The iPhone XS Max and Galaxy Note 9 are among the two best phones you can buy. Both feature a big, beautiful display, top-of-the-line camera, and premium look and feel. But there are a few key differences between the phones.
With the launch of the new iPhone XS Max, Apple is taking on Samsung's Galaxy Note 9.
The new extra-large iPhone has a big, beautiful, OLED display, impressive battery life, and a high-end camera, much like the Note 9, which was introduced last month. Both phones cost more than $1,000, seemingly the new standard for high-end smartphones.
In fact, the two devices bear so many of the same features, they're neck-in-neck for the best smartphone on the market.
Here's how the iPhone XS Max compares to the Galaxy Note 9.
There are a few ways that the iPhone XS Max beats the Galaxy Note 9. For one, the XS Max comes in three colors, while the Note 9 only comes in two.
The iPhone XS Max comes in gold, space gray, and silver.
The Galaxy Note 9 only comes in two colors — ocean blue and lavender purple — although they're arguably a bit more fun than the iPhone XS Max.
The iPhone XS Max runs iOS 12, the latest version of Apple's smartphone operating system.
The iPhone XS Max will run iOS 12 out of the box, the latest version of Apple's smartphone operating system. The new OS has grouped messaging, ways to limit your screen time, personalized animated avatars called Memoji, and a new app called Siri Shortcuts.
The Galaxy Note 9, on the other hand, runs Android 8.1 Oreo, which is already one generation old.
In a lot of ways, the two phones are identical. They have the same size display — almost.
The displays on both the iPhone XS Max and the Galaxy Note 9 are among the biggest you can buy, and they're almost identical in size.
The iPhone XS Max wins by a hair, however — its display is 6.5 inches, while the Galaxy Note 9's is 6.4 inches.
The phones weigh about the same, too — although the iPhone XS Max is a tiny bit heavier.
The XS Max weighs 7.34 ounces, while the Note 9 weighs 7.09 ounces.
Both phones come with up to half a terabyte of storage.
The iPhone XS comes with more storage options, but both phones offer up to 512 GB of space.
The Galaxy Note 9 does one better, however: it offers expandable storage of up to 512 GB, which means your phone could have up to a terabyte of total capacity if you get a 512 GB storage card.
Both phones have top-of-the-line cameras.
Both the Galaxy Note 9 and iPhone XS Max have incredible, high-end cameras. Here are some of the specs they have in common:
- Dual 12 megapixel wide-angle and telephoto lenses
- 2X optical zoom and 10X digital zoom
- Portrait mode
- Customizable AR emoji
Both phones also have a front-facing camera that can take portrait mode selfies, and contain sensors for unlocking your phone with your face.
Both the Note 9 and XS Max contain smart assistants to help with search queries, timers, messages, and more.
Both the Note 9 and iPhone XS Max have built-in smart assistants: Bixby and Siri, respectively.
Neither smart assistant has reached the level of Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa in terms of "smarts" or usefulness. Still, they're there if you want them — Bixby can be activated by pressing the Bixby key on the left side of the phone, while Siri can be activated by pressing and holding the power button.
The Galaxy Note 9 has a leg up on the iPhone in a few crucial ways, like its built-in stylus called the S Pen.
As with other Note phones before it, the Note 9 comes with a built-in stylus. Called the S Pen, the stylus fits inside the phone and can be popped out at any time to take notes, draw, edit photos, or do more complex tasks like book travel.
New this year is Bluetooth Low Energy, which allows the S Pen to be used as a remote for presentations or for taking photos.
The Galaxy Note 9 has a headphone jack.
Unlike the iPhone XS Max, the Galaxy Note 9 sports a traditional headphone jack, so any older wired headphones will still work with the phone without requiring a dongle.
The Galaxy Note 9 has slightly longer battery life than the iPhone XS Max.
We haven't been able to put the phones' battery life to the test ourselves, but all signs point to the Galaxy Note 9 offering slightly better battery life than the iPhone XS Max.
The Note 9 has a larger, 4,000 mAh battery compared to the iPhone XS Max's 3,179 mAh battery. According to tests by Tom's Guide, the Note 9 gets 11 hours and 26 minutes of battery life, while the XS Max gets 10 hours and 38 minutes.
Both phones offer wireless charging.
You can also use the Galaxy Note 9 as a desktop computer with Samsung DeX.
One other way the Galaxy Note 9 beats the iPhone X is Samsung DeX, a feature that allows the phone to be used as a desktop computer.
The feature requires an HDMI cable to connect the Note 9 with a monitor. Once connected, your phone will work as both the desktop operating system as well as a touch pad.
And finally, the Note 9 is a better deal — it costs $100 less to start than the XS Max.
The iPhone XS Max starts at $1,099, while the Galaxy Note 9 starts at $999.99. At the upper end, the XS Max can cost as much as $1,449, while the Note 9 can cost as much as $1,249.99.