When Samsung released the Galaxy S7 Edge back in early 2016, the phone took the smartphone world by storm, quickly establishing itself as the go-to model for many people not just in the U.S., but also in other markets across the globe. But this was before the release of the Google Pixel XL, which came more than six months later.
Ever since it was released, the Google Pixel XL has established itself as the best Android phone on the market. While stats show that the Galaxy S7 Edge is still the most popular smartphone, if the availability of the Pixel XL could match the S7 Edge, it’s a no-brainer that many people would be donning the former than the latter.
With Samsung having just released a new monster phone in the shape of Galaxy S8+, the position of the Google Pixel XL as the best Android phone is in danger. In fact, some camps are already happy to tell you that the new kid on the block is the best phone in the market so far. But do Google Pixel XL fans agree with this? Let’s take a closer look at the two in terms of specs and price.
Design and display
Lately, Samsung is the one setting standards as far as smartphone designs are concerned. In terms of looks, the Galaxy S8+ definitely wins, however, the Pixel XL feels more durable than its counterpart. Samsung takes this design battle to the next level with an IP68 body that is dust and water resistant, which is where Google miserably failed.
In terms of size, the two phones don’t feel huge holding them despite their massive display screens. The Galaxy S8+ is 159.5mm tall and 8.1mm thick while the Pixel XL is a little shorter at 154.7mm and thicker at 8.5mm. Despite the small differences in measurements, the former has a massive 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display screen as opposed to the latter’s 5.5-inch AMOLED panel. The taller S8+ has a QHD+ (2960×1440) resolution while the Pixel XL has the standard QHD (2560×1440) resolution – they are the same!
The display screen on the Galaxy S8+ has rounded edges while the Pixel XL has square edges, something that adds more beauty to the S8+. In addition, the former has almost no bezels but the latter has visible bezels, with the top and bottom ends housing the larger sizes. Where the S8+ is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 on both front and back glass panels, the Pixel XL has the older Glass 4 protecting it from cracks and scratches.
Processing power and battery capacity
Another win for Samsung Galaxy S8+ is the processing power. Being a new phone, it ships with the latest and most powerful Snapdragon 835 processor as opposed to the Snapdragon 821 that powers the Google Pixel XL. The two phones have the same 4GB RAM, but some markets will be getting a 6GB RAM variant of the S8+. The clock speed of the SD835 is 2.35GHz, which is faster than the 2.15GHz of the SD821, but this is not all. The SoC is also less power intensive, which means you also get a longer battery life on the S8+.
Speaking of battery life, this is actually one of the strong points of the Google Pixel XL. The phone has a 3450mAh battery unit that easily takes you through the day and with great use, the phone will last close to two days on a single charge. Samsung Galaxy S8+ has a 3500mAh battery and even though quite small, the fact that one can tweak the resolution of the phone to achieve battery-intensive HD+ or Full HD+ resolutions is a major boost. Both phones use a USB-C port for charging and support fast charging technology, but you only find wireless charging on the S8+.
Storage and camera
Samsung finally realized that 32GB is not just enough for a flagship smartphone that costs hundreds of dollars. As a result, the Galaxy S8+ has a base storage of 64GB with room for expanding it via a microSD card. As noted earlier, there’s a 6GB RAM variant of this phone. If you are lucky to get this model, it comes with 128GB of internal storage, which can still be expanded. On the other hand, the Google Pixel XL has two storage options of 32GB and 128GB, but you don’t get a microSD card slot.
The camera battle is even tougher between these two. The Google Pixel XL has been ranked as the best in the business. Samsung Galaxy S8+ has yet to be taken through extensive real world tests, but given that the Galaxy S7 Edge was second to the Pixel XL in the smartphone camera battle – and the S8+ is the successor to the S7 Edge – the quality of photos from the 12MP Dual Pixel lens on the S8+ are mind-blowing. The Pixel XL, on the other hand, has a 12.3MP sensor that ships with advanced stabilization alongside HDR+ technology that delivers the best shots. Due to the larger f/1.7 aperture on the S8+ camera as compared to the f/2.0 used on the Pixel XL, you get better low-light performance from the former.
For the selfies, the two have the same 8MP sensor, but the Galaxy S8+ gets the nod once again thanks to the larger f/1.7 aperture as opposed to the f/2.4 used on the Pixel XL.
Software, special features and price
One area that Samsung will never beat Google is the software experience. On the Google Pixel XL, you’ll enjoy a pure Android experience with zero customizations. This design also promises timely software updates to the phone compared to the Galaxy S8+, which comes with a customized version of Nougat. At the moment, the Pixel XL is running on the newest v7.1.2 while the S8+ made its debut running on the original v7.0.
Google Pixel XL has a voice-controlled Assistant, and so does Samsung Galaxy S8+, which has Bixby. These two are meant to compete with each other, but the latter is still young and it might take time before you can actually enjoy it. Samsung added more extras to the S8+, including features such as fingerprint scanner (rear-mounted), iris scanner, facial recognition, Samsung DeX for desktop connectivity – but you only find a fingerprint scanner on the Pixel XL.
Being flagship phones, you can expect the Google Pixel XL and Samsung Galaxy S8+ to command huge price tags. Despite winning most parts of this head-to-head battle, the S8+ is only about $80 costlier than the Pixel XL. Where the former is priced at $850, the latter is selling at $769 for the base model and $869 for the 128GB variant.