05
Charging speed25W20W
Charge % after 30 minutes54%53%

There's very little in the way of battery rumors about the iPhone 16 at this point. The only nugget we've seen around the iPhone 16's battery is how nearly all four iPhone 16 models are supposedly getting an increased battery size.

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16: Software and special features

ios 18

(Image credit: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/Shutterstock)

The Galaxy S24 debuted with Android 14 while the iPhone 16's later ship date means it will run on the still-unannounced iOS 18 update. But the real story on the software front are the on-board AI features.

Samsung proved that Galaxy AI offers practical features that streamline process, like the ability to act as an interpreter with Live Translate and the ability to turn almost any video in a slow motion one with Instant Slow-Mo. While these Galaxy AI features were launched exclusively for the Galaxy S24 series, subsequent One UI 6.1 updates brought them to older Galaxy phones.

Early reports about Apple's iOS 18 plans have AI taking center stage as well. Apple may be developing its own equivalent of ChatGPT for the iPhone, which would basically act like a super-powered Siri that's better able to handle complex tasks built around simple voice commands. Thanks to the A18 silicon powering the phone, there's likely to be enough processing power on the iPhone 16 to handle AI tasks on the device itself, which should make for a speedier and more private experience.

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16: Outlook

We've got a long way ahead of us before a proper Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16 clash gets underway, but at least we have a better idea with one of them available right now. The Galaxy S24 indeed does push the boundaries a bit further with its AI-assisted features, long battery life, and outstanding processing performance, but we'll still be waiting for Apple's answer in the form of the iPhone 16.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.