Do we have a good one for you today – The new Google Pixel 2 XL takes on the excellent Samsung Galaxy Note 8. This is a comparison of the specifications of these two devices and while the Galaxy Note 8 is readily available and the Pixel 2 XL (and the Pixel 2) is only available to pre-order… we do know the specs and have a good idea of what each device offers. Does the very expensive Pixel 2 XL have what it takes to keep in step with the powerful Note 8? Is being the first to get an OS update worth getting the Pixel 2 XL or does the Note 8 have too many features/options making it worth waiting for longer updates? These questions and more is what we hope to answer during this comparison. Before we look at each individual device, let’s take a look at what they have in common.
As different as these two devices are, they do have a few things in common. Both displays hit the 6-inch (at a minimum) mark and both use the OLED technology, an 18:9 aspect ratio, QHD+ display, and both use an Always-On feature for notifications. The Pixel 2 XL and Note 8 pack the same Snapdragon 835 processor and the Adreno 540 GPU for excellent graphics. Both come with a standard 64GB for storage – the Pixel 2 XL also offers a 128GB model, but no expansion while the Note 8 has expandable memory. Both primary cameras are 12MP, but the Note 8 has a secondary camera with a 12MP sensor for special effects. Both use an 8MP front-facing camera for selfies and video chatting. They both have a non-removable battery with fast charging capabilities, although the Note 8 adds wireless charging as well. Both have a rear mounted fingerprint sensor, BT 5.0, USB Type-C port, water-resistance, and their own form of person assistant.
Please take a thoughtful look at the detailed specifications comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another. After that, we will look at each device in greater depth and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.
Google Pixel 2 XL
The Google Pixel 2 lineup is a step above the original model introduced last year. We are looking at the Pixel 2 XL model in this comparison and Google designed this as a ‘bezel-less’ device. It is not really ‘bezel-less’ but it does have very small bezels on the left and right, and the top and bottom ones are much smaller than the Pixel 2. While Google’s Nexus/Pixel line has been criticized for no frills, the Pixel 2 XL now uses a P-OLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. It also incorporates an Active Edge that lets the user launch Google Assistant without a voice command or silence an incoming phone call. Google Lens is another feature that can identify details about photos – what kind of flower, movie details from a post, etc. The larger display on the Pixel 2 XL is 0.5-inches taller than the Pixel 2, making it a viable alternative to the smaller Pixel 2. Pricing is also a consideration – with 128GB of non-expandable memory, you are looking at $949 and with the standard 64GB, it will still cost $849. Verizon is once again the exclusive dealer of the Pixel 2 phones although you can still buy them unlocked to work on any US carrier.
The Google Pixel 2 XL has moved up to a 6-inch P-OLED QHD+ display with a resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels and 538 pixels-per-inch (PPI). Google went with the growing trend to an 18:9 aspect ratio and uses the Always-On display feature (like the Note 8) for notifications. This helps save battery life by not having to turn-on the main display unless you want to read more about the notifications. The new Pixel 2 models use the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor clocked at 2.35 and an Adreno 540 GPU for the graphic demands. The Pixel 2 XL has no expandable memory but there are two variations – one packs 64GB and another packs 128GB. Both models use 4GB of DDR4 RAM.
The original Google Pixel line had an excellent camera and it should be expected the same will be on offer with the Pixel 2 models. They use a single camera with 12MP sensor with an aperture of f/1.8, both EIS and OIS, laser and PDAF, and a dual-tone flash. The FFC is an 8MP with fixed focus and an f/2.4 aperture. The large, non-removable 3,520 mAh battery should easily make it through the day. When you do need to charge the battery, fast charging is available.
The Google Pixel 2 XL is a formidable device and it should compete nicely with other flagships – its biggest drawbacks are pricing and the lack of expandable memory. One other thing to worry about is availability – is Google going to make sure enough of the devices are available for sale. It has a great camera area that is one of the best on the market. Its Camera Lens and Active Edge are nice features. While it does not have Hi-Res Audio, it does have stereo speakers on the front but no 3.5mm headphone jack. Google finally added water resistance this year, but only IP67, not the IP68 that is commonly found on other flagship options. Of course, the Pixel 2 XL is running Android 8.0 (Oreo) out-of-the-box and will receive the fastest updates of new Android upgrades. Google Assistant is also on-board. The Pixel 2 XL measures 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm, and weighs in at 175 grams. It is available in two colors – Just Black and Black & White. The Pixel 2 XL will cost about $849 with 64GB of RAM and $949 with 128GB of RAM and is available at the Google Store, Best Buy and as an exclusive through Verizon.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
After last year’s Note 7 disaster there were rumors about Samsung dropping the Note line altogether. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and this year Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note 8. It uses the same new Infinity Display it used on its Galaxy S8/S8 Plus models, only larger. It uses an 18.5:9 aspect ratio for a better entertainment experience. It has a dual curved display that wraps around the edges eliminating any side bezels. The viewing area is literary edge-to-edge. Samsung finally eliminated the physical home button for onscreen buttons – that are there only when you need them. The top and bottom bezels are very small on this large device. The bottom bezel is void of any function, while the top bezel handles the indicator light, proximity sensor, speaker, and front-facing camera. The front camera handles facial recognition and iris scanning. The fingerprint sensor, though now separated by the flash from the camera, is still in an awkward position. At least when there is light, you can quickly unlock the phone with the facial recognition or the iris scanner (if you do not wear glasses). One can always fall back on using a pin for unlocking the Note 8. Samsung made improvements to the S-Pen and software to make it easier to use and more productive. The Galaxy Note 8 is arguably the best looking and most feature-laden smartphone on the market, however, all of this technology comes at a cost of approximately $960.
