With Samsung having just pulled the wraps off its new flagship phablet, the Galaxy Note 9, it’s only natural that the world wants to know how it compares to one of its most prominent rivals, the iPhone X.
We’ve already compared Apple’s best and brightest handset against Samsung’s existing 2018 flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S9. Overall it faired well, particularly thanks to its impressive performance and dual rear cameras.
Now it has to take on the more productivity-focused Note line, and while the new Galaxy Note 9 shares plenty with its more svelte Galaxy S siblings, there are a few key differences that help it to take the fight to Apple.
Generally speaking, based on artificial benchmarking Apple’s latest A11 chip typically fares better than the Exynos 9810 (and Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 destined for 2018 Galaxy flagships in the US and Asia). However, with 6GB/8GB of RAM to help keep things running smoothly (up to more than twice that of the iPhone X), with real-world use the Note 9 will likely perform admirably for the duration of your average two-year contract.
Samsung has done a great job of pushing its extended aspect ratio, high-resolution AMOLED displays to the boundaries of it top-end phones – but Apple took things further in the screen-to-body ratio department with the launch of the iPhone X. If you’re comfortable living that notch life, then you might prefer what Apple has to offer. Otherwise, the additional screen real-estate renders the Note 9 the better option for productivity and media consumption.
Speaking of media, both phones support HDR viewing from supported apps, such as Netflix. The use of OLED panels also means you get to enjoy rich colours and excellent contrast whichever handset you prefer.
As for the cameras, both phones pack in 12-megapixel dual sensors on the rear, with the secondary sensor of each offering lossless 2x optical zoom. Apple trumps Samsung with its superior 4K video-recording quality and frame rates, while Note 9 boasts 960fps super-slow motion burst recording, just as on the S9 and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus.
Optical image stabilisation and portrait mode functionality feature on both phones, too, with the iPhone adding the option of virtual studio lighting and scenes. In response, the Note adds Snapchat Lens-style overlays for some added frivolity.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs iPhone X – Specs comparison
So how does the Note 9’s fundamental hardware (and software) compare to the mighty iPhone X:
|Galaxy Note 9||iPhone X|
|Display||6.4 inches, 1440 x 2960, Super AMOLED||5.8 inches, 1125 x 2436, OLED|
|Processor||Exynos 9810/Snapdragon 845||Apple A11 Bionic|
|Rear camera||Dual 12 megapixels||Dual 12 megapixels|
|Front camera||8 megapixels||7 megapixels|
|Software||Android 8.1 Oreo||iOS 11|
|Storage||128/512GB + microSD up to 512GB||64/256GB. Non-expandable|
|Stylus||S Pen w/ Bluetooth||None|
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs iPhone X – Design and software
These are both premium handsets. Apple’s iPhone X comes in just two shades – a glass-backed Space Grey and a Silver option, both feature a reflective surgical-grade steel frame banding around the edge. The Note 9, meanwhile, will arrive in three shades: Midnight Black, Lavender Purple and Ocean Blue (with a yellow S Pen).
Being an Apple device in 2018, the iPhone shrugs off the headphone jack, leaving just the single Lightning port for data and power – although this is one of the first iPhones to support Qi wireless charging as well. The body of the iPhone might look fragile, but Apple has also ensured that it’s IP67 dust and water-resistant, so you can happily use it in the bath or the rain.
Samsung arguably offers some of the most premium Android-based alternatives to the iPhone, and the Note 9 looks to be the biggest and best example of this yet. It, too, features a curved glass front and back with a metal frame in between. Unlike last year’s Galaxy S8 twins, the metal frame now comes colour-matched to whichever option you choose. It supports fast charging thanks to that glass design, but adheres to both the Qi and PMA standards as well as accommodating Samsung’s own fast wireless charging standard. There’s also still a headphone jack and the whole thing is IP68 certified to boot.
The iPhone’s notch doesn’t just house the front camera but also the TrueDepth sensor array that powers the phone’s Face ID authentication. It’s faster and more secure than Samsung’s existing iris and face-recognition technologies combined, but the Note also includes a fingerprint sensor under the rear camera. This also supports gestures within the Android-based user experience.
Comparing iOS to Android is always a tricky affair. The experience offered up by the iPhone X showcases some notable changes on the interaction front that aren’t necessarily for the better (compared to more traditionally-shaped iPhones). However, it also offers a consistently great app experience and, paired with the powerful internals, still feels fast and fluid after months of use.
Sadly, the Note 9 doesn’t launch on the freshly named Android 9.0 Pie. Instead, it arrives on the slightly older Android 8.1 Oreo, with its own Samsung Experience UI on top. It offers a more coherent navigation structure to that of iOS on the iPhone X and has the added benefit of all that S Pen stylus functionality.
Whip out the S Pen and its new Bluetooth connectivity lets you remotely control presentations while your Note is hooked up to the big screen using the desktop-like DeX environment 9which no longer requires any form of dock). You can remotely pause and play media with it, too. Air Command also means the S Pen can be used to grab snippets on-screen, doodle Live Messages (which mirror Apple’s Digital Touch feature), and translate text to or from other languages in real-time.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs iPhone X price – Which is better value?
The iPhone X launched with a headline-grabbing £999 price tag in the UK, and that’s for the smaller capacity 64GB model. Samsung’s new Note is equally premium but only break that same threshold in its higher-capacity form, with the 128GB costing £899 and the 512GB version costing £1099.
At first glance, it would seem that the Note 9 offers more bang for your buck, matching the iPhone on most fronts and offering additional benefits such as faster wireless charging, DeX support and the S Pen stylus. However, for some the superior app experience, performance and compact power of the iPhone X still make for a more compelling purchase.