Google's Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones are the latest premium smartphones to join the flagship Android party. The two devices are the poster boys for Android's software, offering pure, vanilla Android Pie and all the best features Google has to offer.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are six months older than the Pixel devices but they are excellent handsets, offering Android with Samsung's UX Experience over the top, packaged in a beautiful design. Here is how Google's Pixel 3 and 3 XL compare to Samsung's Galaxy S9 and S9+.
Google Pixel vs Samsung Galaxy design
- Galaxy S9: 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm, 163g
- Galaxy S9+: 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5mm, 189g
- Pixel 3: 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm, 148g
- Pixel 3 XL: 158 x 76.7 x 7.9mm, 184g
The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ feature beautiful, premium designs. They have a solid metal frame sandwiched between two glass panels, both of which curve at the edges. On the front of both handsets is Samsung's Infinity Display with a small bezel at the top and the bottom, while on the rear you'll find a fingerprint sensor and Samsung branding.
The S9+ has a dual camera system on the back, while the standard S9 has a single lens system. Both have USB Type-C at the bottom with stereo speakers either side and neither have a 3.5mm headphone jack. The S9 and S9+ are both IP68 water and dust resistant and they come in three colour options, comprising Lilac Purple, Midnight Black and Coral Blue.
The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL go down the premium design route too, both offering metal frames with a glass back that is divided into two different textures. The top quarter of the rear on both handsets is glossy, featuring the single camera lens, while the bottom three quarters is matte with the subtle "G" branding at the bottom and a circular fingerprint sensor in the middle.
Unlike the Samsung devices that look the same from the front and different from the rear, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL look different from the front and the same from the rear. The Pixel 3 has larger bezels at the top and bottom of its display with built-in front-facing speakers, while the Pixel 3 XL opts for a notched display at the top, featuring a speaker in the bezel beneath the display. Both have squeezable sides for launching Google Assistant.
The Pixel devices are waterproof like the Samsung devices and they also have USB Type-C and no 3.5mm headphone jack. Three colours are available including Not Pink, Clearly White and Just Black.
Google Pixel vs Samsung Galaxy display
- Galaxy S9: 5.8-inch, 2960 x 1440, Super AMOLED, 18.5:9
- Galaxy S9+: 6.2-inch, 2960 x 1440, Super AMOLED, 18.5:9
- Pixel 3: 5.5-inch, 2160 x 1080, OLED, 18:9
- Pixel 3 XL: 6.3-inch, 2960 x 1440, OLED. 18.5:9
The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ both have dual-edge Super AMOLED displays, which Samsung calls the Infinity Display. Both devices have a Quad HD+ resolution, 2960 x 1440 pixels, and both support Mobile HDR Premium.
The S9 measures 5.8-inches diagonally, resulting in a 570ppi, while the S9+ measures 6.2-inches diagonally, resulting in a 529ppi. Both devices have an aspect ratio of 18.5:9 so you get plenty of screen in the footprint.
The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch display, making it the smallest screen size of the devices being compared. It also has the lowest resolution at Full HD+, 2160 x 1080 pixels, which results in a pixel density of 443ppi.
The Pixel 3 XL meanwhile, has the largest screen size of the devices being compared with a 6.3-inch display. Like the Samsung devices, the Pixel 3 XL opts for a Quad HD+ resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 523ppi. It also has the same aspect ratio at 18.5:9, but it has a notch at the top and a wider bezel at the bottom, while the Samsung devices have slimmer bezels but at the top and the bottom.
The Pixel 3 has bezels at the top and the bottom and these are larger than the S9 and S9+ with an aspect ratio of 18:9 overall. All of the devices have OLED displays and they all have an Always On display option, offering notifications and information without the main display needing to be on. The Pixel devices also support mobile HDR like the Samsung handsets.
