Sam­sung Gal­axy S9 vs Sony Xpe­ria XZ3

If you’re weigh­ing up whether to buy Sony’s Xpe­ria XZ3 or the Sam­sung Gal­axy S9, then HENRY BURRELI’s guide is for you

Android Advisor - - Contents -

The Sam­sung Gal­axy S9 (above left) is a great phone and a safe An­droid bet. It’s got stun­ning de­sign, ex­cel­lent cam­eras and the most rec­og­niz­able An­droid brand name. But the Sony Xpe­ria XZ3 (above right) is a newer, cheaper op­tion that boasts some dif­fer­ences that might be more to

your lik­ing. We’ve used both phones and here we break down the dif­fer­ences, pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives to help you de­cide which to buy.


Sam­sung Gal­axy S9: £739 from Sony Xpe­ria XZ3: £679 from


The Gal­axy S9 looks and feels a lot like its pre­de­ces­sor the S8, but that’s no bad thing. It has been copied by sev­eral com­pa­nies – even Sony to an ex­tent in the XZ3. The S9 has Sam­sung’s In­fin­ity Dis­play that phys­i­cally curves down­wards at ei­ther edge and has rounded cor­ners. This cov­ers much of the front of the phone and gives a more im­mer­sive feel than a flat screen. Sony’s XZ3 is much im­proved if you didn’t like the bezel-heavy boxy feel of the older Xpe­ria phones. Its curved dis­play and edges are sim­i­lar to the S9 but the rear of the XZ3 is curved glass – the S9 is flat.

Sam­sung con­tin­ues to put a head­phone jack on the S9, which is ex­cel­lent – the XZ3 doesn’t have one so you’ll have to use a USB-C don­gle or Blue­tooth head­phones. Both phones have stereo speak­ers – not a first for Sony, but it is for Sam­sung.

The XZ3’s fin­ger­print sen­sor is halfway down the back of the phone, which is a tad odd, and it’s cir­cu­lar com­pared to the higher placed pill-shaped one on the S9. Both phones have a sin­gle cam­era (the larger Gal­axy S9 Plus has two).

The S9 is avail­able in black, pur­ple and blue while the XZ3 comes in black, white, green or red.

Over­all, the S9 just about edges it in the looks depart­ment for us be­cause it’s slim­mer (8.5mm vs the 9.9mm XZ3) and the bezels at the top and bot­tom are that bit slighter. The S9 is also no­tice­ably lighter at 163g rather than the 193g Sony.

But these two phones are quite sim­i­lar in ap­pear­ance and the XZ3 might be to your tastes with its more re­flec­tive glass and curved back.


The Gal­axy S9 con­fus­ingly uses dif­fer­ent pro­ces­sors de­pend­ing on the re­gion it’s sold in. In the US it ships with the Snap­dragon 845 – the same chip used in the Xpe­ria XZ3.

But in the UK and other re­gions, the S9 uses Sam­sung’s own Exynos 9810. It has ex­actly the same per­for­mance in real life use. All S9 mod­els have 4GB RAM like the XZ3 (though the lat­ter has a 6GB RAM ver­sion only avail­able in Tai­wan).

There’s more choice in stor­age for Sam­sung though, with 64/128/256GB de­pend­ing on your re­gion. The XZ3 is glob­ally only a 64GB phone. Both have mi­croSD ex­pan­sion up to 512GB.

Both phones are IP68 wa­ter­proof so they’ll sur­vive a dunk.

The XZ3 has a 6in 18:9 dis­play whereas the S9 has a taller but slim­mer 5.8in 18.5:9 screen. They are prac­ti­cally the same, but we find the S9 ever so slightly eas­ier to hold one handed thank to the di­men­sions.

Sam­sung may well have the up­per hand in the cam­era depart­ment thanks to the S9’s 12Mp vari­able aper­ture lens that ad­justs to the light con­di­tions. The

XZ3 has a 19Mp snap­per, but Sam­sung has a bet­ter track record of photo qual­ity in re­cent flag­ships.

Ei­ther phone will of­fer blis­ter­ingly fast mo­bile per­for­mance and there’s not much be­tween the spec­i­fi­ca­tion sheet of both. Your de­ci­sion will likely come down to which de­sign you pre­fer.


There are a lot of dif­fer­ences in the soft­ware of both phones. First of all, the XZ3 ships with An­droid 9 Pie and is the first ma­jor phone af­ter the Pixel line to do so. At the time of writ­ing, the S9 is stuck on An­droid 8.0 Oreo. Sam­sung is slower at push­ing out soft­ware up­dates. Sony is also great at push­ing monthly se­cu­rity up­dates, some­thing Sam­sung can’t do with such reg­u­lar­ity.

Sam­sung’s Ex­pe­ri­ence over­lay of An­droid is very heavy and while it’s at­trac­tive, it changes Google’s vi­sion of An­droid a lot. The XZ3 is a more stock ex­pe­ri­ence and while you get some Xpe­ria bloat apps that you can’t unin­stall, the S9 has more Sam­sung apps loaded on that you might find ir­ri­tat­ing to dis­able.

You’ll also find the Bixby as­sis­tant on the S9 very an­noy­ing as it’s so un­der­de­vel­oped and use­less. You can dis­able the Bixby but­ton on the phone, though.

On the S9 you can make an AR Emoji of your­self, whereas on the XZ3 you can use the 3D Cre­ator app to 3D scan your own head. Both are creepy and gim­micky.

On both phones, we pre­fer to use Google apps for things like cal­en­dar, email and notes. But to each their own and along with the de­sign, the look of the soft­ware might in­flu­ence which phone you go for.

Sony’s XZ3 ships with An­droid 9 Pie

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