iPhone XS Max vs Note 9 Bezel Size and Design Preferences
If we compare the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 versus the Apple iPhone XS Max, we can see that the Note9 is 4.3mm taller (height), 1mm narrower (width) and 0.9mm thicker (depth). The more significant difference is in the height. The Note 9 has thicker top and bottom bezels compared to the iPhone XS Max. However, the iPhone XS Max has a section of its top part of the screen dedicated for the camera and many sensors. Samsung opted to keep that line straight and uncut and go with a less elegant edge-to-edge screen design.
Having said that, the Note 9has curved screen that stretches from edge-to-edge on the horizontal axis, whether the XS Max has thicker left and right bezels. Which one looks better? it's up to you to decide. I personally prefer the look of the iPhone XS Max. Both phones have a large display (Note9: 6.4", XS Max: 6.5"), and the difference in terms of height, although visible, isn't that meaningful.
I personally don't like the narrow look of the Note 9, I like the design ratio of the iPhone XS Max better, but this is just my personal design preference.
I know some people who actually prefer having thicker side bezels. I remember this since the Galaxy S7 edge where people complained about accidental interaction with the UI on the edges of the screen. However, I've heard that Samsung tackled this issue and it's no longer a problem.
Here, take a look at the following image.
This is a quick comparison I made of the Note 9 vs iPhone XS Max that shows the difference in the bezel thickness. In the white circle on the right you can see the difference in the side bezel thickness and at the bottom, you can see the difference in the bottom bezels. You can see that the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has almost no side bezels—impressive design, but nothing that we weren't getting used to since the S7 edge. The S6 edge also had slim bezels, but nothing close to what we see here with the Note 9.
It's interesting to see each company's approach to product design. We see that many companies try to copy the iPhone's design but Samsung doesn't (to some degree). When you look at the Galaxy S9 or the Note 9, you know that those are Samsung phones, you just can't miss it.
I recommend checking this comparison of the Galaxy S9+ vs Note 9, XS Max and iPhone XS. It gives you a clear understanding of the approach to phone design between the two companies. It seems like Samsung's product designers really don't like the notch thing at the top, maybe they just think it's a bad design practice, while many other companies just copied it.
If you look at both the Note9 and the XS Max in that comparison that I linked to, it seems that the Note9 is much narrower than the iPhone XS Max. But this is because it's taller. If you inspect the specs (click on the device to reveal its specs), you can see that it's just 1mm / 0.04-in narrower than the iPhone, nothing significant. Narrower devices, generally speaking, are easier to hold and operate with a single hand. Having a narrower design also means less horizontal screen estate, which might not be that good for some applications that were designed for vertical use.
Bottom line, the Galaxy Note 9 has its own unique design that might appeal to a group of people than others that might prefer the more edge-to-edge full screen even bezel-design of the iPhone XS Max.