Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 vs Apple’s iPhone XS and XS Max: Which phone is best?

It is no surprise that tech aficionados and smartphone fanatics are debating whether Apple or Samsung’s latest smartphone models give the most value for your buck.  This year, Apple has released two new USD$1000 mobile devices, the XS and the XS Max, which are both faster and equipped with multiple updates and new specs. Unlike the recent Samsung models, there have been massive changes made with the new iPhones.

However, the Galaxy Note 9 doesn’t have a four-figure price tag for nothing. The newest Note device has expendable storage, an updated S Pen, and the best specs on any Android headset thus far.


The Galaxy Note 9 is by no means a small phone. Its edges are slightly bigger than those of the Note 8, and while its forefront and chin are slimmed, they’re still bigger than even the larger iPhone XS Max model.

The iPhone XS dimensions’ clock in at 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm with a weight of 177g while the iPhone XS Max’s are 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7mm weighing 208g. The slightly bigger Galaxy Note 9’s dimensions are 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm with a weight of 201g, slightly lighter than the XS and the other Galaxy S9 models.

photo of iphone xs and xs max

All 3 mobile phones use the newer 18:9 size ratio to reach a pocket-efficient size, and though the Note 9’s height exceeds that of the two iPhones, it has excellent pocket efficiency. In addition, all phones have received an IP68 approval for water-resistance, but the IP certification for the iPhone models is much higher.

Galaxy note S9 smartphone from all sides with yellow pencil

However, Apple’s greatest appeal is its spectacular display, which has already spawned many imitators.

Before the arrival of the iPhone XS Max, the Note 9 laid claim to having the biggest screen in the market. However, the iPhone XS Max now beats the Note 9 by a 1/10 of an inch, ridding the Note 9 of its former title. The iPhone XS Max has a massive 6.5-inch screen, making it by far Apple’s largest phone by nearly ¾ of an inch.

  • The iPhone XS has a 5.8-inch OLED screen, 458ppi, and dimensions of 1125 x 2436.
  • The iPhone XS Max has a 6.5-inch OLED screen, 458ppi, and dimensions of 1242 x 2688.
  • The Galaxy Note 9 has a 6.4-inch OLED screen, 516ppi, and dimensions of 1440 x 29

Even though the iPhone XS screen may be larger, Samsung has a much higher resolution and pixel density. However, all three of the phones image quality can be classified as ‘retina’, so most consumers won’t be able to notice the minor differences. Nonetheless, Samsung’s proof will be in its image accuracy and brightness, often some of Samsung’s attractive specs.


As with previous models, both the new iPhones and the Galaxy Note 9 have been provided with the best viable silicon. The iPhone XS and XS Max have been equipped with A12 Bionic silicon while the Note 9 has been equipped with Snapdragon 845.

At the moment, the Note 9 slightly edges out over the iPhone XS due to the well-known reliability of the Snapdragon 845. Most tech experts are already aware that the Snapdragon 845 provides high speeds and superb power efficiency that can power the Note 9 for an entire day. At the moment, we do not have much information on the A12 Bionic other than the typical hyperbolic press statements from Apple:

“The Apple-designed A12 Bionic, the smartest and most powerful chip in a smartphone, features the first 7-nanometer chip ever in a smartphone that delivers industry-leading performance in a more power efficient design.”

The A11 chip from the iPhone X model was already a sophisticated model so even if the A12 merely leads to small improvements, it will still be a market leader.


Both Apple and Android phone producers have been battling for a while to see who can provide better internal storage. A few years ago, Apple was criticized by experts and consumers alike for its minimal 16 GB of storage in the entry-level iPhone, but the current iPhone XS and XS Max has more storage now than some laptops. In fact, all three phones offer a high-end 512GB option, which really is more than enough for any consumer.

  • iPhone XS: 64 GB/256 GB/512 GB
  • iPhone XS Max: 64 GB/256GB/512 GB
  • Galaxy Note 9: 128 GB/512 GB

The Galaxy Note 9 also offers a microSD card, which lets you add an ADDITIONAL 512 GB of storage (i.e. if you purchase the high-end Note 9 model you can have up 1024 GB).


