Phone Comparisons: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus vs Google Pixel 2 XL

Cory Comp March 12


Do we have a good one for you today – the new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus takes on the pride of Google, the Pixel 2 XL. We always love a comparison that involves a Google Pixel device, especially when it goes up against a Samsung device. These two smartphone users are some of the most passionate in the industry and there is always a war of words in the aftermath of the comparison. The new Pixel 2 XL hit the shelves in October 2017 while the newest Galaxy S9 Plus will be available later this month. Here we will compare the specifications and features of both of these flagship phones. Both devices use the AMOLED technology, both have a great camera section, and both have a high price tag to match. Does the Pixel 2 XL have enough specs and features to stand up to the newest Galaxy S9 Plus? This comparison should help answer that question. Before we look at each individual device, let’s take a look at what they have in common.

The Galaxy S9 Plus and the Pixel 2 XL do have a few things in common – or are at least leaning in the same direction. Both have displays that top the 6-inch (at a minimum) mark and both use the OLED display technology. They also feature an 18:9 aspect ratio, a WQHD resolution, and both use the Always-On feature for notifications. In the all-important processor and GPU area, both use a Snapdragon and an Adreno GPU, but different models. The Galaxy S9 Plus and Pixel 2 XL have a base internal memory of 64GB, but the S9 Plus offers other options as well, such as expandable memory. Both devices have a terrific camera area – the Pixel has a 12-megapixel with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera (FFC) while the S9 Plus has dual 12-megapixel cameras and an 8-megapixel FFC. Both use an almost identical sized non-removable battery – 3,500mAh in the S9 Plus and 3,520mAh in the Pixel 2 XL – with fast charging. Size-wise they are very close with almost identical height with the S9 Plus slightly narrower, thicker, and 14 grams heavier. Both devices have Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, and a USB 3.1 Type-C port for charging and data transfer. You will find stereo speakers on both devices, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, water and dust resistance, and both are running Android 8.0 Oreo.


Please take a careful look at the detailed specifications comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two high-end Android smartphones stack up against each other. After that, we will look at each mobile offering in more detail and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on overall specs, as well as the execution of design and functions.



Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

Samsung announced its latest arsenal at MWC 2018 – the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus. After a quick glance at the front, one would think that it looks much like its Galaxy S8 predecessor…you would be correct. After Samsung’s major redesign on the Galaxy S8 last year, they figured why mess with good thing, so they made only incremental improvements. They added the newest Snapdragon processor and GPU, increased the RAM to 6GB on the Galaxy S9 Plus, improved the Hi-Res audio through new stereo speakers, and kept the 3.5mm headphone jack. Samsung reworked the camera area on both models but gave the S9 Plus a dual camera arrangement with a lens on the main camera that can focus like the pupil of a human eye – for low-light shots the aperture opens up and on bright sunny days, it can close up. Another exciting feature is called Intelligent Scan that uses both the facial recognition and iris scan to quickly authenticate an individual. The new AR Emoji feature is Samsung’s answer to the iPhone’s Animoji, although Samsung claims their AR Emoji has been in the works long before Apple introduced their product.


The Galaxy S9 Plus sports a 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display that Samsung has tweaked to make it even better. The curved edges on the display are a little smaller, making it easier to pick up the device as well as hold it in your hand without accidentally activating an on screen app. It has the WQHD display with a resolution of 2960 x 1440 pixels and 531 pixels-per-inch (PPI). Gorilla Glass 5 protects the Always-On display, which allows the user to quickly glance at their notifications and make the decision to wake-up the device to read the notification in greater detail. Like most Samsung flagships, the US/China version uses the newest Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor clocked at 2.7GHz with an Adreno 630 GPU. Models for the EMEA countries use the Exynos 9810 octa-core clocked at 2.7GHz and a Mali-G72-MP18 GPU. Both processors are excellent and full of the speed and light battery usage. The S9 Plus packs 6GB of DDR4 RAM and a base of 64GB of expandable internal memory. Models will be sold with 128GB and 256GB of memory, but it will depend on your area and carrier whether or not you can order one.

The Galaxy Note 8 debuted last fall and showed up with a dual camera, leading techies to assume that the new Galaxy S9 series would also come with dual cameras, but following Apple’s lead, only the S9 Plus has a dual camera setup. It has dual 12-megapixel cameras with Samsung’s improved Super Dual Pixels, PDAF, OIS, 2x Optical Zoom, 10x Digital Zoom, and dual-tone LED flash. What really makes this camera standout is its new adaptive aperture on the main camera that ranges from a large f/1.5 to a smaller f/2.4. This makes for better lowlight and bright light photography. The FCC is the same 8-megapixel lens with an aperture of f/1.7, auto-HDR, and autofocus, which translates into some great selfies and video chatting. The Galaxy S9 Plus uses the same non-removable 3,500mAh found on the S8 Plus. It will certainly last you throughout the day and uses Samsung’s Adaptive Charge or quick wireless charging for a fast charge when you need one.

