It’s 2018, and a new Samsung Galaxy phone is almost out. The S9 isn’t a massive improvement over its predecessor, but when its technical specifications are displayed next to those of its closest competitor, the iPhone X, it seems to be the better choice, and with a gentler price tag at that.
When you’re looking to buy a top-tier phone, you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. You want to get the most mileage out of it and make sure that it has the best components available. Apple and Samsung have always been head to head in the smartphone race, but I believe that in this lap, Samsung is taking a clear advantage.
A couple years ago both Apple and Samsung were in trouble. Apple was heavily criticized by its detractors for its decision to remove the headphone jack, a staple of personal electronic devices for decades. Samsung had one of its biggest failures ever when faulty batteries caused some phones to literally explode. In this scenario, Apple stuck to its guns, claiming that the removal of the port was a bold move made in the name of progress, while Samsung had to admit their mistake, apologize for it and correct it.
Apple has now taken a new bold move. They have removed the Home button from the iPhone X, and with it the fingerprint scanner that once gave us access to our phone. No headphone jack and no button on the front sure give the iPhone X a slick, clean look, and yet I can’t help but feel that instead of streamlining the experience, Apple is taking away options from its customers.
Samsung, on the other hand, has not only kept, but enhanced previous features. Accessing by fingerprint is still an option, and the sensor has been placed farther away from the camera lens to avoid mistakes. Facial recognition has been merged with iris recognition to produce a more reliable identification mechanism.
While some may argue over which method, fingerprint or facial recognition, is more secure, in the end, both features can be bypassed with a PIN number. Thus, the issue is not one of security, but of convenience. The differences are subtle, but having to pick up your phone and having to put it in front of your face is a little more effort than just placing the right finger in the right position. You would think that every time you need your phone, you’d be staring right at the screen, but this isn’t always the case. What’s worse, you’re no longer able to register another person for access to your phone, as you could with Touch ID. If your significant other wants to use your phone, they’ll have to use the PIN, and all the convenience of biometric identification goes out the window.
Time will tell if the decisions taken by Apple are revolutionary, or just aimless attempts at innovation by removing features. If the phone itself were superior to its competitors it wouldn’t matter much. But the fact remains that the Galaxy S9 matches most of the iPhone X’s features and exceeds many others.
The S9 boasts an eight-core processor (4×2.7 GHz Mongoose M3 and 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55), where the iPhone X has only six cores running at lower clock speeds (2.39 GHz 2x Monsoon + 4x Mistral). The S9 has 4 GB of Ram, compared to the iPhone’s 3 GB.
With regard to storage space, Samsung offers three different models: 64, 128 and 256 GB internal storage, which can be enhanced with a microSD card up to 400 GB. Apple offers 64 GB and 256 GB models, without any possibility of adding extra storage. Of course, one may say that Apple offers its iCloud service, but that won’t do you any good when you need the space for a few extra apps or games.
The resolution of the screen is higher on the S9, achieving 1440 x 2960 pixels with a 570 ppi density, whereas the iPhone X stays at 1125 x 2436 pixels with 458 ppi density. Both devices have OLED screens, a technology that Samsung has been using since their first Galaxy phone.
Samsung is not without blemish, though. The S9 is a meager improvement upon the previous installment, giving Galaxy users little incentive to upgrade this year. The screen is precisely the same; size, resolution and pixel density remain unchanged. The improvements include a dual camera setup, superior storage space, and a slightly faster processor.
Both the S8 and the S9 are compatible with the Samsung DeX, a device that can turn your smartphone into a workstation. The DeX is a dock that connects to your TV, to give you a desktop environment where you can comfortably work with office suites, modify documents, edit pictures. All with mouse and keyboard support. This addition gives extra importance to the powerful processing capabilities of the S9, as it allows it to rival laptops and even some desktop computers. And it’s not all business. The S9 Mali GPU allows for mobile gaming that can also be transferred to your TV via the DeX.
I can see two kinds of people buying a Galaxy S9. The first are those coming from lower tier experiences, finally getting their hands on a top of the line product. These guys are most likely very familiar with the Android environment and will very seamlessly migrate to Samsung. The second kind are the people coming over from Apple products. For some reason or another, now that the time has come to upgrade their phone, they no longer feel identified with Apple. They might be puzzled by the changes made to the hardware, or are simply tech-oriented and can no longer deny that Samsung is giving them a better deal for their money, at least spec-wise. The change from iOS to Android might be trying for some of them, but they’ll eventually adapt.
Unless you are heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, this might be your chance to give Samsung a try.