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Apple iPhone Xs Max VS Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Heavyweight Flagship Showdown

Apple iPhone Xs Max VS Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Heavyweight Flagship Showdown

Full disclaimer: I’ve had the Samsung Note 9 for barely greater than a month now, however haven’t had the prospect to go hands-on with the newly-launched Apple iPhone Xs Max. Most publications have solely had a restricted hands-on with the telephone, and I’ve based mostly my conclusions on this piece on tech specification sheets and secondary opinions.

The brand new collection of iPhones have simply been introduced two days earlier: the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and the iPhone XR. It follows Apple’s custom of following up flagship fashions with “s” up to date variants each alternate yr: we’ve seen this beforehand with the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7s. This yr, the iPhone X has been discontinued, giving option to its current spawn: the equivalent iPhone Xs, but in addition a plus-sized variant that each one Apple customers have been ready for: the iPhone Xs Max.

Aside from poor naming schemata (plus-sized iPhones have been often suffixed with, properly, “Plus”), the Max is a real beast of a telephone in type and in functino. With a 6.5-inch show, it bodily hulks over a lot of the competitors… besides that one telephone, launched virtually precisely one month in the past. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9. With its 6.Four-inch show, the Note 9 is likely one of the few flagship telephones that instantly compete with the brand new iPhone Xs Max (the LG V40 ThinQ shall be a robust contender, however will solely be out later this yr).

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Notably, each telephones function merely large 512GB storage capacities. On Apple’s lineup of MacBooks and MacBook Execs, there are many laptops that provide lower than 512GB of storage – holding that ludicrous quantity of capability in a tool that matches into your pocket simply reminds us the place we’re in terms of tech.

However crucial function of each telephones we have to know and internalise earlier than we delve into the article is sweet ol’ worth.

The Note 9 launched virtually precisely a month in the past at SGD 1,728. It was a worth that shocked a world that had been used to sub-US$1,000 telephones.

However that was just the start. The iPhone Xs Max retails at SGD 2,349.

Sure, that’s proper. Virtually the worth of a totally tricked-out MacBook Professional 13-inch. You’d be forking out a premium of S$621 for a brand new iPhone Xs Max over a Samsung Note 9.

The Display

We begin with the display, the obvious trait on these two heavyweight smartphones. Whereas the Samsung’s display is 6.Four inches diagonal, it truly has a bigger display by space than the 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max. With out the intrusive notch and with much less rounded corners (the Note 9 is decidedly boxy), the Note 9 provides extra complete display property, and in addition extra usable area. A extra common rectangle 18.5:9 balances nicely between watching films and having vertical area for displaying textual content and messaging apps.

The iPhone Xs Max has a 19.5:9 show, which is among the longest facet ratios on a manufacturing smartphone. Whereas the tall type of the show does do very nicely in displaying chats and textual content, too, the highest few millimetres aren’t probably the most helpful because of the vast, intrusive notch.

Regardless of the flamboyant branding by Apple, the show on the iPhone Xs Max truly has 20% much less decision than that on the Note 9. Don’t get me mistaken: Apple’s “Super Retina Display” has and continues to look nice on Apple’s different units, and there’s no purpose to anticipate in any other case on its new 2018 flagships. Nevertheless, the numbers converse for themselves: the Note 9’s 1440x2960p QHD+ show provides a complete of Four.25M dots/516ppi, as in comparison with the 1242x2688p on the iPhone Xs Max delivers three.34M dots/458ppi.

This, nevertheless, is just noticeable to probably the most astute customers. Personally, I depart my Note 9 in FHD+ (2220x1080p/2.40M dot) decision more often than not to preserve battery.


There’s not a lot to say concerning the efficiency of both telephone in comparison with each other. Elementary variations in structure and implementation make such a comparability between the brand new A12 Bionic chip and the Exynos 9810 like evaluating Apples to, properly, Androids.

The iPhone Xs Max in gold and area gray. Picture: Apple

Nevertheless, the spec sheet of the iPhone Xs Max has a wierd clean with regards to its RAM. No official info exists on it at present – however an enterprising sleuth observed an iPhone Xs Max entry on Geekbench, which revealed the up to date “s” mannequin nonetheless solely packed a 4GB RAM, seen on its predecessor the iPhone X. The Note 9, for comparability, is available in 6GB and 8GB RAM variants, and I’ve obtained the absolutely specced-out model with 512GB storage and 8GB RAM.

Type Issue and Sturdiness

By taking full benefit of the notch design it popularised, the iPhone manages to squeeze in a bigger display (when it comes to paper stats) whereas sustaining a slimmer and smaller type when in comparison with the Note 9. Whereas the entrance (duh) and again panels are glass on each telephones, the iPhone Xs Max sports activities a wonderful, strong and practical chrome steel body across the center. The Note 9, as compared, is thriller coated metallic (not specified on official documentation). I think it’s aluminium.

