Samsung’s new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S9, is official. Top-of-the-line specs include a Snapdragon 845 processor, Quad HD AMOLED screen, dual 12MP rear-facing cameras, and a sleek design. It’s not a revolutionary upgrade over the Galaxy S8, but it’s certainly a step forward.
Let’s look at how it stacks up against Apple’s current flagship, the iPhone X.
|Name||Samsung Galaxy S9||Apple iPhone X|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845||Apple A11|
|Dimensions||5.8 x 2.7 x 0.33 (HWD) inches||5.65 by 2.79 by 0.3 inches|
|Weight||5.75 oz||6.14 oz|
|Screen Size||5.8 inches||5.8 inches|
|Screen Type||Super AMOLED||Super Retina HD|
|Screen Resolution||2,960 by 1,440 pixels||2,436 by 1,125 pixels|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||570 ppi||458 ppi|
|Camera Resolution||Dual 12MP Rear/8MP Front-Facing||Dual 12MP Rear/7MP Front-facing|
|Video Camera Resolution||4K||4K, 1080p|
|Total Integrated Storage||64 GB||64 GB|
|Read the Review||Read the Review|
While the Galaxy S9 is a little squatter than the Galaxy S8, it’s still slightly longer and more slender than the iPhone X. Both phones are around 0.3 inches thick, but the Galaxy S9 shaves almost a tenth of an inch off the iPhone X’s width while standing at 0.15 inches longer. The result is a slimmer phone that also weighs nearly 0.4 ounces less than iPhone X.
Samsung again stays ahead of Apple in this field. The Galaxy S9 packs a 2,960-by-1,440 resolution into its 5.8-inch AMOLED screen, displaying 570 pixels per inch. The iPhone X has a 2,436-by-1,125 resolution on its same-size screen, for a much lower 438ppi. With pixel densities that high, though, both screens should be very sharp, and since the iPhone X uses an AMOLED screen as well, both phones should offer similarly excellent colors and contrast levels.
The A11 CPU in Apple’s iPhone X is a beast, but the Galaxy S9 has its own powerhouse in the form of the Snapdragon 845. This is the first phone we’ve seen with Qualcomm’s newest premium mobile chip, which boasts eight cores (four at 2.8GHz and four at 1.7GHz).
The A11 has six cores, with two 2.35GHz high-performance cores and four slower efficiency cores. Clock speed isn’t everything, though, and we won’t know just how fast the Galaxy S9 is, or how the 845 stacks up against the A11 in speed, until we get it into the lab.
The Galaxy S9 uses a similar dual-rear-camera system as the iPhone X, with two 12MP cameras using 1x and 2x optical zoom lenses. The wider lens has an f/1.5 aperture, while the zoom lens has an f/2.4 aperture, and combined with multi-frame noise reduction can offer very good low light performance, according to Samsung. It can also capture 4K video like the iPhone X, along with a 960fps super slow-motion video mode. It captures 0.2-second clips, but can automatically detect motion to know when to trigger switching to the mode to record those clips.
On the other side of the phone, the Galaxy S9’s front-facing camera doesn’t seem to have the same 3D-scanning dot projector found on the iPhone X’s front-facing camera, but it can still track your face for augmented reality “animojis.”
The iPhone 8 and iPhone X already lagged behind the Galaxy S8, and the Galaxy S9 will probably jump even further ahead in terms of modem speeds. It uses Qualcomm’s X20 modem, which supports up to 1.2Gbps speeds (which aren’t available in North America yet), along with T-Mobile’s new 600MHz Band 71 and every other band used by US carriers. Its Wi-Fi radio is 801.11ac with nothing fancy like ad or ax, but it can use Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) Wi-Fi when available from carriers.
The iPhone X is Apple’s most expensive smartphone by far; $999 is daunting even by flagship smartphone standards. Meanwhile, Samsung prices the Galaxy S9 at $719.99, and the physically larger Galaxy S9+ will start at $839.99. That’s a substantial discount.
On paper, the Galaxy S9 seems to be a superior phone to the iPhone X, with a sharper screen, lighter design, better modem, and lower price. Of course, Apple’s ecosystem has its own unique appeal that clearly makes the case for its premium pricing, based on the company’s dedicated following. We’ll see how the Galaxy S9 holds up under testing once we get it in the lab next month.