In terms of overall design, it's clear that the Galaxy S9 is a better-looking phone.
Both the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, the larger-sized device, share the same design, with narrow bezels on the top and bottom and curved edges, which play a major role in the Galaxy S9's ultra-premium look. There's little doubt that the Galaxy S9 phones both look better than either the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, Google's larger phone.
The smaller Pixel 3 is the most similar to the Galaxy S9 phones, as it doesn't come with a notch on the display. But its bezels are larger, and there's no extra "flair" like the curved edges on the Galaxy S9.
The larger Pixel 3 XL has quite possibly the ugliest notch on any smartphone, which immediately makes it less appealing than the Galaxy S9 phones.
One area where the Pixel 3 phones excel in terms of design is the back. It's a gorgeous, all-glass, two-tone design with both glossy and matte finishes — it looks and feels fantastic.
As for screen size, resolution, and how they perform, the Galaxy S9 and Pixel 3 XL are not all that different.
The Galaxy S9 has a 5.8-inch screen while the Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch screen.
The Galaxy S9 Plus has a 6.2-inch screen while the Pixel 3XL has a 6.3-inch screen.
All four phones have a sharp, 1440p resolution, and all of them have OLED displays that deliver deep blacks, beautiful contrast between light and dark, and rich colors.
The Galaxy S9 phones, however, support HDR for supposedly better color and contrast. But after using both devices, I can't say that HDR matters all that much at all.
As for cameras, the Galaxy S9 and Pixel 3 phones are surprisingly well-matched. But the Pixel 3 wins overall.
The Galaxy S9's camera is truly great and it keeps up with the Pixel 3 camera most of the time.
Other times, however, the Galaxy S9 will overly process the photo as it tries to even out the lighting in a shot to reveal detail in shady areas. That's usually a good thing, but the Galaxy S9 does this too much, and photos look flat as a result.
The Pixel 3's camera will make the shady areas darker than the Galaxy S9 while managing to keep much of the detail that's there. It makes for better contrast on photos, which gives Pixel 3 photos more depth.
The Pixel 3's camera also has more natural colors, whereas they look overly processed on the Galaxy S9.