Do we have a good one for you today – the Samsung Galaxy S9 takes on the Google Pixel 2. Both of these flagships are their respective seller’s base model, and what I mean by that is there is a Galaxy S9 Plus and a Pixel 2 XL rounding out the top design. Yes, I know that the Pixel 2 was released five months before the Galaxy S9, but until Google releases the Pixel 3 (or whatever they will name it), the Pixel 2 is their ‘newest’ model. We wanted to see just how it stacks up to the powerhouse Galaxy S9. Certainly the Galaxy S9 is the winner in the looks department. While Samsung’s pair of devices have the same look, Google modernized the Pixel 2 XL, but left the Pixel 2 back in time with the 16:9 aspect ratio with large bezels. We will first take a look at what these two devices have in common, then look at the spec sheet below before we look at each individual smartphone.
Despite the almost 1-inch difference in display size enjoyed by the Galaxy S9, physically, these two devices are very close in size. Both have water and dust repellency, but the S9 has an IP68 rating while the Pixel 2 has an IP67 rating. Both use an AMOLED display, but the S9 uses a QHD+ resolution while the Pixel 2 uses the older FHD resolution. The both come with an Always-On display and both use Gorilla Glass 5 for protection. The S9 and Pixel 2 use a Snapdragon/Adreno combo, but the S9 has the newer model. Both pack 4GB of RAM and 64GB of base memory - only the S9 is expandable, although there is a Pixel 2 available with 128GB on memory. Both use a 12-megapixel main camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera (FFC). You will find stereo speakers on both devices, but only on the S9 will you find a 3.5mm headphone jack. Both have rear-mounted fingerprint sensors, a 3.1 Type-C 1.0 reversible port for charging and data transfer, and both have the usual WiFi, Bluetooth v5.0, and fast charging non-removable batteries.
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
The Samsung Galaxy S9 is Samsung's basic flagship with the S9 Plus topping the list. No notches here, but Samsung did followed Apple by coming out with two new flagships, forcing you to purchase the S9 Plus model to get all of the 'goodies'. The S9 has a smaller display, less RAM, and one camera while the S9 Plus has a larger display, 6GB of RAM, and dual cameras. The Galaxy S9 does come with just about every other feature – the new processor/GPU, Hi-Res audio with stereo speakers, and the new Super Dual Pixels in the same 12-megapixel camera with Adaptive Aperture. Samsung moved the fingerprint sensor from the side of the camera to below the camera lens for less smudging, but it is still rather close. Samsung also added AR Emoji for fun and Intelligent Scan (iris + facial recognition working simultaneously) for more accurate and faster authentication.
The Samsung Super AMOLED Infinity Display is arguably the best you can get on a smartphone. The Galaxy S9 sports a 5.8-inch Infinity Display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio that makes for a slightly narrower, but taller display, which is great for media activities and multi-window tasking. It uses the QHD+ technology that provides a 2960 x 1440 pixel resolution with 570 pixels-per-inch (PPI). It uses the Always-On feature to make it easier for the user to glance at their notifications and at the same time saving battery life. The displays are slightly less curved than their predecessor in an effort to make it easier to pick up and hold the device in your hand without activating an app on the display. Gorilla Glass 5 protects the display.
The US/China version of the Samsung Galaxy S9 uses the newest Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor clocked at 2.7GHz with an Adreno 630 GPU for outstanding graphics. Models sold in the EMEA countries use Samsung’s own Exynos 9810 octa-core processor clocked at 2.7GHz and a Mali-G72-MP18 GPU. Either processor is comparable in performance. The Galaxy S9 is packing 4GB of RAM and a base of 64GB of storage. Samsung will also manufacture both the S9 and S9 Plus with 128GB or 256GB of memory, but again, it will depend on where you live and which carrier you use.
The camera area of the Galaxy is one of the most exciting new features, not because the S9 uses a 12-megapixel Super Dual Pixel for its camera, but for an exciting new piece of technology called Adaptive Aperture that works like the human eye’s iris. When the camera senses a bright light situation, the aperture will reduce itself to f/2.4, but when the camera senses a lowlight situation, it will open wider to an f/1.5 aperture. It also uses Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF), OIS, 10x Digital Zoom, and an LED flash. The FFC is the same 8-megapixel used on the Galaxy S8, but includes a larger aperture of f/1.7, auto-HDR, and has autofocus.
A 3,000 mAh capacity battery powers the Galaxy S9 that is the same size used in the Galaxy S8. Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging or quick wireless charging for both Qi and PMA formats will quickly charge your Galaxy S9. The battery should last most users an entire day, but for those that are heavy users, Samsung will make sure you will be charged up in no time.
