Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Apple iPhone X: first look

Samsung's flagship, the Galaxy S9, has finally been unveiled and announced, jumpstarting this year's Mobile World Congress trade show with a huge bang! No doubt a force to be reckoned with, the Galaxy S9 brings to the table additional refinements to a phone that many already viewed as nearly flawless. Then again, it's competing with a smartphone that's reshaping Apple's legacy – the iPhone X. We spent a little time checking the two out together, side-by-side, during Mobile World Congress 2018, so it's going to be interesting to see how they stack up against one another!


There's no surprise in how these two behemoths are designed, as they both employ that fashionable glass meets metal construction – while continuing the trends we saw become prevalent last year. They include that all-screen, minimal bezel look, glass facades, and metal frames, which makes them premium in just about every facet.

Side-by-side, the Galaxy S9 is a smidgen taller, but there's more of a cohesive look and uniformity with its design. Staring at the front of the Galaxy S9 is evident enough, seeing that there isn't any sort of distracting "notch" on there. However, the iPhone X's construction feels a bit more concrete, thanks in part to its surgical-grade stainless steel frame. Adding to that, there's a bit more substance behind the iPhone X's construction, which makes it feel like the sturdier of the two. In contrast, the Galaxy S9 still looks more polished on the surface, but it remains as fragile as before.

Beyond that, they share quite a few commonalities with their designs. Take for example, they feature dual speakers, the power and volume buttons are situated in the same locations, and they both have a level of water resistance with their constructions. We really have to give Sammy credit, however, for continuing to offer a headphone jack with its phones. Considering how real-estate has become a precious commodity for most phones nowadays, it's satisfying to see the S9 not giving up on it!


From a specs standpoint, there's still more to like about the S9's display, even though there isn't a dramatic change from its predecessor. It's a 5.8-inch 1440 x 2960 Super AMOLED display, which offers a higher pixel density count than the iPhone X's 5.8-inch 1125 x 2436 Super Retina display. Honestly, though, it's almost indistinguishable to tell apart the difference, as they both offer exceptional detail. And since they both employ OLED technology, we find similar results with their viewing angles and saturated color tones.

Of course, there's the matter of the iPhone X's notch next to the earpiece, which some will find as a distraction. There's none of that to be worried about with the Galaxy S9, not surprisingly, seeing that the display uniformly fills the handset's façade. It's worth mentioning that its sloping dual curved edges do help to add some refinement and class to the handset's overall design.

User Interface

Superficially, they approach their respective interfaces with the same minimalistic and straightforward strategies. Navigating around is a pretty simple process, but as we dive deeper into what their experiences have to offer, it becomes apparently evident that Samsung is offering more functionality out of the box.

The iPhone X introduced us to fun and playfulness that Animoji's have to offer with its TrueDepth camera, so it's no surprise that the Galaxy S9 goes after something similar with its new AR Emoji. The difference, though, is that the S9 leverages its front-facing camera to take a picture of you, which it then generates a 3D avatar that looks almost like you. It's very similar to Apple's Animoji feature, but Samsung's interpretation produces stickers that you can use almost anywhere – like messages and Facebook. However, we found that it's not as polished when it comes to tracking facial expressions.

While there's definitely room improvement with Samsung's AR Emoji, we will hand it to the Koran giant for continuing to offer extended functionality in the form of an enhanced Bixby vision, like Live Translation. Additionally, enhancements have been made to Samsung's DeX with a new pad that offers higher video output at 2560 x 1440, a connection to the phone's audio jack, and allowing the phone to act as a touchpad.


Moving onto their cameras, this is where things get a bit interesting. On one hand, the iPhone X is notable for its ability to capture stunning portrait shots with its dual 12MP cameras. With the Galaxy S9, though, it's only sporting a single 12MP camera – so it's technically not out to emulate the portrait shots of its rivals. Rather, the S9 focuses its attention on low-light performance with its varying aperture, which can be either f/1.5 or f/2.4. This pairing results in what's alleged to capture 28% more light than the S8, and with 30% less noise.

