iPhone 16 Pro Max vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Which flagship could win?

iPhone 16 Pro Max render next to Galaxy S24 Ultra photo
(Image credit: MacRumors / Future)

While the iPhone 15 Pro Max is currently the best iPhone you can buy, it won’t be for too much longer. In September, Apple will release the iPhone 16 family, with a bigger and better iPhone 16 Pro Max joining the fray.

In the world of Android, they don’t come much bigger or better than the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, which takes the top honor in our best Android phones list. Galaxy AI features in particular add tremendous value for doing complex tasks, like editing photos with the help of Generative Edit. The iPhone 16 Pro Max should offer a similar suite of features from Apple Intelligence, aided by the A18 Pro chipset, but right now we can't say how much it may differ from what was announced at WWDC 2024 for iPhone 15 Pro Max.

While the Galaxy S24 Ultra has been showing it's a top contender in the phone space, it'll be interesting to see how Apple responds when the iPhone 16 Pro Max is expected to arrive. Here’s what we know so far in this iPhone 16 Pro Max vs. Galaxy S24 Ultra conversation.

iPhone 16 Pro Max vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Samsung Galaxy S24 UltraiPhone 16 Pro Max (rumored)
Display6.8 inches QHD+ AMOLED (1-120Hz)6.9 inches OLED (1-120Hz)
ChipsetSnapdragon 8 Gen 3Apple A18 Pro
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Battery5,000 mAh4,676 mAh
Rear camera200MP main (f/1.7), 50MP 5x telephoto f/3.4), 10MP 3x telephoto (f/2.4) 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2) 48MP main 12MP 5x telephoto 48MP ultrawide
Front camera12MP (f/2.2)12MP

iPhone 16 Pro Max vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Release date and price

For the last decade, Apple has announced and released new iPhones in September (with a slight delay in 2020 for pandemic-shaped reasons). The iPhone 16 Pro Max will almost certainly follow suit, so it's more than likely to happen sometime in September to coincide with past releases.

In terms of pricing, given we saw a $100 price hike last year with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, we’re hoping that Apple maintains the same $1,199 starting price for the iPhone 16 Pro Max. It won’t be any cheaper than that, that’s for sure.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra has been out since January 31. It starts at $1,299, with prices rising to $1,659 for a model with 1TB of storage. 

iPhone 16 Pro Max vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Design and screen

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max.

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra looks a lot like its predecessors. Imposing and angular, with a large 6.8-inch AMOLED screen and four camera lenses dotted along the back. There’s also a spot for the bundled S Pen, which docks neatly inside the device (though with a possible controversial odor this time around!)

As the “Max” name suggests, the iPhone 16 Pro Max will also be a large handset — and possibly bigger than ever before. The rumor is that the screen will grow from 6.7 inches to 6.9 inches this time around.

One thing that's sure to get a lot of attention are their bezels. That's because the iPhone 16 Pro Max is tipped to offer the best screen-to-body ratios around with its alleged 1.15mm bezel, which would beat the Galaxy S24 Ultra's current 1.5mm bezels. This matches up to an early CAD render that suggests that the iPhone 16 Pro Max may be taller rather than wider to compensate. It's also rumored that the phone may come with a solid-state capture button on the lower-right side of the device.

iPhone 16 Pro Max vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Performance

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra in hand.

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra gets the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy processor no matter where you buy it in the world. Meanwhile its siblings get an Exynos chip outside of the United States.

Backed by 12GB RAM, this leads to excellent performance. Here it is against the iPhone 15 Pro Max and its A17 Pro/8GB RAM internals:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Samsung Galaxy S24 UltraiPhone 15 Pro Max
Geekbench 6 CPU test (single-core/multicore)2,300 / 7,2492,783 / 6,945
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited (score/fps)5007 / 29.93481 / 20.8
Adobe Premiere Rush time to transcode (mins:secs)0:420:24

As you can see, the iPhone 15 Pro Max wasn’t far behind, however, and the upcoming A18 Pro chipset will inevitably improve on that.

How much of an improvement you can expect is still up in the air, but the 3nm manufacturing process should boost both performance and efficiency, with one leaker expecting the iPhone 16 to eclipse some MacBooks. That said, real-world benchmark leaks have suggested a more modest boost, with the A18 Pro’s performance roughly 10% faster than the iPhone 15 Pro

Two things to note there, however. Firstly, the iPhone 16 Pro Max is still months away, and there’s plenty of time for optimization. Secondly, a 10% boost to Geekbench performance would see the above figures hitting 3,061 and 7,640 respectively — both higher than the S24 Ultra’s scores.

The S24 Ultra is also thoughtfully imbued with artificial intelligence features throughout. It can automatically edit pictures and even offer real-time translation of phone calls.

Apple will also feature a whole bunch of AI extras through the newly announced Apple Intelligence, but with a greater focus on on-device processing. The iPhone 16 Pro Max should also come pre-installed with iOS 18, which itself offers new features like enhanced home screen and lock screen customization and a new Photos app experience.

iPhone 16 Pro Max vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

In our list of the best camera phones you can buy, the Galaxy S24 Ultra comes out on top in the Android category. The quad camera setup is remarkably flexible, capable of taking excellent, detailed 200MP shots from the main lens, and with dedicated 5x and 3x telephoto lenses for longer distance snaps. 

But the Android caveat is important — the iPhone 15 Pro Max is currently our photographer’s choice overall. And with the iPhone 16 Pro Max, we’re expecting small but significant improvements on that strong base. We've already seen the results from our Galaxy S24 Ultra versus iPhone 15 Pro Max camera shoot out where we captured over 200 photos to see which is better.

While the headline 48MP spec may be the same, one leaker thinks that the image sensor will increase from 1/1.28 inches to 1/1.14 inches to improve low-light shots and improve performance with background blur

This, along with a 14-bit Analog-to-Digital Converter for improved data conversion and a Digital Gain Control to improve noise and dynamic range, will reportedly make the iPhone 16 Pro Max an “image flagship”.

iPhone 16 Pro Max vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Battery

iPhone 15 Pro Max USB-C port

(Image credit: Future)

Despite beating its predecessor, the iPhone 15 Pro Max's battery life wasn't a tremendous improvement. Apple definitely has a big challenge ahead of itself if the iPhone 16 Pro Max intends on beating the Galaxy S24 Ultra in the endurance department.

With a time of 16 hours and 45 minutes, the S24 Ultra offers one of the best phone battery life around. One of the leading iPhone 16 Pro Max battery rumors hint that Apple will supply it with a denser battery. This would keep the same footprint, but could boost the battery life to surpass the Galaxy S24 Ultra — especially when it's paired with the power optimizations of the A18 Pro chip.

iPhone 16 Pro Max vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Outlook

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra will comfortably remain one of the big players in the Android space for the rest of the year. High price aside, it doesn’t really put a foot wrong, with superb performance across the board.

On paper, the rumored specs of the iPhone 16 Pro Max may appear a clear win for Samsung, but don’t underestimate the advantages Apple has by making both the software and the hardware. The iPhone 16 Pro Max could offer some serious competition when it launches in September, especially if the A18 Pro chip provides some impressive new AI tricks along the way.  

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.