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iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra: The ultimate speed test

Published Oct 3rd, 2021 9:02AM EDT
iPhone 13 Pro Galaxy S21
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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The iPhone 13 features the fastest mobile processor on the market, Apple revealed during its launch event. That’s not just marketing speak either. Apple has dominated the mobile industry for years when it comes to processors, with the A-series chips consistently outperforming rivals from Qualcomm and Samsung in benchmark and real-life tests. The same goes for the A15 Bionic that powers all the new phones from the iPhone 13 mini to the iPhone 13 Pro Max. We already saw the benchmark tests that prove Apple is right. And now we have a real-life speed test comparison that pits the iPhone 13 Pro Max against the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Real-life speed tests

Whenever we look at benchmarks, we remind you that those tests don’t tell the whole story. They’re helpful at showing the sort of speed gains new hardware can offer compared to previous generations. But it’s real-life speed tests that will show you exactly how well a smartphone performs during regular usage.

YouTubers devised years ago a sort of standard speed test to compare new handsets. Take the brand new iPhone 13 Pro Max and Samsung’s best 2021 flagship, the Galaxy S21 Ultra. These speed tests will put the phones through the same ordeal. The phones will open the same suite of apps for the first time, with a timer measuring how long it takes for each phone to complete the test.

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro
Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Geekbench 5 benchmark scores. Image source: Geekbench 5

A second lap follows, where the handsets reopen the same apps. But this time around, the apps are loaded from memory. Again, the timer will measure how long it takes for each phone to complete the round. The winner is the phone who gets the best overall time.

This speed test should tell you how fast a phone is at opening apps and how well it handles multitasking. The faster the processor and the more RAM, the better the phone should be. Software optimizations also play a massive role in all of this.

iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra

Of all the YouTubers conducting speed test comparisons, YouTube channel PhoneBuff stands out for its standard test. A robot opens the same set of apps on each phone, further eliminating human errors from the whole process. And PhoneBuff just released its speed test that compared the iPhone 13 Pro Max against the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

The two phones had to run the same apps, from web apps that load quickly to more resource-intensive apps that need more time. This test is meant to simulate real-life usage. Someone would move back and forth during the day between browsers, streaming apps, online stores, productivity apps, games, social media, and camera and video processing apps.

iPhone 13 Pro Max Speed Test
iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra speed test. Image source: YouTube

Unsurprisingly, both the iPhone 13 Pro Max are quite fast, especially when it comes to smaller apps. The S21 Ultra is even faster in some cases, thanks to its ample memory. We’re looking at 12GB of RAM, double the iPhone’s 6GB. But as soon as video processing and gaming apps come up, the iPhone 13 Pro Max takes the lead.

The A15 Bionic chip helps the iPhone 13 finish the first lap some 7 seconds ahead of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The lead exceeds 10 seconds after the second lap.

The conclusion is that most people will not notice the difference in performance unless they own both devices and use them for the same tasks. But the iPhone 13 Pro Max has a clear edge over the Galaxy S21 Ultra and will perform resource-intensive tasks faster than the Android handset. Overall, the iPhone 13 will help you save time by performing tasks faster than the competition.

The full video follows below.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.