Apple iPhone XS Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note: Battle of the big flagships

Apple iPhone XS Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9: We compare the similarities, differences and killer feature of the two phones

Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Updated: October 6, 2018 9:42:39 am

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We were recently posed with an interesting question: Which phone should I pick – the Apple iPhone XS Max or the Samsung Galaxy Note 9? This is a valid question for those who are looking for a top-end device with no real budget limitations or loyalty to a platform. This is why we decided to actually dig into this a bit.

Apple iPhone XS Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Similarities

Well, these are both large phones. While the iPhone XS Max has a 6.5-inch screen, the Note 9 has a 6.4-inch screen. Clearly nothing much to differentiate, if you overlook the fact that the first one has a notch. Both are Super AMOLED screens, but the Note 9 has more pixels and hence a better PPI number. However, it is hard to differentiate between the two in real life.

The two phones even have similar weights, if you are not the sort who differentiate a 7 gram difference in your hand. For most users, we can safely say both are in the same weight category. Given that both these phones support wireless charging, both have a glass back. Also, both devices are water and dust proof with IP68 ratings, though we would still not recommend you take these phones in water deeper or
longer than recommended.

Apple iPhone XS Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Differences

Now, the two phones have many differences too. The most critical one is the operating system. The iPhone XS Max is obviously on iOS 12, the latest version of Apple’s own operating system. It is a bit of a closed garden and more inward looking, but that also makes it more stable and secure for the user. The Note 9 is on Android, with a bit of skinning by Samsung. The Samsung apps are good, but then it is a bit of a free-for-all in the Android market place. Also, Android is still more vulnerable to issues than iOS.

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The other big difference is the processor. Apple has packed the latest A12 Bionic processor in the iPhone XS Max. The new 7nm chip makes it the fastest phone available as we have seen with benchmarks. In comparison, the Note 9 has the Exynos 9810 which is a powerful processor, but pales in comparison to the newer A12 Bionic.

However, users won’t see much of a difference in daily usage, unless they decide to work on AR or AI apps, where the iPhone will clearly be faster. Still, on paper, the Note 9 has more RAM at up to 8GB compared to the iPhone’s 4GB.

Also read: Apple iPhone XS Max review: Yes, this comes at a hefty price, but you won’t regret it

One area where the Note 9 clearly pips the iPhone XS Max is storage. While both phones have a maximum internal storage of 512GB, the Note 9 offers the same as external memory, a feature iPhones have never had. For those who like to hoard all those photos and videos locally, the Note 9 is a better option.

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Now, let’s come to the camera. At the back, both the phones have 12MP wide + 12MP telephoto dual camera setup. Interestingly, on paper, they are almost the same compared to last year’s specifications. However, when you take photos of the same subject with both the cameras you see a distinct difference in the result.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review: All eyes are on the S Pen here

The iPhone XS Max photos are more subtle and natural. The Note 9 has colours that are vibrant and pop out. The iPhone XS Max does better with the red and pinks, while the Note 9 does better when it is dark. But since the hardware is more or less the same, this is more to do with the software and processing that goes into the photos within the phone. In the end, it boils down to user preference.

However, when it comes to the selfie camera, the Note 9 is better off with a wider lens, larger aperture and more pixels.



Earlier, the dual-SIM would have given the Note series phones an edge. But the iPhone XS Max will soon offer a second line via eSIM in most markets and a physical dual-SIM option in China. Both phones can unlock by reading your face, but iPhone FaceID is far superior, faster and responsive in comparison to the Iris scanner on the Note 9.

Samsung Dex feature — which lets the phone create and run a desktop environment — is a unique proposition for the Note 9, something the iPhones don’t offer at the moment. Battery life is another area where the Note 9 scores with its 4,000mAh battery. The iPhone XS Max has a larger 3,174 mAh battery, but it will fall short of the Note 9 when it comes to hours of juice on offer.

Apple iPhone XS Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9: The killer feature

Now, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has something which no other phone has, not even the iPhone XS Max; and that is the S-Pen stylus. The best stylus in the world make the Note 9 very unique and the only option for those who actually need a stylus to doodle, take notes or be creative on the go. No other phone has an answer to this now.

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When it comes to pricing, the iPhone XS Max is much more costlier than the Note 9 which has a starting price of Rs 67,900. The iPhone XS Max’s Rs 1,09,900 starting price point will take a lot of consumers out of the picture. Still, the two phones might not appeal to the same set of users. If they do, then you have everything to make your choice.

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