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Apple iPhone 12 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus: Which to Pick?

author Luis Silva (February 2021 Updated: August 2021 - 6 min. reading time)

The price of the Galaxy S21 Plus isn't that much higher, but considering its features, it is the one you should pick.

It features a better display, better battery life, and more internal storage (128GB vs. 64GB). But the iPhone 12 features better performance (+31%).

Anything else?

The Galaxy S21 Plus also has a higher refresh rate, Always-On, larger (+0.6") display, better peak brightness, reverse wireless charging, and more RAM (8GB vs. 4GB). But the iPhone 12 also brings a cleaner user interface and a lightweight body (36 g./1.27 oz less).

How much more are you willing to spend on the Galaxy S21 Plus?

If you ignore carrier offers, it'll cost you around $119 more.

Is it still worth buying the iPhone 12 in 2021?

The iPhone 12 is holding up pretty well in 2021, but given that it's now an older device, you can pick it up even cheaper than it was at launch. That doesn't mean you should ignore other devices like the iPhone 12 Pro since it has more storage and more RAM.

Just keep reading if you want to know everything about them, how they compare to similarly priced rivals, and how the tech industry is evaluating their specs.

Check prices on Amazon Check prices on Amazon
Click here or scroll down to check prices on eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions.

Apple iPhone 12Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

CONTENTS

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Introduction

While Samsung's Galaxy S21 Plus hit stores last January, Apple's iPhone 12 went on sale in October 2020.

Here you can look at the iPhone 12 and the Galaxy S21 Plus, compare each other's features, and decide which one is best for you. Let us delve into the finer details.

The weight of each section

For additional information regarding our smartphone comparisons, check this FAQ.

to check who their rivals are.

Price*
vs.
Device iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus
Release Date 2020, October 2021, January 1y.
OS Updates 6 years 3 years -3y.
Security Updates 6 years 4 years -2y.

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Which One Has The Best Performance?

Performance-wise, Geekbench 5 (IOS)(Android) scores the iPhone 12 31% ahead in the multi-core ranking. If you value performance, be aware of that difference, as it will be noticeable daily. You should be aware that apps on iOs usually run smoother because of the optimizations that Apple does.

Are you looking for the quickest phone around? The iPhone 12 is clearly above the average if you consider related-priced phones. While they got a score of about 2658, it has 4067. That puts it 53% above them.

We can classify both of them as high-end.

Performance*
vs.
Features iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus
SoC Apple A14 Exynos 2100
Graphics Apple GPU Mali-G78 MP14
Geekbench 5 Score 4067
3113
-954
OS iOS 14.1 Android 11 and OneUI
Tek-Score
8.8
7.2
-1.6

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

Apple iPhone 12 front transparent png Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus front transparent png

The Galaxy S21 Plus is the title-holder here, and you'd be able to tell the difference.

If you favor small notches, at least the Galaxy S21 Plus has a tinier notch.

The Galaxy S21 Plus has one disadvantage against the rest of its class: Its low DPI display.

About the iPhone 12, you should know that 88% of its rivals can play HDR content. Plus, all have an AMOLED screen, and 96% have an Always-On display.

Regarding the Galaxy S21 Plus, 89% of its rivals can play HDR content. Plus, all have an AMOLED screen, and 93% have an Always-On display.

Display Density (DPIs)*
vs.
Features iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus
Size 6.1
6.7
0.6
Screen Type AMOLED AMOLED
Resolution (px) 1170x2532
1080x2400
-370440
Refresh Rate 60hz 120hz 60
Dots per Inch 457.25
392.81
-64.45
Always-On-Display No Yes
Notch Wedge Hole
Peak Brightness 639 nits
883 nits
244
HDR HDR10 HDR10+
Sub Tek-Score
2.9
9.0
6.0
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass Victus Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
Tek-Score
7.5
9.6
2.1

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

Apple iPhone 12 back transparent png Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus back transparent png

Be aware that the iPhone 12's picture quality is, on average, 38 points above other cameras for the same budget. So the Galaxy S21 Plus isn't good enough to win this battle.

About the iPhone 12: This camera came out of DXOMARK's labs with a score of 132. If you also consider its wide-angle lens, it'll get 139 points. For an in-depth review, click here.

I hope this helps: you'd probably like to know that all of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more and have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and 96% feature Optical Image Stabilization. Nevertheless, only 8% of them feature a macro lens.

About the Galaxy S21 Plus: On DXOMARK's reviewing article, they gave this shooter 123 points. Plus, combining with its wide-angle lens, this score goes up to 137 points. For an out-and-out review, check their article.

Lastly, all of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K and have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and 93% feature Optical Image Stabilization. Additionally, only 15% of them feature a macro lens.

