Galaxy S21 or iPhone 12? How Samsung and Apple smartphones stack up

Brett Molina, USA TODAY
·4 min read
The new Galaxy S21 smartphones: S21 Ultra, which starts at $1,199.99; the S21+ ($999.99), and the S21 ($799.99).
The new Galaxy S21 smartphones: S21 Ultra, which starts at $1,199.99; the S21+ ($999.99), and the S21 ($799.99).

It's not just the CES trade show that had tech fans buzzing this week. Samsung finally revealed its latest Galaxy smartphones.

On Thursday, the company announced the Galaxy S21, along with the Galaxy S21+ and S21 Ultra. Pricing starts at $799.99, and all models arrive Jan. 29.

Samsung's Galaxy has positioned itself as one of the most popular Android phones available on the market, rising to become a notable rival to Apple's iPhones.

So how does the latest Galaxy compare to iPhone 12, the newest Apple smartphone? Here's a quick breakdown.

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S21 vs. iPhone 12

Screen: The S21 has a 6.2-inch AMOLED screen that's HDR10+ certified and boasts a 120 Hz refresh rate. As with earlier models, it also uses eye comfort shield to help reduce eye strain. The iPhone 12 has a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display with 2532-by-1170-pixel resolution.

Size: The iPhone 12 is a hair smaller than the S21, but they're very close in size. Both phones weigh just under 6 ounces, and are 2.8 inches wide. The S21 is slightly longer (5.97 inches versus 5.78 for iPhone 12).

Key features: The big option on the S21 are Galaxy SmartTags, which work similarly to the Tile. You attach them to a key fob or backpack or another item you worry about losing, and you can keep track of it using a smartphone app. It also offers the Telephoto lens, unlike Apple. The iPhone 12 is the first Apple phone to support 5G, while S20 models from Samsung did previously, too. The iPhone 12 sports a redesigned look, with less of a rounded edge and a ceramic shield capable of withstanding drops. The S21's new design uses a Contour Cut Camera housing, protecting it in metal to the phone's edge.

Price: The S21 is priced at $799.99 for 128GB, and iPhone 12 is $799 for 64GB.

Apple iPhones
Apple iPhones

S21+ vs. iPhone 12 Pro

Screen: Unlike the iPhone 12 Pro, which boasts the same 6.1-inch display as the standard iPhone 12, the S21+ bumps up to a 6.7-inch screen.

Size: The iPhone 12 has the same dimensions as the standard iPhone 12, but it's just over 6 ounces. The S21+ weighs 7 ounces, and is more than 6 inches long, lining up more closely in size to the iPhone 12 Pro Max model.

Key features: For the iPhone 12 Pro, you add a Telephoto lens and ProRAW, a tool that offers more control over editing photos. For the S21+, the big selling point here appears to be the big upgrade in screen size.

Price: The S21+ starts at $999.99 for the 128GB model, and iPhone 12 Pro is $999 for 128GB.

S21 Ultra vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max

Screen: The S21 Ultra has a 6.8-inch screen, while the Pro Max measures at 6.7.

Size: Both phones weigh over 8 ounces. The S21 Ultra is a bit longer (6.5 inches vs. 6.33) but the Pro Max is a bit wider.

Key features: The Pro Max camera system features some subtle upgrades from the Pro, such as better zoom and a higher aperture. The S21 Ultra has four cameras on the back (not a misprint), featuring two telephoto lenses, and 100x space zoom.

Price: The S21 Ultra starts at $1,199.99 for 128GB, while the Pro Max starts at $1,099 for 128GB.

Didn't you forget battery life?

It's hard to compare Galaxy and iPhone based on the information available as of publishing. Samsung says the S21 has a 4000mAh battery, a 4800mAh for the S21+, and a 5000mAh for the Ultra. So how much battery life does that translate to? It's tough to gauge, and Samsung did not provide specifics, but typically the bigger the battery, the more you'll get out of it.

For Apple, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has slightly better battery life than the Pro and standard models. It boasts up to 20 hours of video playback, 12 hours of streaming video and 80 hours of audio. For the standard and Pro, it can handle up to 17 hours of video playback, 11 hours of streaming and 65 hours of audio playback.

Both the Galaxy and iPhone support wireless charging.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Samsung Galaxy S21 or Apple's iPhone 12? Comparing the two smartphones