Google Pixel vs Samsung Galaxy hardware
- Galaxy S9: SD845 or Exynos 9810, 4GB RAM, 64GB, microSD, 3000mAh
- Galaxy S9+: SD845 or Exynos 9810, 6GB RAM, 128GB/256GB, microSD, 3500mAh
- Pixel 3: SD845, 4GB RAM, 64GB/128GB, no microSD, 2915mAh
- 3XL: SD845, 4GB RAM, 64GB/128GB, no microSD, 3430mAh
The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ both run on the same hardware, with the two devices featuring either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or the Exynos 9810, depending on the region. The smaller device has 4GB of RAM and comes in a 64GB storage capacity only, while the S9+ has 6GB of RAM and is available in 128GB and 256GB storage options. Both the S9 and S9+ have microSD support for storage expansion up to 400GB.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL share the same hardware, aside from battery capacity. They both have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 under their hoods, they both have 4GB of RAM and they both come in 64GB and 128GB storage options. Neither Pixel has microSD support for storage expansion though.
In terms of battery capacity, the Galaxy S9+ has the largest at 3500mAh, followed by the Pixel 3 XL at 2915mAh. The Pixel 3 has the smallest at 2915mAh, which is just shy of the S9's 3000mAh.
The Pixel 3 and 3 XL both come with front-firing speakers, while the S9 and S9+ have AKG-tuned stereo speakers on board. We don't know how the Pixel devices will sound as yet but they have a lot to live up to if you use the S9 and S9+ as a benchmark.
Google Pixel vs Samsung Galaxy cameras
- Galaxy S9: 12MP rear, 8MP front
- Galaxy S9+: Dual 12MP, 8MP front
- Pixel 3/3 XL: 12.2MP rear, dual 8MP front
The Samsung Galaxy S9 has a singular camera lens system on its rear, comprised of a 12-megapixel sensor that has a dual aperture between f/1.5 and f/2.4. It offers autofocus, optical image stabilisation and it has 4K video, as well as super slow-motion video at 960fps.
The S9+ has a a dual rear camera system, featuring a 12-megapixel telephoto lens and a 12-megapixel wide angle lens. Like the standard S9, the S9+ has dual aperture on its wide-angle lens and it too offers autofocus, as well as dual optical image stabilisation and the same video capabilities.
Both the S9 and S9+ deliver excellent camera results, especially in low light conditions. They also both come with an 8-megapixel front camera with an aperture of f/1.7 and autofocus.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have the same camera capabilities on board rather than different like the Samsung devices. They both opt for a singular camera lens system on the rear, with a 12.2-megapixel sensor, which features an aperture of f/1.8 and 1.4µm pixels. A couple of new features have been introduced, including Top Shot for selecting the best picture from an automatic burst of shots, a depth of field control on Portrait Mode and Motion Autofocus for keeping an object in focus even when it moves.
On the front of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, Google has opted for a dual camera system, with two 8-megapixel lenses, one of which is a super wide-angle lens. There is also a Group Selfie feature which allows for extra wide selfie shots.
Google Pixel vs Samsung Galaxy price
The Samsung Galaxy S9 is currently available from £679 on Samsung's website, while the Samsung Galaxy S9+ is available from £799 on Samsung's website.
The Google Pixel 3 will start at £739, with pre-orders open now on Google's device store. The Pixel 3 XL will start from £869 and it too is available to pre-order from Google's device store.
Google Pixel vs Samsung Galaxy conclusion
The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL and the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are pretty much like-for-like in terms of specs. The Infinity Display on the Samsung devices is arguably more enticing than certainly the smaller Pixel 3 and possibly the Pixel 3 XL too, depending on how you feel about notched displays.
You get a bit of extra RAM on the S9+ too, as well as a dual rear camera and you also get microSD on the Samsung devices. You get a pure Android software experience on the Pixel devices though, along with everything Google Assistant has to offer and a dual front camera.
Ultimately the decision on which to buy between the Google Pixels and the Samsung Galaxy S devices comes down to your preference for design, software experience and price. The S9 is £60 cheaper than the Pixel 3 currently, while the S9+ is £70 cheaper than the Pixel 3 XL so that's worth bearing in mind but we will update this feature when we have reviewed the Pixels in full.