One can place these two as high-end.

Have you noticed yet? If you want a telephoto lens, just ignore these two and check the Sony Xperia 1 II or the OnePlus 8 Pro instead. Or just forget them because devices like the Galaxy S20 Ultra and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra aren't too good to be true anymore.

Picture Quality*
vs.
Primary Camera iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 1.6
1.8
0.2
Lens 26mm
26mm
0
Lens Type Wide-Angle Wide-Angle
Flash 4 1 -3
HDR Yes Yes
OIS Yes Yes
Video 2160 4320 2160
Score 139
137
-2

*Reference: 100: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Extra Camera(s) iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus vs.
Megapixels 12
64
52
Aperture 2.4
2.0
-0.4
Lens 13mm 29mm 16
Lens Type Ultra-wide-Angle Regular
Megapixels - 12
Aperture - 2.2
Lens - 13mm
Lens Type - Ultra-wide-Angle
Score 7 14 7
Selfie Camera iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus vs.
Megapixels 12
10
-2
Aperture 2.2
2.2
0.0
Lens 23mm 26mm 3
iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus vs.
Tek-Score
8.2
8.1
-0.1

Who has the best frame?

If you're still undecided about them, the iPhone 12 is a better choice based on its weight. But I don't see any meaningful winner here.

The Galaxy S21 Plus is 36 g. (1.42 oz) heavier than the other, weighing about 164 g. (5.78 oz). If you're looking for a lightweight device, I've come up with an adapted "display size to phone weight ratio" score. The iPhone 12 got 6.9, which suggests a pretty nice weight for a 6.1 inches display. In the meantime, the Galaxy S21 Plus has 4.6, so nothing to state here.

The iPhone 12 is resistant to water up to 1 to 3 meters, much like the Galaxy S21 Plus. But remember: it's for a maximum period of half an hour, and it's in standby mode only. So don't take photos underwater.

Looks*
vs.
Body iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus
Size 146 x 71 x 7 mm
(5.15 x 2.50 x 0.25 in)
161 x 75 x 7 mm
(5.68 x 2.65 x 0.25 in)
11963
Weight 164 g. (5.78 oz)
200 g. (7.05 oz)
36
Build Front and back glass Front and back glass
Colors Black, Red, White, Green, and Blue Phantom Black, Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, Phantom Red, Phantom Gold, and Phantom Pink
Screen To Body Ratio 88.18%
89.75%
1.57
Disp.Size To Weight Score 6.9 4.6 -2.3
Looks 10.0/10
10.0/10
0.0
Waterproof IP68 IP68
Biometrics Face ID Under Display Fingerprint
Tek-Score
8.6
7.2
-1.4

*100% = 4+ colors + front and back glass + S2BR: 86+%.

Which has the best battery?

At 2815 mAh, the iPhone 12 is the owner of the smallest battery, while the Galaxy S21 Plus features 4800 mAh. And according to GSMArena's tests, the winner is the Galaxy S21 Plus.

What's even better, the Galaxy S21 Plus is also beating most smartphones. Let's see if it still has a place on our top 10 list of smartphones with the best battery life.

On any of the new iPhone 12 siblings, wireless charging is also magnetic. That's great, but it's yet another proprietary solution.

Battery*
vs.
Features iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus
Capacity (mAh) 2815 4800 1985
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 79% left
84% left
5
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 64% left
70% left
6
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 64% left
74% left
10
Bat. To Phone Size Score 6.4 4.1 -2.3
Sub Tek-Score
6.9
7.6
0.7
Fast Charging 20w
25w
5
Wireless Charging 15w
15w
0
Reverse Charging No 4.5w
4.5
Tek-Score
6.6
7.3
0.7

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

Definitely, the Galaxy S21 Plus.

In terms of RAM, the iPhone 12 brings 4GB. In terms of storage, it has 64GB. Furthermore, other devices from this budget usually deliver more RAM and more storage. They're around 8GB of RAM and 143Gb of storage.

Most people should be OK with only 64 GB of internal storage. However, if you love to have or record tons of videos, you'll find out that 64 GB won't be enough for you.

Storage*
vs.
Features iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus
RAM (GB) 4GB
8GB
4
Internal (GB) 64GB
128GB
64
Micro SD No No
Tek-Score
2.8
6.0
3.3

*Internal Storage + 256GB Memory Card (Max: 512GB).

Which is the most connectivity-friendly?

If you still don't know which to pick, you can skip this section.

There isn't much to say about the 3.5mm headphone jack, except that it simply isn't here. Want a piece of advice? Forget about adapters and go for the wireless buds. There also are other options out there if you're not really leaning towards any of these. You can get that with the Sony Xperia 1 II.

