iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Can Apple beat Samsung’s best?

iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
(Image credit: MacRumors / Tom's Guide)

Apple has been devoting extra attention to its Pro phones in recent years, adding features that make the higher-end models really stand out from the standard iPhones. That bodes well for the iPhone 16 Pro, which figures to pick up some key new features, especially with its cameras, when it arrives later this year. Will that be enough to propel the new device to a win in an iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showdown?

We can't say for certain until the iPhone 16 Pro arrives, and we get a chance to test it. But initial rumors have us excited about the new device since it should adapt the improved telephoto camera that debuted on last year's iPhone 15 Pro Max. A more powerful processor, larger display and bigger battery could all be in store for the iPhone.

It's going to need those features because the Galaxy S24 Ultra is already one of the best phones you can buy right now. Samsung's premier device has a giant screen, top-performing cameras and a powerful system-on-chip that not only helps the phone last a long time on a charge, but also outperforms Apple's best silicon in some tests.

The iPhone 16 Pro Max may be the closest match to the S24 Ultra. (And we've got an iPhone 16 Pro Max vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra preview to see how those phones might measure up.) But the iPhone 16 Pro potentially offers the chance to match the Ultra feature for feature, but at a much lower cost.

Here's how our iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra comparison is looking with a few months to go before the iPhone 16 Pro's release.

iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 iPhone 16 Pro (rumored)Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Starting price$999$1,299
Screen size6.3 inches6.8 inches
CPUA18 ProSnapdragon 8 Gen 3
Rear cameras48MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 12MP telephoto (5x zoom)200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 50MP telephoto (5x zoom), 10MP telephoto (3x zoom)
Front cameras12MP12MP
Battery size3,577 mAh5,000 mAh
SoftwareiOS 18Android 14
ColorsRose, Gray, Silver, Space BlackTitanium Black, Titanium Gray, Titanium Violet, Titanium Yellow

iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Price

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is one of the most expensive phones you can buy — certainly the priciest without a folding screen. It costs $1,299, reflecting a $100 price hike from the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

We don't know what the iPhone 16 Pro is going to cost — pricing rumors really don't pick up until we get closer to a phone's launch date — but it's safe to assume it's not going to be as expensive as the Galaxy S24 Ultra. The current iPhone 15 Pro comes in at $999 — not cheap by any means, but still $300 less than what Samsung asks. We're going to assume the iPhone 16 Pro will come in at that same amount until new pricing rumors convince us otherwise.

One note about the price disparity between the two phones — Apple typically includes 128GB of storage in the base model of the iPhone Pro, compared to 256GB for the Galaxy S24 Ultra. There's a possibility that Apple bumps up the base storage on the iPhone 16 Pro to 256GB, but nothing concrete.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has been available since the end of January 2024. We're not expecting the iPhone 16 Pro to arrive until September when the entire iPhone 16 lineup should make its debut.

iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Design and display

Unofficial renders of the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max from the front

iPhone 16 Pro (left) and iPhone 16 Pro Max (right) renders (Image credit: MacRumors)

Apple made its big design changes with the iPhone 15 Pro models, switching to a titanium frame and adding a USB-C port to replace Lightning connectivity. Those changes are all but certain to stick around for the iPhone 16 Pro.

Apple's likely to double down on another iPhone 15 Pro addition — the Action button that replaced the mute switch on Pro models, giving users a way to customize a shortcut that they could launch with the press of that button. The Action Button isn't going anywhere on the iPhone 16 Pro, and it's likely to be joined by a new Capture button. That addition should make it easier to snap photos without having to launch the Camera app.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra's biggest design change mirrored an iPhone addition, as Samsung also used titanium in the frame of its premium phone. In addition, the curved display on previous Ultra models gave way to a flat edge-to-edge panel that worked better with the S24 Ultra's included S Pen.

While we're on the subject of screens, the Galaxy S24 Ultra's 6.8-inch panel should continue to loom over the iPhone 16 Pro's screen, though the disparity may not be as big as in the past. Apple reportedly plans to move from the 6.1-inch display that the iPhone 15 Pro used to a new 6.3-inch panel for the iPhone 16 Pro. At the same time, the iPhone 16 Pro's bezels are supposed to shrink to 1.2mm from 1.71mm on the current model. That will give iPhone users more screen space to work with, though obviously the Ultra will continue to be the best device for people who want the most display.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra in hand.

Galaxy S24 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

One iPhone 16 Pro rumor claims that Apple's looking to boost display brightness on that phone by 20%. Considering the iPhone 15 Pro panel claims a peak brightness of 1,600 nits (with a peak of 2,000 nits in direct sunlight), that would improve the overall peak brightness to around 2,000 nits (and 2,400 nits in direct sunlight). That's an impressive gain, but it would still be short of the 2,600 nits Samsung promises for the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

It's fairly early for iPhone 16 Pro color rumors, but the initial favorites are Rose, Gray, Silver and Space Black options. That compares to Titanium Black, Titanium Gray, Titanium Violet and Titanium Yellow for the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Cameras

iPhone 16 Pro render blue bg

iPhone 16 Pro render (Image credit: @MajinBuOfficial)

Camera comparisons always turn out to be an interesting battleground for Apple and Samsung phones, with the Galaxy S24 Ultra claiming a hardware advantage. Samsung equips that model with a 200MP main camera, compared to the 48MP sensor that Apple's Pro models use. 

