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I put the Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15 through a 7-round face-off — here's the winner

 Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15.
Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15.

A Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15 face-off pairs up the two leading handsets to find out which one is the best phone for most people. And with two evenly matched phones going head to head, this figures to be a very tight battle.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 is the new kid on the block, though at first glance, you might think that little has changed from the Galaxy S23. While it's true there aren't major changes to the hardware — though the ones Samsung did make turn out to be fairly significant — the S24 introduces some new capabilities in the form of Galaxy AI features. These software experiences draw on artificial intelligence to speed up and simplify some pretty common smartphone tasks.

The iPhone 15 has been waiting for the S24's arrival since last fall, and it comes loaded with an impressive system-on-chip, some key camera improvements, and a very bright display. Apple may be lavishing more of its attention on its Pro models these days, but the iPhone 15 remains a top smartphone, especially if you want a powerful device that doesn't carry a four-figure price tag.

Which phone comes out on top? That's what this Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15 comparison looks to find out now that we've had a chance to test and review both devices.

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: Price and availability

Now that the Galaxy S24 is on sale — it hit retail shelves January 31, about four months after the iPhone 15 launch — both Samsung and Apple devices are widely available from retailers and wireless carriers. And initially, it looks like the phones have much in common on the price front, as both cost $799.

But that just covers the 128GB base model for both the Galaxy S24 and iPhone 15. There are other storage options available and that's where the two phones begin to separate themselves.

A 256GB version of the iPhone 15 costs an additional $100 over the base model. Samsung sells a 256GB Galaxy S24 as well, but that phone costs just $859 — a savings of $40 from the same-sized iPhone. Apple also sells a 512GB version of its main flagship phone, something Samsung doesn't offer, but you'll pay $1,099 for that model.

iPhone 15 deals and Galaxy S24 deals can help you save money on either device. But we'll give the pricing edge to Samsung for letting you upgrade your storage for less than what Apple charges.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: Design

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15
Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15

If the pricing category is close, picking a Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15 design is even closer. Both phones have straight edges and compact frames — the iPhone is a little taller and wider, though you'd need calipers to tell the difference.

An ultrasonic fingerprint sensor underneath the Galaxy S24's display lets you unlock that phone, while iPhone users turn to Apple's FaceID technology. Both phones are pretty durable, too, with IP68 water resistance ratings. Note that Apple says its phone can survive a 6-meter plunge while Samsung points to a 1.5-meter limit.

Samsung used to hold an advantage over Apple's device by using the more ubiquitous USB-C connectivity standard. As of the iPhone 15, though, that's no longer the case, as Apple's latest phone ditches the proprietary Lightning port for a USB-C port of its own.

Even the colors are pretty identical, with Samsung and Apple both offering softer shades as opposed to bright hues that pop. The Galaxy S24 has four standard colors — black, gray, yellow and violet — along with three exclusive colors available when you buy your phone directly from Samsung. The iPhone 15 comes in five colors, with pastel versions of blue, pink, green and yellow joining black.

Honestly, design comes to personal taste — especially with phones this evenly matched. Me, I prefer the Galaxy S24 for the way its vertically stacked cameras protrude ever so slightly from the back of the phone, while Apple's two rear cameras are set apart from the back of the phone in a raised array. You may prefer things the other way around, though.

Winner: Draw

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: Display

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15
Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15

Though the phones are the same size, the Galaxy S24 squeeze in a little more screen space, now that Samsung has shrunk the bezels for this year's version. The Galaxy S24 now features a 6.2-inch display, compared to 6.1 inches for the iPhone 15.

A key display difference between the flagship phones remains, as the Galaxy S24 continues to support a 120Hz refresh rate. In fact, the S24 can now slow down its rate to 1Hz to preserve battery life if on-screen activity is fairly static. The iPhone 15 remains stuck at a fixed 60Hz refresh rate, as Apple continues to insist that fast-refreshing displays should only be available on its pricier phones.

Phone makers are engaged in a game of leapfrog when it comes to display brightness. The iPhone 15 topped the Galaxy S23 for display brightness, so now Samsung is looking to best Apple's phone with the Galaxy S24. The S24 boasts a maximum brightness of 2,600 nits to the 2,000-nit peak of the iPhone 15.

