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Samsung vs. iPhone: Which One Should You Get?

Updated: May 10,2022

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Without a doubt, one of the biggest rivalries in the tech world is the one between Android and iOS phones. Samsung, as probably the best and most popular manufacturer of Android phones, champions this mobile operating system. On the other side of the battlefield, it’s none other than Apple. So, Samsung vs. iPhone - which one is better? In this review, we’ll compare the phones produced by these two manufacturers across several areas, including design, privacy, performance, and more.

Of course, a lot of differences between Samsung phones and those produced by Apple boil down to how their respective operating systems function, which is a topic we’ll also cover in this article. We’ll focus on their newest flagship smartphones, the best models both companies have to offer: the Samsung Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12. Let’s get started.

iPhone vs. Samsung - Operating System

The winner: Samsung

The most significant point of divergence between Samsung and Apple phones is, of course, their operating systems. Samsung manufactures smartphones that run on Android, while Apple is the sole producer of iOS phones.

So, what is the difference between iPhone and Android operating systems?  First of all, the Android system is much more open, granting users access to core system permissions. This allows Android phone owners to fully customize their devices to their liking.

On the other hand, Apple imposes severe restrictions on system settings, leaving users with very limited customization possibilities.

When comparing iPhone vs. Android, another significant difference you should have in mind is that Android phones are produced by many different manufacturers, while only Apple rolls out iOS devices. Hence, Android phones’ quality can vary greatly from one model to another and from one manufacturer to another, while Apple maintains a similar level of quality across all its devices.

Additionally, Android phones seem to have a much more significant performance drop as time goes by, while iOS smartphones retain their speed for much longer.

Samsung vs. Apple - Performance

The winner: Apple

The core metric to look at when assessing phones by these two manufacturers is performance. The easiest way to compare performance is to look at the processor power. As we’ve mentioned, this involves comparing flagship phones by the two manufacturers. In this case - the Samsung Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12.

The Galaxy S21 rocks a SnapDragon 888 CPU, while the Apple phone utilizes the A14 Bionic process. Test results show that A14 takes the cake in most iPhone vs. Galaxy benchmarks, but the SnapDragon 888 holds its own in some aspects. The SnapDragon has two more cores, is more battery-efficient, supports 20% higher memory bandwidth, and it performed better on the AnTuTu 8 benchmark.

On the other hand, besides performing better on tests, the A14 Bionic has a larger L3 cache size, and its clock speed is 5% above that of the SnapDragon 888. All in all, the newest iOS and the newest iPhone are definitely in the same ballpark when it comes to performance, but A14 Bionic is approximately 5% to 10% stronger in general.

Apple vs. Samsung Comparison - Display

The winner: Samsung

This is one of the areas where Samsung has been traditionally dominant so far. The newest Samsung Galaxy phones feature the powerful 6.2 inches 120 Hz AMOLED screen. The AMOLED screen has an FHD resolution of  2400 x 1080 and an adaptive refresh rate that ranges from 48 Hz to 120 Hz. This makes for a gratifying user experience both during gaming and regular use.

On the other hand, the iPhone 12 utilizes the 6.1 inch Super Retina XDR OLED display. This screen lacks the adaptive refresh rate feature, with the refresh rate fixed at 60 Hz. However, in the Samsung vs. iPhone apple-to-apple comparison, Apple’s device does have a slightly better resolution of 2532 x 1170. Still, this isn’t enough to offset the lack of an adaptive refresh rate, which is why Android is better than iPhone in this area.

Samsung S21 and iPhone 12 - Camera Quality

The winner: Apple

Both the Samsung Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12 come with a 12 MP main camera. The S21 also has a 12 MP ultrawide sensor, a 64 MP telephoto lens, and a 10 MP front camera. Another of Galaxy’s standout features is Samsung Space Zoom, which allows you to zoom in 30x.

The iPhone 12 comes in several variants, some with dual rear lenses and one with the triple camera setup. In this Apple vs. Samsung matchup, Apple is a clear winner, not so much due to the actual camera hardware used, but due to its more advanced CPU. The B14 Bionic’s neural engine works to drastically improve the quality of photos taken by the iPhone 12. These significantly outclass shots made with the Galaxy S21.

Samsung S21 and iPhone 12 - Design

The winner: Tied

Both the S21 and iPhone 12 are similar to their respective predecessors. The newest Android phone’s dimensions are 5.97 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches. It weighs about 5.96 ounces. One significant change is the layout, and the Contour Cut housing of the triple camera system, which is now integrated fully into the chassis. If you’ve previously decided that you prefer the iPhone or Samsung based on the model’s visual appeal, your decision is likely to stay the same with the newest iPhone and Samsung phones.

The new iPhone’s main design change is in the switch from the rounded edges to sharp corners. There really isn’t any metric to state whether this is better or worse - it depends on your preferences. As for its dimensions, the iPhone 12 stands at 5.78 x 2.81 x 0.29 inches, weighing 5.78 ounces. The differences between the two phones here are minimal, with neither being significantly heavier or bulkier than the other.

Samsung vs. iPhone: 5G Support

The winner: Tied

The next-generation cellular standard 5G is set to increase data transfer speeds. Therefore, it’s crucial that new smartphones incorporate support for 5G connectivity as its infrastructure is slowly being built around the world.  Thankfully, both the newest Galaxy phones and the iPhone 12 series support 5G.

In the United States, Galaxy S21 phones can work with any carrier, with DSS and C-band support. Samsung offers both sub-6 GHz and mmWave 5G.

Users unsure whether to go with Samsung or Apple can rest assured that flagship phones from these manufacturers provide an equal level of support for 5G technology.

Security and Privacy

The winner: Apple

Lastly, we take a look at how the Samsung S21 and iPhone 12 handle user security and privacy. As we’ve previously noted, Android is a much more open OS compared to iOS. While there are numerous upsides to Android’s approach, it results in the operating system being more vulnerable to malware.

Besides being more prone to cyberattacks, Google is much more privacy-intrusive than Apple. Various user logs are collected from Android users, while Apple collects little to none. The latest version, Android 11, has seen some improvement, but it’s still losing the iPhone 12 vs. Samsung S21 battle when it comes to privacy. The fact that Samsung employs its Knox security framework on all of its devices helps, but it still can’t compete with Apple.

An Apple of Discord?

According to the final tally, Apple wins by being better in three categories out of seven, with two of them ending in a tie. We know some of our readers will not agree with our judgment, so we just want to clarify this doesn’t mean the iPhone 12 is objectively better than the Samsung Galaxy S12. Some users might value display quality over performance, for example. It essentially boils down to personal preferences. One thing is certain, though: Both flagship phones are extremely powerful devices.


Which is the better phone, iPhone or Samsung?

In the Samsung S21 vs. iPhone 12 matchup, Samsung scores better when it comes to the display and OS openness, while iPhone is superior in terms of performance, camera quality, and security.

Which phone lasts longer, iPhone or Samsung?

IPhones tend to last much longer than Samsung - or any Android phones for that matter - since they suffer only minor performance losses over time.

Why are iPhones better than Androids?

The newest iPhones are quicker, more durable, and are significantly more secure than Android phones.

Is switching from Android to iPhone worth it?

As we’ve laid out in our Samsung vs. iPhone comparison, the iPhone 12 has a faster CPU, lasts longer, and has a better camera. If these are the categories you find important, then switching to iPhone from Android makes sense.

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With a degree in humanities and a knack for the history of tech, Jovan was always interested in how technology shapes both us as human beings and our social landscapes. When he isn't binging on news and trying to predict the latest tech fads, you may find him trapped within the covers of a generic 80s cyberpunk thriller.

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