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Google Pixel 3 XL vs Samsung Galaxy Note 9: How two premium phablets confront each other?

20 November 2018 5

The big gigantic displays are indeed an essential aspect of new phablets but we have to admit Samsung was the pioneer to introduce a phone with above 5-inches display when every other phone was around 4-inches. Thanks to new bezel-less design trend almost all OEMs are ditching the smaller displays instead of bringing phones with at least 6-inches or above displays. Samsung's Galaxy Note lineup is so successful that phablets become a separate niche. Every year all OEMs brings at least one phablet phone to attract buyers.

The search engine giant Google enters the premium segment of phones a few years ago with its Pixel lineup. Recently the company introduced two new flagships Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. As the name suggest the XL variant is a phablet device with a gigantic display and few extra goodies than the standard Pixel 3. Samsung's latest Galaxy Note 9 was announced back in August ahead of Apple and Google new phones. The Galaxy Note 9 is considered as one of the best phablets in the market since its announcement.


In order to be successful, the Pixel 3 XL will have to face stiff competition from the best-in-class Galaxy Note 9. Today we will put the latest Pixel 3 XL against the Galaxy Note 9 to find out which smartphone is better in what aspects. Despite being the latest flagships both have a lot of aspects which makes one better than the other. We are hopeful this comparison will help you better decide whether the Galaxy Note 9 still reigns the phablet market or not? Without any further ado, let's start with the design.

76.4 x 161.9 x 8.8 mm
6.4 inches - 2960x1440 px
76.7 x 158 x 7.9 mm
6.3 inches - 2960x1440 px
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Design

Both the phones have a premium design with aluminum chassis and glass rear, however, the finish is entirely different. The full front-facing display aspect ratio on both the devices is 18.5:9. Since the Galaxy S8 Samsung sticks to Infinity display panel with thin bezels at top and bottom of the display. Samsung yet to opt notch or something different to enhance the screen-to-body ratio. On the other hand, the Pixel 3 XL features a significantly bigger notch at the top of the display. The bottom bezel is also quite thicker than most of the latest phones.

The reason is quite obvious Google utilizes the top and bottom area for the front-facing speakers to provide the best audio experience. In terms of looks, the Galaxy Note 9 isn't different from the predecessor, the only prominent difference is the placement of fingerprint scanner below the dual sensors. On the other hand, Google brought a lot of new changes in design as opposed to the predecessor. The first change is full glass rear instead of half metal and half glass.

The Pixel 3 XL has a two-tone finish, the upper portion comprising camera setup comes in glossy finish whereas the bottom portion with fingerprint scanner has a matte finish. So despite having full glass rear it still retains the two-tone finish to differentiate it amongst the crowd. The matte finish also resists fingerprint imprints quite well as opposed to regular glass rear.

The Pixel 3 XL doesn't have 3.5mm headphone jack whereas the Galaxy Note 9 has the traditional headphone jack. Both are IP68 certified phones which means both can resist under 5 feet deep water for 30 minutes. In terms of color options Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is currently available in Cloud Silver, Midnight Black, Lavender Purple and Ocean Blue colors whereas the Pixel 3 XL is available in Black, White and Not Pink options.

Display


The display panel on both the devices is pretty good as both have OLED display panels with Quad HD+ screen resolution of 1440 x 2960 pixels. The Galaxy Note 9's display is of 6.4-inches and the pixels density is 516 pixels-per-inches. The Pixel 3 XL is slightly smaller at 6.3-inches with a pixels density of 523 pixels-per-inch. The display panel on both the devices is protected with the Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

As far as the brightness level is a concern the Galaxy Note 9 is one of the brightest display with above 600 nits score whereas the Pixel 3XL lacks significantly in this department with around 360 nits score. Unfortunately, it not only lags behind than the Samsung's latest phone but also it is way below than most of the premium phones in the market.

In direct sunlight, the Galaxy Note 9 display is certainly better with its great colors saturation and awesome brightness level. Another important aspect is the Galaxy Note 9's display is curved from the edges whereas the Pixel 3 XL has a flat display. The notch on the Pixel 3 XL can be hidden with a black bar from settings but once again what's the advantage of notch if you have to hide it.

Hardware


Under the hood, both the devices are packed with the Qualcomm's latest best Snapdragon 845 like most of the latest flagships. Only the US variant of Note 9 has this chipset whereas the global model comes with the Exynos 9810 SoC. The Pixel 3 XL only has 4GB RAM on board whereas the Galaxy Note 9 comes in two configurations with 6GB RAM and 8GB RAM.

In terms of memory options, the Pixel 3 XL base variant has 64GB storage whereas the top of the line model has 128GB storage, both lack support for memory expansion via MicroSD. The Galaxy Note 9 base model has 128GB storage whereas the top of the line model has 512GB storage, it allows memory expansion via MicroSD.

The extra RAM certainly helps the Galaxy Note 9 in performing better in benchmark tests. At Geekbench the Pixel 3 XL achieves 7,684 points whereas the Note 9 achieves significantly higher 8,876 points. Both the phones are powerhouses but the Galaxy Note 9 has the advantage of more sheet power which certainly will attract those buyers who need a powerhouse. As daily driver both the phones is equally good in handling daily routine tasks.

