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.

We're not that far off from finding out just what Samsung has in store for us with the Galaxy S24. Rumors suggest a mid-January product launch at Samsung Unpacked 2024, and at this point, rumors have already painted a pretty extensive picture of what the Galaxy S24 figures to offer. While it may not be one of Samsung's more significant upgrades, major improvements to the display's brightness and the system-on-chip powering the phone figure to be front and center.

The iPhone 16 launch is 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 inches6.1 inches
Refresh rate120Hz (adaptive)60Hz (fixed)
Brightness2,600 nitsUnkown
CPUSnapdragon 8 Gen 3A18
Storage128GB, 256GB128GB, 256BGB, 512GB
Rear cameras50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto48MP main, 12MP ultrawide
Front camera12MP12MP
Battery size4,000 mAhUnknown

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16: Price and availability

We won't know how much either phone costs until Samsung and Apple make their respective announcements. But there's potentially good news on the pricing front for Samsung — the latest rumors suggest there will be no change from the Galaxy S23's starting price of $799.

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 S23'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.)

We've been used to seeing a Galaxy S model debut in the early part of each year, but rumors suggest Samsung doesn't intend to wait around in 2024 to show off the Galaxy S24. Rumors point to a January 17 date for the next Galaxy Unpacked, which would likely mean the S24 ships before the end of January. That would give it an eight month head start on the iPhone 16, which we're not expecting to see until September at the earliest.

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16: Design and display

iPhone 16 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S24

Galaxy 24 renders (compared to an iPhone 16 Pro) (Image credit: PhoneArena)

Leaked Galaxy S24 renders have given us a pretty clear idea of what to expect from Samsung's new flagship, and the answer is a device that looks a lot like the Galaxy S23. While the Galaxy S24 Ultra is tipped to follow the lead of the iPhone 15 Pro and adopt titanium for its casing, leaked Galaxy S24 specs indicate the standard S24 will still use an aluminum frame.

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 for the switch hints at a feature coming to the iPhone 16 — it would allow Apple's entry-level flagship 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 prototypes

(Image credit: MacRumors)

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.

While the Galaxy S24's display size is unlikely to change from its current 6.2-inch panel, Samsung is apparently planning a big improvement. The new phone is tipped to feature a display that claims a maximum brightness of 2,600 nits — a feature that all three S24 models are in line to adopt. It would quite the improvement from the Galaxy S23's current max brightness of 1,750 nits — not to mention the 2,000 nits the iPhone 15 can reach. The pressure will be on Apple to make its own display brighter with the iPhone 16.

Speaking of pressure, you'd think Apple might finally upgrade the refresh rate on the display of its entry-level flagship, but the iPhone 15 remains stuck at a fixed 60Hz rate, compared to the 120Hz variable rate that the Galaxy S23 offers (and that the S24 is likely to feature as well). 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 S23 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Big changes could be in store for the Galaxy S24 Ultra, such as a larger main camera sensor and a higher resolution telephoto lens. But those features aren't apparently going to impact the standard Galaxy S24, as the rumored spec sheet shows a camera setup very similar to what the Galaxy S23 offers. If Samsung's planning a change, it will likely come in the form of more sophisticated photo processing and editing tools fueled by new AI features on board the Galaxy S24. (We'll address those in the software section.)

Right now, iPhone 16 camera rumors are pretty thin, 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.) Since Apple seems to understand the importance of cameras to smartphone buyers, we expect more iPhone 16-specific rumors to surface between now and the fall.

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 with the arrival of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset. That's expected to power the Galaxy S24 — at least for models released in North America — and early leaked benchmarks show some impressive results, especially compared to Apple's current silicon. Qualcomm has said that its latest chip can provide a 30% boost to CPU performance along with 25% faster graphics. 

While that could position the Galaxy S24 to close the gap with Apple's current phones — particularly with graphics testing — the iPhone 16 is almost certain to run on an entirely different chipset. Specifically, 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.

Testing the phones once they're released will be the ultimate indicator of who wins the performance battle, but it sounds like Samsung and Apple are both breaking out the big guns for the Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16 face-off.

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

Apple iPhone 15 review.

(Image credit: Future)

Leaked Galaxy S24 specs indicate that Samsung's using a bigger battery than what kept the Galaxy S23 powered up. Specifically, Samsung is set to turn to 4,000 mAh cell after using a 3,900 mAh battery in the Galaxy S23. That, coupled with the improved power efficiency of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 silicon, could help the Galaxy S24 last longer on a charge.

That would certainly be welcome, as the Galaxy S23 lasted a little less than 10.5 hours on our battery test. That's better than the average smartphone by a half-hour, but it trails the 11-hour mark that the iPhone 15 recorded.

There's very little in the way of battery rumors about the iPhone 16 at this point. We have heard reports that Apple may use a frosted metal shell and new connector for the iPhone 16's battery, with an eye toward better dispersing heat. Overheating caused some performance issues with the iPhone 15 Pro, and Apple obviously wants to avoid that with its new phones.

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

ios 18

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

The Galaxy S24 will debut 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 is what each phone maker plans to do with on-board AI features.

Samsung has already indicated that AI is going to be a major focus of the phones it releases in 2024, the Galaxy S24 included. A leaked version of the One UI 6.1 software that will run on the Galaxy S24 hints at a number of possible features, including smart editing tools that will allow you to move around objects in photos. Generative AI features could help you compose emails, summarize documents and even translate words on the fly, as Samsung is expected introduce its Samsung Gauss tools to its new 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 Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 16 clash gets underway, even with a mid-January release for Samsung's phone likely to happen. While the Galaxy S24's arrival will give us a full picture of what that phone can do, we'll still be waiting for Apple's answer in the form of the iPhone 16.

Between the improved processors and likely AI features coming to both phones, this figures to be a lot more interesting than your usual Samsung vs. Apple comparisons. We look forward to finding out more about each phone and updating this comparison as we do.

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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.