Recent Ultra phones have had a big advantage on the zoom front, with dual telephoto lenses that let you get incredibly close to faraway subjects. Yet, the Galaxy S24 Ultra arguably took a step back by replacing the 10MP telephoto lens that supported a 10X optical zoom for 50MP sensor that tops out at 5x. Put another way, Samsung exchanged power and distance for a sharper picture.

The iPhone 16 Pro could be in a position to take advantage, should it end up adopting the tetraprism zoom lens Apple debuted with the iPhone 15 Pro Max last fall. Rumors tip that feature to come to both Pro phones in the iPhone 16 lineup, which would give the Pro model a 5x optical zoom. The Galaxy S24 Ultra would still have the greater zoom range, as it suports Samsung's 100x Space Zoom feature (though at that distance, you really need to use a tripod to steady your phone).

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra in hand.

Galaxy S24 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

A new telephoto lens isn't the only camera change rumored for the iPhone 16 Pro. The ultrawide lens has been tipped to jump from 12MP to 48MP, which should produce crisper images than the S24 Ultra's 12MP ultrawide shooter. One rumor also predicts that Apple will adopt a new lens coating meant to mitigate the effects of lens flare on your shots.

As always, hardware only tells some of the story with smartphone cameras, as photo processing and editing features are a key part of the comparisons, too. We're unlikely to know what to expect from the iPhone 16 Pro on that front until we have a chance to test the phone for ourselves.

iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Performance

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review.

Galaxy S24 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

Once a dominant area for Apple's phones, performance comparisons between the top handsets have gotten much closer, thanks to recent Qualcomm silicon powering the best Android phones. In the Galaxy S24 Ultra's case, that's the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 system-on-chip, which delivers the kind of performance to challenge Apple's current iPhones.

In our Galaxy S24 Ultra benchmarks, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 actually posted better numbers on some graphics tests than the A17-powered iPhone 15 Pro models. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 also bested the A17 on Geekbench's multicore test, though the iPhone 15 Pro was able to transcode a video faster in Adobe Premiere Rush.

The iPhone 16 Pro will get its chance to go up against the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered Galaxy S24 Ultra with the likely help of Apple's new A18 silicon. (In fact, all iPhone 16 models are supposed to feature the A18 system-on-chip, though the Pro handsets should get a more powerful variation.) We'd expect improvements from the A18 over the A17 Pro, but that's only a guess until we have a chance to benchmark the phone ourselves. Leaked A18 benchmark scores paint an impressive picture.

iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Battery life and charging

Four molds of the iPhone 16

iPhone 16 molds (Image credit: ShopSystem)

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 helps the Galaxy S24 Ultra in areas other than performance. Qualcomm's chipset also has excellent power management features that combine with the Galaxy S24 Ultra's 5,000 mAh battery to help the Samsung phone last a long time on a charge.

Specifically, the Galaxy S24 Ultra lasted 16 hours and 45 minutes on our battery test, which is more than 6.5 hours longer than the average smartphone's result. That puts the S24 Ultra in the upper half of our best phone battery life list where it's the longest-lasting Samsung phone that we've tested.

The iPhone 16 Pro is at something of a disadvantage here, given how its smaller size limits just how big of a battery Apple can use. For comparison's sake, the iPhone 15 Pro features a 3,290 mAh power pack, though the iPhone 16 Pro is rumored to be getting a slightly larger cell. At any rate, we'd expect the iPhone 16 Pro to improve on its predecessor's battery test result of 10 hours and 53 minutes, just about an hour better than the category average.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra features 45W charging, not as fast as some Android phones, but certainly faster than the iPhone 15 Pro's 27W charging speed. (Note that Apple only lists 20W charging speeds for its phones, but it's believed that the devices can charge a little faster than advertised.) We haven't heard any rumors about charging improvements to the iPhone 16 Pro, but last year's switch to USB does give Apple the theoretical option of speeding things up.

iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Software and special features

iOS 18 logo on iPhone

(Image credit: Future)

AI figures to be the talking point here, and Samsung has already thrown down its marker with Galaxy AI features debuting on its flagship phones with the Galaxy S24 release earlier this year. Features that you can enjoy on the Galaxy S24 Ultra include Circle to Search, assistance writing chats and summarizing web pages, and photo-editing tools that let you adjust the composition of photos.

That puts the Galaxy S24 Ultra well ahead of Apple's phone when it comes to AI capabilities, but that figures to change now that Apple has unveiled its take on AI, dubbed Apple Intelligence. In addition to a revamped Siri that can handle more sophisticated tasks, Apple Intelligence features writing tools and generative image capabilities. It's all part of the  iOS 18 that's currently availaable as a developer beta. 

We'll know a bit more about how the iPhone 16 Pro's AI capabilities will measure up the Galaxy AI features on board the Galaxy S24 Ultra once the iOS 18 public beta arrives in July and we can install it on the current iPhones capable of supporting Apple Intelligence (just the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max). Even then we may not have the complete picture, as Apple may reserve some AI capabilities for its iPhone 16 models that are tied specifically to the hardware on board those phones. If that's the case, don't expect any details until the new phones launch in the fall.

iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Outlook

As you can see, a lot of unknowns remain about the iPhone 16 Pro, and those blanks are unlikely to get filled in until the phone arrives. But from what we have heard about Apple's less expensive Pro model, any iPhone 16 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra face-off figures to be a lively one. Samsung's phone may have the larger display, but it sounds like Apple is ready to match the rest, feature for feature.

More from Tom's Guide

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.