Samsung Galaxy S9 or iPhone XS? Which 2018 flagship device should be in your pocket
Apple has just unveiled its latest slew of iPhones, showing off three new smartphones and the Apple Watch 4.
2017 was a big year of change for both Samsung’s and Apple’s flagship devices. Both the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone X took huge departures from previous designs and they signalled a shift into the ‘all-screen’ future. 2018 is more about refinement than revolution, and while both the Samsung Galaxy S9 and iPhone XS include plenty of new stuff, both devices are still mid-cycle updates.
So which one should you choose to be your phone of choice? Let’s have a look and see.
iPhone XS vs Samsung Galaxy S9 – Design
Both flagship devices are constructed from metal and glass, but that’s where the similarities end. The Samsung Galaxy S9 is all curves and slopes, whereas the iPhone is flat and rounded.
The stainless steel rim of the iPhone XS is made to be seen, while the aluminium rim sandwiching the front and rear of the Galaxy S9 almost melts into the glass.
Another difference between the two devices can be seen on the front. The iPhone XS adopts the notched screen, featuring a cut-out at the top that contains the front-facing camera. The Galaxy S9, on the other hand, extends the bezel slightly to fit this functionality in. Not everyone will love the notch since it impedes what’s on the screen. Personally, we prefer the approach taken by Samsung.
The other reason Apple opts for the notch solution is the sheer amount of tech required for its Face ID facial recognition to work. Apple has completely ditched all other forms of biometric security, so the only way of unlocking the iPhone – other than a PIN – is with your visage.
Focusing on one form of security means that Apple’s solution works far better than that of Samsung. Both the iris scanner and face recognition on the Galaxy prove hit or miss. Samsung does also have a fingerprint sensor, which some users will appreciate.
Both handsets pack water-resistant bodies and Qi wireless charging, plus speakers that push the sound towards your face. The Galaxy S9 is the only one of the two to boast a headphone jack, however.
iPhone XS vs Samsung Galaxy S9 – Specs and features
|iPhone XS||Galaxy S9|
1124 x 2436 AMOLED
|Processor||Apple A12||845/Exynos 9810|
|Rear camera||Dual 12-megapixels||12-megapixels|
|Software||iOS 12||Android 8|
Powering the Samsung Galaxy S9 is a selection of top-end specs: Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810 CPU (depending on which part of the world you’re in), 4GB of RAM, a modem with support for Gigabit LTE, and all the latest Bluetooth and Wi-Fi standards. There’s also a slot for expandable storage – a feature you’ll never see on an iPhone.
Another high-end spec is the screen. On the front of the Samsung Galaxy S9 is a 5.8-inch OLED panel with a QHD+ resolution, offering 1000 nits of brightness, and support for HDR from Prime Video, YouTube and Netflix. It’s a glorious display that’s one of the best around. There’s a larger Galaxy S9 Plus available, too, sporting a 6.2-inch screen.
The iPhone XS also uses OLED tech for its display and, again, is available in two sizes. There’s the regular iPhone XS with a 5.8-inch display and the larger iPhone XS Max with a 6.5-inch screen. Like the Galaxy S9, these devices support HDR through the Dolby Vision format.
The iPhone XS (and the XS Max) runs the new A12 Bionic 7nm chip from Apple, an unspecified amount of RAM (rumoured to be 4GB) and comes with storage ranging from 64GB to 512GB.
Both the iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy S9 have voice assistants in Siri and Bixby respectively, with the S9 also able to double-up as a desktop computer thanks to DeX.
iPhone XS vs Samsung Galaxy S9 – Camera
The biggest update the to Samsung Galaxy S9 has been its camera. The 12-megapixel sensor has a variable aperture lens that can switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4, depending on the environment and what you’re shooting.
This is clever, and it works well in practice. If the room you’re shooting in is dark, the lens will open up to f/1.5 and let more light into the sensor, resulting in a brighter picture. When the light is better, the lens will shrink down to f/2.4.
The Galaxy S9 also supports 4K video at 60fps, super slow-motion recording, and features an 8-megapixel camera around the front for selfies. It’s a decent camera setup, but one that even so has been beaten by the Google Pixel 2.
The camera also happens to be one of the biggest areas of improvement for the iPhone XS.
You’ve still got two 12-megapixel sensors, one for regular photos and one for zoomed shots, but there’s now a Smart HDR mode for improved contrast and highlights. The front-facing 7-megapixel camera is also faster than before and it can now shoot video with 4K stereo-sound.
iPhone XS vs Samsung Galaxy S9 – Price
When it launched in April 2018, the Samsung Galaxy S9 retailed for $ 350 for the regular version and $350 for the larger Plus-sized version.
The iPhone XS is a lot pricier, starting at $425 for the base 64GB version and rising to $399 for the larger 6.5-inch Max. If you want more storage you’ll have to pay $415(256GB) or $455 for the 512GB version.
Neither of these phones is a huge update over their predecessors, but they still have upgrades to important aspects, such as the camera. Whether the iPhone XS is worth over £250 more than the Galaxy S9 remains to be seen.