The Galaxy S9 Plus has so many features it is hard to list them all. Exciting for users is the new dual cameras with the adaptive aperture and 2x Optical Zoom, the upgraded Hi-Res audio and stereo speakers, Intelligent Scan, and the new SD845 and the Adreno 630 GPU. Most will enjoy the new AR Emoji feature where you can turn your own photo into an emoji and send to others on social media. The Galaxy S9 Plus has the usual Samsung goodies – Samsung Pay, IP68 certification, Heart rate monitor, SpO2 sensor, Bixby personal assistant, and an improved Samsung DeX that allows you to make your S9 Plus into a desktop computer. Of course, Android 8.0 Oreo, along with the new and less invasive Samsung Experience 9.0 (UI) ships on the new S9 Plus. The device measures 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5mm and weighs in at 189 grams. It comes in Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Titanium Gray, or Lilac Purple. Retail pricing ranges from $915 to $930, but there are quite a few promotions going on for pre-orders.


Google Pixel 2 XL

The first Pixel lineup had an excellent camera, but was otherwise unexciting. Google took the time to polish the second generation, the Pixel 2 series, into some excellent devices. This comparison looks at the flagship Pixel 2 XL and just how it stands up to the new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. The Pixel 2 XL is modern looking with a near bezel-less P-OLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Two new additions to the Pixel 2 XL are the Active Edge that allows you to squeeze the sides of the phone to launch Google Assistant or silence an incoming call. The other, Google Lens, can identify details about photos, such as what kind of flower you might be looking at or details about a movie from the title. Although you can buy an unlocked Pixel 2 phone online, Verizon is once again the exclusive dealer, with pricing about $849 for the 64GB version.


The Pixel 2 XL sports a nice 6-inch P-OLED WQHD display with a resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels, giving it 538 PPI. Google followed the lead of other flagship devices by switching over to the 18:9 aspect ratio and added an Always-On display (like the Galaxy S9 Plus) for quick and easy notifications. This delivery system saves battery life and allows the user to quickly see if they want to wake up their device to read more details. The Pixel 2 devices use the 2017 Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor clocked at 2.35GHz and use an Adreno 540 GPU for excellent graphics. The Pixel 2 XL comes with 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 64GB of non-expandable internal storage. You can also purchase one with 128GB of memory for an additional $100.

The Google Nexus line never placed much emphasis on its camera, but all of that changed with the new Pixel line. The first iteration had the highest marks DxOMark gives a mobile camera and up until the new Galaxy S9 series came out, the Pixel 2 had the highest rating. The Pixel 2 XL uses a single 12-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.8, both EIS and OIS for stabilization, laser and PDAF for quick focusing, and a dual-tone flash. For the FFC Google used an 8-megapixel lens with a fixed focus and a small, f/2.4 aperture. The Pixel 2 XL packs a large 3,520mAh non-removable battery that should easily last an entire day. It comes with fast charging when you do need a charge.

The Google Pixel 2 XL is a true flagship and it holds up well against other Samsung and LG smartphones. However, for the features, which exclude memory expansion, no Hi-Res audio, and no 3.5mm headphone jack, the price does seem a little hefty. It does have a great camera and stereo speakers, but its Active Edge needs to do more to be really effective. Google added IP67 water and dust resistance, but did not take it further to IP68 like other manufacturers. It is running the latest Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box and will receive the fastest updates. The Pixel 2 XL measures 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm, and weighs in at 175 grams. It is available in two colors – Just Black and Black & White. The Pixel 2 XL will cost about $849 with 64GB of RAM and $949 with 128GB of RAM and is available at the Google Store, Best Buy and as an exclusive through Verizon.


…And The Winner Is…

The Final Word


There is no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus wins this specification comparison. Please, no whining from the Google Pixel fans – it is great to be a fan of a particular device, but facts are facts – look over the specifications. The Galaxy S9 Plus has a better display, faster and more efficient processor, a better GPU, more RAM, expandable memory, quick wireless charging, better water and dust resistance, Hi-Res audio, a 3.5mm headphone jack, Intelligent Scan, and Samsung Pay. You want to talk cameras – the new S9 Plus stole the number one spot from the Pixel 2 devices – sure it is only one point better, but it is still number one.

Other than the fastest Android updates, the Pixel 2 XL is just not up to the task of beating out the Galaxy S9 Plus. The Pixel 2 XL is a great device, but is over-priced for the features you get. The Galaxy S9 Plus just simply outclasses the Pixel 2 XL.

Buy The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Buy The Google Pixel 2 XL