iPhone XS Max Beats Galaxy Note 9 in Real-World Speed Test

With the iPhone XS Max finally out, many comparisons are inevitably being drawn between Apple's latest big-screen smartphone and Samsung's Galaxy Note 9. And speed seems to be one of the primary areas people are focusing on.

Yes, the benchmarks show that the iPhone XS and XS Max are faster, but how does that translate to real-world use? Fortunately, another enlightening test courtesy of YouTuber PhoneBuff lends some context to those numbers.

You may remember PhoneBuff from their comparison between the Note 9 and iPhone X shortly after Samsung's phablet hit the market. In that test, conducted with a mechanical arm opening a bunch of apps and then recalling them from memory in reverse order, the iPhone X was faster during the initial pass through, but struggled on the way back because its 3GB of RAM just wasn't enough to compete with the Note's 6GB.

PhoneBuff went ahead and conducted the same test with the new XS Max. Both the new iPhone and the Note 9 were tasked with opening and recalling 16 apps in total. And the result was a bit different this time around — partially due to the new chipset inside the XS, and partially due to the Max variant's 4GB of RAM.

Not only was the iPhone XS Max faster again on the first pass — honestly something we expected, given the superior peak performance of Apple's A12 processor compared to the Snapdragon 845 — but it even defeated the Note 9 on the second lap, where memory plays a significant role.

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All in all, it took the iPhone XS Max 2 minutes and 33 seconds to complete the entire test, while Samsung's device finished in 2 minutes and 47 seconds. Granted, the Note 9 caught up considerably in the second half, but at the end of the first lap it was down more than 20 seconds compared to the iPhone.

Once again, tests like these remind us there are many definitions of speed in the tech world, and app opening times only provide one of many valuable metrics. Recalling processes from memory is just as important. However, it appears Samsung has some catching up to do with the Galaxy S10 unless it wants to let Apple widen its lead.