Samsung flagships come with a mired of apps and exclusive features – Samsung Pay, Samsung’s personal assistant Bixby, and their new Intelligent Scan that uses both the iris scanner and facial recognition for a more secure and faster way to identify you. More standard accessories are the heart rate monitor, the O2 sensor, and IP68 certification for water and dust resistance. This year the big addition has to go to the stereo speakers, which are long overdue. The new AR Emoji feature that is trying to mimic iPhone’s twist on a self-emoji is a fun addition, but needs some work. The new blood pressure monitor is an industry first. Samsung’s DeX module (sold separately) is new and improved for the Galaxy S9. The Galaxy S9 is available in Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple, Burgundy Red, and Sunset Gold depending on your market and carrier, and comes with Android 8.0 Oreo running out of the box. The device measures 147.6 x 68.7 x 8.4mm and weighs in at 163 grams. It is retailing from $750 to $800, but there are quite a few promotions going on at dealers.
Google Pixel 2
Google made the name switch last year from Nexus to Pixel, so the Google Pixel 2 is the second generation. Although the pricing is rather high for what you get, the Pixel devices have truly elevated Google’s phones to real flagship status. While the Pixel 2 XL looks like a modern flagship, the Pixel 2 looks a little dated with its large bezels and 16:9 display ratio. Outwardly they may look dated, but inside they use the best processor/GPU available at the time, along with the AMOLED display technology. Google added an Active Edge that lets the user ‘squeeze’ the sides of the phone to launch Google Assistant and Google Lens that can identify details from photos. Pricing is also a consideration – the standard 64GB model will cost you $650. You can buy them unlocked to work on any major U.S. carrier, but Verizon is the exclusive dealer of the Pixel 2 phones.
The Google Pixel 2 sports a 5-inch AMOLED display with only a Full HD resolution, giving you 1,960 by 1,080 pixels with a density of 441 PPI. Google kept the old standard 16:9 aspect ratio on the smaller Pixel 2. The display does include the Always-On display feature that both keeps the user informed of their notifications and helps save battery life.
Both Pixel 2 models use the best Qualcomm Snapdragon available in late 2017, the SD835 octa-core processor clocked at 2.35GHz and an Adreno 540 GPU for graphics. The Pixel 2 has 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB of non-expandable storage, although you can also order a 128GB model.
Google has made its Pixel cameras a top priority of their with the original Pixel having the highest-rated camera in 2016, and the Pixel 2 in 2017 – this was all done with a single lens. Both Pixel 2’s use a single camera with a 12-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.8, and contain both EIS and OIS for added stability, laser autofocus and PDAF, and a dual LED flash. The FFC is an 8-megapixel unit with a fixed focus and a smaller f/2.4 aperture that is used for selfies and video chatting. A small, non-removable, 2,700mAh capacity battery powers the device, and although small, it will make it through an entire day with no issues. When you do need to charge the device, fast charging support will make that process relatively swift.
The Pixel 2 XL can hold its own with any flagship from 2017, but there are drawbacks to owning the Pixel 2 today – an excellent, but dated processor, a smaller display, only an FHD display resolution, lack of expandable memory, no 3.5mm headphone jack, and the large bezels and 16:9 aspect ratio that could accommodate more display space. It does have a highly rated camera on an Android smartphone and its Camera Lens and Active Edge are attractive features, if not too useful at this point in time. There is no Hi-Res Audio but it does feature stereo speakers on the front. Google finally added IP67 water resistance this year, but one wonders why they did not go to an IP68 rating. The Pixel 2’s crowning jewel is that it runs Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, runs a pure vanilla version, and will receive the fastest Android updates out of all Android handsets on the market. The Pixel 2 measures 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8mm and weighs in at 143 grams. It is available in three colors – Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue. The Pixel 2 will cost about $650 with 64GB of storage and is available for purchase from the Google Store, Best Buy and as a wireless carrier exclusive through Verizon. If you buy it from Verizon, the company will allow you to finance it over 24 months.
...The Winner Is...
The Final Word
There is only one clear choice as the winner of this comparison – the Samsung Galaxy S9. It is without a doubt…did you hear that Pixel lovers…without a doubt, the more desirable device. It has a larger and much better QHD+ display, the faster processor, expandable memory, a great camera, Hi-Res Audio, a headphone jack, facial recognition, an iris scanner, wireless charging with a larger battery, heart rate sensor, spO2 monitor, Samsung Pay, Samsung DeX desktop support, and much more.
Only diehard Pixel (Nexus) owners will argue this selection, but all they have going for them is pure vanilla Android and the faster updates. Many times, we take into account a real bargain, but the Pixel 2 will run you about $650, while the Galaxy S9 will cost you about $800. For all of the extras and design of the S9, it is the real bargain, especially with all of the incentives offered by the carriers.