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Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Huawei P20

Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Huawei P20
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PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • Samsung Galaxy S9: US$719
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: US$840
  • Huawei P20: Approx $799
  • Huawei P20 Pro: TBC
  • Samsung Galaxy S9: US$719

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is, for many consumers, the go-to Android phone. Some people think Samsung is Android. But you are reading this, so you know otherwise. The Huawei P20 is a pleasingly accomplished, comparatively affordable alternative to the S9.



Here we compare the two to help you choose which is the best smartphone for you.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Samsung Galaxy S9 retails for £739/$719.99 while the Galaxy S9+ is £869/$839.99. You can buy from Samsung in the UK or Samsung in the US

Carphone Warehouse in the UK also has the phones on several monthly contracts here.

The Huawei P20 is aggressively priced in comparison. It sells for £599, while the P20 Pro is £799. Carphone Warehouse stocks both here on contract as well as SIM free. 

DESIGN AND BUILD
The Galaxy S9 looks very similar to the S8, which is no bad thing. A glass and metal sandwich, it has incredibly slim top and bottom bezels – with no notch – and a fingerprint sensor on the rear. It feels quite fragile though and the black version in particular picks up a lot of fingerprints.

The S9 is slightly larger and has two rear cameras as opposed to one.


The Huawei P20 is also glass and metal in construction but has a distinctive notch in the display for the earpiece and front facing camera. It’s roughly the same dimensions as the S9 though and is 1.2mm slimmer.

It has a front facing fingerprint sensor, but lacks a headphone jack, something the S9 keeps.

The P20 Pro is larger than the regular P20 and adds a third camera to the set-up which allows for more detailed and zoomed images.

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus come in several colours, not all of which are available in all regions. Those colours are midnight black, lilac purple and coral blue.

The P20 and P20 Pro are available in two impressive gradient finishes called twilight and pink gold, with blue, black and a lesser spotted champagne gold which is only for the regular P20.

Both phones are risky to use without a case given they are mostly glass, but the colours are often very striking choices. The notch on the Huawei P20 phones might also put you off, but you can actually hide it with a software setting.

FEATURES AND SPECIFICATIONS
Here’s an overview and comparison of the specs of both S9 and both P20 phones:
 Samsung Galaxy S9Samsung Galaxy S9 PlusHuawei P20Huawei P20 Pro
Price£739£869£599£799
Operating systemAndroid 8.0 with Samsung ExperienceAndroid 8.0 with Samsung ExperienceAndroid 8.1 with EMUIAndroid 8.1 with EMUI
Display5.8in Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9 (570ppi)6.2in Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9 (529ppi) 5.4in 2444x1080 18.7:9 LCD6.1in 2444x1080 18.7:9 OLED
ProcessorSnapdragon 845 (US) or Exynos 9810 (EMEA)Snapdragon 845 (US) or Exynos 9810 (EMEA)Huawei Kirin 970Huawei Kirin 970
GPUAdreno 630 (US) or Mali-G72 MP18 (EMEA)Adreno 630 (US) or Mali-G72 MP18 (EMEA)Mali-G72 MP12Mali-G72 MP12
RAM4GB6GB4GB6GB
Storage64/128/256 GB64/128/256 GB128GB128GB
Primary cameras12Mp camera, f/1.512Mp dual-camera, f/1.5, dual-OIS20Mp and 12Mp dual (monochrome f/1.6, colour f/1.8)20Mp monochrome and 12Mp colour dual (f/2.2 OIS in 12Mp)
Selfie camera8Mp 8Mp24Mp24Mp
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPSWi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPSWi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS
SIM cardSingle or dual SIMSingle or dual SIMDual SIMDual SIM
Battery3000mAh, 15W Adaptive Fast Charging, fast wireless charging3500mAh, 15W Adaptive Fast Charging, fast wireless charging 3400mAh, Fast charging, no wireless charging4000mAh, Fast charging, no wireless charging 
USBUSB-C USB-CUSB-CUSB-C
MicroSDSupport up to 400GBSupport up to 400GB  NoNo
Water resistanceIP68IP68IP53IP67
Dimensions147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5149.1 x 70.8 x 7.7 mm55 x 73.9 x 7.8 mm
Weight163g189g165g180g
Of all four phones, only the regular P20 has an LCD display. The other three have more vibrant OLED displays which can get brighter and also show deeper blacks. Despite this, the 5.8in screen on the P20 is still very good and content looks great.

