Speedtest: Google Pixel XL vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

If you are in the market for a flagship device from 2016 and were waiting to see what Google would release, you might be comparing the Google Pixel or Google Pixel XL with other devices available, such as the HTC 10, Samsung Galaxy S7 family, LG G5 and Motorola Moto Z family. All of these devices have their strengths and all offer a different featuresets for the buyer, but for customers considering the larger Google Pixel XL, perhaps the most natural competitor is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. In some markets, these two devices offer a similar specification: the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset in some parts of the world, or the Samsung Exynos 8890 chipset in others. The Google Pixel XL uses an underclocked Qualcomm Snapdragon 821. Both have a large, QHD resolution AMOLED display, both have excellent cameras at the top of the smartphone world, but have deeper differences in the software of each device. One YouTuber has taken the time to produce a detailed comparison of the Google Pixel XL and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge to compare the speeds of these devices, and because it was the Galaxy S7 Edge as available in the United Kingdom, this means the device is powered by the Exynos 8890. We've already seen that in a back to back comparison between the Exynos 8890 and Snapdragon 820 chipsets as used in the Galaxy Note 7, these two chipsets are comparable but different. How will these two devices, running different software builds and on different hardware platforms, compare in terms of raw speed?

YouTuber SuperSaf has put both devices back to back for the comparison and the results are broadly as expected: both devices are superfast. When it comes to benchmarking, the Galaxy S7 edge has a noticeable advantage - but the Exynos 8890 chipset has twice the number of application cores as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 and benchmarks are synthetic. It's also possible that Samsung are still deliberately putting the Exynos 8890 chipset into maximum performance mode when it detects it is running a benchmark, whereas Google have not "optimized" their devices in this way. When it comes to launching applications with nothing showing as running in the background, we are shown a number being launched and used. When launching what we might consider to be typical and normal applications, the Google Pixel XL and Samsung Galaxy S7 edge are closely matched: if anything, the Google Pixel XL has a very small advantage but not large enough to make a difference to the end user.

For gaming, however, there is a substantial difference between the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the Google Pixel XL: Samsung's flagship is noticeably quicker than the Google Pixel XL at both launching games and loading levels. There could be many reasons for this: the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge may have faster internal memory and so is much more adept at moving code around from storage to RAM and back again. The Exynos 8890 also has more processor cores and this could give it an advantage when working on complicated tasks. It may also be that the games as ran are optimized for Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow but have not yet been adjusted for Android 7.1 Nougat, which the Google Pixel XL runs. And it's also possible that Samsung have deliberately tuned the Galaxy S7 Edge to run games really quickly.

However, what is probably of more relevance in everyday use is how adeptly both devices coped with switching between running applications and how each kept the background application in precisely the same place it was when switched away from. For everyday device use purposes, this makes both handsets smooth and fast performers. Nevertheless, if you are an avid gamer and want to squeeze as much game time on your device as possible, the YouTube clip may persuade you to lean more towards the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge rather than the Google Pixel XL.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.
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