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Flagship showdown: Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Sep 18, 2023 5:13 pm Updated Sep 18, 2023 10:36 pm

The clamor for Apple’s newest smartphones—the iPhone 15 series—has been serious since the tech giant launched them this month, and looks like it’s about to last long. It’s not without a reason, of course.

The all-new iPhone 15 series, unveiled during Apple’s “Wonderlust” event on Sept. 13 (PH time), boasts a slew of improvements and firsts.

The entire lineup—iPhone 15, Plus, Pro, and Pro Max—now comes with a 48MP main camera, multifunctional Dynamic Island, and satellite connectivity for Emergency SOS. After a decade, the tech giant has finally ditched its propriety cable, the Lightning cord, to enable all iPhone 15 series users to charge or share files with a USB-C connector. 

Its Pro lineup is a different story, with both the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max representing "the best of Apple design and industry-first innovations,” says Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

This includes having an A17 Pro chipset, a customizable Action button, faster USB-3 charging speeds, and the iPhone's first titanium body.

Meanwhile, Apple's top competitor Samsung Electronics also prides itself in cutting-edge technology found in its flagship model, the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

The Android handset is equipped with top-of-the-line features, including a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, a 5,000mAh battery, and a massive 200MP main camera with enhanced night mode. Like its predecessor S22 Ultra, the 2023 model has a built-in S pen that can do a myriad of tasks.

Placed side by side with Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max, Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra similarly has what it takes to be among the best in the premium handset segment for 2023.

To give you an idea why, PhilSTAR L!fe made a comparison of each smartphone's key features that could (or could not) make it better than the other.


To start off, the iPhone 15 Pro Max's design showcases two of iPhone's firsts: its Aerospace-grade titanium body which comes with new contoured edges. The result is a smartphone that is lightweight and, at the same time, the sturdiest of all iPhones, with Apple claiming that it is the same metal used on NASA's Mars rover.

Protecting the front of the device is a Ceramic Shield framed by Apple's thinnest borders in a smartphone by far.  

On its left side, the mute switch is replaced with a customizable Action Button, which you can use to enable Siri shortcuts, launch a flashlight, or perform other functions. You can also keep it as a mute switch if you prefer the conventional.

Galaxy S23 Ultra is not backing down on beefing up its design either. The device is built with a frame made out of Armor Aluminum and Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the front and back. It has a curved display and an S Pen hidden in a dedicated slot in the bottom left corner of the device. 

Apart from the build, the difference between the two smartphones' designs is in their weight. The iPhone 15 Pro Max, which measures 159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25 mm, is lighter at 221 grams, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra's 163.3 x 78 x 8.9 mm body weighs 234 grams.

Apple's flagship phone comes with a darker palette of Black Titanium, White Titanium, Blue Titanium, and Natural Titanium. On the other hand, Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra has Phantom Black, Cream, Green, and its more youthful option—Lavender.


Over to their displays, both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Galaxy S23 Ultra did not take much of a big leap from their predecessors.

Same as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, this year's model has a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display with a Dynamic Island punch-hole, which is now found in the entire iPhone 15 lineup.

It has a resolution of 2796 x 1290 pixels at 460 pixels per inch (PPI) and 120Hz ProMotion technology for a smooth scrolling experience throughout the interface. Brightness peaks at 1,600 in HDR mode and up to 2,000 when you're outdoors. 

Apart from giving users an immersive viewing experience, the iPhone 15 Pro Max's display is built with a Face ID facial biometric for security against thieves or, let's say, your nosy friends.

Similarly, the Galaxy S23 Ultra's display has the same specs as the S22 Ultra. The latest model features a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED QHD+ display.

Since this Andoird smartphone has a bigger screen the the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it goes without saying that its resolution is also higher at 3088 x 1440 pixels, with 500 PPI. 

This HRD10+ certified smartphone has the same 120Hz refresh rate as Apple's flagship unit, but a peak brightness that's quite lower—1200 nits in high brightness mode and 1750 nits outdoors.

Another difference is in their front camera setup, with the Galaxy S23 Ultra only having a single, much smaller punch-hole interrupting the phone's display. It also has an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner as a counterpart for Apple's Face ID.


Maximum power is another feature that Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max prides itself in. The premium smartphone is touted by the company as a "ridiculously powerful mobile gaming machine" as it is equipped with Apple's first 3-nanometer chip, the A17 Pro Bionic.

This robust processor comes with a 6-core GPU that Apple claims to be 20% faster than last year's A16 chip. The GPU is backed with the device's support for hardware-based ray tracing and a 2x faster Neural Engine, which altogether enables the iPhone 15 Pro Max capable of running console-level games like Death Stranding and Assasin's Creed: Mirage.

iPhone 15 Pro Max's A17 Pro chip is paired with 8GB RAM and the brand's standard options for storage: 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB.