This is perhaps advertising mumbo-jumbo, however I’ve owned chrome steel watches, and have seen how aluminium frames find yourself on telephones. Reviews of iPhone X house owners buffing out scratches with Autosol or another metallic polish aren’t pretend, in all probability, since they’re so quite a few. You’re virtually assured to drop your telephone – may as nicely get a telephone that holds as much as your use.

Apple has additionally bumped up the brand new iPhone to have IP68-certified water and mud resistance. The Note 9 had it, however so did the Note eight and Note 7 (RIP) earlier than it. It really works even with the S-Pen out.

Type-wise I can see the attraction of each telephones. Apple’s immaculate strategy to design can’t be questioned, and Samsung’s revolutionary curved infinity edge show helps make the display soften into the bezels. The brow and chin of the brand new Note 9 have additionally been decreased barely to look extra at house with the bezelless competitors.

At 157.5 x 77.Four x 7.7mm, and weighing 208g, the iPhone Xs Max is each so barely smaller and thinner than the Note 9 which measures 161.9 x 76.Four x eight.eight mm. It does weigh a hair heavier than the 201g Note 9.

Battery life

Once more, battery capability of Apple’s new units are nearly as good as clandestine, with the corporate selecting solely to state that it’ll final 1.5h longer than the iPhone X. The 2017 flagship packed a 2716mAh battery at three.81V (10.35Wh). That is in comparison with the Four,000mAh (15.4Wh)behemoth contained inside the Note 9. In fact, software program, processing optimisations and different design experience does assist the iPhone X final all through the day, and if Apple’s claims that it’ll final 1.5h longer, it might be respectable.


Sure, they’ve each obtained 512GB variants. Sure, they’re priced in a different way. Sure, the cheaper one has the choice to broaden reminiscence capability with using a reminiscence card, probably doubling complete space for storing to 1TB. It’s an apparent one if it issues to you, however it’s your selection. 512GB is a lot, and I wouldn’t ask for extra myself.

Digital camera

Each manufacturers haven’t executed an entire lot in upgrades on the hardware aspect from the earlier mannequin. Each function twin 12-megapixel rear cameras, with one vast and one telephoto lens (2x optical zoom). Each cameras are optically picture stabilised. The Samsung has a variable aperture introduced over from the S9+, toggling between f1.5 and f2.Four. The iPhone is fastened at f1.eight.

The twin 12MP cameras on the rear of the Galaxy Note 9. Picture: Ian Ling

Apple did, nevertheless, improve pixel measurement to 1.4µm to enhance low-light efficiency. The Note 9 introduced it over from the S9+ that got here earlier than it.

Apple introduced on a brand new function that permits customers to regulate bokeh (background blur) in portrait mode photographs after the very fact. The Note 9 has it too.

Video-wise, each telephones seize as much as 4K/60p. The iPhone Xs Max permits for slow-motion seize at 240fps, whereas the Samsung supply super-slow-motion at 960fps.


The iPhone Xs Max solely gives Face ID if customers don’t want to manually enter in patterns, PINs or passwords into the telephone to unlock it. This function hasn’t been absolutely upgraded, however Apple maintains that its Neural Processor has enabled it to carry out higher than it did on the iPhone X, which labored decently.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has facial scanning too however lacks the identical 3D dot-projection and detection magic discovered on the iPhone. As an alternative, it utilises a mixture of 2D facial recognition and an iris scan to supply an ‘Intelligent Scan’. It doesn’t work notably properly within the darkness, however the Note 9 has Previous Trustworthy in reserve: a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor that works brilliantly and doubles as a set off to drop the notifications shade if hauling your thumb all the best way up there’s troublesome.

Different Options

The Note 9 has the S-Pen, that does double obligation as a pressure-sensitive stylus, and as a single-button distant set off by way of Bluetooth Low Power.

The Lowdown

It’s S$621 extra, however the iPhone Xs Max is priced the identical as a good MacBook Professional 13 inch for a purpose. Know-how, and since Apple can. Whereas that could be two causes, they’re not essentially unbiased. Being absolutely the chief in know-how, as Apple proved itself to be with the very, very profitable launch of the divisive iPhone X, the corporate has clout – a robust fame for being proper. 

This provides it the proper to cost no matter quantity it deems match – those that know will settle for it, those that don’t – properly, they’re the Android customers aren’t they?

Watching the Apple keynotes, it’s obvious that Apple isn’t chasing paper qualifications and specs. It’s chasing the good consumer expertise. The Apple iPhone Xs Max is very named (Xs, however a Max-sized telephone? Speak about contradictions), insipid when it comes to design, and a little bit of a bummer with regards to tech specs.

Whereas I’d agree that whoever named the brand new iPhones ought to be strung up and shamed publicly, the iPhone’s seemingly-subpar stats are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what they stuff in there, it has labored for the previous decade, and it’ll work once more – an excessive amount of is at stake for this multi billion-dollar firm. It helps that the most important factor at stake occurs to be their popularity, and thus their impetus to supply and proceed to supply the right product, each single time.

About the identical horrible notched designs on the brand new iPhones? Samsung copied their Note eight design wholesale, solely rotating the fingerprint sensor downward beneath the horizontal digital camera arrays after clients complained en masse.


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