In one corner, we have the Galaxy S8 – Samsung's latest premium flagship sporting a sophisticated build and impressive Infinity Display. In the other corner, we have the Google Pixel, with its Apple-like presentation and pure Android experience. How do the specs and features of these two top-shelf smartphones compare?
Overall, the Galaxy S8 is about 3-percent taller and narrower than the Google Pixel. The Galaxy S8 is also the thicker of the two.
The Galaxy S8 would mean about 8-percent more heft in your pocket or purse. For reference, the 12 g difference is about the weight of a triple-A battery.
The Galaxy S8's entire back is glass. Its curved edges are rimmed with a minimal aluminum frame. The Google Pixel has an iPhone-like aluminum unibody with a glass panel on the upper back portion only.
The S8 comes in five colors, but only black, silver and orchid gray will be available in the US at launch. The Pixel comes in black, blue or silver.
The S8 series has an industry-leading IP68 water resistance rating. The Pixel is not similarly protected.
Despite being only a slightly taller phone, the Galaxy S8 packs in a significantly larger display. The 5.8-inch display covers nearly the entire front side of the phone, and offers about 19-percent more overall screen area than the Pixel.
The Galaxy S8 display, which has received resounding approval from one of the world's top independent analysts, also has higher resolution. It packs in about 23-percent more pixels per inch.
Note that the larger Pixel XL – not included in this comparison – makes a more worthy resolution rival to the S8.
Both makers opt for AMOLED over IPS technology.
Another feather in Samsung's cap – the S8 series phones are the first to receive the Mobile HDR Premium designation, which certifies its support of HDR content.
In the past, the smaller size of Samsung's Galaxy S-flagships have had standard flat displays. This year, both the S8 and S8+ have the curved displays previously reserved for Samsung's "Edge" products.
Both phones have onscreen home buttons. Samsung also introduced some pressure sensitivity into the onscreen home button, which could make for easier navigation shortcuts. (We'll explore this more in our full-length review.)
Both phones have back-mounted fingerprint sensors. The Pixel's fingerprint sensor is centered; on the S8, it is to the right of the camera.
Samsung added face recognition technology to the Galaxy S8. It is shaping up to be a fast, convenient way to unlock your phone, but it is reportedly easy to trick.
Samsung also included a third type of biometric security: iris scanning. The method may be more secure than fingerprints or face recognition, but in our experience (so far) it is less easy to use and requires holding the phone at a specific angle.
In the US and a few other markets, Samsung uses the latest Snapdragon 835 chip. Elsewhere, it uses its own octa core Exynos 8895 chip instead. The Pixel, meanwhile, has a previous generation (but still capable) Snapdragon 821.
Both phones have 4 GB of RAM.
Samsung offers the S8 in only one 64 GB size. The Pixel is available with either 32 or 128 GB of built-in storage.
If 64 GB isn't enough for you, Samsung still has you covered with a microSD slot for expandable storage. No such luck with the Pixel.
Don't worry – neither of these makers pulled an Apple. The headphone jack remains intact.
Samsung includes a pair of AKG earbuds that retail on their own for US$99. In most markets, the Pixel does not come with any headphones.
The two phones have very similar battery sizes, but there are many factors that go into overall battery life. By Google's estimate, the Pixel gets up to 13 hours of internet use, while Samsung claims up to 14 hours of internet use (over Wi-Fi). We'll do our own testing on the Galaxy S8 in our full-length review.
Of these, only the S8 supports wireless charging (with a wireless charging pad, sold separately). It even supports fast wireless charging, if you splurge for a special Samsung-made charging pad.
Both phones offer (wired) quick charging capabilities.
This pair of phones has identical megapixel counts in the front and back cameras.
Camera aperture (rear)
Here, the Galaxy S8 camera has a larger aperture (the smaller the f-stop, the larger the aperture). That could pan out to mean perks like improved shooting in low-light conditions.
To be clear, neither of these makers have opted for a dual-lens camera, one of the hot trends in recent smartphone flagships.
Optical image stabilization (OIS)
Samsung included optical image stabilization (OIS) for preventing photo blur caused by shaky hands. OIS is missing from the Pixel, though its multi-frame, algorithm-based approach to photography may make this requirement null and void.
The Pixel premiered Google Assistant, more or less the Android answer to Siri, which has since rolled out to all recent Android flagships.
The S8 also includes Bixby, Samsung's new virtual assistant. The company envisions Bixby compatibility within its whole fleet of electronics and smart appliances in the future. There's a dedicated Bixby activation button on the side of the phone.
Samsung unveiled the DeX dock at its S8 launch event. DeX uses the S8 to power a desktop-like experience on a (sold separately) monitor, keyboard and mouse.
The Galaxy S8 hits shelves later this month. The first made-by-Google phone was released last October.
Both run Android Nougat, but Samsung skins it with its own TouchWiz UI. The Pixel provides a pure Android experience, and is first in line for software updates in the near future.
Starting price (full retail)
Prices for the S8 vary with carrier and payment plan, but you can count on spending about $720 or more when all is said and done. If you're thinking about scoring one, you may want to act fast – there are some pre-order specials available for early adopters. On the other hand, the Google Pixel starts at $649, the same price as an iPhone 7.
Overall, these are two top-shelf Androids with rather different approaches, but some overlapping features. For the type of info that can't be found on a spec sheet, check out our review of the Google Pixel or our hands-on impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S8. Stay tuned – we will post full-length reviews of the newest Samsung flagships in due course.
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