iPhone 13 vs Galaxy S21

Apple unveiled the latest addition to its flagship iPhone line in October, earning four and a half stars from us across the board. But, how does the iPhone 13 compare to Samsung’s Galaxy S21? 

Apple released four phones this year – the iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 Mini, the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. To find out how the 13 differs from the 13 Pro, you can visit our guide. 

Samsung launched three Galaxy S21 models earlier this year, including the S21, the S21 Plus and the S21 Ultra. We awarded the S21 and the Plus four stars, while the S21 Ultra received four and a half. Head to our guide to see how the S21 and the S21 Ultra compare. 

If you’re interesting in finding out how the iPhone 13 measures up to the Galaxy S21 in terms of performance, specs, camera and design, keep reading… 

Samsung Galaxy S21
Galaxy S21

Pricing and availability 

The iPhone 13 launched in October 2021, with prices starting at £779/$799/€909 for the base 128GB model. You can also get the phone with 256GB for £879/$899/€1029 or 512GB for £1079/$1099/€1259. 

The Galaxy S21 was unveiled 10 months prior in January 2021. The phone starts at £769/$799/€799 for 128GB, with prices going up to £819/$849/€849 for 256GB. If you want 512GB of storage you’ll need to upgrade to the top-of-the-line Ultra model. 

That puts the two phones at a very similar level price-wise, with only £10 between them in the UK. That said, the S21 is just slightly cheaper. 

iphone 13 next to the box
iPhone 13

Screen and design 

The iPhone 13 features a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display with a resolution of 2532 x 1170. 

The Galaxy S21 packs a slightly larger 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a lower resolution of 2400 x 1080 but the added benefit of a 120Hz refresh rate – something you’ll only find on the Pro model in Apple’s current line up. 

When it comes to design, the iPhone 13 measures 146 x 71.5 x 7.65mm and weighs 173g. The phone features a glass back and aluminium design and comes in five colours – Product Red, Starlight, Midnight, Blue and Pink. 

The S21 is slightly taller and thicker at 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm, but lighter at just 169g. The phone has a plastic back and comes in a four colours, including Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom White and Phantom Pink. 

Both phones include a water resistance rating of IP68, meaning they can handle being submerged in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes. 

Samsung Galaxy S21
Galaxy S21

Specs and camera 

The iPhone 13 is powered by Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chipset, with a six core CPU, a four core GPU and a 16 core Neural Engine. It comes with 4GB of RAM. 

The 5nm chip powers Apple’s new Cinematic mode and features like Live Text that can pull addresses and phone numbers from your photo library. It’s also capable of running countless games with Apple Arcade. 

The Galaxy S21 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset in the US or the Exynos 2100 in Europe, including here in the UK. It comes with 8GB of RAM – twice that in the iPhone 13. 

We found the Exynos 2100 to be a major step-up from previous Exynos chipsets. Like the A15, the 2100 is based on a 5nm process, allowing it to offer better battery life compared with the S20. The GPU has also be updated, offering no issues with gaming performance. 

One major difference is operating systems – the iPhone 13 runs on Apple’s own iOS 15 software, while the S21 features Google’s Android 11, with an upgrade to Android 12 on its way. 

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The iPhone 13 features a dual rear camera, made up of a 12-megapixel wide angle lens with an f/1.6 aperture and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens with an f/2.4 aperture. The camera is capable of reaching 5x digital zoom and there’s a 12-megapixel TrueDepth (f/2.2) camera on the front of the phone for selfies. 

The iPhone can record 4K video at up to 60fps and features Dolby Vision support as well as Apple’s aforementioned Cinematic mode, which offers a shallow depth of field when recording in 1080p at 30fps. 

The S21 features a triple rear camera, meaning it has one more lens than the iPhone 13. Like the iPhone, it has two 12-megapixel sensors – one wide angle with an f/1.8 aperture and the other an ultra-wide angle lens with an f/2.2 aperture. There’s also a third 64-megapixel telephoto (f/2.0) lens, offering 3x hybrid optic zoom and up to 30x super resolution zoom. 

The S21 can capture 8K video at 24fps, 4K at 60fps and includes support for HDR10+. There’s also a 10-megapixel selfie camera on the front with an aperture of f/2.2. 

iphone 13 front in hand
iPhone 13

Battery life 

As far as battery life is concerned, the iPhone 13 showed large improvements over the iPhone 12 thanks to its larger cells and more efficient chipset. 

We found that streaming Netflix at 75% brightness in HDR ate through 7% of the iPhone’s battery. For comparison, the Galaxy S21 used up 8% of its own battery streaming Netflix in HDR at just 50%. 

That said, both phones should be able to get you through a day of real-world use, though neither comes with a charging plug in the box anymore. Luckily, the iPhone does come with a Lightning cable and you shouldn’t have too much trouble sourcing a USB-C cable from your laptop or a tablet to charge up the S21 – though charging speeds may vary. 

Both phones support wireless charging, with the iPhone also supporting its own MagSafe technology as well as Qi. The S21, meanwhile, takes advantage of reverse charging for when you want to lend your battery to a smartwatch or pair of earbuds. 

Samsung Galaxy S21
Galaxy S21

Final verdict 

The iPhone 13 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 are almost identical in price, which can make it difficult to decide which 2021 phone is right for you. 

Both phones feature sharp OLED displays, with the Samsung bringing the additional advantage of a 120Hz display. Both also come in an array of colours, though the iPhone features a more premium-feeling glass back. 

Both phones pack powerful top-of-the-line processors that can handle gaming and offer longer battery lives than their predecessors. Both also feature 12-megapixel camera arrays, with the S21 offering better equipped for zoom with a third telephoto lens and 8K video support and the iPhone taking advantage of Apple’s new Cinematic mode, along with support for Dolby Vision. 

The two phones also feature different operating systems, which may sway you depending on whether you’re an Android or an iOS fan.

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