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Technology.

Updated: 27 Jun 2022

Apple iPhone vs Samsung Galaxy mobile phones

What's better, Samsung or Apple? Find out which flagship mobile phone is worth your money
Which?Editorial team
Apple vs samsung

Apple and Samsung are the titans of the smartphone world, but which is the best brand to go for? Here, we explore the features that separate the two.

If you're looking for a high-end mobile phone, two of the most popular options on the market are the Apple iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S series, running on Android.

Each year these phones compete with the latest features, camera technology and designs at the premium end of the market, with the very best handsets costing upwards of £1,000.  It's now common to see multiple variations of these flagships, typically a standard model, a 'Plus' or 'Pro' version with enhanced features and/or a larger display, and the very top end 'Ultra' or 'Max'. Choosing between them, and weighing up the benefits against more affordable phones by these brands, is no easy task. We're here to help.

Check our mobile phone deals page for some of the hottest discounts on handsets, or head to all of our Samsung mobile phone reviews and Apple iPhone reviews to see how they score.


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The new Apple iPhone 13 and Samsung Galaxy S22 range

Apple's iPhone 13 is the standard flagship phone in its latest range released in October 2021. It has a 6.1-inch OLED display with a high 2,532 x 1,170 resolution. It has the same dual-camera set up as its predecessor, but it comes with new features like sensor-shift image stabilisation, a new cinematic mode and lots of photographic styles. However, it doesn't have a telephoto camera or ProMotion technology on the screen like on the iPhone 13 Pro models. See if it measured up to expectations in our iPhone 13 review

Samsung's standard Galaxy S22 5G released in March 2022 looks similar to its predecessor with a few notable upgrades. It has a 6.1-inch OLED display with 2,340 x 1,080 resolution. The 50Mp wide, 10Mp telephoto, 12Mp ultra-wide and a 10Mp selfie camera promise versatile shots. But it has a smaller battery than the 2021 standard flagship, so see how it fared in our full Samsung Galaxy S22 5G review.

Cheap Apple iPhones and Samsung phones

The iPhone SE is Apple's answer to a mid-range phone. In March 2022 Apple released the third SE model with a pleasant surprise - it's powered by the same top-level A15 Bionic Chip as in the iPhone 13. But it's only got one rear camera lens and it has a small screen by modern standard (4.7-inches). Find out if this phone is for you in our iPhone SE 2022 review.

Samsung's A range is where you'll find Samsung's cheapest phones. The Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G is a mid-range phone released in September 2021. The cameras are easy to use and come with several settings and modes to peruse. The 6.5-inch OLED screen is made from durable Gorilla Glass. Interested? Find out more in the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G review.

Apple iPhone vs Samsung Galaxy S

We narrow down some of the most important smartphone features and pit these two tech behemoths against each other to help you find your perfect fit.

Phone design

Apple’s iPhones have come a long way since the rounded, plastic-backed iPhone first released in 2007. Newer models now take on a sleeker glass and stainless steel design that aim to turn heads. One distinguishing feature of iPhones is the 'notch' at the top – this houses the front camera and Face unlock sensor, and though it has become quite iconic, doesn't appeal to everyone.

Like Apple, Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones have veered away from the plastic design. The S6 Edge was the first of its models to feature its innovative ‘dual-edge’ display in 2015, and the range has evolved since with larger displays and thinner bezels. Samsung now uses more subtle 'holepunch' front cameras – a small hole to house the lens rather than a notch, which can make the display seem more immersive. 

In both cases, expect some of the very latest screen technologies, with high resolutions, sharp images, and accurate colours. There's rarely much to choose from on this front.

Screen size and resolution

Apple offers three versions of the iPhone 13. The 13 and 13 Pro actually have the same size display – 6.1-inches, and the same resolution – 1,170 x 2,532. The iPhone 13 Max is larger, with a 6.7-inch screen and 1,284 x 2,778 resolution.

