The second generation of Google's Pixel phones is about to launch, boasting top-end specs with software smarts. But where does it fit on the 2017 flagship phone landscape? We've weighed them up against the latest iPhones, and now New Atlas compares the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL to their main Android competitors, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+.
Both of Samsung's phones are a little taller and thicker than the new Pixels, but not quite as wide.
While the Galaxy S8 is substantially heavier than the base model Pixel 2, Google's phablet tips the scales slightly higher than Samsung's.
If color is important to you, there's a wider range to choose from for the Galaxies. That said, most people probably wrap their phones in cases before even taking them home nowadays.
The Pixels keep the aluminum unibody from the first generation, while Samsung keeps its own tradition alive of glass front and back, ringed in aluminum.
The Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL have been rated IP67, which means they'll repel splashes of water and day-to-day dust, and can survive total immersion in water to a depth of 1 m (3.3 ft) for up to 30 minutes. A rating of IP68 means the Galaxy phones can do the same down to a depth of 1.5 m (4.9 ft). It probably pays not to take them swimming though.
Both the Galaxy S8 and S8+ outpace their counterparts from Google in the screen size department. The Galaxy S8+'s monster 6.2-in display pushes it well into phablet turf.
Samsung has some of the sharpest displays in the phone business, with both models of the S8 boasting a resolution of 2960 x 1440. The base Pixel 2 has a relatively-low 1080p resolution, while the 2 XL closes in on – but falls just short of – the resolution of Samsung's devices.
The displays in all four phones are built on the same technology – organic light-emitting diodes, or OLED. That means individual pixels can be switched on or off, leading to brighter colors and darker blacks than LCD. Samsung calls its Galaxy screens "Super AMOLED" because they're apparently brighter, consume less power and reflect more sunlight than vanilla AMOLED. The Pixel 2 XL puts the P in POLED with a plastic substrate, which makes the screen more flexible. In extreme cases, plastic OLED allows for displays that can be rolled up, but here it's most likely to allow for the sides of the phone to be squeezed without breaking the screen.
Although Samsung has been banishing bezels since the Galaxy S6 Edge, 2017 is the year that all the other phone-makers decided bezels weren't cool. As a result, the Pixel 2 is the only phone here with sizeable bars around the screen, while the displays on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ curve around the sides.
All four phones can be unlocked with fingerprint scans, while the Galaxy S8 line can scan a user's face or eyes.
Qualcomm's latest processor, the Snapdragon 835, is powering all four phones.
When it comes to RAM, 4 GB is about standard for most phones nowadays.
For most people, 64 GB of built-in storage is plenty, but Google offers the option to double that.
That said, for Galaxy users who later realize 64 GB isn't enough for them, that storage can be expanded by up to an extra 256 GB with a MicroSD card. Pixel owners will have to make do with what they're given.
In terms of capacity, the Google Pixel 2 XL leads the battery pack with 3,520 mAh, with the Galaxy S8+ so close behind the difference is negligible. In practice, you'll still probably get a solid day's operation out of all of these phones.
Both Samsung and Google have embraced USB-C for charging, but Google has followed Apple's divisive lead and dropped the industry-standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. Speakers and headphones will need to be connected to the Pixel phones via Bluetooth or the included USB-C adapter.
All four phones can be fast-charged out of the box, which is great for getting some juice in a hurry before heading out.
The glass-backed Galaxies can be wirelessly charged courtesy of a separately-purchased accessory, but the Google Pixels lack that functionality. It's up to you how much of a loss that is, though: wireless charging still doesn't have the range to be particularly useful yet.
In terms of sheer megapixel numbers, both sets of phones have virtually identical cameras. On the software side of things, Google Lens lets the Pixel 2 and 2 XL recognize objects in frame and even perform a kind of real-world Google image search.
Rear camera aperture
The Samsung phones have the minor upper hand here, with a slightly-wider aperture on the main camera providing better low-light shots and shallower depth of field, to highlight your subjects.
All four phones run the Android operating system, and although the Pixel 2 and 2 XL come preloaded with the latest version, Android 8 Oreo, it's still being rolled out to the Galaxy S8 line. Google phones run a clean, minimalist version of the OS, while Samsung has its own tweaked version called Samsung Touchwiz.
The Pixels make use of the Google Assistant, which is activated by giving the phone a little squeeze. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ were springboards for Samsung's own personal assistant, Bixby, earlier this year, and it's triggered by pressing a dedicated button on the side of the phone.
All four phones can be tapped to a terminal to make payments. The Pixels use Android Pay, which works through an NFC chip. Samsung Pay, on the other hand, allows the Galaxy S8 and S8+ to use both NFC and magnetic secure transmission, meaning it should work with some older card readers as well.
Samsung released both the Galaxy S8 and S8+ in April this year, while Google is launching the Pixel 2 later this month and the 2 XL in November.
The Pixel 2 is the least expensive phone on the list, by a wide margin. A Pixel 2 XL with 64 GB of storage will leave a hole in your bank account about the same size as that of the Galaxy S8+.
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