In truth, neither phone approached those limits in our tests, though the Galaxy S24 is slightly brighter — 1,416 nits to 1,401. The Galaxy S24 captures more colors, too, though we found that the color accuracy is better on the iPhone 15's display.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15
Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15

Samsung chose to stand pat with its camera hardware, using the same setup on the Galaxy S24 that had proven so successful on the Galaxy S23. That means the same 50MP main camera aided by 12MP ultrawide and 10MP telephoto lenses. Instead, Samsung's big improvements come down to its Pro Visual Engine, which uses AI for better night and portrait photos.

Apple took a different route, updating the main camera on the iPhone 15 to a 48MP sensor. There's still no telephoto lens on the iPhone 15 — a big advantage for Samsung — but you can zoom in with that main camera via cropping to create what is in effect a 2x zoom.

My Galaxy S24 contains a bunch of Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15 photo comparisons, but here's a few more that illustrate how the cameras approach similar shots.

An apple cart under an awing yields comparable shots from the Galaxy S24 and iPhone 15, as both phones did a good job balancing the different shades of color from the fruit on display. If you want to find fault with a photo, the S24 gives a yellowish cast to the Granny Smith apples in the center of the shot; the green looks much deeper and more pleasing from the iPhone 15's effort. It's close, but I prefer the iPhone 15's photo here.

My cat stayed in one place long enough to pose for a picture, and the results are pretty similar from both phones. His orange patches of fur look a little brighter in the Galaxy S24 picture, but I prefer how the iPhone 15 handles light streaming in from the window to the right of the shot. It bathes the right half of the cat's face in light, creating a more realistic look than the S24 shot, in which all the lighting has been smoothed out.

This window display featuring some stylish bowls stacked in front of a colorful background was one of the more challenging setups for these two camera phones. Not only am I shooting through a glass window, but the display is also in a shaded area without much direct light shining in.

Again, both phones excel at reproducing a wide range of colors, though they also struggle with the reflection off the store window. While the right side of each image has an unmistakable glare, I think the iPhone 15 does a better job of working around the reflections in the other parts of the image. In the S24 photo, the two bowls on the left are having their own issues with glare from the window, but that problem isn't in evidence with the iPhone 15 shot.

Samsung says its Pro Visual Engine improves segmentation for portrait shots, which is why I think the S24 does a better job of separating my daughter from her background. The iPhone 15 leaves a kind of halo on the right side of her head, particularly where it's trying to separate all that hair from the background. That said, the warmer skin tone of the iPhone's shot is more pleasing overall, and the left side of the S24's photo is coming perilously close to being over-exposed.

I mentioned this in my S24 review, but I'm still shocked at how the S24 performed when I zoomed in on the Oakland skyline. This is a 3x which should be in the S24's wheelhouse, since that's exactly what its lens can support. Yet, the skyline — particularly the Tribune Tower — is a little out of focus compared to the iPhone 15 shot, which is turning to digital zoom to get to 3x. That may explain the darker colors in the iPhone shot, but overall, the iPhone does a better job keeping things in focus here.

I should note that the more I zoomed in, the better the Galaxy S24 performed, which may speak to the advantage of that dedicated telephoto lens. But for basic zoom shots, the iPhone 15 can keep pace.

Night time proves the right time for the iPhone 15, as its photo of some stuffed animals sitting on bench in an unlit backyard is the more colorful and composed of the two shots. The Galaxy S24 over-exposes the stuffie on the left, washing out some details of its face, and the background plants aren't as visible as they appear in the iPhone photo.

Overall, both the Galaxy S24 and iPhone 15 are excellent camera phones, but the iPhone did a better job overall with more of the images I captured during my testing. It's the camera phone I'd turn to if I had the choice between either device.

Winner: iPhone 15

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: Performance

Samsung galaxy s24 review
Samsung galaxy s24 review

In the past, performance face-offs between Samsung and Apple phones haven't been much of a contest. The A series chips designed by Apple handily out-paced whatever Samsung throw at the iPhone, and we chalked a big win to Apple's phone for processing power.

