Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium: The $1000 Android juggernauts


Sony put out its big guns earlier this year with a pair of flagships meant to bring back the company to its former glories. The beefier one of the two, the Xperia XZ2 Premium, packs a wallop with its focus on being a multimedia-centric device with its camera capturing abilities, one-of-a-kind 4K HDR-enabled display, and a refreshing new premium design. Meanwhile, the just-announced Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is gunning to show us all why it’s arguably the king of the hill in the flagship space. When pricing is at a premium with those two juggernauts, which one should you put your money into?

Design


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium: The $1000 Android juggernauts
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium: The $1000 Android juggernauts
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium: The $1000 Android juggernauts
Departing from the brand's customary design language, the Xperia XZ2 Premium does manage to forge its own identity with its top-notch construction – one that leverages the trendy glass-meets-metal design that has become standard amongst today’s flagships. While we applaud Sony’s efforts, Samsung continues to school everyone in why they’re masterful at engineering smartphones. Yes, both phones are a handful, but the Xperia XZ2 Premium is just notoriously bulky and slippery – in comparison to the svelte chassis of the Note 9.

Even more impressive, the Note 9 doesn’t make any compromises to its design while continuing to be a specs monster. For one, Samsung is able to incorporate a 3.5mm headphone jack and a slot for the S Pen – all without adding any more bulk to its package. The headphone jack is particularly important, just because Samsung continues to offer what other phones, the XZ2 Premium included, have axed out entirely. At the end of the day, both smartphones look gorgeous, but it’s just astounding how the Note 9 is able to cram so much into its design!

Display


Things get really interesting as we pay attention to their displays. Samsung takes the approach of employing that all-screen look with its 6.4-inch 1440 x 2960 Super AMOLED display with an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. Complementing the package are the subtle dual-curved edges and skinny bezels, which of course adds to its gorgeous looks. Conversely, though, the Xperia XZ2 Premium leverages a 5.8-inch 4K (2160 x 3840) HDR IPS LCD Display with a 16:9 screen-aspect-ratio. We’ll certainly say that the 4K display has some remarkable qualities, like its incredible detail and vibrant colors when 4K HDR videos are played on YouTube, but the Note 9 still manages to deliver an equally hypnotic presentation with its Super AMOLED panel, also capable of HDR video playback.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium: The $1000 Android juggernauts

User Interface


Being Android-powered smartphones, they have the basics down to the teeth, despite having totally different looking interfaces. It’s a personal preference when it comes to the visuals, however, it’s the Note 9 that goes the distance by offering a richer, more diverse overall experience. Samsung’s latest experience offers several noteworthy features that are absent with the Xperia XZ2 Premium. From its extensive S Pen functions, access to the DeX desktop-like experience using a standard HDMI adapter, Samsung Pay, and enhanced Bixby service, it shows how Samsung continues to perfect its experience to deliver an all-encompassing package.

Performance


So far from our cursory look, these two flagships exhibit smooth and instantaneous responses when it comes to basic tasks. With the two of them leveraging the same chipset, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, the two are pretty much evenly matched in many areas – including gaming, but we’re eager to see if there’s any significant boost with the Note 9 and its new water carbon cooling system. It’s worth pointing out, too, that the international version of the Note 9 will be leveraging Samsung’s Exynos chipset.

In terms of storage, Samsung offers the more generous tally of 128GB with the base model of the Note 9 – in comparison to only 64GB of internal storage with the XZ2 Premium. Having double the storage right off the bat is a huge advantage, even though there’s room for expansion with both courtesy of their microSD card slots.

Camera


Things get even juicier when we take a peek at their cameras, both of which go for the dual-camera implementation. With the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium, it packs a main 19MP f/1.8 camera that captures color, while the second 12MP f/1.6 one records a monochrome image. Meanwhile, the Note 9 goes with a main, wide-angle 12MP shooter with OIS and a variable aperture camera that shoots at f/2.4 when you have good light, but opens wide to f/1.5 at night. The secondary camera is a telephoto one, with a 2x times zoom and optical image stabilization for steadier photos.

