Technology

Head2Head: Google Pixel vs Samsung Galaxy S8

Written by techgoth

These days it can feel like there are too many great smartphones on the market: the iPhone 7, LG G6, Google Pixel and so on. British consumers have ample choice, and with the release of the Samsung Galaxy S8, your options have widened even further.

To figure out exactly what smartphone is right for you, we wanted to look at how the new Galaxy S8 stacks up against the competition. This time, it’s Samsung versus the Google Pixel. Let’s look at the facts and break down their specs, price and design in detail.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S8: Design

Samsung has been chasing Apple’s crown in the design game for a while, and with the Galaxy S8, we think it has overhauled Apple. Samsung has gone for an edge-to-edge design, with an unusual 18:9 aspect ratio. By removing the border around the phone and ditching the home button, Samsung has created what is certainly one of the most striking designs currently on the market. It makes the S8 ideal for scrolling the web, and the product feels right in a user’s hand.

The Google Pixel is by no means an unattractive device. In fact, if you weren’t paying attention, you might be fooled into thinking your eyes were looking at an iPhone. The Pixel is made with a solid aluminium unibody design, also great to hold. However, the Pixel XL feels a little more awkward in hand than the new Samsung Galaxy S8, despite the S8/S8 Plus being bigger.

The Pixel is part glass, part metal, with a glass panel situated at the top of the screen. An odd design choice, you might think. But primarily Google made this decision because it wanted its services to be at the forefront of the Pixel phone. Android Pay can’t work efficiently through metal, and thus the glass panel was born.

So who’s the winner? The edge goes to Samsung for the Galaxy S8’s ‘infinity’ edge-to-edge display.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S8: Camera

On its release, Google highlighted benchmarks from DxOMark, who put it ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7’s optics. But is that still true now the Galaxy S8 is around?

The Samsung Galaxy S8 offers a 12mp camera, which on paper is the same as the S7, but in our tests actually produced marginally better images in low light thanks to an improved DSP and better software.

Does it beat the Pixel? Not quite: we found that the Pixel still has a slight edge. Colours are a little better, you get a little more detail, and low-light performance is improved. But – and this is an important point – both phones have excellent cameras. You’re very unlikely to be disappointed no matter which you go for.

So this round goes to the Pixel – just.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S8: Price

We thought the Google Pixel was pricey when it was unveiled at £599, but the Galaxy S8 starts at a whopping £689, going up to £779 if you opt for the Plus model. Without a doubt, Google offers better value for money with the Pixel, but buyers will have to determine whether the lower price is worth sacrificing what makes the Samsung Galaxy S8 great. Do you go for a bolder design or a safer bet? We wouldn’t blame you for going with the Pixel, though many smartphone enthusiasts won’t be able to resist the modern design of the S8.

This time, it’s definitely a point to the Pixel.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S8: Operating System

Both the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel run on Android 7 Nougat. Samsung’s device, though, comes with its standard selection of first-party software. Some might see this as clutter; others may welcome it. The new Bixby AI even has a dedicated button, a big deal considering the Samsung’s S8’s minimal design. This might seem a little like overkill considering the device still offers the standard “OK Google”, but Samsung does like to push its software.

With the Pixel, Nougat comes slightly reskinned, prioritising some of the more intelligent apps such as Google Duo, Allo, Photos, Drive and Assistant, all of which come pre-installed. If you don’t like clutter, the Pixel offers simplicity while also providing everything you need from the get-go.

And of course there’s the issue of updates. Because the Pixel comes from Google, you’re almost certain to get new versions of Android faster, often on the day of release. Samsung isn’t the slowest Android vendor, but it’s still slower at getting new versions of the operating system out than Google is.

As both the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel run on mostly the same software, there’s not that much in it, but to our mind the look and feel of vanilla Android will always win out over TouchWiz, so it’s a point to the Pixel.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S8: The key specs

It often comes down to the nitty-gritty of a device’s specs when making a decision on a smartphone.

The Google Pixel is powered by a 2.15GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, built upon 4GB of system RAM and utilising either 32GB or 128GB of storage. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S8 boasts an Exynos 8895 10nm octa-core , 64-bit. 

The Google Pixel runs very well, though the smaller manufacturing process of the Galaxy S8 should mean better performance. We’ve yet to put these devices head-to-head in this respect but have high hopes for the 10nm chip.

At 5 inches, the Google Pixel’s screen is a little smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S8’s 5.8in display, while the Pixel XL packs just a 5.5in display. Nevertheless, the S8 doesn’t feel overwhelmingly big, thanks in part to Samsung’s slick design.

The Pixel’s screen resolution is 1,080 x 1,920, significantly lower than Samsung’s brilliant 2,960 x 1,440. Samsung is known for its great screens, and the Galaxy S8 is no exception – it shines here. However, Google Pixel’s AMOLED screen shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s capable of displaying 441 pixels per inch (PPI) and falls pretty much in line with the iPhone 7, another accomplished device.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S8: Fingerprint sensor

Samsung’s new design with the S8 has seen the fingerprint sensor shifted to the rear of the device, and it’s safe to say views are mixed on this at the moment. The main issue is how easy it is to smudge the camera lens at the same time, by missing the fingerprint sensor and hitting the lens instead. However, the Google Pixel also has a rear fingerprint sensor in the top third panel on its back, putting the two on a pretty level playing field here. It’s not a huge deal, especially if you choose to use Samsung’s facial recognition software, but it’s something to note about both phones.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S8: The verdict

The Galaxy S8 has a very bold design, and in some areas – screen, overall performance and design – it beats the Pixel. In contrast, the Pixel has the better the camera, a marginally more attractive version of Android, and that all-important lower price tag.

We think the crucial factor is going to be the price. The Google device is alarmingly cheaper than Samsung’s.

On the other hand, if you’re buying on contract and thus spreading the cost out over two years, the difference in monthly payments is going to be tiny, which makes the Galaxy S8 a better choice.


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