Needless to say, we're eager to see it in action with real-world situations. While the Apple iPhone X is known to be a strong performer with its camera, we're itching to see how the S9 can set the bar even higher when it comes to low-light. When it comes to their front-facing cameras, the S9 sizes up with an 8MP one – while the iPhone X isn't too far behind with its 7MP snapper. We already know what the iPhone X is capable of producing, especially with portrait mode enabled, so we're hoping to see equally compelling results with Sammy's offering.

Over on the video side, you get the usual 4K recording on both, but the S9 goes the extra mile in the slow-motion department. While 240 FPS at 1080p isn't too shabby with the iPhone X, the Galaxy S9 leaps to 960 FPS territory at 720p for even slower footage.


Samsung didn't change the battery capacity in the S9, so it's still rocking the same 3000 mAh cell. While that's technically larger than the iPhone X's 2716 mAh battery, it's obviously unknown whether it'll really outperform its rival. Still, the two offer their respective fast-charging technologies, as well as wireless charging – conveniences we'd expect to find in influential smartphones.


The Samsung Galaxy S8 last year was a great phone, but the S9 is better – only by a little bit. Refinements are obviously abundant in every aspect of the S9, but the Apple iPhone X is no slouch either, having established itself as a big sales driver, despite the heft cost attached to it. Even though Samsung has been mum about the S9's impending price point, we're not really expecting it to be in the same ballpark as the iPhone X, considering that the Note 8 already holds the top spot in Sammy's lineup for being the most expensive at launch!

Knowing that, the S9 will no doubt be a solid challenger, but considering how it's more of a typical, iterative update than anything else, we'll be watching closely to see how it'll reel people in. Coming in at a lower price point than the iPhone X will be beneficial, which is what we anticipate, so at least there will be some value behind the S9's package. We'll know soon enough, as carriers are expected to unveil pricing for the phone very soon!

Related phones

Galaxy S9
  • Display 5.8" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(31h talk time)
iPhone X
  • Display 5.8" 1125 x 2436 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A11 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2390 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 2716 mAh(21h 3G talk time)



3. maherk

Posts: 6876; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I love that front design of the iPhone X. Until the Mi Mix 2s gets released, this is the closest to a bezeless phone we have on the market. Anyone who used the phone for an hour or two, knows that the notch isn't that distracting as people who never used the phone assume.

6. darkkjedii

Posts: 31034; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I like the notch, it grew on me, and really looks cool. Looking head on the X looks more futuristic, turn them a little, and the S9 does. Both are beauties to look at, the S9 just packs and does wayyyy more.

15. Trex95

Posts: 2381; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

If Apple needs to keep the notch for the next iPhone X 2018 then they have to move to bigger screen at least 6.5 inch hope so.

17. darkkjedii

Posts: 31034; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I think they will. All the rumors point to it.

56. Trex95

Posts: 2381; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Yeah forget about the rumors.

22. maherk

Posts: 6876; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Front goes to the iPhone Back, definitely Samsung. That horrible camera hump is such a turn off.

37. cmdacos

Posts: 4200; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Agree to disagree. The unibrow will never be on my phone. I prefer quality design without compromising.

49. darkkjedii

Posts: 31034; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

The hump position is cool, but the protrusion sucks.

8. hafini_27

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 31, 2013

I watch Youtube and Netflix on my phone a lot and the notch is quite irritating to be honest. Day-to-day use is alright though.

20. maherk

Posts: 6876; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I agree, that's the only area where it does have an affect on the overall experience.

23. therealestmc

Posts: 679; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

I have tried the iPhone X and the notch isn't a big deal for me. What's a big deal is the price and the lack of RAM. It struggles to keep applications in memory compared to the likes of OnePlus 5T, Note 8, Mate Pro 10 and many other cheap Android phones. That's unacceptable. The OnePlus 5T should be able to bear the iPhone X in a performance test. It costs double the price of the OnePlus 5T.

43. Awalker

Posts: 1977; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Doesn't the iPhone X have more bezel than the S8 and S9?

