The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is one of the best foldable devices on the market, and the series has been very successful since it launched a few years ago. Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max is also a very successful product, and it’s currently sitting on the throne as one of the best flagships of 2021. Today, we’ll put the Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max head-to-head, to see which one is worth considering.
If you’re an Apple user thinking about jumping ship to the new Galaxy Z Fold 3, you might want to take a look at the brand new Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series, and the best Galaxy Watch 4 bands to perfectly match your setup with a great smartwatch. If you haven’t quite decided yet, we have also compared the Galaxy Watch 4 vs Apple Watch 6 to help you find out if it’s worth switching.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Specifications
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on the outer screen and back panel
Stainless steel mid-frame
“Ceramic Shield” for glass protection
Dimensions & Weight
Folded: 67.1 x 158.2 x 16 ~14.4mm
Unfolded: 128.1 x 158.2 x 6.4mm
6.2-inch HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X
120Hz adaptive refresh rate
7.6-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X
120Hz adaptive refresh rate
6.7″ Super Retina XDR OLED Display
2,778 x 1,284 resolution, 458 PPI
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
1x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex X1-based) Prime core @ 2.84GHz
3x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex A78-based) Performance cores @ 2.4GHz
4x Kryo 680 (ARM Cortex A55-based) Efficiency cores @ 1.8GHz
RAM & Storage
256/512GB UFS 3.1 storage
Battery & Charging
4,400mAh dual-cell battery
25W fast charging support
10W wireless charging support
4.5W reverse wireless charging
3,687 mAh battery as per certification listings
15W Wireless Charging with MagSafe
7.5W Qi Wireless Charging
Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
Face ID (TrueDepth camera for facial recognition)
Primary: 12MP, f/1.8, Dual Pixel AF, OIS
Ultra-wide: 12MP, f/2.2, 123° FoV
Telephoto: 12MP, f/2.4, PDAF, Dual OIS, 2x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom
Secondary: 12MP, Ultra-wide angle
Outer camera: 10MP, f/2.2
Inner camera: 4MP, f/1.8, under-display sensor
Proprietary Lightning port
4X4 MIMO, 7CA, LAA, LTE Cat.20
Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
One UI based on Android 11
S Pen Fold Edition/S Pen Pro support
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max: Design
There are many differences between the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s design. The iPhone is fairly slim at 7.4 mm, while the Z Fold 3 is 6.4 mm when unfolded and 16 mm folded at its thickest angle. Considering you’re holding a smaller tablet is a good trade-off, but it’ll likely take some getting used to.
When using the cover screen, the Fold 3 is narrower than the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and it may not be the best experience while typing longer texts, although you’ll certainly get used to it over time. Surprisingly, the iPhone is 2 mm taller than the Z Fold 3, and reaching the top of the display is a challenging task even for those with larger than average hands.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max has IP68 water and dust protection, while the Galaxy Z Fold 3 only features IPX8, which means it’s only certified against water. This means you’re strongly advised against taking this phone down to the beach with you since dust can get stuck in the hinge and ruin the moving components inside the device. Both devices can handle water, although the iPhone is rated for up to 6m depth, while the Galaxy is “only” rated for 1.5m for 30 minutes. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means — you should always keep technology away from water — but it’s good to know that spilling liquid on the table won’t damage either of these smartphones.
When it gets to usability and one-handedness, the iPhone is tall and wide, and hard to use single-handedly, while the Z Fold 3 is narrower and easier to use on average, that is if only the cover screen is used. Once you unfold the phone, you’ll more than likely be required to use both hands if you want to use it with ease.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max: Performance
Both devices are equipped with the most premium chipsets. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 5G capable chipset, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max is powered by Apple’s latest and most powerful A14 Bionic chipset. Both SoCs are based on the 5nm process, which means they’re more efficient and powerful than their predecessors. Both smartphones are excellent for multitasking and playing graphics-intensive games, not to mention the battery life should also be great for both.
Neither of the devices come with a wall adapter inside the box, although Samsung does include a 25W fast charger if you pre-order the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Otherwise, you have to buy a fast charger separately for each device to take advantage of faster charging speeds. Based on already published reviews, the battery life is supposed to be better on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but we’d recommend you hang tight and wait for our full review of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 to see our findings.
When it comes to multitasking, the Z Fold 3 is the clear winner since the larger display offers more space to open up to three applications on the large display and swap them around, and re-size them at any given time. On the other hand, the iPhone 12 Pro Max still doesn’t offer any split-screen functionality, making the app switching rather seamless.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max: Camera
Both devices’ cameras are rated as excellent, even if the Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes with the same camera setup as last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 2. Samsung has made some upgrades to the algorithm and the software. While most of the shots are comparable to the Galaxy S21 flagship lineup, the telephoto camera is far less powerful than the one on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The selfie shooter on the main (inner) screen is also not great for most tasks. Even Samsung is only recommending it for unlocking the device or using it for video conferencing.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is one of the best camera smartphones on the market today. It offers a 12MP main, a 12MP telephoto with 3.5x optical zoom, and a 12MP ultrawide sensor. While the Galaxy Z Fold 3 also has a triple 12MP setup, the iPhone shoots better telephoto pictures, and often yields better results in low light conditions or at night.
The Z Fold 3 is excellent for everyday life and when out-and-about, but it’s important to keep in mind that while the camera is sufficient for most people, tech enthusiasts might not be delighted with the results when comparing the results with other high-end, premium flagships. It’s great, but if you want the best camera, you should consider the Galaxy S21 Ultra, or the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Should you buy Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max?
Which device is best for you — the Galaxy Z Fold 3 or the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max? It’s a tricky question as both devices are aimed at entirely different people. If you’re already in the ecosystem, have multiple Apple products, and like the simplicity of iOS, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is likely a better choice. It has a better camera, better battery life, and while it’s not great for one-handed use, it’s also comfortable to hold with its slim design.
Apple’s latest and most high-end, premium device. It comes with one of the fastest chipsets on the market and the best cameras.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is also a powerhouse with decent battery life, and great camera performance. The Fold 3 is also best used by those who multitask a lot and want to take advantage of a larger, secondary display that they can use for entertainment, playing games, taking notes with the S Pen, or multitasking using multiple apps simultaneously.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is the latest foldable flagship from Samsung. It has an IPX8 certificate, supports the S Pen, and comes with the powerful Snapdragon 888 chipset.
Overall, both devices are excellent, but if we had to pick, it would come down to which of the main features matter to you. If you want a truly unique device and you have the money, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 offers an experience like no other phone on the market today. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the best Apple has to offer in terms of performance, battery, and camera for your hard-earned cash.
Roland is a technology enthusiast and software engineer based in United Kingdom. He is also a content creator and writer, and is best known under the name “Techusiast”.