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Battle of the base models

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  • Samsung Galaxy S24

    An Android masterpiece

    The Samsung Galaxy S24 will be a force to be reckoned with. With a beautiful display, great cameras, and a quality build, it’s guaranteed to be one of the best phones available. Add in the sheer power of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, and Samsung has a real winner.

    Pros

    • The power of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor
    • Great camera system
    • Years of software support
    Cons

    • Fast Charging isn’t so fast anymore
    • Design hasn’t changed much over the years
  • iPhone 15 ink pink, showing front and rear

    Apple iPhone 15

    Perfect for iOS people

    The Apple iPhone 15 is the perfect device for those already in the iOS ecosystem. It has great performance from its Bionic A16 processor, good battery life, a great camera system, and amazing software support. iOS can be a bit limiting, but if you want iMessage or FaceTime, you don’t have many options.

    Pros

    • Great performance from the Bionic A16 chipset
    • Camera takes some amazing photos
    • Finally has a USB-C port
    Cons

    • No telephoto lens
    • iOS can be restrictive
    • Dynamic Island isn’t for everyone

Samsung and Apple are far and away the two most popular smartphone manufacturers in the world. Their respective devices do so many things well that for some, it makes choosing anything else very difficult. These two companies have a lot in common, and that is more and more apparent with each passing generation of iPhone and Galaxy launches.


The highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S24 is finally here, and it looks to be an iterative improvement over last year’s Samsung Galaxy S23. While it will easily be one of the best Android phones available, going head-to-head with the Apple iPhone 15 will be more of a battle. It’s time to pit these two devices against each other and peel back the various layers to see which device ultimately reigns supreme.


Price, availability, and specs

The Samsung Galaxy S24 was announced on January 17 and is available to preorder now ahead of the official release on January 31. Much like the Galaxy S23, the Galaxy S24 starts at $800 for the base model. Since it’s one of the hottest launches of the year, you can expect to find the Samsung Galaxy S24 just about everywhere. It’ll be available from large and small carriers, as well as unlocked from various retail outlets such as Amazon and Best Buy.

Apple’s iPhone 15 was announced on September 12, 2023, and released about ten days later. It has a starting price of $799 and comes in blue, pink, yellow, green, and black colorways. Much like Galaxy devices, iPhones traditionally can be found just about anywhere smartphones are sold.

  • Samsung Galaxy S24Apple iPhone 15
    SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3Apple A16 Bionic
    RAM8GB6GB
    Storage128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB
    Battery4,000mAh3,877mAh
    PortsUSB-CUSB-C
    Operating SystemAndroid 14 and One UI 6.1iOS 17
    Front camera12MP, f/2.212MP
    Rear camera50MP, f/1.8, OIS main; 12MP, f/2.2 ultrawide; 10MP, f/2.4 zoom (3x)48MP main; 12MP ultrawide
    Dimensions147.1 x 70.6 x 7.6mm 147.6 × 71.6 × 7.8mm
    Display typeAMOLED, 120HzOLED, 60Hz
    Weight168g171g
    Charge speed25W20W wired, 15W wireless
    IP RatingIP68IP68
    Display dimensions6.2″6.1″
    Wi-Fi connectivityWi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 7
    BluetoothBluetooth 5.3Bluetooth 5.3

Design

Samsung Galaxy S24 in white standing on a table

The Samsung Galaxy S24’s overall design isn’t much changed from the Galaxy S23. The S24 measures 147.07 x 70.61 x 7.62mm and weighs 5.92 ounces (168 grams), so it’s very compact and light. The front is dominated by its display and a hole-punch camera at the top. The power and volume buttons are along the right edge, with the frame now straight rather than curved, with a triple-rear camera setup along the back. The Galaxy S24 carries an IP68 rating against water and dust.

The iPhone is almost identical in size at 147.6 x 71.6 x 7.8mm and weighs slightly more at 6 ounces (171 grams). Like the Galaxy, the front of the iPhone 15 is all display. One new iPhone 15 feature is that it now includes Apple’s Digital Island. It still takes up more screen than a hole-punch camera, but far less than the older notch design. The power button can be found on the right side, and the volume buttons along with the ring/silent toggle are on the left side.

