Another year, another phone release. If you’re looking to upgrade, update or replace your phone, or you’re simply wondering what all the fuss is about, we’ve broken it down for you to make the decision a little simpler. Here’s how the new Galaxy models compare to each other, as well as how they stack up to other leading smartphones on the market.
Beginning with the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, think of it as the difference between Coke, and Coke with a few drops of rum; the latter offers a little bit of buzz over the regular beverage.
The Galaxy S9 is considered to have the sharpest display on the market, using AMOLED technology, at 1440 x 2960 resolution. TechRadar said the S9 has the world’s best display. It has even smaller upper and lower bezels (the borders between the screen and the phone frame) than the S8, which was already considered one of the largest screens on the market.
The fingerprint scanner has been moved to a more comfortable location below the camera on the back of the phone, as opposed to its previous awkward position next to the camera on the S8. But the biggest camera upgrade is a dual-aperture technology that automatically adjusts to light, much like the human eye. The front camera includes an AR (augmented reality) feature to create your own “animoji” based on your face. In terms of sound, new speakers allow the S9 to be 1.5 times louder than the S8.
The real difference between the Galaxy S9 and S9+ is in the details. The S9 has a slightly shorter battery life, and its screen is about a half-inch smaller than the S9+, at 6.2 inches, while the S9+ has 6 gigabytes of RAM – two more than the S9. The Galaxy S9+ also has more camera features, including a dual camera on the back. Naturally, there’s also a difference in the price; the S9 sells for $719 to $799, while the S9+ goes for $899 to $929.
S9+ vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 8
The Samsung Galaxy S9 isn’t a lot different from the Galaxy Note 8, though it does have an updated camera, battery, and display. It also has a bigger and better screen than the iPhone or Google’s Pixel, and its operating system is new, boasting a faster performance than the iPhone. But in comparison to iPhone and Pixel, the S9’s features still make it more complicated to use than Apple’s iOS and the more streamlined version of Android used by Google’s Pixel.
The updated operating system and processor will likely see the S9+ perform faster than the Galaxy Note 8. The S9+ also has a larger battery capacity, meaning the battery life is longer and both models have fast charging. While they essentially have the same camera, the S9+ is updated with super slow-motion video and multi-frame options.
The Galaxy S9+ is smaller but slightly heavier. Its screen is 6.2 inches, compared to the Note 8’s 6.3 inches, and the difference in weight is a matter of a few grams. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 sells for about $599, compared to S9’s $719 to $799.
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. iPhone 8
This is more of an apples-to-oranges comparison, but it’s good to know what features fit your particular tastes.
While the Samsung S9 and S9+ have edge-to-edge screens, the iPhone 8 still has the standard screens that Apple’s smartphones have always used. The S9’s 5.8-inch screen is larger than the iPhone 8’s 4.7 inches.
The S9 is considered more powerful, boasting latest Snapdragon 845 CPU (in North America) and it uses a dedicated Mali-G72 MP18 GPU. In comparison, the iPhone 8 uses the five-month-old A11 Bionic CPU, which functions as its all-in-one power solution.
The iPhone 8 retails for around $699, about $100 less than the S9.
Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Google Pixel 2
Both devices are basically the same size, though the Pixel 2 is slightly lighter and shorter than the S9. The Samsung phone boasts the better battery capacity of the two.
The Pixel 2 (which costs $749) is considered the best in the industry when it comes to photography. Samsung’s S9 has the potential to challenge that, with its upgrade to multi-frame advance processing.
There’s also a difference in in terms of usable screen. While virtually the entire face of the S9 is usable, only 70% of the Pixel’s is, and the S9’s 5.8-inch screen is larger than the Pixel 2’s 5-inch screen. The S9 also continues to use a headphone jack while as the Pixel 2, like the latest iPhones, has abandoned the feature.
The Pixel 2’s operating system and features are easier to use, and are more user-friendly, while the S9 often has little-used features taking up space and making for more convoluted processes. The Pixel seems to streamline Android to be easier to use (which makes sense, as Google makes the phone).
Overall, Samsung’s updated S9 and S9+ are solid new entries in its Galaxy line, highlighted by a best-in-class screen and an improved camera. However, the operating system isn’t as intuitive as it could be. If you’re looking to upgrade, it’s a solid choice.
Dave Gordon | Contributing Writer