Samsung has unveiled the long-awaited Galaxy Note 9. But does it stand up to Apple’s flagship iPhone X?
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 tech specs
Let’s take a look at the specs:
- Processor: 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core (2.8GHz max + 1.7GHz)
- Display: 6.4-inch 2960 x 1440 Quad HD+ Super AMOLED
- Camera (rear): Dual camera with dual Optical Image Stabilization
- Camera (rear, wide angle): 12-megapixel Super-Speed Dual Pixel, Auto Focus, F1.5/F2.4
- Camera (rear, telephoto): 12-megapixel, Auto Focus, F2.4, 2x optical zoom with up to 10x digital zoom
- Memory/Storage: 6GB RAM (LPDR4) with 128GB storage and microSD card slot (up to 512GB) OR 8GB RAM (LPDR4) with 512GB storage and microSD card slot (up to 512GB)
- Battery: 4,000mAh
- OS: Android 8 Oreo
- Dimensions: 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm, 201g
- IP rating: IP68
- Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4Ghz), VHT80 MU-MIMO
- Network: Enhances 4×4 MIMO/CA, LAA, LTE Cat.18
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 (LE up to 2Mbps), ANT+, USB-C, NFC, location (GPS, Galileo, Glonass, BeiDou)
OK, so let’s break it down.
The iPhone X (along with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus) is powered by Apple’s A11 Bionic chip. Geekbench benchmarks pitting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 shows that the Apple chip has a huge lead on the Qualcomm part in terms of processing power.
This holds out when comparing the A11 Bionic chip to the Samsung Galaxy S9+, which is also powered by the Snapdragon 845 chip.
Another win for the iPhone X.
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But there’s a lot more to the silicon than pure computing power. Features such as battery life, camera speed, even the abilities of the camera, will only come clear with hands-on testing of the device.
But on paper at any rate, the A11 Bionic is the winner. And remember that Apple is likely to have a new — and faster — chip just around the corner.
What about the display?
Well, at 6.4-inch 2960 x 1440 for the Note 9 compared to 5.8-inch 2436 x 1125 for the iPhone X, on paper the winner here is the Note 9. But as with processors, it’s hard to judge displays purely by their specs. However, a bigger display is a bigger display, so the Note 9 comes out on top.
But remember that the new iPhones are coming soon, and the flagship is rumored to have a 6.5-inch display.
If that turns out to be the case, Apple takes the crown from Samsung.
Next we come to the cameras. And this seems to be a battleground for smartphone makers these days.
Purely on a megapixel measure, the rear cameras are the same at 12-megapixel, but the aperture of the wide-angle lens on the Note 9 is better, which should give enhanced low-light capability.
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Samsung’s inclusion of a 12-megapixel front camera is a win, beating Apple’s 7-megapixel camera comfortably.
But again, when it comes to cameras, the specs only tell part of the story. There’s more to capturing a good image than the number of pixels, so we’ll have to wait to see how it performs in the real world.
Memory and storage
Memory and storage on the Note 9 are where things get interesting. Really interesting.
So interesting I expect Apple to soon copy what Samsung has done.
The iPhone X comes in two storage configurations — 64GB and 256GB. Both models are kitted out with 3 GB LPDDR4X RAM.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 is offered in two storage configurations also — 128GB and 512GB. Augmenting this built-in storage is a microSD card slot that can take a card up to 512GB.
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This alone is a huge win. But it gets better.
While the base 128GB model comes equipped with 6GB of LPDDR4 RAM, the 512GB model comes with a whopping 8GB of RAM.
That’s an interesting way to give buyers more value for choosing more storage capacity.
But it will be interesting to see what the performance difference between the two versions will be.
Samsung touts the Note 9 has having “all day battery life.” The battery is a 4,000mAh unit, compared to the 2,716mAh unit used by Apple in the iPhone X.
The 64GB iPhone X has a contract-free price tag of $999, rising to $1,249 for the 256GB variant.
Samsung’s pricing for the Note 9 is more aggressive in both directions. First off, the base 128GB model comes in at $999.99, giving buyers twice as much storage as the base model iPhone X offers, along with the microSD card expansion option.
On the other end of the spectrum is the 512GB model, with comes in at $1,249.99. So for $250 more, those opting for the higher Note 9 model will enjoy half a terabyte of storage, 8GB of RAM, and have the ability to bump that storage up to a whole terabyte if they throw in a 512GB microSD card (a 512GB microSD cards retail for around $350, so they’re not cheap).
So which one is the winner?
It’s a tough call. For a number of reasons.
First off, comparing iOS and Android or iPhone and Android is a little bit like comparing apples and oranges. There are similarities but there are key differences that come into play.
Then there’s the issue of platform preference. On the whole, those in the iOS world don’t want to make the switch to Android, and vice versa.
Also: Samsung Note 9 needs to go more mainstream, leverage S Pen to win
It’s interesting to note that Apple still has the upper hand in terms of processing power, and this lead is likely to extend when the new iPhones are released. But again, raw processing power only goes so far.
The higher-end Note 9 with the 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM sounds very enticing, and it will be interesting to see how this hardware plays out in the real world.