The back has a dual camera setup and is MagSafe capable, allowing you to magnetically attach a variety of accessories. Apple also finally ditched the lightning port in favor of a proper USB-C port. The iPhone 15 is also IP68-rated against water and dust.

Display

Apple-iPhone-15-lineup-color-lineup-230912_big.jpg.large_2x

Source: Apple

The Galaxy S series is synonymous with top-of-the-line displays and those expectations remain with Samsung’s newest devices. The Galaxy S24 ships with a 6.2-inch, 2340 x 1080 AMOLED display. A nice feature for this year’s base S24 is that the 120Hz panel can decrease to 1Hz to save battery life. The AMOLED display should provide punchy colors and silky blacks, and is brighter than before too.

Apple also tends to use some excellent displays and the iPhone 15 is no different. The iPhone 15 has a 6.1-inch, 2556 x 1179, OLED display. It can hit a peak brightness of 2000 nits, offering plenty of brightness to see your device in well-lit conditions. One downside of the standard iPhone series is that the display is limited to only 60Hz. It’s a fantastic 60Hz and feels far smoother than you would expect, but it still isn’t as smooth as a 120Hz display.

Software

Samsung Galaxy S24+ facing screen up, showing the home screen, while lying on a patterned fabric at an angle

The largest difference between these two devices is the included software. The Samsung Galaxy S24 comes with Android 14 and One UI 6.1. Samsung’s One UI 6.1 is a sleek and beautiful take on stock Android. It also comes with a variety of quality-of-life improvements. There are visual changes throughout the device, such as the quick settings panel, the lock screen, and the notifications panel.

Samsung also ships its devices with a host of apps built by both Google and Samsung. You’ll get all the stock Google applications, such as Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube. Samsung’s apps range from useful, such as the built-in video editor, to downright frustrating. Samsung tends to duplicate many of Google’s services, including a note app, Samsung’s web browser, Samsung Pay, and Bixby.

The big addition this year is the inclusion of a range of ‘Galaxy AI’ features, similar to what you get on Pixel devices. These include AI-driven photo editing, smart transcription, live translation, and more.

Apple’s iPhone 15 ships with iOS 17 and is an excellent OS in its own right. It does some things differently than Android, and you are limited to doing things Apple’s way. That hasn’t been as much of an issue over the past couple of years as Apple has incorporated more and more customization options. You still can’t rearrange your icons in a custom grid, but iOS now allows for widgets and setting certain apps as your default.

ios-focus-mode-iphone-15-4

Due to the prevalence of iOS, apps tend to be well-developed and run great. Just about every major app developer supports iOS, and many of them offer features on iOS first. You also don’t have to deal with duplicate apps or any carrier bloatware on Apple devices. iOS also grants you access to iMessage (Blue bubbles) and FaceTime.

Both Samsung and Apple support their devices well. The Galaxy S24 series offers seven years of Android updates, including both OS version updates and security patches. Apple doesn’t specifically call out how many years of updates a phone will receive, but historically there have been about six OS updates. All iPhones receive updates at the same time, removing the guesswork of when an OS will be released each year.

Performance

Samsung Galaxy S24 in white, resting on a table, showing the USB-C port

For the past few years, Samsung and Apple have knocked it out of the park when it comes to performance. The Samsung Galaxy S24 will ship with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset (Exynos in some parts of the world) coupled with 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage. The Apple iPhone 15 ships with an Apple A16 Bionic chipset, 6GB of RAM, and either 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is a powerhouse processor. It has 1 Cortex-X4 core at 3.72GHz, 4 Cortex-A715 cores at 2.8GHz, and 3 Cortex-A515 cores at 2.2GHz for a total of eight total cores. The A16 Bionic is a six-core chipset with two performance cores at 3.46GHz and four efficiency cores operating at 2.02GHz. We still have to wait for real-world performance tests from the S24, but the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 should at least hold its own here.