You can connect them to (LTE and) 5G networks.

Connectivity
vs.
Features iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus
Network 5G 5G
Bluetooth 5.0
5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack No No
Tek-Score
4.6
4.6
0.0

Which is more affordable?

Here are the best prices that we've found:

Apple iPhone 12

Reference: $880

Apple iPhone 12

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

Reference: $999

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions, but it will mean a lot if you click on one of these buttons before purchasing your next phone (or whatever else you end up buying). You'll be helping to take this to the next level.

Prices on eBay are in $US but Europe-based. You can click to check the prices in your country.

Prices marked with ! are from renewed/refurbished/carrier-locked phones (except eBay prices that, as a last resort, can be from bids or used devices).

How much of a "phone" can your money buy?
That's how much "score" you can get with $100 based on the global score that you'll see in the next section (higher is better).

Have you found better prices elsewhere? The formula is simple: score/price*100.

Value for money iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus VS
Amazon - ! 1.00 -
eBay 0.98 1.25 0.27
Best Buy 0.93 0.93 0.01
Walmart - - -

Also, don't forget to check the latest deals from these four stores, and the state of the art on mobile technology, if you don't want to overpay on your next smartphone.


Related articles:


Best smartphone deals


The Best Unbiased Smartphones For All Budgets


Smartphone Specs Statistics: The State Of The Art (Q1 2021)

Want to know about that global score? First, let me mention the average at their price range. They aren't that far from 7.0 for these two.

Verdict: What Makes the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Stand Out?

What can the Apple iPhone 12 give you that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus can't:

- Cleaner user interface

- Lighter (36 g./1.27 oz less)

- More OS updates (2 additional years)

What can the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus give you that the Apple iPhone 12 can't:

- Better peak brightness

- Higher refresh rates

- An Always-On display

- Better display

- A larger display (+0.6")

- Better battery life

- Reverse wireless charging

- More internal storage (128GB vs. 64GB)

- More RAM (8GB vs. 4GB)

Pros iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus
#1 Performance Performance
#2 AMOLED AMOLED
#3 Cameras Always-On-Display
#4 Fast Charging Cameras
#5 Wireless Charging Battery Life
#6 Glass Protection Fast Charging
#7 Wireless Charging
#8 Glass Protection
Cons iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus
#1 Always-On-Display MicroSD Slot
#2 MicroSD Slot Weight
#3 3.5mm Jack 3.5mm Jack
#4 Price Price
Relative Score*
vs.
Global Score iPhone 12 Galaxy S21 Plus
Gaming Score
6.3
7.6
1.3
Tek-Score
6.76
7.47
0.71
Your Score

Scroll the sliders down below to get your own personalized score. Let's suppose you value performance and battery life, and you don't really care about anything else. Then, just set the "Performance" and the "Battery" sliders up to 5 (5+5=10), and then the other sliders down to 0. You'll know what's the best phone for you.

Performance 1.9
Display 1.7
Cameras 1.4
Frame 0.9
Battery 1.9
Storage 2.0
Connectivity 0.4
Total Should be 10 or as close as possible: 9.6

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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About me

Hello!

My name is Luis Silva, and I have a degree in computer management. Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved everything to do with tech. Music, pictures, video editing, I've done it all! This site is a place for me to share some of the knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current trends. This is a wonderful place for tech-geeks and everyone else that just want to learn more about tech and smartphones in general.


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Apple iPhone 12 Related Comparisons


Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Related Comparisons

×

"Display size to phone weight" ratio explained

This indeed is a "display size to phone weight" ratio, but because every phone ended up somewhere between 0.0272 and 0.0421, I've amplified (adapted) those values so they would fit in a 0-10 scale. As of now, the best smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy A40, with 140g. (4.94 oz) for a 5.9 inch display. It got a score of 9.92. While the worse device is the iPhone 8 Plus, which weighs 202 g. (7.13 oz) and has a 5.5-inch display. It ended up with a score of 0.75.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

"Battery to device size" ratio explained

This score should give you an idea about the energy footprint of the devices you're considering. It reflects not only the hardware and the energy that it requires but also the amount of energy that the battery can deliver.

The major spenders on any device should be the display and the SoC. But everything from a notification led to its modems need to be optimized, or else, the OEM should simply include a bigger battery as a compensation. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible due to size limitations. But in the end, if a particular OEM can do a good job and give you excellent battery life on a small device, so should everyone else. That's why I've added a "battery to device size" ratio. But since the real scale went from 119 (for the Galaxy S10e, Snapdragon variant) and up to 164 (for the iPhone 7 Plus), I've decided to convert them so they would fit in a 0-10 scale, being 0 the worst device, (the iPhone 7 Plus) and 10 the one every OEM should look up to.

