Do we have a good one for you today – the new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus goes up against the Apple iPhone X in a battle of high-end smartphones. These two devices are at the peak of Samsung and Apple’s engineering. Many that read this article will think that this is another Android website praising their Galaxy S9 Plus while looking down at its archrival, the iPhone X – but can we help it if our device is simply a notch better?
Because Samsung completely redesigned the Galaxy S8 Plus last year, the Galaxy S9 Plus is more of an evolutionary upgrade over its predecessor. Samsung took the best of its Infinity Display and refined it, while revamping its imaging capabilities by adding a dual-camera setup with some remarkable features, and finally upgrading its processor and GPU to the latest Snapdragon configuration. After coming out with its new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Apple decided since it was the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, it should bring out a third model, the iPhone X with a notch taken out of its 5.8-inch display. Apple said it needed it for their new 3D facial recognition camera, but including the notch all the way across the top of the display would also be an option, one that's called a bezel. In fairness to the new iPhone X, at least Apple got rid of its huge top and bottom bezels – like those found on the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and rid the device of its massive home button/fingerprint sensor. This only begs the question further about the notch as Apple had no problem for years including a huge bezel on the top of the iPhone, but now is reluctant to add a small one across the top, and thinks a notch is a better idea. Before we examine each individual device, we will first see what these two flagships have in common, if anything.
As you peruse down the specs for these two devices, you can see that they are very different from each other. The Galaxy S9 Plus and the Apple iPhone X both use the new display ratios of 18.5:9 and 19.5:9, respectively, a Super AMOLED display – Samsung provides them to Apple – although the Galaxy S9 Plus has a larger display, a much higher resolution, and no notch. Both use special glass for protection on the front, a metal frame, and a glass backing – Gorilla Glass 5 on the Galaxy S9 Plus, though the iPhone X is unknown. Both devices come standard with 64GB of RAM with an option for 256GB, however, the Galaxy S9 Plus also has a 128GB model and uses expandable memory while the iPhone X does not. Both devices have a dual-camera setup and both use 12-megapixel sensors for their two cameras. They both have a quick charge option as well as Qi wireless charging, although the Galaxy S9 Plus has Quick Wireless charging for both the Qi and PMA technologies. The Galaxy S9 Plus and iPhone X will work on all major US carriers and include stereo speakers, some form of water and dust resistance, Bluetooth 5.0, facial recognition, a heart rate monitor, some form of a personal assistant, and their own mobile payments solutions.
Please take a careful look at the detailed specifications comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two high-end 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
The new Galaxy S9 Plus will be released in a few days, so we want to take this opportunity to compare it to the Apple iPhone X – this is strictly a specification and features comparison. Samsung kept the basic look of the completely redesigned Galaxy S8 Plus from last year, but tweaked the side edges of the display a bit and added a dual-camera setup to its back. It increased the Hi-Res Audio and added stereo speakers, while keeping the headphone jack. Samsung repositioned the fingerprint sensor below the camera lenses to help prevent smudges on the lens. By combining the facial recognition and iris scanner, Samsung released its new Intelligent Scan for a faster and more secure authentication experience. Another new feature is called AR Emoji – Samsung’s answer to Apple’s Animoji – which allows you to immortalize yourself as a digital avatar.
The new Galaxy S9 Plus uses the same-sized 6.2-inch Infinity Display as its predecessor, the Galaxy S8 Plus. However, Samsung improved its Super AMOLED panel and adjusted the curved edges, making it easier to pick up the device, as well as hold the device without activating any apps. The display has an 18.5:9 aspect ratio for a better entertainment and multitasking experience. The pixel resolution is 2960 x 1440 with a 570 pixels-per-inch (PPI) density. It is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and employs the Always-On display to help save its battery life and generally be a convenience to the user. As usual, Samsung sells two models of its handset – one for the US/China market that uses the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 clocked at 2.70GHz, and for outstanding graphics, it packs the new Adreno 630 GPU. The EMEA model sold in most other regions around the world is powered by the Exynos 9810 clocked at 2.70GHz and the Mali-G72 MP18 GPU. The Galaxy S9 Plus uses 6GB of LPDDR4 RAM (the Galaxy S9 uses 4GB) and 64GB of expandable memory, although Samsung claims a 128GB and 256GB models will be produced, but getting one depends on your location and willingness to buy a smartphone unlocked without a carrier plan.
The Galaxy Note 8 was the first flagship from Samsung to include a dual camera setup. Critics assumed that the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus would also sport one but Samsung only gave it to the Plus model. The Galaxy S9 Plus includes a new dual 12-megapixel sensor array with new Super Dual Pixels and an adaptive aperture in the main camera that allows for better low-light (f/1.5) and bright-light (f/2.4) shooting conditions. It has phase detection autofocus (PDAF), Dual-Tone LED flash, auto HDR, and OIS. The secondary camera offers 2x Optical Zoom and 10x Digital Zoom. It uses the same fine 8-megapixel sensor for its front-facing camera (FFC) as the Galaxy S8 Plus, with autofocus, a wide-angle lens with an f/1.7 aperture, and Auto HDR support. The Galaxy S9 Plus packs a 3,500mAh non-removable battery with support for Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging and includes quick wireless charging for both Qi and PMA formats.
