iPhone Xs Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Hardware face-off

Apple recently introduced its new range of iPhones, which are set to launch in South Africa on 28 September.

As the iPhone Xs Max has been positioned as Apple’s new top flagship smartphone, it competes directly against the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

Both devices feature large screens, big storage, powerful processors and cameras, and high price tags.

To see how their hardware compares, we have examined what the new phones have to offer.


Note: Apple does not list RAM or battery capacity of the iPhone Xs.

Specifications iPhone Xs Max Galaxy Note 9
Dimensions 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm
Weight 208g 201g
OS iOS 12 Android 8.1
Display 6.5-inch (1,242 x 2,688) OLED 6.4-inch (1,440 x 2,960) Super AMOLED
Rear camera Dual 12MP f/1.8 + f/2.4 12MP wide (f/1.5 and f/2.4) + 12MP telephoto (f/2.4)
Front camera 7MP f/2.2 8MP f/1.7
Storage, internal 64GB/256GB/512GB 128GB/512GB
Storage, expandable None microSD 512GB
Processor A12 Bionic 2.7GHz + 1.7GHz octo-core Exynos 9810
Battery 4,000mAh
Cellular “Gigabit-class LTE” LTE Cat. 18
SIM Nano + eSIM Nano
Durability IP68 IP68
Biometrics Face ID Fingerprint, iris, face
RRP 64GB: R23,999 / 256GB: R26,999 / 512GB: R31,999 128GB: R18,999 / 512GB: R23,999


Samsung offers the Galaxy Note 9 in 128GB and 512GB versions, while the iPhone Xs Max will be available in 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB models.

What really sets the phones apart in this area, however, is that Samsung offers the ability to install a microSD card in the Note 9.

This can expand its available storage up to an additional 512GB – while iPhones have never supported microSD slots.

Superchips – Samsung Exynos vs Apple Bionic

Comparing the processors Samsung and Apple use in their smartphones is difficult. The devices run on different platforms – Android and iOS – and performance varies significantly depending on the tasks.

Performance data from third-party benchmarking tool Geekbench, however, shows that the new iPhones are the most powerful smartphones in the world.

The iPhone Xs Max reached a score of 10,955 in the test, just behind the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xr.

Independent Geekbench tests conducted by Tom’s Guide found that the Galaxy Note 9 scored 8,876 – well below the iPhone Xs Max.

Tom’s Guide also found that Apple’s iPhone Xs Max transcoded a two-minute 4K video clip to 1080p in 39 seconds, while the Samsung Galaxy S9+ performed the same task in two minutes and 32 seconds. The Galaxy S9+ has the fastest time for an Android smartphone.

App open times were further found to be substantially faster on the iPhone when compared to Android flagships.


The iPhone Xs Max and Note 9 both have dual-camera systems, with one wide angle lens and one telephoto lens.

Both telephoto lenses offer 2× optical zoom and an aperture of f/2.4. For the wide-angle camera, Apple has elected to use a lens with an aperture of f/1.8, while Samsung has implemented a dual-aperture system.

The Note 9 adjusts the aperture on its wide-angle camera to f/2.4 in daylight, and to f/1.5 at night to let in more light for low-light shots.

For shooting video, the specs of the two phones are nearly identical, supporting UHD recording at up to 60 frames per second and 240fps slow-motion video recording at full HD (1080p).

Samsung also has a Super Slow-mo option that can record 960 frames per second at a 720p resolution.

S Pen

The killer feature of the Note range has always been the S Pen.

Wacom, the company that builds the pad, tablet, and pen technology for computers used by digital artists, provides the technology for the S Pen.

With the Note 9, Samsung has also added the ability for the S Pen to act as a remote for various functions.

You can use it to launch the camera, take photos, pause and resume video playback, and go through the slides of a presentation.

This is an area where Apple doesn’t really have an answer to Samsung. Apple has launched the Pencil, but it currently doesn’t work on iPhones – only newer iPads and the iPad Pro.

Galaxy Note 9
Galaxy Note 9
iPhone Xs
iPhone Xs

Now read: iPhone Xs vs iPhone Xr — the major differences

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iPhone Xs Max vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – Hardware face-off