As an example, Apple did an excellent job on the iPhone 7. It has a score of 8. Despite having a small capacity, the hardware is well optimized, and it still gives you decent battery life considering its size. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, with those bezels shrinking its display size, clearly could've been the #1 in our top 10 list of best battery devices if Apple simply filled all that empty space with a bigger battery.

As a side note: I haven't included the dept of the devices in this formula because even if a device ended up being 1mm/0.03 inches thicker, it wouldn't matter that much to those who really value battery life.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

Rivals

As of now, these are the rivals that were considered for each of them. They may change every time its prices are updated.

These are the lowest prices found on Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.


 Apple iPhone 12 
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10+
    $565
  • ApplerivaliPhone X
    $579
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11
    $575
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $684
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $650
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 EX
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 U.EX
    $789
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $599
  • GooglerivalPixel 4 XL
    $780
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $600
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Ultra
    $809
  • HuaweirivalP40 Pro
    $799
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • OnePlusrival8 Pro
    $799
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • GooglerivalPixel 5
    $580
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12 Mini
    $739
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21
    $729
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Plus
    $600
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • XiaomirivalMi 11
    $698
  • OpporivalFind X3 Lite
    $554

 Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12
    $689
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10+
    $565
  • ApplerivaliPhone X
    $579
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11
    $575
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $684
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $650
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10
    $499
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10e SD
    $499
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 EX
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 SD
    $499
  • OnePlusrival7T Pro
    $503
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $599
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $600
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • GooglerivalPixel 5
    $580
  • OnePlusrival8T
    $549
  • XiaomirivalMi 10
    $529
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • XiaomirivalMi 11
    $698
  • OnePlusrival9
    $551
  • OpporivalFind X3 Lite
    $554
×

Formula deviation

Since the guys at DxoMark don't review every camera out there, I've come up with a formula based on the ones that they do rate, so I could get an equivalent score for the ones they don't review. After testing it against these cameras, I got the deviation between that and their DxO score.

Device: DxOScore Deviation
Samsung Galaxy A50: 88 -1
Apple iPhone XR: 104 1
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: 108 -7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro: 87 1
Sony Xperia 1: 99 -1
Sony Xperia 5: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: 126 2
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 96 -3
Xiaomi Pocophone F1: 92 -1
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 90 -1
Apple iPhone X: 101 3
Apple iPhone 11: 112 -1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: 107 1
Apple iPhone XS Max: 110 -2
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 124 1
Samsung Galaxy S10: 124 2
Apple iPhone XS: 110 -1
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 120 -2
OnePlus 7 Pro: 122 0
OnePlus 7T Pro: 122 0
Huawei P30 Pro: 125 -1
Google Pixel 4: 117 0
Google Pixel 3: 103 0
Google Pixel 2: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: 127 -2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 132 2
OnePlus 6: 100 0
OnePlus 6T: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: 105 -1
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: 120 0
Xiaomi Mi 9: 115 0
Huawei Mate 30 Pro: 132 0
Huawei P40 Pro: 140 -1
Apple iPhone SE 2: 101 0
OnePlus 8 Pro: 126 0
Xiaomi Mi 8: 105 1
Samsung Galaxy A71: 89 1
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro: 134 0

As you can see, most cameras sit between 1 and -1, while a few of them go up to 2 or -2. That means it's reasonable to assume other similar cameras that they don't review to, in the worst-case scenario, be anywhere from -2 to 2 points from the score that the formula gets.

For example: Given that the Pixel 4 got 117 points and that the Pixel 4 XL share the same year and camera specs, it's reasonable to expect a score of 117 too. But in reality, if they do review that camera, it may end up anywhere between 115 and 119.

Be aware that at DxO, they give a score based on their opinion, not based on any formula. That's why I think there's an odd difference of 6 points between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. In theory, they should have the same camera.

I'm guessing that the Mi 9T Pro got a deviation of 7 points because they tested its Chinese variant (the K20 Pro).

Update: They just changed their protocol to include preview image evaluation and trustability. I'm keeping the old table (for now) for reference purposes, and I'll be adding a new one as soon as they review at least a couple of new mclass-range cameras.

You can expect the same (or a bit bigger) deviation for high-end cameras, but anything with a score below 100-110 should be taken with a grain of salt.

This is valid for all cameras tested with the previous protocol. For those that they dclassn't test, the deviation may be up to twice as much.

×

About GeekBench 5

This is just a quick note to let you know that, if, by any chance, the smartphone you're looking for isn't on the GeekBench site yet, you can check on GsmArena.com, as they also usually test smartphones with that benchmark tool.



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