Samsung takes a slightly different approach. It's 'standard' S21 has a 6.2-inch display (1,080 x 2,400), and the S21 Plus bumps this to 6.7-inches, with the same resolution. The S21 Ultra boasts a 6.8-inch display and 1,440 x 3,200 resolution.

The two phones have differing display types. The newest iPhones have a Super Retina XDR OLED display while Samsung's new models come with Dynamic AMOLED displays.

AMOLED displays allow control over each individual pixel, which in theory produces better picture quality. AMOLEDs also have better overall power consumption than OLEDs, but can use more power when displaying brighter colours and aren’t as visible in sunlight as OLED displays.

One of the most important factors for many people is handset size – but bear in mind that with different screen to body ratios, physical dimensions are a better indicator of this than display size.


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Camera

Cameras are what drive demand for many high-end phones, and neither Samsung or Apple shirk their responsibilities when it comes to pushing the boundaries of technology.

Like on the iPhone 12, Apple has continued to embrace the benefits of multiple lenses and includes a 12MP wide and 12MP ultrawide on the iPhone 13. The 13 Pro adds an additional 12MP telephoto lens and a TOF (time-of-flight) lens to help improve photo effects. All three models also have a 12MP selfie camera.

Samsung has a three lens array on the standard S21 – a 12MP wide, 64MP telephoto and 12MP ultrawide. This is the same as the Pro, but the Ultra gets a boost with a 108MP wide angle lens, 10MP periscope telephoto lens, 10MP telephoto lens and 12MP ultrawide lens. 

Samsung Galaxy loyalists can make use of ‘Scene Optimiser’ to automatically adjust and improve scene quality when the camera recognises the object or scene in the frame. Modes include food, animals, greenery, beaches and sunsets.

Apple is no slouch in the camera department either – it offers a range of genuinely useful and dramatic post-processing effects to enhance your photos. You'll find features such as Smart HDR – blending multiple photos for the best shot, and the ability to change the depth of field of images after they’ve been taken.

Whichever of the two smartphones you opt for, rest assured both Apple and Samsung are right up there when it comes to some of the best and most advanced camera technology.


For more tips on smartphone photography, read our guide on how to buy the best camera phone


Storage

Apple users have long dealt with the woes of running out of space on their phone. iPhones don’t come with a micro-SD card to expand internal storage, so you need to think carefully about storage configuration before you buy. This year Samsung users join them – none of the new S21 range have a micro-SD card slot to expand storage.

Deciding how much you'll need before you buy is therefore important. The iPhone 13 and Samsung models start at 128GB capacity, which should be enough for most. At the top end, the S21 Ultra is available with 512GB of storage, and the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max go up to 1TB.

Operating system

Famous for its in-house expertise, Apple iPhones use the iOS operating system. It may not be as much as of a behemoth as Android but iOS is owned by Apple, meaning that the manufacturer has more control over producing updates, security patches and rolling these updates out to its devices, than users of Google's Android operating system.

Samsung is the biggest smartphone brand in the world and the largest smartphone manufacturer running on the Android operating system. Samsung Galaxy devices are typically launched with the newest version of Android’s software. To optimise the use of its devices, Samsung has ‘One UI’, an operating system skin to overlay Android that offers a range of visual and functional improvements.

Value for money

When it comes to these two tech titans, their premium smartphone ranges sit very close to each other in price.

For the first time in 2018, the iPhone toppled over the £1,000 threshold, making it one of the most expensive smartphones ever made. For those looking for a better deal with the iPhones, Apple had introduced the iPhone XR (£749), as a less expensive alternative to the iPhone XS (£999) and XS Max (£1,099). 

It has maintained the same structure with the iPhone 13 range. At release, the iPhone 13 cost £779, the 13 Pro £949, and the Pro Max £1,049. 

Samsung’s Galaxy range is very similar in price to Apple's main range of iPhones. The Samsung Galaxy S22 cost £769 at launch, the S22+ £949, and the S22 Ultra an eye-watering £1,149. 

Looking for a pair of headphones for your new mobile phone? Read our guide on the best wireless headphone deals.

