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Apple iPhone 12 Pro Vs. Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus: Face Off

CRN compares Samsung’s recently launched Galaxy S21 Plus with its closest counterpart in Apple’s iPhone lineup, the iPhone 12 Pro.

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, chances are good that it’s come down to an iPhone vs Samsung Galaxy decision.

And if you’re looking for something a bit above the standard smartphone specs, you might want to take a look at Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Plus.

[Related: Apple ‘Very Optimistic’ About Enterprise Opportunity: CEO Tim Cook]

Both feature sizable OLED displays, pro-level cameras, strong battery life and a number of other notable features.

What follows is our comparison of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro vs Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Plus on specs and price.

Display

The iPhone 12 Pro display measures 6.1 inches and sports a resolution of 460 pixels per inch (ppi)--which is above that of the Galaxy S21 Plus at 394 ppi. But the Galaxy S21 Plus screen is significantly larger than the iPhone 12 Pro’s--nearly 10 percent larger--measuring in at 6.7 inches.

However, regardless of size and resolution, neither phone’s display should disappoint thanks to the use of vibrant and colorful OLED screens on both devices.

Another key difference between the two displays is that the Galaxy S21 Plus includes a 120Hz refresh rate, which provides a smoother experience in using the display, such as with scrolling web pages and playing games. Rumors that the iPhone 12 Pro was going to get a 120Hz refresh rate did not pan out, and Apple has stuck with the standard 60Hz refresh rate for the device.

Design

One of the most noticeable updates with the iPhone 12 Pro is that it features a squared-off, flat-edge design. That makes the iPhone 12 Pro a boxier device than the curved-edge iPhones from prior generations. Last year’s redesign also eliminated the border that previously separated the display and the stainless steel enclosure--making the iPhone’s glass flush with the body.

However, this design approach is similar the one Samsung has been using of late for some of its Galaxy S series phones—including the Galaxy S21 Plus, which features a similarly flat display (without the curved edges of some past Galaxy models).

5G Support

With the debut of 5G in the iPhone 12 series, the iPhone can finally match up to Samsung’s Galaxy devices on providing support for high-speed 5G connectivity.

Samsung has stood out in the smartphone market by launching numerous 5G phones since mid-2019. And the Galaxy S21 Plus is no exception, of course.

In terms of the type of 5G service that’s available on the devices, both the iPhone 12 Pro and the Galaxy S21 Plus support the two major 5G versions. I.e., both phones are available with the highest-speed 5G service--known as mmWave—as well as with sub-6GHz 5G connectivity, which is the most widely deployed variant of 5G.

Processor, RAM And Storage

Users shouldn’t notice a major difference on the performance of the two phones in our comparison. The Galaxy S21 Plus is powered by Qualcomm’s new eight-core Snapdragon 888, while the iPhone 12 Pro uses the six-core A14 Bionic chip. While Apple’s A series chips have historically outperformed Qualcomm Snapdragon chips, benchmark scores from Geekbench 5 suggest only a modest performance advantage for the A14 Bionic over the Snapdragon 888.

In terms of RAM and storage options, the Galaxy S21 Plus has two configuration choices. The options are for either 128 GB or 256 GB of internal storage, with 8 GB of RAM in both cases.

The iPhone 12 Pro has more choices on internal storage but a lower amount of RAM. Buyers of the iPhone 12 Pro can choose between 128 GB, 256 GB or 512 GB of storage, while the phone reportedly comes with 6 GB of RAM.

Camera

The iPhone 12 Pro offers a triple rear camera system, with 12 megapixels on each camera—a setup consisting of ultra-wide, wide and telephoto cameras. The wide camera is new, and comes with an improved ƒ/1.6 aperture.

Other key capabilities include a new image signal processor for enhancing photo quality, Dolby Vision HDR video recording and a LiDAR scanner (for enabling improved augmented reality and faster autofocus in Night Mode). The device also includes a large sensor on its wide camera--enabling better photos in low light—and up to 10X digital zoom or 4X optical zoom.

The Galaxy S21 Plus also features three cameras on the rear. The phone’s camera setup includes a 64-megapixel telephoto camera along with a pair of 12-megapixel cameras (wide-angle and ultra-wide).

For zooming purposes, the S21 camera system offers “space” zoom of up to 30X as a new zoom lock feature that provides clearer photos by compensating for shaky hands while zooming.

Battery Life

On battery life, Samsung doesn’t want to make any promises on hours of usage for the Galaxy S21 Plus—instead pointing to the fact that the device has a large battery, 4,800 mAh, as proof of lengthy battery life for the device.

That’s a lot bigger than the battery on the iPhone 12 Pro, which has been reported at 2,815 mAh. However, Apple does give some sense of possible battery life on the iPhone 12 Pro, with the company saying the device can get up to 17 hours of video playback.

Additional Features

For the iPhone 12 Pro, the re-design of the device has also improved durability. The display features what Apple is calling “Ceramic Shield” material, enabling drop protection that is now 4X better.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 Pro now supports magnetically attachable MagSafe accessories. The accessories can snap onto the back of the phone, as a new way to provide wireless charging.

Other key features on the Galaxy S21 Plus include improved support for the DeX Android desktop. The S21 Plus now supports wireless connectivity to DeX on PCs and Macs, in addition to wireless connectivity to displays that support Miracast.

Price

For the starting models of both the iPhone 12 Pro and Galaxy S21 Plus—with 128 GB of internal storage in both cases—Apple and Samsung have actually landed on identical pricing. That is, the starting iPhone 12 Pro price and Galaxy S21 Plus price are both $999 (or $999.99 for the S21 Plus if you want to be exact).

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