Samsung increased the display size from 5.7-inches to 6.3-inches. The Note 8 shares the Infinity Display (first used on the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus) with a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Samsung still uses its superior Super AMOLED technology and uses a QHD+ display resolution of 2960 x 1440 pixels that generates 521 PPI. Samsung has the default set at an FHD+ (2220 x 1080) resolution to save battery life – just go to the display settings to increase it to QHD+. Samsung uses its ‘always-on’ display that not only helps to save battery life, but makes it easier and quicker to check notifications. Just like the Pixel 2 XL, the Galaxy Note 8 uses the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor for the US/China models clocked at 2.35 and an Adreno 540 GPU. For EMEA countries, Samsung uses its excellent Exynos 8895 octa-core clocked at 2.3 GHz and the Mali-G71 MP20 GPU for graphics – both processors use the new 10nm technology. The Galaxy Note 8 packs 6GB of DDR4 RAM and has 64GB of expandable memory via a microSD card.
Rumors of Samsung going to a dual camera system have been around for the past two years – although whether they are necessary is a question for another article. While many were convinced that the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus would have dual cameras, we had to wait until the Galaxy Note 8 to see the feature arrive in the form of a dual 12MP camera setup. The primary camera has a large aperture of f/1.7 to help in low light conditions, PDAF, a dual-tone LED flash, auto HDR, OIS, and 2X Optical Zoom. You can also zoom 10X, but that is a digital zoom. The secondary camera is not some afterthought as it carries all of the same attributes as the primary camera with the exception of a smaller, f/2.4, aperture. As in all dual camera setups, the majority of photos are taken with the primary camera. The secondary camera allows the user to create photos with a bokeh effect – where you focus on one object and then blur the background. Samsung uses a nicely sized 8MP FFC along with an f/1.7 aperture, auto-HDR, and autofocus. The non-removable 3,300 mAh battery should easily make it through the day and when you do need to charge the Note 8, it features Adaptive Fast Charging and Quick Wireless Charging for both Qi and PMA format.
Samsung always carries features over to the Note 8 from the Galaxy S8. Samsung Connect allows you to control Samsung’s appliances and other home controls, such as the thermostat. A DeX Station interfaces the Galaxy Note 8 with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to give you a near-desktop experience. Samsung developed and continues to refine its own personal assistant, Bixby. You can ask Bixby a simple question – like what is the weather for today – and receive an answer, although it will provide information from a picture and can translate words on a sign via the camera. The Galaxy Note 8 has Samsung’s popular heart rate monitor and oxygen saturation sensor. Samsung devices, like the Note 8, allow you to access not only Android Pay, but also Samsung Pay opening up even more possibilities to make mobile payments. The Galaxy Note 8 series is IP68 certified against dust and water-resistance. However, the item that sets the Note 8 apart from other smartphones is its S-Pen and associated apps. It is still the only flagship device that you can write or draw on that carries a self-contained stylus. It arrives with Android 7.1.1 (Nougat), measures 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm, and weighs in at a hefty 195 grams. It is available in Midnight Black, Orchid Grey, Maple Gold, or Deep Sea Blue depending where you are located. The Galaxy Note 8 will cost about $960 outright and is available for purchase from just about everywhere.
...And The Winner Is...
The Final Word
Make no mistake, the Pixel 2 XL and the Galaxy Note 8 are both awesome devices and are very worthy of your consideration and hard-earned dollars. However, when it comes to functionality and even looks, the Galaxy Note 8 is the definite winner. Many Nexus/Pixel devotees will completely disagree with this, but from an objective point of view, you just get more for your money with the Note 8. Because the Pixel 2 XL does not offer memory expansion, you almost have to compare the cost of the 128GB version to the Note 8, which does offer memory expansion. That means we are looking at $949 for the Pixel 2 XL and $960 for the Note 8.
The Note 8’s larger Infinity display is the best of the best and with its dual curves wrapped around the sides it is literally a true bezel-less device on the left and right sides. The Note 8 packs 6GB of RAM for faster speeds in opening apps and multitasking as well as having expandable memory. In the camera area, the Note 8 not only has a top-rated camera, but it also has a dual camera for special effects. The Note 8’s battery, though slightly smaller, has the option of wireless charging. The Note 8 still has the 3.5mm headphone jack, Hi-Res Audio, Iris scanner, Facial recognition, has IP68 certification versus the IP67 on the Pixel 2 XL, an Apps Edge, People Edge, Samsung Pay, and the S-Pen and its associated hardware.
The Pixel 2 XL offers Android 8.0 Oreo (although the Note 8 will eventually receive it) and the fastest upgrades. It also has Active Edge, a slightly larger battery and stereo speakers (but no Hi-Res Audio). If you demand pure Android and want the fastest updates, then the Pixel 2 XL is for you, but for the price Google is asking, there are better-looking and more feature-rich devices available.