Other smartphones from Samsung and Apple

If your eyes are still watering from reading those prices, fear not. Both Samsung and Apple offer cheaper phones that may well be worth considering. 

Samsung Galaxy A series

Galaxy A models come in at a level below the Galaxy S range. They're mid-range handsets that aim to strike a balance between price and performance. They may lack some of the most sophisticated functions of their bigger brothers, and their design is a little more functional than fanciful, but they're an appealing choice for those who want a smartphone that can do everything they ask of it – without spending more than £30 per month on a contract.

Samsung Galaxy J series

The Galaxy J line is the entry-level, budget friendly option. They aren't quite as cheap as some other manufacturers' budget handsets, but in return you get the Samsung stamp of quality – and a mobile phone that feels more expensive than it actually is. If you don't use your smartphone for much more than the basics, this is a very valid option.

Apple iPhone SE

Following the success of the original, Apple re-released an all new SE in 2020 and then again in 2022. It's by far the brand's most affordable smartphone with the 2022 model starting at £419. It offers a 4.7-inch HD display (1,344 x 750 pixels), Apple's A15 chipset, one 12Mp wide-angle rear camera lens and a single front 7Mp front camera. It's already proven popular among those who don't like larger phones. Read our iPhone SE 2022 review for more.

Apple iPhone 13 Mini

Hot on the heels of the 12 Mini the 13 Mini arrived. It's still a relatively small phone, at 5.4-inches display size, but it's packing far more advanced features that are more comparable to the iPhone 13. You'll find a higher resolution 2,340 x 1,080 display and dual 12MP rear cameras (including ultra-wide), along with a powerful processor. It's not cheap though –£679, so is more suited to those who want a premium phone in a compact size. Read our iPhone 13 Mini review for more.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro

Other mobile phone brands: Motorola, Google, Xiaomi and more

There's plenty of choice in the smartphones market outside Samsung and Apple, and plenty of quality too - we regularly uncover Best Buys from rival brands.

Motorola

A popular 'budget' brand, Motorola has a range of very competitively priced models, and are a favourite among users who don't want to spend a fortune on a phone. Our tests have shown that it's capable of both Best Buys and Don't Buys, so check our Motorola mobile phone reviews to make sure your money's spent wisely.

Xiaomi

If you're after a brand that provides value for money, look no further than Xiaomi. While it does produce high end phones, Xiaomi has a wide range of cheap yet feature-packed models that have seriously impressed. It is capable of producing a stinker though, so read our Xiaomi smartphone reviews before you buy.

Google

Google aims for quality over quantity - it has a limited range but the phones are popular with budding smartphone photographers, and those who appreciate timely operating system updates - Google does own Android, after all. Browse our Google smartphone reviews to see if they tick the boxes elsewhere.

OnePlus

OnePlus has really upped its game in recent years, and its flagships can now challenge those of Apple and Samsung. Prices have risen as well, though, so you might want to consider a range of cheaper OnePlus models. Head to our OnePlus smartphone reviews to check them out.

Other mobile phones

We've tested nearly 200 mobile phones to bring you a definitive verdict on your next model – from old-hands Sony and Nokia to new kids on the block Oppo and Realme. Browse all our mobile phone reviews to find the perfect model.

How we rate smartphones

Each and every mobile phone that passes through our test labs is subjected to the same set of tough lab tests. This enables us to compare them side-by-side and tell you which are worthy of your money. You can use our test results to avoid slow phones that can't take decent photos, and instead spend your money on a good-quality model that won't constantly need recharging.

We examine everything, including processor speed, screen and camera quality, battery life and call quality.

Our tests are unique. For example, when testing how quick each phone is, we don't just use the industry-standard speed tests, but we also rate what it's like in everyday use. Our testers assess whether the phone is sluggish when swiping through menus and how quickly it opens webpages. All these factors enable us to generate our star ratings and give every phone a score.

Browse all our Samsung reviews and Apple iPhone reviews to see which models impressed in our test labs.