Samsung is not one to be left behind. The South Korean tech conglomerate packed the Galaxy S23 Ultra with a 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor which Qualcomm claims to be "the fastest Snapdragon ever" with a peak speed of 3.36GHz.

With this powerful GPU and the device's real-time ray tracing technology, gamers and binge-watchers can expect to get life-like renderings of scenes from the device, just like how you do from a PC. All these are backed by 8 or 12GB RAM and your choice of 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB, which all-in-all make the Galaxy S23 among this year's top mobile gaming smartphones.

Gaming, streaming, and other tasks aside, what puts Samsung a step ahead of Apple is the integration of its propriety S pen into its devices. For the S23 Ultra, the S pen functions as a stylus for scribbling down notes and a remote control for your phone. It can also do several tasks like command shortcuts and unlock your handset, among others.

There's also the S23 Ultra's Split Screen and Multi-Window features specially made for multi-taskers who would want to open and run two applications on their phone simultaneously.


The entire iPhone 15 series now comes with a 48MP main camera which debuted with the iPhone 14 Pro Max last year. The high-res sensor comes with focal length options of 24mm, 28mm, or 35mm, and a 2x telephoto that provides users with the iPhone's first three zoom options—0.5x, 1x, 2x—for sharper details on macro shots.

With any of the iPhone 15 models, you can also expect a sharper focus on your photos as its quad-pixel camera is equipped with 100 percent Focus Pixels that easily adapt to the environment or subject you’re shooting.

With the Pro models' Photonic engine, photos now have a default resolution of 24MP which is twice their predecessor's 12MP.

There's also a new 12MP periscope telephoto camera exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which will allow you to take sharp photos with its 5x optical zoom in the same way you would with a 120mm focal camera lens. This camera is paired with another 12MP ultra-wide sensor.

While the iPhone 15's periscope camera is impressive on paper, it only has half the power as that of Samsung. The periscope camera of  Galaxy S23 Ultra offers 10x optical zoom equivalent to 240mm focal length on traditional cameras.

Samsung's flagship phone also boasts a massive 200MP main camera that enables you to keep the farthest details on your photo still sharp as compared to shooting with a 12MP camera. With the ultra high-res sensor, your photos will not lose much detail when they are cropped down as you do with cameras with lower resolution.

Completing the S23 Ultra's rear camera setup is an ultra-wide shooter with the same 12MP resolution as the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Both devices feature a 12MP ultra-wide sensor in front, with Samsung describing theirs as its "brightest low-light portrait selfie camera" by far.

Galaxy S23 Ultra has taken another step forward in the camera game, with its ability to record 8K videos at 24 and 30fps, with improved image stabilization and Staggered HDR. iPhone 15 Pro Max, for its part, will allow you to capture lower ProRES 4K videos with a higher frame rate of 60fps.


iPhone 15 Pro Max's battery comes with a minute increase from its predecessor. The newest model has a 4,422 mAh camera, which is slightly larger than the iPhone 14 Pro Max's 4,323 mAh battery.

While the increase is noticeably minute, the improvements would most likely come from the iPhone 15 Pro Max's more energy-efficient A17 Pro chipset.

Tests done by tech publications like Tom's Guide and Phone Arena proved that the iPhone 14 Pro Max's battery lasts 14 hours. For the iPhone 15 Pro Max, though, Apple said that it is expected to last for a whole day with regular usage‚ such as streaming music and using social media, but lesser when you're binge-watching videos.

Unlike all other iPhone series, the iPhone 15 Pro Max now supports USB-C charging, which is the biggest upgrade Apple aficionados have long been waiting for from the brand.

The device's USB-C port supports 20W wired charging with 10Gbps USB-3 speeds. However, the iPhone 15 Pro Max only comes with a USB 2.0 cord in the box, which has the same charging speed as the brand's Lightning cord of 40 megabits per second.

If you want to juice up your iPhone 15 Pro Max using the device's maximum speed, you would have to purchase a separate USB-3 cord that should be Apple-certified, of course. The smartphone also supports 15W MagSafe wireless charging.

Galaxy S23 Ultra, on the other hand, features a bigger 5,000mAh battery and an even faster wired charging speed of 45W. It also supports 15W wireless charging and comes with a reverse wireless charging feature.

Tech reviewers who took the smartphone for a spin said that the Galaxy S23 Ultra can last for up to a day and a half with heavy usage and up to two days with moderate use.


With all its cutting-edge features found in no other handsets, it comes as no wonder that both the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Galaxy S23 Ultra have become the top smartphones of 2023 so far.

And as anything that's top-of-the-line, the two handsets come with a price tag equally premium as well.

Below are the prices of the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max and its Andoird counterpart, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.

iPhone 15 Pro Max

  • 256GB - P84,990
  • 512GB - P96,990
  • 1TB - P108,990

Galaxy S23 Ultra

  • 256GB - P81,990
  • 512GB - P89,990
  • 1TB - P103,990