What makes them compelling over other implementations is the fact that they’re stressing low-light performance. The Note 9’s variable aperture is indicative of that, as is the XZ2 Premium’s ability to shoot at up to ISO 51200 for photos and up to ISO 12800 for videos. On top of that, they’re heavily invested in the video recording department, since not only can they shoot video in 4K resolution, but they also offer their own super slow-motion modes. However, we should mention that the XZ2 Premium can shoot at 960 FPS in 1080p – versus only 720p for the Note 9 at the same frame rate, but only for half the duration.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium: The $1000 Android juggernauts

Battery


Even with the skinnier chassis, the Note 9 manages to pack the larger capacity 4000 mAh battery cell. That’s particularly impressive because the Xperia XZ2 Premium, despite its thicker body, is only able to cram a 3540 mAh one. Considering that the Note 9 has a larger battery and a lower resolution screen, it undoubtedly gives us confidence that it’s going to outlast the XZ2 Premium when it comes to battery life. And finally, these two smartphones offer the convenience of wireless charging, which cements their stature of being true flagship devices in the space.

Expectations


Okay, these are two of the most expensive Android smartphones around – so you’ll need to assess the two meticulously to find out what’s right for you. Then again, there’s more of an argument to go with the Note 9 for all the obvious reasons. From its sleeker design, vast productivity features, and just being an engineering masterpiece, everything points to it as being the phone with more bang for the buck. And oh yeah, did we mention that it also includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, the S Pen, beefier battery, and double the starting storage capacity?

Still, you can’t count out the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium, just because it tucks away a few of its own notable features. For one, it’s one of the few smartphones around to feature a 4K display, a camera that can shoot in almost complete darkness, and the ability to shoot video at the silky frame rate of 960 FPS in 1080p. Those may be enough to win over people to its package over the Note 9! It’s a tough call to make until they’re put through a proper comparison, so we’re eager to do just that very soon!

Knowing what’s on the table right now, which one would you spend your hard-earned money on?

Related phones

Galaxy Note 9
  • Display 6.4" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 512 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 4000 mAh(29h 3G talk time)
Xperia XZ2 Premium
  • Display 5.8" 2160 x 3840 pixels
  • Camera 19 MP / 13 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3540 mAh(26.5h 3G talk time)

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40 Comments

1. Phonehex

Posts: 697; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

Sony's mobile division sucks.

37. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Yeah, well they sure as heck have caught up to or beat samsung in the camera department. The only people who still claim Sony is behind are people who love artificial images, fanboys, or paid shills.

2. MarvzIsFallen

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

Both are not worth thousand bucks!!! Why they are copying apple when it comes to pricing? Why not stick their flagship prices for at most $700? That way they can sell better. They think having bigger battery, storage, memory and other stuff makes their phones affordable? They should look on what kind of consumers they are marketing, mostly people who can’t justify to buy a thousand $$$ phones. Only apple has loyal fans that do not care about the price. Android people are very particular in $$$.

8. cmdacos

Posts: 3647; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Samsung does because the hardware is similar in quality. They both do because you can do more. PS I don't care about price when it comes to android flagships.

28. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Maybe in some countries, some people can't pay $1000 for a phone, and they shouldn't have too. Having said that, on monthly payments, anyone can afford such. When it comes to Android, there are more to the market than your claim. YOUR claim is people can't afford to pay this price, when the fact is Android offers options where they simply don't have too. Samsung makes a wealth of phones, if you don't want the S or Note, because they are too pricey, they offer cheaper options that still do more than many OEM's wannabe flagship devices. Just because there are other phones with 128Gb of storage and a 4000+Mah battery for less money, doesn't mean they are on par with the S or Note. Because they are not. The price is arguably a downside, even for hardcore Note users, Samsung is asking way too much for a phone designed to be sold to a small niche market to begin with. The price will drop soon enough, or carriers will offer better deals to get them sold. Its dump to buy this at $999. By Christmas it will be less on a Black Friday deal.

3. JCASS889

Posts: 396; Member since: May 18, 2018

You do know that there are other Android devices well below 1000$ that are available, ios users have no choice but to pay what Apple tells them to pay

29. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Blind fans never see it that way. Its not that Apple fans want to pay Apple prices, its they have no choice because Apple limits their options. Samsung I am sure knows that a phone costing $1000 isn't gonna garner a lot of sales. And I don't even understand how they think it will sell better than the Note 8 at this price. I would say considering the addition of double the storage, a 40% larger battery, dual aperture camera and all the Note features we have come to love; it most certainly has a value of $1000. But since Samsung does offer other phones, which sell in very high numbers, even over the Note or S; they can afford to keep the cost down. Fact - No matter what storage amount is on the internal storage, it costs them exactly the same to manufacture them. For $1000 they could have made it 256GB and offer the 512GB for $1200. For 128GB, they could have kept the price at $960 as was last years Note 8. But for $39 more, you get a bigger battery, a better camera, and more storage. Anyone complaining about $40 extra for so much extra, is just whining and aren't gonna by the phone even if it was $700.

