It’s hard to say no to the Samsung Galaxy S8. This little beast has everything you might want from a phone. Fantastic specs, gorgeous display, an outstanding camera with various options and, of course, the design. The S8 is the best-looking smartphone the world has to offer.
Yet, it is never an easy choice, when it comes to flagships. The difference between their functionality is always minuscule, so the choice is usually decided by personal tastes… or brand loyalty.
Especially considering that the Pixel XL is just as great. Not as gorgeous with those bezels, but the Apple-like approach to software makes the purchase just as attractive. Until the Pixel 2 arrives sometime in October-November, these two will probably be incredible buys for the Android fans. But which one is better? Let’s find out.
Design and ease of use
Spoiler alert: Samsung takes the cake in the design competition. Objectively. It is really difficult not to be amazed by the S8’s ground-breaking design. It’s the first flagship phone to feature an almost bezel-less facade with a 5.8-inch display.
The Pixel somewhat pales in comparison. It just looks plainer, less sophisticated and feels less premium than the S8. And those bezels remind of rather budget phones, than a high-end model. Which is nowhere near the truth, of course.
Both models are similar in size, yet S8 has a slight edge. It’s 149 mm tall versus Pixel’s 155 mm but sports a 3 inch larger display, thanks to the new technological approach. The Pixel is also wider, but a bit slimmer – 7.3 mm against 8 mm.
Cannot say that it makes much difference, as both devices are in the phablet category, and will require using both hands, especially if you want to reach to the upper corners of the S8’s screen.
Both phones also have their fingerprints sensors on the back, and Samsung’s decision to place it so close to the rear camera is rather questionable. There isn’t much of a gap between the two sensors, and owners will likely confuse the two, leaving fingerprints on the camera module.
The Korean manufacturer apparently tried to make up for that by installing a retina scanner on the front panel of the phone. It looks a bit strange too, as you have to hold your phone at an awkward angle to unlock it. In addition, it can be tricked by a photo image.
Display, specs, and functionality
Not much can be said about the display in the phones. They are gorgeous to look at, with vivid colors and great brightness. Thanks to the aspect ratio, Samsung sports a bit higher PPI – 570 vs. 534 (2960×1440 vs. 2560 vs. 1440). Both use the AMOLED tech, although the S8 has a slightly different super AMOLED technology.
— Samsung Galaxy S8 (@GalaxyS8News) April 26, 2017
Samsung’s 18.5:9 screen ratio is somewhat weird and unusual, but we fully expect it to become the new norm in the nearest future. For now, though, be ready for some black bars while playing games or watching videos. The software helps mitigate this problem somewhat, by expanding the image, but It cuts off the picture a little bit.
Samsung rocks the newest Snapdragon 835 octa core with 2.35Ghz, but Pixel’s 821 is still a beast, and both will deal with latest games without a problem, thanks to 4Gb ram in each phone.
Samsung’s triumph is in the smaller, but crucial details. It is certified with an IP68 rating, has a MicroSD slot and supports wireless charging. The Pixel XL doesn’t have any of those. Google wants you to use cloud storage if 32GB or 128GB are not enough. The S8 only offers 64GB in all the versions.
At the same time, Google has a bigger battery (3,450mAh vs. 3,000mAh), which should hold for maybe an hour longer, depending on your use.
It’s really a tie. These are some of the best cameras on the Android market right now. The S8 has a wider aperture, optical image stabilization, but both sport similar 12MP rear cameras and 8MP frontal. They both use the same technique – make several rapid shots to create one amazing picture from the best parts. Customers will not be disappointed by either camera, even though Samsung has carried the S7’s lens over into the S8.
Here’s where it’s really simple. Samsung still uses its own, heavily modified version of Android 7. It has a different interface, additional carrier-specific applications (also known as bloatware) and who knows how much time it will take for Samsung to roll out the future updates.
Yes, the UI has been refined, unified and is now faster than ever, but it’s still not there yet.
The Pixel XL is, of course, devoid of this problem, as Google uses only the newest and purest version of its operation system.
So, in the end, which phone is better? Samsung clearly excels at everything, except the software part. If you want the latest, most technologically advanced device, which is a pleasure to look at – go with the S8.
Only pick the XL if you want the ultimate Android experience here and now. Or if the cost of the S8 is too high.
Should you be willing to wait, perhaps, the Pixel XL 2 will turn out more to your liking. But it’s a permanent problem – buy the best product available now, or wait for something even better to come.