According to Samsung’s website, the Galaxy Note 9’s 4,000mAH batter a 4,000mAh battery that allows for 24-hour battery life. This is an improvement to the earlier Galaxy S9 and S9+ models, which had 3000mAh and 3,500mAh batteries respectively, and both have 22 hours of battery life for ‘talk time’. However, some of these figures may depend on what task the user performs. If they are consistently downloading videos, the battery life may not last nearly as long as advertised.

In contrast, Apple’s iPhone XS has a 2,658mAh battery, which is in fact smaller than its previous iPhone X model. However, Apple claims the battery on the iPhone XS will last close to 30 minutes longer than the iPhone X, and that the iPhone XS Max will last 90 minutes longer than the iPhone X. The iPhone XS Max is expected to have a 3,174mAh battery.


When it comes to the camera, both Apple and Samsung have developed top-notch tech for the past few models. However, they tend to take different approaches that produce great results, but differ slightly.

  • iPhone XS/XS Max: Dual 12MP wide-angle (f/1.8) and telephoto cameras (f/2.4), dual optical image stabilization, 2x optical zoom
  • Galaxy Note 9: Dual 12MP wide-angle (f/1.5-2.4) and telephoto cameras (f/2.4), dual optical image stabilization, 2x optical zoom

The iPhone XS and XS Max are both equipped with a new feature called Smart HDR. It works like Google’s HDR+, wherein the phone takes multiple shots and stitches them together to create a superior finished image. Through this method, less details are lost in shadows and fewer highlights are burned out to white. Smart HDR is definitely an advantageous feature and gives the iPhone a slight edge over the Note 9.

However, the Note 9 does offer a feature called Dual Aperture, which allows you to switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 aperture. The iPhones on the other hand don’t offer such a mechanism. When it comes to portrait mode, both phones allow you to adjust the depth of field after you’ve taken your picture. In addition, both cameras offer 4k recording at 60 frames per second (fps), but the Note 9 also offers super-slow-motion recording at 960 fps while the iPhone’s slow-motion video only records at 240fps.

Nonetheless, both handsets are good at capturing dynamic and colourful scenes. Like other Samsung models, the Note 9 tends to sharpen details, a feature that isn’t necessarily appealing to all consumers. While the pictures do sometimes look a bit yellow-ish, it seems as though Apple loves adding warmth while processing its images, but still maintains original image colour better than the Note 9.

For both phones, nighttime photos remain the greatest challenge. The Galaxy Note 9 sharpens the darker images which makes the details less distorted. On the other hand, the iPhone XS Max seems to succeed at keeping exposure throughout the composition.


As stated earlier, these phones aren’t exactly the cheapest smartphones on the market. Last year Apple shocked the world with a $999 starting price for the iPhone X last year, and the Note 9 continued this trend by pushing its prices above four figures. The iPhone XS and XS Max have since surpassed the iPhone X and Note 9’s prices.

  • iPhone XS: $999-$1,349
  • iPhone XS Max: $1099-$1,449
  • Galaxy Note 9: $1000-$1250

Both models now have prices that all fly over the 4-figure mark. However, it’s unlikely to stop people from flocking to the stores to purchase them.


At the end of the day, most people who are seeking to purchase a new phone already have their mind set on either Android or iOS. However, if you’re just looking for advice on what to buy, or seeing how your phone stacks up against the competition, we will give you our verdict on the best option available.

In all honesty, both these phones will deliver exceptional service. The Galaxy Note 9 is packed with features and has exceptional productivity that can be rivalled by no other Android model. By contrast the iPhone XS Max has the biggest screen and fastest chip Apple has ever put on a smartphone.

Which phone is for you really depends on what you are looking for in a phone. The Note 9 probably has more special feature, such as multiwindow split-screen, floating UI elements, S Pen for drawing and writing, and GIF screenshot capture, and much more. It’s copious storage capabilities likely help it provide so many extra features.

By contrast the iPhone XS and XS Max have the most powerful hardware on the market and definitely are the phone to beat in terms of smooth performance and graphical fidelity. However, iOS is a more focused operating system that supports few other features besides the ones typically associated with a smartphone. However, it does support some niche creativity sectors like music/video editing, better than the Note 9 or any Android for that matter.

So basically, if you want a phone with extra features and superior storage, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the phone for you. However, if you don’t care about having a multi-purpose device and just want superior hardware, the iPhone XS or XS Max is the phone for you.