Apple's iPhone X vs. Samsung's New Galaxy S9

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) 10th-anniversary edition of the iPhone, known as the iPhone X, was seen as the best smartphone on the market when it was released in November 2017. Four months later, Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) is set to release a phone that appears to largely match or exceed the iPhone X -- for $280 less.

Smartphone customers will often stick to either Apple or Samsung simply because all their content and information is either on the iOS or Android software system. However, some Apple customers who couldn't bring themselves to spend $999 on Apple's iPhone X may be willing to spend a more reasonable $719 on a similar smartphone from Samsung.

The S9 is available to pre-order now and will officially go on sale March 16. If you're in the market for the best smartphone money can buy, keep reading to figure out how the iPhone X and Galaxy S9 compare to each other.

Price tag

Apple caused some sticker shock last September when it unveiled the iPhone X and said the starting cost was $999 for the 64GB model and $1,149 for the 256GB model.

Of course, some iPhone X customers bought the phone through their wireless carrier so they could pay for it through a payment plan or get a deal on the phone.

Samsung's S9 has caused a similar stir, but for a different reason. Some people are shocked that such a similar phone can sell for $719.99 for the 64GB model -- about $280 less than the iPhone X. While the S9 doesn't come in the larger 256GB model, it does have a microSD card slot that allows up to 400GB extra storage.


Both devices have enviable cameras -- especially for phones.

The iPhone X has a seven-megapixel front-facing TrueDepth camera. The phone also features a dual 12-megapixel rear camera system with dual optical image stabilization. The f-1.8 aperture on the wide-angle camera on the back is paired with an f-2.4 aperture on the telephoto camera. You can take portrait-mode pictures with either the front camera or the back cameras.

Samsung's S9 features an eight-megapixel front-facing camera with an f-1.7 aperture and one 12-megapixel rear camera. The primary camera in back has a mechanical aperture that uses f-1.5 for low light and f-2.4 for brighter conditions. The S9 does not support a form of portrait mode, which is disappointing considering the blurred background effect has been an exciting addition to many phones, including the iPhone X, as well as the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL from Alphabet's (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google.


Both phones feature a nearly bezel-less design with a glass front and back. The phones look nearly identical from the front. However, the iPhone X's dual camera is on the left side of the back of the phone, while Samsung put the S9's single camera and the S9 Plus dual camera in the top center of the back of the phone.

Another difference is that while the iPhone X got rid of the fingerprint scanner in favor of facial recognition, the S9 and S9 Plus both have a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone right below the camera(s). The two Samsung models also support facial recognition.

Apple also notably left off a headphone jack on the iPhone X, while Samsung chose to keep the headphone jack on both of its new models.

As for size, both the iPhone X and the S9 are 5.8 inches. The S9 Plus screen stands a little taller at 6.2 inches. All three models have OLED displays.


The S9 has a bigger battery than the iPhone X. But a bigger battery doesn't automatically mean that it will have better battery life. The real test between batteries will happen once the S9 is released and can go through the extensive testing that the iPhone X has undergone since November. In addition, both batteries support wireless charging.

Screen resolution

Both phones also support OLED displays, but the S9 trumps the iPhone X in terms of resolution and pixel density (2960 x 1440 resolution at 568 ppi for the S9, compared to 2436 x 1125 resolution at 458 ppi for the iPhone X).

For this reason, the S9 display was given an A-plus grade and named the best-performing OLED screen available right now, according to test company DisplayMate. Not even Apple's Super HD Retina Display on the iPhone X can top that.

The iPhone X, however, does have TrueTone technology, which adjusts the color and intensity displayed on the screen according to the surrounding light. This reduces eyestrain and helps the images on the screen appear natural.

Bottom line

Although tests for the S9 are limited before its official release date on March 16, particularly in regard to speed, the phone seems to stand up to and even exceed the iPhone X when it comes to basic specs and design.

If a dual back camera and portrait mode aren't important to you, then you can pay $719 for the S9 and have a phone that largely resembles the iPhone X. If a dual camera is important to you, then you can always get the S9 Plus for $839.99 and hope the kinks of the live focus mode will get worked out. Both options are still considerably less than the $999 iPhone X.

In all other areas besides the camera, the S9 holds its own compared to the iPhone X. If you've ever thought you might want to switch from the iOS system, now might be the time.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Natalie Walters has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares) and Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.