Two more months after Google’s announcement of ARCore, Samsung promised hardware compatibility with the framework. Those capabilities have been a long time coming; Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus were released in March, but they didn’t get ARCore support until the middle of May.
With Samsung’s flagship smartphone now able to run ARCore apps, we decided it was time to compare Google’s AR system with that of Apple’s, as running on iPhone X.
To get a better look at the differences and similarities between the two platforms, we initially planned on comparing a number of AR apps that provide cross-platform support. This would ensure an even playing field and offer a more accurate representation of how developers are handling and integrating each technology, from surface tracking to graphics quality.
Unfortunately, Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus was in many cases unable to recognize an anchor point (our desk) for AR tracking. Whether the problem is with Samsung’s hardware or Google’s software is unknown, but for the purposes of this comparison, the shortcoming forced us to look at ARCore-specific apps that worked.
On iOS, the iPhone X instantly recognized the surface we selected and accurately tracked it. After placing the plate of sushi, it didn’t move at all in respect to the table. Tracking continued to work perfectly and it offered a great gaming experience.
On the S9 Plus, the app recognized the surface, but the graphics seemed to bend while we moved the camera around. After placing the plate, it started to jitter and wobble around. Shortly after that, it completely lost track of where it was placed. The game never regained tracking and was completely unplayable.
Again, the iPhone X did a great job of tracking the desk and the objects we placed on it stayed put. We could easily change angles and get close for a detailed look at the furniture.
The S9 Plus took a very long time to recognize the desk, and when it did, the objects failed to appear at all after multiple tries.
The iPhone X handled this game perfectly. There was no gap under the pool table, it looked like it was sitting right on top of the desk. The tracking was amazing, it didn’t move an inch from the spot we placed it. The gaming experience was really fun and accurate.
The S9 Plus, on the other hand, couldn’t even recognize the surface of the desk.
This is a great game for kids. You can build tracks and view them in AR. The iPhone X did a great job on this one as well. The best part is that ARKit has spatial sound, so when I would get closer to certain areas of the track, sounds from those areas would get louder.
The S9 Plus again failed to scan the desk.
Unsurprisingly, the iPhone X scanned and recognized the surface instantly. The game was enjoyable and easy to play.
The S9 plus again failed to scan the desk.
Leo AR Camera:
The S9 Plus was finally able to scan and recognize our desk, but when we placed an object, it drifted away. This happened with every single object we placed.
This game is exclusive to the Google Play Store. We actually searched ARCore to find this one. This was the first game that worked as intended. The tracking was perfect, and the lighting was great. Gameplay was very smooth.
This app is also exclusive to the Google Play Store, and it worked surprisingly well. The measurements seemed accurate and none of the objects drifted.
Here’s another Android exclusive. This one worked perfectly. It seems like cross-platform games and apps aren’t supported at this time. Everything we’ve tried so far that’s exclusive to the Google Play Store works great.
The S9 Plus had trouble with almost every game and app we tested, especially cross-platform titles. In most cases, it wouldn’t even scan our large desk. The iPhone X scanned the same surface every single time, almost instantly.
In the cases where the S9 Plus did scan the table, the tracking would fail completely. There were only one or two games that would actually work correctly, but when ARCore did work, it worked great. Tracking, shadows and lighting were on point.
We’re not sure why the Samsung had so much trouble with the games and apps we tested. Samsung’s system software, ARCore, and each game was up to date. Since the S9 Plus is supposed to support ARCore, and all of these games are available to download on the Google Play Store, there’s no reason why the AR experience should be this bad.