Specs Google Pixel 3 XL Galaxy Note 9
Display 6.3-inches 6.4-inches
Screen resolution 1440 x 2960 pixels 1440 x 2960 pixels
Chipset Snapdragon 845 Snapdragon 845/ Exynos 9810
RAM 4GB 6GB,8GB
Storage 64,128GB Non-Expandable 128GB, 512GB Expandable via MicroSD
Rear cameras 12.2MP Dual 12MP
Front camera Dual 8MP 8MP
USB Type-C Type-C
3.5mm headphone jack No Yes
IP68 Yes Yes
Software Android Pie Android Oreo 8.1

Cameras

Usually, we heard two are better than one but whether its true with the camera's setup on the Pixel 3 XL and Galaxy Note 9 or not, let's find out. The Galaxy Note 9 has dual 12MP sensors on the rear side. The primary rear snapper is a 12MP module with a variable aperture between f/1.5 to f/2.4. Considering the light situation the device automatically changes aperture, in daylight conditions the aperture is f/2.4 whereas in low-light scenarios the aperture is turned to f/1.5. The secondary sensor is a 12MP telephoto lens with f/2.4 aperture and optical zoom up to 2x.

Another good thing is Samsung utilizes AI for the first time to enhance the camera experience. The scene optimizer is currently capable to recognize 20 scenes including food, locations, flowers and much more. We can expect more scene detections options will be included in upcoming updates. Once the camera detects scene it automatically adjusts the camera settings to optimize your capturing experience.

The Pixel 3 XL has a single 12.2MP snapper on the rear with a f/1.8 aperture. The sensor is accompanied with digital and optical image stabilization. Google yet to adopt dual sensors on the rear because they rely on the software prowess instead of hardware. Despite having single rear snapper the Pixel 3 XL is capable to shot one of the best portrait shots with blurred background. To enhance the low-light capturing the device comes with Night Sight mode which optimizes the camera capabilities in low-light conditions.

The Galaxy Note 9's overall camera results have better contrast ratio but sometimes the results are over saturated when AI optimize the results whereas the Pixel 3 XL results are more natural with original color tones. In low-light scenarios, the Galaxy Note 9 has an upper hand thanks to the variable aperture.

Up front, Samsung opted single front-facing sensor of 8MP whereas the Pixel 3 XL has dual 8MP sensors on the front. The secondary sensor is a wide-angle module to capture wide-angle group selfies. The portrait mode selfies on the Pixel 3 XL are better thanks to dual selfie snappers.

Software


Being the made by Google phones Pixel lineup has always an edge of receiving a stock version of the latest Android update straight out of the box. The Pixel 3 XL is running on the Android Pie whereas the Galaxy Note 9 is still on the Android Oreo 8.1. Samsung recently announced new Android pie based OneUI which will be rolled out to Samsung flagships in early 2019, however, the exact time is still in dark.

The Note 9's custom Experience UI is more features rich whereas the Pixel 3 XL owners will have to rely on the Google services. The Google Assistant on the Pixel 3XL brings a lot of extra goodies like call screen which aren't available for non-Google phones.

Samsung marketed the Galaxy Note 9 as a productivity enhancement device. The new S-Pen brings a lot of new features thanks to the Bluetooth connectivity. You can wirelessly use it as a camera shutter, remote control while playing music and much more. The Dex feature now works without dock which certainly makes it more easy to use with HDMI cable only.

The Galaxy Note 9 comes with the company's own Bixby AI Assistant with a dedicated button on the left edge. Samsung is improving the Bixby assistant continuously but still, it is not as refined as the Google Assistant.

Battery

The Pixel 3 XL has a 3,430mAh battery whereas the Galaxy Note 9 has slightly larger 4,000mAh battery cell. Both the device can easily last one day on a single charge but if you are looking for more than 1-day battery life you may disappoint.

Thanks to glass rear both the devices support wireless charging. The Pixel 3 XL comes with a dedicated charging Pixel Stand which costs $79. The first advantage of Pixel stand is it charges at 10W whereas the third party charging pads to restricted to 5W only and also it turns your device into digital Assistant once you put your phone on it. Both the phones come with fast charging support.

Price And Availability


With each iteration, the pricing of new phones is increasing at a rapid pace. The Galaxy Note 9 is the so far most expensive phone from Samsung yet, the base model starts at $999 whereas if you choose 512GB model you will have to pay $250 more.

The Pixel 3 XL is not that much costlier, the 64GB model can be purchased at $899 whereas the 128GB variant is $100 expensive. Unfortunately, you can't expand the Pixel 3 XL native storage, so you have to choose memory variant wisely.

As far as availability is a concern the Galaxy Note 9 is widely available across the globe whereas the Pixel 3XL isn't widely available. In the US only Verizon is offering carrier-bound variant and also not available officially in majority markets.

Conclusion:

Both the phones are amongst the best phablets in the market but there are few scenarios where one takes lead on the other. The stock Android experience is only available with the Pixel 3XL and also the best-in-class camera experience. In terms of productivity, better display, features rich S-Pen, larger battery cell and slightly better performing hardware the Galaxy Note 9 certainly has an upper hand.

The Galaxy Note 9 is bringing almost everything what you can expect from a flagship phablet phone. It brings dual curved Super AMOLED display with Quad HD+ screen resolution, latest hardware, and solid cameras. In a couple of aspects, it lags behind the Pixel 3 XL but not far behind.

So if you are looking for a camera-centric phablet the Pixel 3XL is a better option whereas Note 9 is better optimized for productivity. In the end, we would like to hear our readers thoughts regarding the Pixel 3 XL vs Galaxy Note 9 in the comments section below. Stay tuned, we will be bringing more comparisons in coming days.

8.9 Hardware
6.2 Price Quality

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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(last update 13 December 2018 @ 07:58)

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