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Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12: Which should you buy?

By Prakhar Khanna January 21, 2021, 11:01 am
Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12

Samsung’s 2021 Galaxy flagship is official. The vanilla variant sports a “compact” 6.2-inch display with slim bezels and an Infinity-O display. It is powered by the latest Qualcomm SoC and packs new cameras. Hence, it is natural to compare it with the Apple counterpart. The Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12 lie in the same price segment. Therefore, here is a Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12 comparison.

Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12: Specifications

Samsung Galaxy S21Apple iPhone 12
Display6.2-inch Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED 2X
2400 x 1080 pixel-resolution
120Hz refresh rate
421 PPI pixel density
1300 nits peak
Gorilla Glass 7 
6.1‑inch OLED display
2532 x 1170-pixel resolution
60Hz refresh rate
460 PPI
1200 nits peak brightness
Ceramic Shield
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 888 / 
Samsung Exynos 2100
Apple A14 Bionic
Storage128GB / 256GB64GB / 128GB / 256GB
12MP primary (f/1.8, OIS)
12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2, 120°)
64MP telephoto (f/2.0, OIS)
3x hybrid optical zoom

10 MP
12MP primary (f/1.6, OIS)
12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4, 120°)
2x optical zoom out
Digital zoom up to 3x

4K at 30/60 FPS
8K at 30 FPS
FHD at 30/60/120 FPS
Slo-mo HD at 960 FPS
4K at 24/25/30/60 FPS
HD at 25/30/60 FPS
Slo-mo 1080p at 120/240 FPS
IP RatingIP68IP68
Weight171 grams162 grams
Dimensions151.7×71.2×7.9 mm146.7×71.5×7.4 mm

Display and Design

Samsung Galaxy S21 render credit Evan Blass Voice

The Samsung Galaxy S21 features a 6.2-inch Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 2400 x 1080 pixel-resolution and 421 PPI pixel density. It supports a 120Hz refresh rate and is claimed to go up to 1300 nits peak brightness. The display is protected by the Gorilla Glass 7. It measures 151.7×71.2×7.9 mm, which is bigger and slightly thicker than the iPhone 12. Moreover, it is heavier at 171 grams.


To be curved or not to be

The iPhone 12, on the other hand, features a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display. It comes with a 2532×1170-pixel resolution at 460 PPI and offers a 2000000:1 contrast ratio. The company claims it can go up to 625 nits brightness (typical) and 1,200 nits brightness (HDR). However, the refresh rate is limited to 60Hz. It supports Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG. Moreover, the iPhone 12 sports flat edges with aluminum railings on all four sides.

Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12

If you are anything like me, you won’t have trouble reaching the top of the display. It comes re-architected to pack new technologies in a smaller form factor. The display has Ceramic Shield that makes 4X better drop performance. It measures 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm and weighs 162 grams. It feels good in the hand but the palms could start hurting after prolonged usage.

Hardware and Battery

The new Galaxy flagship is powered by the latest and greatest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC with Qualcomm Kryo 680 that generates up to a 25% uplift in overall CPU performance and allows top frequencies of up to 2.84GHz. It is paired with Adreno 660 GPU that delivers up to 35% faster graphics rendering compared to the previous generation. The smartphone comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage options. Further, it packs a 4,000mah battery.

Flagship-level performance all-around

By contrast, the iPhone 12 is powered by the Apple A14 Bionic chipset, which is built on a 5nm process. It features 11.8 billion transistors that offer an increase of over 40% vs A13 processor. The 6-core GPU is 50% faster than the competition. It comes with a 16-core NPU that is 80% faster. Further, the chipset has 2nd gen ML accelerators that are up to 70% faster. It is teased to be a huge leak forward in iPhones. The base variant offers 64GB of internal storage. It is claimed to last as much as the iPhone 11 and in my usage, it lasted for an entire day easily. The speakers are loud, but they are average at high volume in terms of clarity. Both of these phones support 5G.


The Samsung Galaxy S21 sports a triple rear camera setup of 12MP primary (f/1.8, OIS) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2, 120°) + 64MP telephoto (f/2.0, OIS) lens that supports 3x hybrid optical zoom. The latest Samsung smartphone can shoot 4K at 30/60 FPS, 8K at 30 FPS, FHD at 30/60/120 FPS, and Slo-mo HD at 960 FPS.

The best cameras in the segment?

On the other hand, the latest iPhone sports a lesser number of cameras. It comes equipped with a dual rear camera setup. There’s a primary 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens having an f/2.4 aperture with a 120-degree field of view. The secondary 12MP wide sensor has an f/1.6 aperture with a 26mm focal length. There is a 7 element lens that brings 27% improvement in low light performance. Computational photography has Smart HDR3 that understands scenes with machine learning. Further, Night Mode expands on all cameras including the ultra-wide and selfie shooter.

iPhone 12 camera

In broad daylight, the difference between a Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy S and Note series, and the latest iPhones, is blurring. The iPhone 12 captures sharp, and detailed images in broad daylight. It’s the night and indoor lighting conditions where the difference with the competition is noticeable. 

Galaxy S21 vs iPhone 12: Verdict

It depends on your use case. If you want the smallest phone that can last all day, has a flagship camera experience, exceptional performance, and support for at least 5 years, look at the iPhone 12. On the other hand, if you want the latest and greatest of the Android world, with excellent cameras and a gorgeous display, you can go with the Samsung Galaxy S21.

Samsung-Galaxy-S21-5G-Phantom Violet

Galaxy S21 - Phantom Violet

This new Purple-Gold combination looks gorgeous! IIt has lilac on the rear with matte finish and a gold strip around the edges as well as the camera module. It is quite unique.

iPhone 12 battery drain

Apple iPhone 12

Right out of the box, you’ll notice how compact the iPhone 12 actually is. I never thought I’ll be calling a 6.1-inch display clad phone “compact” but with time, the perspective for the term has changed. In a world of 6.7-inch+ Android smartphones, the iPhone 12 is a breath of fresh air.


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