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Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs Google Pixel XL

The Samsung Galaxy S8+ has one of the largest screens of any mobile device ever with an impressive spec sheet and construction

Google Pixel XL, Android smartphone with a plus-sized screen and Premier League specs. Time to dive in and take a closer look at how these heavyweights compare.

DESIGN

The Google Pixel XL, like the non-XL version, has a very iPhone 6 family look at it on first glance. The Samsung Galaxy S8+ has no such problems. Metal and glass blend seamlessly into one another with clean lines
and smooth curves, suggesting that not only has Samsung nailed style, it’s also made something that’ll feel nice in your mitt.

SCREEN

The S8+ has one of the largest displays ever featured on a smartphone – and yet it doesn’t look or feel like a particularly big phone. That’s because its 6.2in Super AMOLED 2960 x 1440 screen is taller than most phones’, with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio.

It curls around the left and right sides of the phone like the Galaxy S7 Edge’s screen, and due to the tininess of the top and bottom bezels, that means it covers almost the entire front of the handset; in fact, the home button is behind the glass. It looks impressive, even when the phone’s turned off – and that high pixel count and those rich, vivid AMOLED colors make it striking when it’s on.

The Pixel XL also has a really great display – albeit one that’s not quite as showy or groundbreaking. It’s a regular non-curved AMOLED panel, 5.5in in size, with a resolution of 2560 x 1440, which gives it a similar level of sharpness and color vibrancy to the S8+’s screen. Pitted against most flagship smartphones, the Pixel XL’s display would come out on top – but against the S8+ isn’t most flagship smartphones.




Samsung Galaxy S8+: Full Specifications

PERFORMANCE

The Pixel XL has an impressive set of innards: 4GB RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor, which run the stock, pure-bred Android 7.1 Nougat operating system like a dream. Nougat is zippy and responsive, and you can flip between apps with a reassuring slickness. And the XL won’t struggle to run any app or game in the Play Store.

The S8+, being a newer phone, has a more up-to-date processor: a new Samsung-made Exynos octa-core with four cores at 2.3GHz and four at 1.7GHz. There’s 4GB of RAM too. On paper, that suggests a level of performance similar to or greater than the Pixel XL’s, but without proper testing, we can’t say that with any certainty. One to revisit after our full review.

CAMERA

Here’s another aspect in which it’s tough to see much daylight between the two phones. The Pixel XL has a 12.3MP rear camera with large 1.55-micron sensor pixels, laser autofocus while the Samsung S8+ has a 12MP rear camera with 1.4-micron sensor pixels, laser autofocus.

The Pixel XL’s camera is widely regarded as one of the best in the business. The HDR+ mode helps to deliver great exposures in tricky lighting and the large sensor pixels pick up a lot of light (handy for shooting in dimly lit conditions), while the image stabilization does an amazing job of smoothing out shake from hand held video.

The S8+ looks likely to deliver a similar level of performance. The sensor pixels may be slightly smaller than on Google’s phone, but that could be balanced out by the larger f/1.7 aperture. Optical image stabilization is generally regarded as superior to the electronic variety too, but perhaps not for video recording purposes.

We suspect this is going to be a close-run thing, with both phones producing really impressive results. It might even come down to the user’s personal preferences for how they feel photos should look.




Google Pixel: Full Specifications

BATTERY

The Pixel XL has a 3450mAh battery and either 32GB or 128GB of storage, depending on which version you choose; there’s no microSD slot, but Google automatically backs up all photos to the cloud at full size, which should help conserve storage space. There’s a fingerprint scanner on the back.

The Pixel XL is also one of only two current phones (with the smaller, non-XL Pixel) to support Google Assistant, an AI-powered, voice-controlled personal assistant and Google’s answer to Siri, Alexa or Cortana. It’s clever and handy, but not the killer app it was perhaps billed as; still, Google will be tweaking it constantly, so it should become smarter with future updates.

Samsung has lavished the Galaxy S8+ with headline-grabbing features. There’s not only a fingerprint reader, for instance, but an iris scanner that lets you unlock the phone with a look – and it’s improved over the iteration on the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7. There’s not only wireless charging, but fast wireless charging. On paper, very impressive.

The battery has a 3500mAh capacity, so we’d expect battery life to be in the same ballpark as the Pixel XL’s. On the storage front, there’s a single 64GB edition – but Samsung has thoughtfully included a microSD slot, so you can boost that by a further 256GB should you wish.