Now that the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are out some folks will be standing at their local phone store wondering whether to outlay megabucks for Apple's new uber-phones or splash out on a smartphone from Samsung's Galaxy range. What are the key factors when choosing between the latest Apple smartphones and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9?
The Galaxy Note 9 Is A Better Desktop Companion
Over the last 18 months or so, Samsung has been pushing development of its DeX docking station along. The latest version of the DeX connects the Galaxy Note 9 to an external display. Samsung's mods to Android give Galaxy Note 9 users a desktop-like experience so you can use the Note 9 as a replacement desktop system.
And while the DeX solution doesn't mean you can toss your desktop away and switch completely to the Galaxy Note 9, it's a handy tool if you travel or have to use a shared office from time to time.
Remember back to when Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone? There was a moment in the presentation when he said "Who wants a stylus? You have to get 'em, put 'em away, you lose 'em. Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus. So let's not use a stylus".
Times have changed. Most of the iPhone range, other than the neglected iPad mini, now support the Apple Pencil which is nothing like the crappy plastic sticks of a decade ago. Using the Apple Pencil with the right software can make a massive difference in productivity.
Last week, online investigators unveiled the first screen images and case renders of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Now, these same intrepid phone spies have managed to get their hands on the phone's signature stylus. Their verdict. "The biggest update in the history of the S Pen." Lawks.
This is where the Galaxy Note 9 can really stick it to the newest iPhones. The Note 9's Bluetooth-equipped S-Pen is a marvel. As well as turning the phone into a powerful replacement for pen-and-paper, it's a remote control for the camera, a tool for launching other apps or as a presentation remote if you connect the Galaxy Note 9 to an external display using a USB-C to HDMI adaptor.
It's anticipated that this year's iPhones will be the last generation to support the proprietary Lightning connector. But, until Apple actually makes the switch, you'll need to stump up extra cash if you need a spare charging cable or want a dongle for connecting to an external display.
The Galaxy Note 9, as well as many recent Android devices, use the ubiquitous USB-C port for charging and data transfer. That means if you forget your cable or need to grab an adapter, you can do so at many stores. Even my local supermarket has USB-C cables.
It might not be a big deal but there are moments when you need to get a new charging cable or some other connector and Apple's use of proprietary standards makes them harder to find and more expensive.
The one area where the iPhone clearly beats the Galaxy Note 9 is on variety. Apple offers three different display sizes, using two different display technologies. They also have a wider range of storage options and different colours and materials.
It's important to not underestimate the value of aesthetics and the emotional connection they can make with some people.
And that's why people will part with more money for a phone than they'll spend on a decent PC or some other more practical purchases.
Apple's latest iPhone come with a hefty price tag.
Pricing for the 5.8-inch iPhone Xs is
- $1629 for 64GB
- $1879 for 256GB
- $2199 for 512GB
Pricing for the 6.5-inch iPhone Xs Max is
- $1799 for 64GB
- $2049 for 256GB
- $2369 for 512GB
The "budget" 6.1-inch iPhone Xr will set you back
- $1299 for 64GB
- $1299 for 128GB
- $1479 for 256GB
In contrast, the 6.4-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 9 comes in two different specifications.
- $1499 for 128GB
- $1799 for 512GB
Given the Note 9 includes the SPen it's a pretty sweet deal compared to the new iPhones.