Samsung’s just announced the latest version of its biggest, most expensive phone in the Galaxy Note 9
, and if you thought this new kid on the block would just step in and be king of the high-end smartphone community without proving itself, you were WRONG. It just so happens we know another $1000+ phone that might have something to say about it: the iPhone X
. Easy now, iPhone..easy. You’ll get your turn. While we sort things out between the two of them, we figured we’d give you an in-depth first look at this match up.
Design and Display
Between the iPhone X and the Galaxy Note 9, the differences are pretty stark. Although the Note 9 towers over the iPhone, it doesn’t completely dwarf it. The Note 9’s display is more than a half-inch larger measured diagonally, measuring in at 6.4 inches vs. the iPhone X’s 5.8, after all.
Of course, the next most prominent aesthetic difference is the notch. Seeing as how the Note 9 continues the design trend of super-slim bezels and no notches, the iPhone X’s optic-filled screen interruption now makes it look more plain compared to the Note 9, as notch-less devices become the minority and the Note 9 continues to be refined aesthetically.
In terms of screen technology, though, the iPhone X’s 1125 x 2436 OLED display compares well against the 1440 x 2960 AMOLED on the Galaxy Note 9 – they are, after all, made by the same manufacturer in Samsung. The Note may appear a bit more punched up and vibrant compared to the iPhone X, especially with the True-Tone feature enabled on the Apple device. Still, both have exceptional screens, with great color accuracy, but the iPhone X may display slightly more accurate hues compared to the Galaxy Note 9’s deep, popping colors – at least in their default screen modes.
Generally speaking, Samsung takes a squarer approach to the design of the Note 9 – even with the slightly more chamfered edges – mostly to fit the square shape of this extra-large display with as little bezels as possible. Both devices feel good in the hand due to their rounded sides, but naturally, the iPhone X, with its smaller size and perfectly rounded sides, as opposed to chamfered edges, has a more manageable and natural feeling in one-handed use. Both are substantial devices in terms of weight, weighing in at 6.14 ounces on the iPhone X and about 7 ounces on the Galaxy Note 9.
User Interface and Performance
The Android vs. iOS debate is as old as time, but these days the differences in speed and fluidity for day-to-day use is pretty negligible. Instead, the differences are now more related to the peripherals and experiences related to them. In this instance, this of course means the S-Pen.
Coming with a writing utensil that doubles as a remote control for your device is an evolution Apple has yet to match, even with the iPad line up. Obviously, you won’t find such an accessory with the iPhone X. Pair this with Samsung DeX, the Note 9’s ability to project a desktop experience to a secondary screen via an HDMI cable, and it’s clear that extensibility and built-in accessory power is a strength for which the iPhone X has no counter.
As mentioned, performance in regular navigation and use doesn’t seem to show much difference between the two. Benchmarks may show a slightly different story, but with either six or eight gigs of RAM and the Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 performs well against the iPhone X’s A11 Bionic silicon in preliminary testing. More extensive use will be helpful to get the full picture, but on the surface, performance is pretty even between the two.
Pound for pound, the cameras on these two devices stack up well; we expect a pretty tough fight when we do a more in-depth comparison. As far as specs go, we’re looking at a 12 MP telephoto camera paired with a 12 MP wide-angle shooter with variable apertures – f/1.5 and f/2.4 to be exact – on the Galaxy Note 9. Pretty serious hardware, no doubt. The iPhone X doesn’t play around either, though. For its dual-camera setup, the iPhone X pairs 12 MP sensors as well – one regular lens and one telephoto for 2-times zoom.
Both are highly-capable setups on paper, with dual-optical stabilization, and “portrait mode” bokeh features. We’ll of course have a more in-depth comparison of the cameras on these two flagships, but our early comparisons have some promising results. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 can shoot scenes a bit warmer than the iPhone X does, but details on both are exceptionally sharp. The winner here may truly come down to personal preference, as not only can preferences in image composition be somewhat subjective at this high level, but the Note 9 offers more software tools for tweaking, as well – a factor which may result in better overall images in some instances. Still, with all settings on auto, the comparison is close, but we’ll attempt to get to the bottom of this once and for all in our full comparison. Stay tuned for our definitive answer to this heavy question, coming soon.
In the end, these are two tough phones to be stuck between, but we think the choices are pretty clear. The Galaxy Note is, by nature, a more versatile device, and Samsung has only expanded the Note’s versatility in the Note 9. The S-Pen has always been a separating factor, offering quick and useful note-taking features, and now graduating to a full-on, remote-control peripheral with the addition of Bluetooth connectivity – something for which the iPhone X has no answer. DeX, although not for everybody, is yet another example of this – extensibility and fun, and, to some, usefulness for which the iPhone, yet again, has no answer.
Still, the iPhone X, and most Apple devices, still enjoy broader native support in the technological wild. In other words, outside of its own proprietary ecosystem (Apple TV, MacBooks, etc.) the iPhone X still amasses more natively compatible devices, both small and large. This, however, doesn’t mean that any third- or first-party devices fill the feature gaps the Note 9 creates between itself and the iPhone X with features like the S-Pen and Samsung DeX.
Day-to-day performance would be the next measure, which preliminarily seems pretty close. This, coupled with real-world battery life results, and definitive camera comparisons may be the deciding factor for some, but if you want the best phablet experience around, the Note 9 might just take the crown.
Battle of the $1000 flagships