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Google Pixel 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S9: The flagships compared

Daniel Ostanek
17 Oct 2018
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We cast Google’s new Pixel 3 against its rival, the Samsung Galaxy S9

Google may be bringing the fight to Apple’s iPhone Xs with its own Pixel 3 flagship, but there is, of course, a third major player here: Samsung. The Korean company had the jump on their competitors, releasing its Galaxy S9 back in March. How does it compare with the new Pixel 3?

We’ve already compared the iPhone Xs with both the Pixel 3 and the Galaxy S9, so now it's time to pit the latter pair against each other. Read on for our rundown of all the features boasted by the premium duo.

READ NEXT: Samsung Galaxy S9 review

Google Pixel 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S9: release date and price

The Pixel 3 is due to be released in the UK on 1 November. The Galaxy S9 is already on sale.

If you want the base-level 64GB version of either phone, you’ll be looking at a price of £739. At the time of writing, Samsung has temporarily cut that figure down to £679, and there are even cheaper options on Amazon (as little as £504).

Ultimately, it’s clear that Amazon is looking to capitalise on the Pixel 3’s release by offering its Galaxy S9 at a temptingly lower price. That’s by no means a bad thing for you, although it isn’t clear how long these deals will last.

Google Pixel 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S9: Specs

The Pixel 3 comes equipped with the Snapdragon 845 processor, while the Galaxy S9 features Samsung’s own Exynos 9810. The chips both come with 4GB of RAM, and are generally top-in-class when it comes to 2018’s phone hardware. In some regions, including the US and China, the Galaxy S9 actually has the Snapdragon 845 instead of the Exynos 9810.

If you want a deeper technical look at the pair you can check out their benchmark scores here.

While the Pixel 3 comes in two storage options, both 64GB and 128GB, the Galaxy S9 is sadly only available in the UK with 64GB of storage. If you want 128GB or 256GB, you’ll need to consider the Galaxy S9+. Unlike the Pixel 3, the Galaxy S9 does however come with a microSD slot, so you can expand your space up to 400GB.

Google Pixel 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S9: Camera and display

The Pixel 3 has a spectacular screen, but the Galaxy S9’s display ultimately has it beat. Samsung’s 1,440 x 2,960, 5.8in Super AMOLED screen packs in 570ppi, and enjoys “unbeatable contrast levels” according to our review earlier this year.

The Pixel 3 P-OLED display measures in at 5.5in, with a 1,080 x 2,160 resolution and pixel density of 443ppi. That’s not to say it’s a poor screen by any means – it’s bright and clear, as you’d expect from any flagship.

Both phones feature a single rear-camera setup, which might seem a bit dated given many manufacturers are going to two- or even three-lens cameras (Samsung themselves have just unveiled the triple-lens Galaxy A7 and quad-lens Galaxy A9, so we’re expecting the S10 to get something similar).

The Pixel 3 has a 12.2-megapixel dual-pixel lens with an f/1.8 aperture at the rear, with Dual-LED flash and Auto-HDR. An improved image signalling processor over its predecessor compensates for the lack of a second lens, algorithmically adjusting photos to optimise depth and brightness. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S9 features a 12-megapixel rear lens with an f/1.5-2/4 aperture. It’s a solid camera, but not quite a sharp as the Pixel 3’s offering.

There’s a real difference at the front of the phones – the Galaxy S9 has a single 8-megapixel f/1.7 lens, whereas the Pixel 3 has a double 8-megapixel camera, with a wide f/1.8 lens and an ultrawide f/2.2 lens for ‘group selfies’.

Google Pixel 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S9: Battery life and connectivity

The Pixel 3’s 2,915mAh battery is claimed by Google to last 11 hours. Comparatively, our video-rundown test saw the Galaxy S9’s 3,000mAh battery last an impressive 14hrs 23mins.

The pair can both be charged wirelessly, which is nice – we haven’t seen a Google phone with this feature since the Nexus 6 all the way back in 2014. The Galaxy S9 adopts the Qi wireless charging standard, but plugged in it can charge from 0 to 100 in just an hour and a half.

In terms of connectivity, the Galaxy S9 has the upper hand, featuring a USB Type-C port as well as a 3.5mm jack, which is a welcome convenience. Meanwhile, the Pixel 3 has a USB Type-C port and comes bundled with a USB Type-C to 3.5mm jack adapter.

Google Pixel 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S9 design: What do they look like?

This is a notch-free zone, with Google leaving the divisive design feature to the Pixel 3 XL (which Samsung’s US Twitter account has recently been making light of). Samsung doesn’t feature a notch on their phones.

Aesthetically, both phones have a lot in common with their predecessors. The handsets have design tweaks rather than overhauls. Both have near edge-to-edge screens, though the Galaxy S9 does have slightly smaller bezels at the top and bottom. Both phones also have glass on the front and back, with the Pixel 3’s matte section on its rear the standout design feature.

Only a few millimetres separate the pair in terms of size. The Galaxy S9 is slightly larger and thicker at 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm to the Pixel 3’s 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm. It’s also a touch heavier, tipping the scales at 163g versus 148g for the Pixel 3.

Three colour options are on offer for each phone, with the Galaxy S9 coming in ‘Midnight Black’, ‘Lilac Purple’, and ‘Coral Blue’. The Pixel 3 comes in ‘Not Pink’ (a light pastel pink), ‘Clearly White’, and ‘Just Black’.

Google Pixel 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S9: Verdict

Samsung’s phone has more storage options, a better screen, a headphone jack and a longer-lasting battery. The Pixel 3 has a marginally better camera, but it’s not enough to pull ahead from the Galaxy S9.

The real decider may be price. Currently, you can also get the Samsung Galaxy S9 for just over £500, whereas the Pixel 3 will set you back £739. That’s a substantial difference, especially when you consider the Galaxy S9 already has a list of competitive features in its corner. We’re giving this one to Samsung.

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