The Galaxy S9 Plus has many features – some, like the SpO2 sensor, you may never use, but others, like Samsung Pay or Intelligent Scan, you may always use. Samsung’s personal assistant Bixby comes pre-installed on the device with its own button on the left edge. Bixby will answer simple questions, as well as give you access to more advanced features such as identifying architectural landmarks when you look through the camera lens. It comes with the usual Samsung features such as Samsung Pay, Android Pay, a heart rate monitor, an SpO2 sensor, and an IP68 certification for water and dust resistance. The new Intelligent Scan uses both the iris scanner and the facial recognition feature for a more secure and faster identification. Samsung finally gives us stereo speakers (on the S9 as well) for superior sound and AR Emoji are entertaining, if a bit useless, whereas the blood pressure monitor is an industry first. Samsung’s new and improved DeX module (sold separately) allows you to turn your phone into a ‘desktop’ experience and the S9 Plus can function as a trackpad. The smartphone is available in Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Titanium Gray, and Lilac Purple, depending on your market and carrier, and comes with Android 8.0 Oreo running out of the box. The device measures 157.7 x 73.8 x 8.5mm and weighs in at 189 grams. It is retailing for about $930.
Apple iPhone X
When the new iPhones were announced, Tim Cook told the audience the iPhone X is a glimpse into the future of iPhones. It is certainly the company's boldest and most modern design effort to date, as Apple generally lags behind the times when it comes to such things. Look at the sameness of the original iPhone from 2007 to the iPhone 8 in 2017 – those devices were changed slightly in their shape, but they always had large top and bottom bezels with a big home button. For years, Apple refused to offer a larger display, yet now, the larger displays are outselling the smaller versions. The iPhone public kept buying the iPhone with its larger bezels, while the smaller bezels are more modern-looking, as well as practical - so finally, the iPhone X addresses that. AMOLED displays are the future, but Apple stuck with the LCD format up until the iPhone X. Do the iPhone X’s improvements make it a better device than the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus? Let’s see that in this comparison.
Apple finally switched over to a Super AMOLED display (made by Samsung but designed in-house), features a 5.8-inch display that sports a 19.5:9 aspect ratio for a better entertainment experience, and includes Dolby Vision and HDR 10. The pixel resolution is at an odd 2436 x 1125 that amounts to a density of 458 PPI. The display has an awkward cutout notch in the top middle of the device, which makes viewing in the horizontal mode a bit strange – many apps are not updated for the new Apple ‘Safe Zone” specs. The display retains Apple’s 3D Touch capabilities, which is a nice feature allowing the user to apply multiple pressures on the display for additional options. It uses its own Apple A11 Bionic chip and Apple GPU for graphics but offers no speed specifications. It is packing only 3GB of RAM and a base of 64GB of non-expandable memory. If you want more memory you must purchase the 256GB model, as the 128GB option has been dropped.
A few years ago, Apple ruled the mobile camera scores, but it has long been surpassed by several Android flagships – in fact, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus has the number-one rated camera – not by much, but DxOMark rated it better than the iPhone X and even the Google Pixel 2. The iPhone X offers dual 12-megapixel cameras mounted in a vertical position on the back left edge of the device. The main camera has an aperture of f/1.8, while the secondary camera is fixed at f/2.4 with a 2x Optical Zoom. Both cameras offer OIS, PDAF, and a quad-LED dual-tone flash. The FCC is a 7-megapixel affair with an aperture of f/2.2 for selfies and its proprietary Appletalk video chatting. Apple included a non-removable 2,716mAh battery with a rapid charge feature and finally includes standard wireless charging, but only for the Qi format.
The Apple iPhone X comes with stereo speakers, but no Hi-Res audio. It does offer an IP67 certification for dust and water resistance but does not go as far as the IP68 certification. Apple removed its fingerprint sensor from the iPhone X, so you must rely on Face ID to unlock your device or a passcode. The iPhone X does not include a 3.5mm headphone jack and uses Apple’s proprietary Lightning Port with an included dongle to use wired headphones. An iPhone X user is limited to Apple Pay so your shopping is limited only to merchants that purchased the necessary hardware to accept Apple Pay. Apple’s heralded Siri is ready, willing, and able to serve you. It arrives with iOS 11.0.2 and will be regularly updated for four more years. It measures 143.8 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm, and weighs in at 174 grams. It is available in only two colors – Silver and Space Gray. The iPhone X will cost about $1,000 outright for the 64GB model and about $1,150 for the 256GB model.
...And The Winner Is...
The Final Word
There was never a doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus would beat out the Apple iPhone X – not because it is an Android device, but because it is overwhelmingly better. We could have discussions all day about the closed iOS versus the openness of Android and the power to customize your Android device to look the way you want it to look, as well as to notch or not to notch, but just look at the specifications.
The Galaxy S9 Plus has a larger display with a better resolution and its Always-On feature. The main advantage the iPhone X has over the Galaxy S9 Plus is its processors that's undeniably faster. Still, the Galaxy S9 Plus offers double the RAM and expandable memory, has a much larger battery, and supports Quick Wireless charging for both popular platforms. The dual cameras on the Galaxy S9 Plus offer an adaptive aperture with a larger f/1.5 aperture for low-light pictures and an f/2.4 aperture for bright light situations and a larger FCC with autofocus, a better (and variable) aperture to capture low-light photos, and auto HDR. The Galaxy S9 Plus includes Hi-Res audio with its stereo speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a higher IP68 certification, a built-in heart rate monitor, SpO2 sensor, a DeX option, and Samsung Pay that offers more available POS options.
Add to that the fluid design of the Galaxy S9 Plus with its curved Infinity Display versus the rounded off iPhone X with its notch and the fact that the iPhone X actually costs about $70 more than the Galaxy S9 Plus and you have a no-brainer – the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is the winner of this comparison.