The Galaxy S9’s screen is also 5.8in, but with a slightly different aspect ratio. Both S9s have tall 18.5:9 displays while the P20s both have 18.7:9. You won’t notice the difference save for the notch.

The S9 Plus has 6.2in of display and the P20 Pro slightly less with 6.1. These two larger phones are too big to use one0handed for most people, but the S9 and P20 in regular sizes are just about manageable, with the benefit being most of the front of the phone is screen.

The S9 series uses the Snapdragon 845 in the US but most of the rest of the world gets the Exynos 9810, Samsung’s own processor. Performance is comparable and generally excellent as it’s a top of the line chip whichever you get.

The Kirin 970 in both P20 phones is Huawei’s equivalent of the 845, and it gives an excellent experience. It also has added ‘AI’ capabilities built in.

The camera set ups across all phones are quite different. The S9 has one, the S9 Plus and P20 have two while the P20 Pro amazingly has three. All are capable shooters, though the S9 Plus or P20 Pro are the ones to go for if you are a camera nut.

The P20 Pro has the best set-up, with a 40Mp camera that allows for ridiculously detailed shots, and even the smaller P20 can capture incredible low-life photos.The P20 Pro lets you optical zoom up to 5x, unprecedented in a phone whereas the S9 Plus lets you do 2x.

You might prefer the P20 phones if you like taking selfies – they have 24Mp front facing cameras compared to the S9 and S9 Plus with just 8Mp. Megapixels are everything, but Huawei does have the edge here

You shouldn’t be concerned about the RAM differences on each phone unless you are an incredibly heavy user. The regular models of P20 and S9 have 4GB, and the P20 Pro and S9 Plus have 6GB.

More worth considering are the storage options. The S9 and S9 Plus is available in 64/128/256GB, but not in all regions. For example, in the UK the S9 is available in 64GB and the S9 Plus in 128GB.

But single SIM S9 models have a microSD card slot for expansion up to 400GB. Alternatively you can get a dual SIM model if you don’t mind losing the expansion.

The Huawei P20 and P20 Pro are simpler – it’s just 128GB, and neither have microSD slots. 128GB is a lot of storage though, and you’ll even be fine with 64. All the P20 phones are dual SIM, too.

Although Huawei puts USB-C headphones and a 3.5mm headphone jack adapter in the box, there is no headphone jack on the P20s. The S9s both have headphone jacks, and are IP68 water resistant to boot. The P20 is only IP53 (splashproof) and the P20 Pro is IP67 – less than the S9 phones, but more than waterproof enough.

All the S9 and P20 phones charge via USB-C and are fast charge compatible. Only the S9s have wireless charging, and fast charging at that. The P20s lack it, but then again that might be why they are cheaper as this feature adds cost.

SOFTWARE
The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus and the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro all have Android Oreo out of the box. Samsung adds its Samsung Experience (formerly TouchWiz) skin over the top and Huawei its EMUI skin.

Both are versions that change the look of stock Android dramatically. It’s up to personal preference as to which you prefer – EMUI looks a lot like Apple’s iOS.

Neither are horrendous but if you’re an Android fan, you’ll probably prefer Samsung. Having said that, the latest version of EMUI is the best ever, and runs attractively and slick on the P20 and P20 Pro.

The S9 and P20 phones all have Google Assistant, and with the S9s you also get Bixby, which plainly is not very good. Huawei is wise to not have created its own assistant here, and the physical Bixby button on the S9 and S9 Plus is annoying.

Huawei adds more AI features than Samsung though. The cameras on the P20s have camera modes that auto select the best shooting conditions for you, though at the moment that’s about as helpful as they get. There is potential, though.

And you can even ‘turn off’ the notch on the P20 phones by blocking out the top of the display with a black software bar.

SPECS

  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 5.8in Quad HD+ (2960x1440) 18.5:9 SuperAMOLED Infinity Display
  • Exynos 8910 octa-core processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB internal storage
  • microSD card slot (up to 400GB)
  • 12Mp rear-facing camera with OIS and f/1.5
  • 8Mp front camera
  • Pressure sensitive home button
  • Fingerprint scanner (rear mounted)
  • Heart rate monitor
  • 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • 4G LTE Cat 16
  • Headphone jack
  • USB-C
  • 3000mAh non-removable battery
  • Wireless charging
  • IP68 dust & waterproof rating
  • 69x148x8.5mm
  • 163g

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