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Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12: How do they compare?

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12: How do they compare?
How does the Samsung Galaxy S21 (right) match up against the iPhone 12 (left)?
How does the Samsung Galaxy S21 (right) match up against the iPhone 12 (left)? (Samsung/Apple)

Samsung announced its latest flagship smartphone this week: the Galaxy S21 series.

It comes in three different variants: the standard S21, a slightly larger S21+ and the premium S21 Ultra.

Samsung has been seen as the de facto Android rival to Apple’s iPhones for years, and anyone looking for their next phone will be sizing the two devices up.

Like Apple, Samsung is offering phones at different sizes and focusing on the camera and ‘ecosystem’ of accessories.

How do they compare? Well, here’s a rundown of what Samsung’s new devices offer and also how they compare to the iPhone 12.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+

The Samsung Galaxy S21 has a range of accessories including the Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Watch (Samsung)
The Samsung Galaxy S21 has a range of accessories including the Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Watch (Samsung)

The key features here are that both come with 5G compatibility and a triple rear camera system.

The main difference between the S21 and S21+ is that the former has a 6.2-inch display and the S21+ is slightly larger at 6.7-inches.

Those screens are both edge-to-edge Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O displays, complete with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, which means smoother scrolling on the web and social media as well as when watching video.

The triple rear camera system on the phones is AI-powered to aid with better photo and video capturing, Samsung says, with an improved Portrait Mode and Space Zoom, which allows users to capture images at up to 30x zoom.

Video capturing tools are also well-stocked, with 8K Video Snap allowing users to not only capture 8K resolution video, but also grab clear still images from within that footage.

There is also the new Director’s View mode, which enables users to see and switch between the viewing angles of the different cameras in order to get the shot they’re looking for.

Crucially, all this comes at a reasonable price for devices of this specification – the S21 starts at £769 and the S21+ starts at £949.

And what about the S21 Ultra?

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G will go on sale at the end of January (Samsung)
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is already available to pre-order (Samsung)

The largest of the three new phones, the S21 Ultra comes with a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, which Samsung says for the first time combines both Quad HD+ resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate.

It also has a quad-camera system made up of ultra-wide, wide and dual tele-lenses which include a 108-megapixel sensor.

The Space Zoom feature is enhanced here too, able to shoot images at up to 100x, whole video can be recorded in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second (fps) across all four of those lenses and even the front-facing camera, which is at the very top end of smartphone capability.

The Ultra is also the first Galaxy S series device to be compatible with Samsung’s S-Pen stylus, meaning users are able to make notes, annotate and edit files using the pen.

The S21 Ultra starts at £1,149.

So how do they compare to the iPhone 12 range?

The iPhone 12 Pro models feature a LIDAR sensor built into the camera (Apple)
The iPhone 12 Pro models feature a LIDAR sensor built into the camera (Apple)

The iPhone 12 handsets best comparable to the S21 series are the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The 12 Pro starts at £999, while the Pro Max costs £1,099.

The 12 Pro has a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, which is the same as the slightly cheaper iPhone 12, while the Pro Max has a much larger 6.7-inch version.

Both the Pro and Pro Max have a triple rear camera array of 12-megapixel wide, ultra-wide and telephoto lenses, as well as a LiDAR (light detection and ranging) scanner, which is used for better object detection and room scanning, improve autofocus on subjects in low-light images as well aid augmented reality experiences.

Another notable feature on all four iPhone 12 handsets is the introduction of Ceramic Shield to the display, a type of hardened glass which Apple says is four times more resistant to damage if the phone is dropped.

You can find out more about the iPhone 12 Pro in our full review right here.