Due to Apple’s tight-not development of iOS, you likely won’t be able to detect the difference between these two processors. The 6GB RAM and a slightly slower chipset on iOS will feel just as snappy and performant as a faster chipset running on Android. No matter which device you choose, it will have more than enough power to fly through just about anything you may want your device to do.

Battery life

Apple iPhone 15 showing USB-C port

Source: Apple

Samsung went with a 4,000mAh battery in the Galaxy S24. Thanks to the overall battery size and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3’s efficiency improvements, battery life should be decent. We won’t have firm numbers until we get the device in hand, but we are optimistic. It also can charge up to 50% in about 30 minutes using a 25W adapter and 3A USB-C cable. The Galaxy S24 supports Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 and Wireless PowerShare.

Apple uses a 3,349mAh battery that should easily get you through a full day of usage. Apple says it could run for 16 hours of streamed video playback and up to 80 hours of audio playback. It can charge up to 50% in about 30 minutes using a 20W adapter. It supports MagSafe wireless charging at up to 15W, Qi2 wireless charging at up to 15W, and Qi wireless charging at up to 7.5W.

Camera

Close-up of the Samsung Galaxy S24 cameras

Samsung equipped the Galaxy S24 with a 50MP f/1.8 primary lens, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens, and a 10MP f/2.4 telephoto lens that is capable of 3x optical zoom. The telephoto lens is a nice addition and gives the Galaxy S24 more versatility when capturing the perfect photo. It also has a 12MP f/2.2 front camera.

The iPhone 15 comes with a 48MP f/1.6 main lens and a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide lens. Unfortunately, Apple reserves its telephoto lenses for the more expensive Pro version of the iPhone, which limits its overall versatility. It also has a 12MP f/1.9 front-facing camera.

Both companies tend to put some of the best camera systems around into their devices, and that trend continues this year. Samsung’s images tend to offer more punchy colors, while Apple’s cameras tend to capture more natural colors. Which color science is best is purely preference, although I prefer the more natural colors that the iPhone produces.

iPhones tend to be the best at taking video, and that will likely continue this year. The lack of a telephoto lens hurts the iPhone a bit here, but both devices are capable of taking excellent photos.

Which is right for you?

Depending on how you look at it, picking a winner is either very easy or very difficult. If you are locked into a particular ecosystem, then sticking with that ecosystem makes the most sense. The Samsung Galaxy S24 isn’t going to play as nice with your Apple TV or MacBook Pro, just like the iPhone 15 won’t pair well with a Google Pixel Tablet or one of the best Chromebooks on the market.

If the ecosystem isn’t important to you or this is your first smartphone purchase, then picking a winner can be far more challenging. From a pure performance and capabilities standpoint, the Samsung Galaxy S24 is the favorite. It has a slightly better display, amazing performance, good battery life, and years of software support.

The front and back of an Amber Yellow Galaxy S24 on a white background

Samsung Galaxy S24

Editor’s choice

An Android masterpiece

If you love Android and are looking for a new phone, you really can’t do much better than the Samsung Galaxy S24. This is especially true if you are looking for a smaller device that will fit into your pocket easily. It’s an all-around great performer that won’t let you down.

That by no means the Apple iPhone 15 is a slouch. It, too, is a highly capable device that offers a good display, great performance, great camera quality, and good battery life. It also may be more convenient to have an iPhone if your friends are mostly Apple users. Using iMessage, FaceTime, and AirDrop are just so convenient to use. No matter which device you choose, you are getting one of the best devices on the market.

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iPhone 15 ink pink, showing front and rear

Apple iPhone 15

Good alternative

Perfect for iOS people

The Apple iPhone 15 is for anyone who finds themselves intrigued by iOS or the Apple ecosystem as a whole. It’s a well-built device that offers plenty of phone for the price. Much like the Galaxy S24, it’s an all-around great performer that doesn’t have many weak spots.

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