63. Marcwand3l

Posts: 432; Member since: May 08, 2017

Well maherk taking in consideration this need to defend "the notch" I'd say it's quite distracting. All I see is excuses left an right.

72. TechSceptic

Posts: 1156; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

It's not the closest to a bezeless phone at all. I'm really tired of you running your mouth, when you don't really have a clue what you're talking about. If you do know what you're talking about, then you know that you are laying. The degree to which a phone is bezeless is measured in screen-to-body ratio. The Iphone X has a screen to body ratio of around 81%, which isn't really close to the highest within the smartphone world. The LG V30, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S9, Essential phone, Xiaomi Mi Mix and so on all have a significantly higher screen-to-body ratio, so they are all closer to a true bezeless phone than the Iphone X. Please stop it with your Apple propaganda, you're just reaching a point now where you're straight up lying to try and convert people.

77. firebird820

Posts: 157; Member since: Jan 01, 2017

The s9 has a better screen-to-body ratio?

4. Cat97

Posts: 1892; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Sorry, but the iPhone X looks way more "next-gen" compared to the S9, which looks like a last-era design.

5. hafini_27

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 31, 2013

Sorry but the most "next-gen" thing in that picture is the fidget spinner.

68. whatev

Posts: 2260; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

Ok, but his point is: Fidget > iPhone X > GS9

30. TechSceptic

Posts: 1156; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

No it doesn't. The S9 has a much better design. It has a better screen-to-body ratio than the Iphone X, and it does this without interfering the screen real estate with a notch, which completely blocks content that would otherwise be displayed in that area. Additionally, the S9 is beautifully symmetric. Furthermore, the S9 has curves, which the Iphone X has as well, but the S9 manages to utilize them so much more in their design, especially by having a curved display, which is definitely more futuristic than a flat one. How on earth is it a better design? Objective it's just worse, as it compromises the content with the notch, while still having a worse screen-to-body ratio. You might subjectively like Apple's design more, but i have a feeling you would like the design of Apple's phone more, regardless of what Samsung did, since you prefer the design that is objectively worse.

62. 47AlphaTango

Posts: 729; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

If I have an S8. What's the reason for me to get the S9 if there's no significant changes in the design except for the hardware? But think about it. The S9 only has better screen to body ratio and better curved display than the iphone X. Meanwhile, Iphone X has: 1. Triple Stereo speakers 2. Dual Camera that is designed for AR. And a QUAD LED True tone Flash. 3. Face ID, and 4. It's more compact friendly because of it's size.(According to the picture)

65. Marcwand3l

Posts: 432; Member since: May 08, 2017

What would qualify as a significant change? The S9 improves in a lot of relevant areas in comparison to the S8. Also the X doesn;t have triple stereo speaker, they are double stereo speaker like on the S9 and we'll see which are better.

73. treypoundz

Posts: 65; Member since: Sep 05, 2017

Well the s9 has stereo speakers as well Fps still And head phone jack Plus a better screen.

78. firebird820

Posts: 157; Member since: Jan 01, 2017

Triple speakers?? It only has two..

64. Marcwand3l

Posts: 432; Member since: May 08, 2017

I don't see how the eyebrow phone looks more next gen. It does look weird that's for sure.

7. Lenny86

Posts: 301; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

Well it cost with trade in a huawei p9 lite £600.Not a bad price at all. CarphoneWarehouse gives you extra £100.Good promotion.

10. chris2k5

Posts: 249; Member since: Nov 17, 2012

Lol did Samsung really copy Animoji...?

12. Trex95

Posts: 2381; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Said that couple of weeks ago that Samsung going to copy 3D Animoji, I saw the comparison between both Animoji iPhone X still looks better to be honest. But till google implanted on upcoming android P with pixel xl 3 Lol.

40. chris2k5

Posts: 249; Member since: Nov 17, 2012

Google will probably do a better job than both.

51. darkkjedii

Posts: 31034; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Wht not? Apple copied split view, picture in picture, and screen off memo from Samsungs Note, and put them in the iPad. They also copied floating window.

71. theviolinist

Posts: 209; Member since: Feb 03, 2018

Yeah, right, keep dreaming.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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