4. Feanor

Posts: 1266; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Funny how in classic style of rushed technology journalism, the article mentions how much richer the UI of the Note 9 is, but it fails to mention that the Sony has a more unified UI design, adhering to the Android UI directives, whereas the Note is a mishmash of mismatched Samsung and Google UI elements. It also totally fails to mention that the XZ2 Premium will almost certainly get Android 9.0 some six months before the Note 9. If you fail to account all the strong points of the Sony, then of course you make it look like it's the clear loser in this rushed comparison. Also something that is never mentioned is that Sony has a great track of hardware and software reliability with few bugs and issues, whereas Samsung is always much lower in reliability rankings. The XZ2 outlasted the S9 and all competition in waterproofing tests and in a bug report, Samsung got first place of most bugs and issues in a phone and Sony was not even in the list.

31. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Even with Android 9, the Sony will still do less than the Note. Updates are not an advantage, no matter what phone it is, unless you phone has constant problems. Like one claimed premium brand. The latest iPhone with iOS12, will still do less than an Android with Android 7.1, that may never get updated. As far as the UI. Sony almost just uses stock Android. Samsung phones have features not supported by Android natively. So stock Android is not an advantage. Stock Android offers zero advantage, unless you whole and only point in buy them is for updates. Samsung phones get more updates than you know. I've already gotten several with my Note 8. I could care less if/when it gets Android 9. For one, the phone won't do anything with 9, its not doing already with 8. Security improvements don't matter to me, because phones are never ever hacked. Unless you do stupid things with a phone, as with any computer; security is not a selling point to an average consumer. As far as reliability, your claim is false. The least reliable phone Samsung had, was the S7 which had a 7% failure rate. While the next biggest non-Android OEM was at 62% failure for one model. Even if you combined all phone Samsung makes, only 40% of them failed. Yes even though 40% of 300M is pretty big, its multiple phones and not just one model. Also, since the Xperia isn't even available in the US, your point of claiming it as better is pointless too, because we can't even logically compare them.

33. Feanor

Posts: 1266; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Sony Xperia XZ Premium gets updated to Oreo, gets better battery life. Samsung Galaxy S8 gets updated to Oreo, gets worse battery life. The issue is not if you need updates, but the quality of the software. Much worse problem with Samsung; you are in Samsung internet browser, you get Samsung UX, fonts, colours etc. You go to Google Play or Gmail, you get entirely different Material Design. All in one phone. This sucks big time and makes your UX look cheap. Same story with all nonsense OEMs Android skins. You may choose to ignore it but it's a glaring issue of low quality design. Also the so called extra features of Samsung are nothing major that one cannot achieve by downloading a corresponding app. More often than not it's just bloatware. There was a time that Samsung additions on top of Android were useful, now not so much. Last comment to your comment; I am not in the States, not the whole world in USA. I can compare Samsung and Sony headsets, no problem.

34. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

It's very obvious you are biased for the Xperia. So enjoy. Both phones run Android, and both are their own OEM's take on what they decided to bring to the table. If you prefer the Xperia then enjoy it and be happy with it. As long as Sony has been in business, if they were the best option, their phones would be in the top 5 sold, and they aren't. Samsung came out of nowhere and past them and everyone else who has been in this business for quite some time. Even when Sony sold phone in the US market, no one was really buying them. Mostly because Sony was best at their most infamous product, the "walkman".

40. eelpout

Posts: 30; Member since: Oct 13, 2016

Um, actually you can walk into a Best Buy store in the U.S. and buy an Xperia XZ2/Compact. Not sure if the XZ2 Premium is everywhere yet, but you can get it delivered to a store or home. What you won't find is carrier deals on them in the U.S.

5. ullokey

Posts: 172; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

You are forgetting Sony's battery and software optimisation has always been very good. Despite a smaller battery, xperia phones has produced excellant results and your own battery tests prove it

6. Feanor

Posts: 1266; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Also true. My XZ2 has a modest battery capacity and still it outlasts most of the competition. However the XZ2 Premium has a worse performance, probably because of its energy consuming 4K screen. So it remains to be seen how it will fare against the Note 9, but I expect that the Note 9 will offer longer battery life this time around. However my complain still holds that all these mobile phone reviews are very superficial when they forget to take into account important things like update track or reliability results or UX design coherence (which, despite the fact that it touches design, is not a matter of taste but a fact).

7. Whitedot

Posts: 622; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

No phone should be priced at $1000. Utter madness.

