It’s the battle of the behemoths, as Apple and Samsung fight it out for the crown of best big smartphone. We compare the iPhone XS Max and Galaxy S10 Plus
Samsung has finally unveiled its much-anticipated new line-up of Galaxy flagships, which includes the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and a new, smaller, But how does the largest of these compare with the current king of the hill?
In this article we compare the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus and iPhone XS Max for design, features, tech specs and value for money, and help you decide which is the best big smartphone for your needs and budget.
Price & availability
Samsung’s new Galaxy S10 Plus is available to pre-order now (it launched on 20 February), with the official release following a week later on 1 March.
Design & build
Samsung has been in a real purple patch recently in terms of aesthetics and build quality. The newly unveiled S10 Plus continues this trend with svelte lines and elegant styling that almost seem out of place on a larger-sized device.
Pride of place is taken by the 6.4in Wide Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display that Samsung says gives the S10 Plus a screen to body ratio of an amazing 93.1%. This is aided by the lack of a notch and minimal bezels, all made possible by the installation of a dual cameras under the display in the top corner (with a small curved rectangular aperture to let light get to the lenses) and the Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor embedded directly into the screen.
A glass back means wireless charging continues to be a regular feature on the Galaxy line, this time joined by Wireless Power Sharing that allows the S10 Plus to top up any Qi Charge compatible device that might be running low on juice.
Three cameras are present on the rear, with the addition of an Ultra-wide lens potentially making the S10 Plus more versatile than the iPhone XS Max with its dual shooters.
The S10 Plus comes with a USB-C charging port, there’s support for Wireless Fast Charging 2.0, plus stereo speakers and the rare sighting these days of a headphone jack that the Korean company steadfastly refuses to retire. Bravo!
An IP68 water- and dust-resistance rating is another standard feature on Samsung flagships, but Apple has finally caught up in this area, with the iPhone XS Max having the same fearlessness in water.
In the iPhone XS Max, Apple follows the design principles it introduced with the iPhone X. This includes the absence of a physical Home button on the front panel, leaving it mostly clear of obstructions except for the notch at the top that houses the Face ID camera array.
A smooth stainless-steel frame surrounds the 6.5in display, and a glass back means the device also comes with wireless charging capabilities. There are dual cameras on the rear, housed in a raised area that is the only real blot on the aesthetic landscape.
Considering the increased size of the screen, the iPhone XS Max still manages to come in at a size slightly smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus, albeit with a marginal increase in weight. Compared to the Galaxy S10 Plus though, it’s about even in height and width, but Samsung’s new offering is narrower and a considerable 33g lighter.
- Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm; 175g
- Apple iPhone XS Max: 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm; 208g
- Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5mm; 202g
Both devices are unabashedly premium in their construction and materials, which you would hope when you bear those huge prices in mind.
Specs & features
Under the hood you’ll find the latest that either company can muster in the horsepower stakes. Samsung includes either the Exynos 9820 (UK) or Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (other regions) paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage that can be expanded by a further 512GB via the microSD card slot.
There’s also another edition that features a ceramic back and comes with either 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage or 12GB of RAM and a towering 1TB of space, both of which can also be expanded.
Apple opts for its own powerful A12 Bionic chip, flanked by 4GB of RAM and a choice of either 64GB, 256GB or 512GB of RAM. As usual, the storage space is non-expandable, so be sure to buy what you need because you won’t be able to increase it later.
Samsung has long had some of the best panels on the market, and the S10 Plus is no exception to that rule. The 6.4in Wide Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O display is huge and has the curved edges so synonymous with the brand.
Both of these devices are big in a number of ways: size, performance, and price. The iPhone XS Max is beautifully designed, packs great cameras, and speeds along without a stutter in sight.
Samsung’s S10 Plus is still fresh out of the box, and needs further testing, but so far it seems to add more features in the right areas – cameras, storage, and software – while maintaining the quality for which the Galaxy S line is known. At these crazy price points, neither is a casual purchase, but there’s no doubt you’ll be getting a powerhouse device whichever route you take.