Do we have a good one for you today – the Google Pixel 2 takes on the fabled Samsung Galaxy S8. These two camps of users are both passionate about their respective brands and rightfully so. While the Galaxy S8 was released back in April, it is still the smartphone most others are measured by, especially in the design department. The Google Pixel 2 was released in October, with improvements all around – except the design department. Both devices have the same internal specs when it comes to performance, but both have pros and cons as well. Which one of these devices has what it takes to win this comparison? These questions and more are what we hope to answer here. Before we look at each individual device, let’s take a look at what they have in common.
It is surprising how appearances can be deceiving – the Google Pixel 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 could not be more different on the outside, but inside, they have many similarities. They both use an AMOLED display with the Always-On feature for notifications and Gorilla Glass 5 protects them both. They use the same Snapdragon 835 processor with the Adreno 540 GPU, 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and both have a 64GB base of internal memory. They each use a single camera with a 12-megapixel sensor and each has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. Both use a non-removable battery with rapid charging available and even their physical dimensions are almost identical. Both have Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi support, a USB Type-C 3.1 port, rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, Android Pay, and water resistance, and will work on all major U.S. carriers.
Below you can take a careful look at the detailed specs comparison chart to see just how these two Android handsets stack up against each other on paper. After that, we will look at each smartphone individually and in greater depth to point out some of its pros and cons. Finally, we will try to determine the winner based on its specs and the overall execution of design and functions.
Google Pixel 2
Google’s Pixel 2 line of smartphones is now a mainstream device worthy of anybody’s consideration. Many users want expandable memory that the Pixel lineup lacks, but Google offers free cloud service. The worst thing about the Pixel 2 is its somewhat dated look with its large bezels and the 16:9 aspect ratio – it looks like a smartphone from 2015. Insides are a different story as the Pixel 2 does use the best processor/GPU available and an AMOLED display, albeit only a Full HD one. Google Lens, added this year, is a nice feature that can identify information about certain landmarks or subjects. The newly added Active Edge allows the user to squeeze the sides of the device to awaken Google Assistant or quiet an incoming call. Pricing is always a consideration and the standard 64GB model will cost you $650. You can buy them unlocked to work on any major U.S. carrier, but Verizon is once again the exclusive dealer for the Pixel 2 phones and will allow you to purchase a Pixel 2 device on a payment plan.
The main difference between the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL are their displays – we have Full HD and 16:9 versus QHD and 18:9. The Google Pixel 2 sports a 5-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 1,960 by 1,080 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch. The 5-inch size is considered the ‘sweet spot’ for many users that want a decent-sized display, but small enough to carry around every day. Google kept the older 16:9 aspect ratio on the smaller Pixel 2, but included the Always-On display feature for notifications – this makes it easier on both the battery life and, more importantly, the user by not having to turn on the main display to glance at their notifications.
Like other flagships, Google used the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor in its Pixel 2 models. It has a quad-core clocked at 1.9GHz and another quad-core clocked at 2.35GHz with an Adreno 540 GPU used for graphics – the same combo used on the Galaxy S8. The Pixel 2 has no expandable memory and comes with a basic 64GB option, but you can also order a 128GB model. You will find 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM in both models. The combination of an efficient processor and Android 8.0 and an FHD display allows Google to use of a small, non-removable, 2,700mAh battery. That cell will easily make it through an entire day and when you do need to charge the device, fast charging support will have you back at 100 percent in no time.
Last year, the original Pixel model was rated as having the best camera on a mobile device and this year, the Google Pixel 2 has once again claimed the top spot in the Android industry, doing it with nothing more than a single lens. Both Pixels use a single camera with a 12-megapixel sensor behind a lens with an aperture of f/1.8, and contain EIS and OIS support, laser autofocus and PDAF, and a dual-tone flash. Google uses an 8-megapixel secondary camera for selfies and video chatting with fixed focus and a smaller f/2.4-aperture lens.
The Pixel 2 definitely looks dated on the outside but when it comes to its specifications and imaging performance, it easily competes with other flagships. The Pixel 2 does have a smaller display that uses only an FHD resolution and it does lack expandable memory. However, it uses the best SoC and has the highest-rated camera on the Android market. Active Edge, while a nice functionality, needs to add more features to its repertoire. Google added IP67 water resistance this year, and though it has no Hi-Res Audio, it does feature stereo speakers on the front. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack here, but the phone comes with a dongle that allows you to use wired headphones via its USB Type-C port. The Pixel 2 is running Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box and will certainly receive the fastest Android updates. The Pixel 2 measures 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8mm and weighs in at 143 grams. It is available in three colors – Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue. The Pixel 2 will cost about $650 with 64GB of storage and is available for purchase from the Google Store, Best Buy and as a wireless carrier exclusive through Verizon. If you buy it from Verizon, the company will allow you to finance it over 24 months.
Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung had a bad ending to 2016 with the Galaxy Note 7 troubles, but the Galaxy S8 has proven to be huge hit for the company this year. The complete redesign and updated hardware helped to crown it as the best-selling Android smartphone of 2017. The beautiful new Infinity Display is of the edge-to-edge variety and curves along the sides of the Galaxy S8. There are absolutely no side bezels and even the top and bottom bezels are minimal. Samsung dropped its iconic Home button, placed the fingerprint sensor on the back, and the navigation keys are now on the screen itself. While the bottom bezel serves no visible purpose, the top bezel houses a secondary camera with facial recognition support, iris scanner, earpiece, proximity sensor, and an LED notification light.
On the Galaxy S8, you will find a 5.8-inch Super AMOLED ‘Infinity Display’ that comes with an aspect ratio of 18.5:9, a pixel resolution of 2960 x 1440 and a 570 PPI image density. Samsung uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5, front and back, for protection. Samsung sells two models of its handset – the US/China model uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 clocked at 2.35 GHz and coupled with the Adreno 540 GPU. The EMEA model sold in most other regions around the world is powered by the Exynos 8895 clocked at 2.3 GHz and the Mali-G71 MP20 GPU. The Galaxy S8 sports 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB of expandable memory.
The Galaxy S8's camera is one of the higher rated ones among smartphones and includes a 12-megapixel sensor that uses Samsung’s Dual Pixel autofocus. It comes with a large f/1.7 aperture, phase detection auto focus (PDAF), LED flash, auto HDR and OIS. On the front, there is an 8-megapixel sensor with autofocus, a wide-angle lens with the same f/1.7 aperture, and Auto HDR support. The Galaxy S8 packs a 3,000 mAh non-removable battery with support for Adaptive Fast Charging and wireless charging for both Qi and PMA formats.
Besides the usual Samsung features – the IP68 water and dust resistance, iris scanner, facial recognition, Samsung Pay, heart rate monitor, and a SpO2 sensor – Samsung added some new functionalities to the Galaxy S8 series. The Connect feature allows you to control Samsung’s appliances and other home controls. Samsung also included its own AI personal assistant called ‘Bixby.’ Like other personal assistants, you can ask Bixby simple questions and receive an answer as well as relying on it for more advanced features such as the ability to get information from a picture via the camera of architectural landmarks – much like Google Lens. Also new is Samsung’s DeX that allows you to hook up a monitor, keyboard, and mouse for a ‘desktop’ experience. It is available in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver, Coral Blue, Burgundy Red, and Maple Gold, depending on your market carrier or retailer of choice. It comes with Android 7.0 (Nougat) running out of the box, but should soon get its 8.0 Oreo upgrade. The device measures 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm, weighs in at 155 grams, and was listed at $760 when it first came out, but you can now find it for much cheaper than that.
...And The Winner Is...
The Final Word
This is a great comparison and that makes it difficult to pick a winner. With special pricing the way it is, the Galaxy S8 can be found for less than the Pixel 2, and for that reason (and a few more), I am picking the Galaxy S8 as the winner of this comparison. These two devices share so much in common when it comes to basic specs, making the decision that much harder and narrowing it down to aesthetics and software.
The Galaxy S8 is the go-to smartphone for Samsung lovers and those that want a truly beautiful-looking device. When it comes to specifications, it does have a larger display in about the same physical size as the Pixel 2, along with a higher resolution. It has a larger battery, wireless charging, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It also sports many Samsung-style extra functionalities such as the heart rate monitor, oxygen saturation sensor, Samsung Pay, Bixby, facial recognition, and an iris scanner.
The Pixel 2 is for people that want a pure vanilla Android experience. It is a clean-looking, if not somewhat dated device with large bezels. It does have stereo speakers, but no Hi-Res audio components or a 3.5mm headphone jack. Google added IP67 water and dust resistance, improved the camera, and upped the base memory to 64GB since last year, although it still doesn't offer a microSD card tray. If you are into Google’s software and want great specs, then you may be happier with the Pixel 2. I am just saying that if you can buy into Samsung software (which has gotten much better this year), the Galaxy S8 is definitely the better-looking device and one that will give you more bang for your buck.