9. josephnero

Posts: 772; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

Call me old-fashioned but I prefer XZ2P over note 9. Not the back design though

10. piyath

Posts: 2443; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

To me it's the Sony which will get my money. It's unique, one of a kind, good brand name, higher quality components inside (Japanese are best compared to Korean technology), subtle but very manageable design form factor, No useless gimmicky features (s pen is useless to me, curved screens too) and it's overall looking more polished and luxurious.

12. jellmoo

Posts: 2522; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Why even compare? The Note 9 is overpriced at $999. The XZ2P would be overpriced at $599.

13. MarvzIsFallen

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

The S pen makes it $999? Funny how their ads about ipad pencil can’t be use in iphone while note’s S pen cannot be use in galaxy s9. Stupid marketing!!! That’s why their flagships flops. Always second best to apple.

15. darkkjedii

Posts: 30479; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Note 9 for me. All in, all ready for my 768 gig beauty of a beast.

16. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

Both are better than X Plus, also cheaper ...

18. Octavier

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 18, 2017

As much as I like my XZP, I had it with Sony the moment they dropped the headphone jack and claimed it was the trend when their phones are significantly thicker than the Note 9 while having a headphone jack with Wireless charging. One thing I know is I'm never buying a Sony again, most weren't willing to pay for the XZP at 800 usd. What makes them think people will buy their 1k usd phone?

21. Settings

Posts: 2940; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

The only thing Sony wins here is they will roill out Android Q faster than Samsung.

23. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

Camera, audio, speed and screen

24. mike2959

Posts: 687; Member since: Oct 08, 2011

Back in the day the Z3 was a great phone. Sony optimized their software with Android beautifully and was really in my opinion the only OEM that I liked with Android that didn’t have the hiccups. The Z3 was classy, build quality matched Apple.

26. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

One thing we are seeing, is each OEM has a different perspective on what's worth $1000. I am surprised one phone is missing for $1000. In this case, the Note is way better. Even with Sony's sensors, the Note will take better pictures with them. I don't understand how Sony can't calibrate there own camera sensors. All the Xperias's take terrible pictures.

30. Feanor

Posts: 1266; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Stop recycling this nonsense rumour mill about Sony sucking in photography. Check the latest low light photography comparison in GSMarena between XZ2 Premium and competition. The XZ2 Premium is easily at the same level with the best, including the Huawei P20 Pro. And Sony retains even a respectable distance from all competition when it comes to video shooting in near complete dark. Heck, even the low light pics of the XZ2 that are provided for comparison are not different enough for the average Jo to care. It's pretty clear; Samsung does a bit better in hardware, Sony a bit better in software and both are otherwise pretty accomplished handsets.

35. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

You like the Xperia more so thus you will only see it YOUR way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KTp61UusRk In this video with side by side S9+ vs the XZP, the S9+ was sharper and more color accurate with what I would expect from a seen, that I can only imagine what it looks like since I've not actually visited the location. The colors in many of the shots with the ZXP were dull and the background was blurry. The zoom in shots, show both good detail, but the S9+ is much sharper and cleaner and real colors. Just FYI, I prefer punchier colors over realistic colors, but the S9+ looked better. In his photos, you can see in bright outside sunlight with clouds, the S9+ pictures are brighter and sharper. It also does better in taking pictures of things that are brown or grey in color. The ZXP photos are grainy and full of noise. You don't get that on the S9+. I don't know this reviewer. I did a search on YT and his video was the first to show in the results. Digital zoom vs optical zoom is never gonna be a fair comparison. The dual auto-focus is leaps and bounds above any focus on any camera to date. Only the Pixel has come close to focusing almost as fast as the Galaxy since the feature was introduced. You can clearly see in this video that I am right and you are wring. Samsung has its own sensors, but also uses Sony's sensors and every phoen test I have seen, Samsung has always done a better job with Sony's sensors than sony has. Even though my Note 8 doesn't have the S9 cameras, I am betting it will still do a better job vs the XZP. Both are very good phones in their own rank. But based on what I see, the XZP is basically only as good as the S7 as far as photos, and even then the S7 in low light and bright light will have sharper crisper pics.

38. Feanor

Posts: 1266; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Did you notice that the video you posted compares this year's Samsung flagship with last year's Sony flagship? My comment was that the XZ2 Premium has competitive camera, not its predecessor from last year. So much for my bias towards Sony. Are you so objective when it comes to Samsung? ;-)

32. Djz89

Posts: 418; Member since: Aug 25, 2014

Please wait for final software on the xz2p for a fair comparison

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