That's changed with this face-off, in part because of Apple's decision to use different chipsets on its standard and Pro models. The iPhone 15 runs on an A16 Bionic, certainly a capable system-on-chip, but one that's a year old. In contrast, the Galaxy S24 features a new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, and it rides that silicon to some big wins in benchmark testing.

While the iPhone 15 has the better single-core score in the Geekbench general performance test, the Galaxy S24 finished ahead of Apple's phone for multicore performance. Likewise on graphics testing using 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited, the Galaxy S24 posts a result that's 67% better than the iPhone 15's score. It's only on the video transcoding test where the iPhone continues to dominate with the iPhone 15 needing a little less than 25 seconds to complete a transcoding task in Adobe Premiere Rush; the Galaxy S24 needs 41 seconds.

There's a caveat to the Galaxy S24's strong performance: It may not be present in every S24 model. Phones shipping outside of North America are using the Exynos 2400 chipset instead of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. We won't know how the Exynos-powered S24 models compare to the iPhone 15 until we get our hands on one. But the Galaxy S24 running on the latest Snapdragon silicon gives the iPhone 15 more than it can handle.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: Battery life and charging

Apple iPhone 15 review.
Apple iPhone 15 review.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 also helps Samsung's new flagship score big in battery life. Whereas the Galaxy S23 posted a time of 10 hours and 27 minutes on our custom battery test, the Galaxy S24 improved upon that by a full 3 hours. A bigger battery in the Galaxy S24 — 4,000 mAh versus 3,900 mAh in the S23 — only explains some of that gain. The rest boils down to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3's power management capabilities.

The iPhone 15 has nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to battery life, with a time of 11 hours and 5 minutes. That's more than an hour better than the average smartphone. But it's well short of the Galaxy S24's mark.

The Galaxy S24 also has an edge in charging speed, though it's a marginal one. Samsung's phone charges at 25W to 20W for the iPhone 15. When we timed how much charge each phone could get after 30 minutes, they finished essentially in a dead heat, with the Galaxy s24 reaching 54% to the iPhone 15's 53%.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: Software and special features

Samsung galaxy s24 review
Samsung galaxy s24 review

The Galaxy S24 would seemingly enjoy two big edges here. For starters, Samsung has promised seven years of software suport for this phone, meaning you should be able to hold on to this phone for as long as it stays in one piece. For another, there's the aforementioned Galaxy AI features that tap into the power of artificial intelligence.

Galaxy AI includes some pretty practical tools like the ability to autoformat and summarize notes. The Circle to Search tool, which brings up search results for anything you circle, has also proven to be quite useful in my testing. Other tools like Live Translate's ability to provide real-time translations during phone calls are better in theory than they are in practice, though I expect lots of these tools to improve over time.

Apple certainly has nothing like that at present, but that could change when iOS 18 comes out later this year, as AI features are rumored to be at the heart of that update. And you'll be able to easily upgrade to iOS 18 on the iPhone 15 given how Apple makes software updates available to everyone at the same time, as opposed to rolling them out in drips and drabs as happens on the Android side of things.

The iPhone 15 may not get seven years of software updates — Apple tends to provide five years of iOS support — but the phone you get now will be supported for a very long time. Samsung's edge isn't as significant as you might think.

The current iOS 17 feels a lot more polished than Samsung's implementation of AI, which comes across as a work in progress. Surely, the AI features will be more robust over time, but by then, an iOS update could bring similar capabilities to Apple's phones. I think the iOS experience remains better, though Samsung deserves credit for pushing new features out there.

Winner: iPhone 15  

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. iPhone 15: Verdict

By the thinnest of margins, the Samsung Galaxy S24 finishes ahead of the iPhone 15 in our face-off. While the Galaxy AI features impress, they're not the reason why Samsung's phone finished on top. Rather, it was the strong battery life and much improved performance delivered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset. The brighter display and its fast refresh rate also helped.

Don't dismiss the iPhone 15, which is the better camera phone overall. And the iPhone finished close in other categories to the point where iOS fans won't feel any need to switch over to Android.

But if you are contemplating a new Android device, the Galaxy S24 should be near the top of the list, especially considering its relatively low price tag and the fact that it boasts many of the same features as more expensive S24 models.

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