New iPhone XS vs Samsung Galaxy S9: how does Apple's new flagship compare?

The iPhone XS doesn’t look dramatically different from the iPhone X, although this time out it’s IP68 certified for dust and water resistance. It has improved stereo speakers and no headphone jack.

The Galaxy S9 is a very good looking phone, if a little conservative: it took the familiar shape of the Galaxy S7 and refined it. The bezels got smaller and the display got bigger, with the fingerprint sensor moving to the back of the device. And unlike the iPhone, it still has a headphone jack. It also boasts AKG-tuned speakers that promise to deliver 360-degree Dolby Atmos sound from any audio source, although the limits of physics mean it can only pump out so much volume. It’s IP68 certified too.

iPhone XS vs Samsung Galaxy S9: display

Both the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max get OLED screens delivering 2,436 x 1,125 pixels: the iPhone XS is 5.8 inches and the iPhone XS Max is 6.5 inches. Both versions offer True Tone colour, million-to-one contrast ratios and Dolby Vision HDR 10.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 display is one of the best smartphone displays you can get: a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED certified for Mobile HDR Premium content. It doesn’t suffer from the overly vivid colours of previous Super AMOLED displays – if anything it’s a little too reserved – and it delivers a crisp and detailed picture across its 2960 x 1440 pixels.

iPhone XS vs Samsung Galaxy S9: processor and storage

The processor is the big news in the new iPhones. The Bionic A12 processor is much faster and more energy efficient than before, with a claimed 15% performance boost and 40% lower power drain in the two performance cores and 50% less power drain from the energy efficient cores. The GPU is 50% faster than the A11 and the neural engine is up to eight cores from the A11’s two. That means an increase from 600 billion operations per second to a whopping 5 trillion: apps launch 30% faster, and the Core ML machine learning framework runs 9x faster with 1/10th of the energy consumption. It’s an incredible feat of engineering, and the first 7-nanometre processor in the industry.

As ever, the Samsung Galaxy S9 comes in two versions depending on where you live. In the US and China it’s powered by a Snapdragon, and the rest of the world gets Samsung’s own Exynos processor.

The Snapdragon 845 has 4 x 2.7GHz cores and 4 x 1.7GHz cores; the Exynos 9810 has 4 x 2.8GHz and 4 x 1.7GHz cores, again with 4GB of RAM. The S9 comes with 64, 128 or 256GB and supports microSD up to 400GB.

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