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Pixel 2 vs Galaxy S8: Is Google's phone better than Samsung's flagship?

Google has just released its new Pixel 2 flagship phone, which boasts premium specs and a solid camera for a rather steep asking price. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Samsung’s Galaxy S8 does much the same - although the S8 has at least dropped in price since its launch earlier in 2017.

However, while the Pixel 2 is a no-frills smartphone with a clean, vanilla version of Android Oreo on-board, the Galaxy S8 completely tweaks Google’s mobile OS to add a bunch of extra features. They also sport quite different designs and camera tech, so you’re going to get a very different experience depending on which phone you pick.

That’s why we’ve compared these two flagship devices side-by-side, so you can see which one is best for you. Check out our full Pixel 2 review and Galaxy S8 review for all you need to know about these handsets.

As you can see, the Galaxy S8 sports a more attractive design, with that gorgeous edge-to-edge screen filling almost the entire front panel. Google went for a similar finish with the super-sized Pixel XL, although this standard smaller Pixel sports quite thick bezels just like last year’s model. There's a lack of sex appeal, though the Pixel does feel more rugged. Both handsets are fully water resistant too.

With the Galaxy S8 you get a much bigger display, despite these two phones being a similar size. The Pixel’s 5-inch AMOLED screen produces quite realistic-looking images and enjoys strong contrast just like Samsung’s 5.8-inch panel. However, the Galaxy S8 serves up sharper visuals as it's a Quad HD panel, versus the Full HD Pixel screen. Samsung's handset offers more vibrant visuals too, while media streaming services such as Netflix support HDR playback on the Galaxy S8.

Samsung’s flagship comes with 64GB of storage space as standard, with the option to expand using microSD memory cards if required. With the Pixel 2, there’s no love for microSD, although you do at least get 64GB of storage as standard. Google is also offering unlimited photo and video storage on its cloud storage to Pixel 2 owners.

Although both mobiles run Android OS, Samsung has chosen to refresh the software with its own overlay. This changes the look and feel of everything from your desktops to the icons and fonts used in menus. You also get quite a lot of bonus functionality, from a gamers mode to health tracking and plenty of gesture support.

Check out our Galaxy S8 tips and tricks guide for a look at some of the best software features.

While these bonus modes are lacking from the Pixel 2, you do get Android Oreo straight out of the box - while S8 owners will have to wait a little longer for Google’s new OS. You also get the funky Active Edge pressure sensor, which loads the ever-expanding Google Assistant with just a quick squeeze. There’s no sensor on the S8, which uses Samsung’s decidedly iffy Bixby AI instead.

That said, some of Oreo's features, such as Picture-in-Picture Mode, still need a bit of love. Check out our in-depth Pixel 2 tips and tricks guide to see what's new in Oreo.

Performance is perfect on either of these blowers, thanks to the powerful chipsets packed inside. Samsung's Galaxy S8 sports the same Snapdragon 835 platform as the Pixel 2 in regions such as the US, backed by 4GB of RAM as well. You’ll have the power to blast through the latest games for some time.

Both of these phones also support mobile VR experiences, if you want to check out some virtual reality games on your handset. The Pixel 2 uses Google's Daydream VR platform, which offers a solid selection of games and app support. Just snap the phone into the Daydream View headset and away you go. Samsung's handset uses the Gear VR platform of the company's own creation instead, which again has a great range of games and experiences.

Battery life is also respectable on the Galaxy S8, which offers just over a day of life between charges. However, the Pixel 2 is the champion here, regularly lasting well into a second day. The S8 offers wireless charging support, which is missing from the Pixel phone, although they both boast a bit of fast charging when plugged in.

As for the camera tech, you’re guaranteed a strong snapper whichever phone you choose. Both phones serve up a single lens 12-megapixel rear camera which proves impressively strong in all kinds of lighting conditions. You can also shoot quite stable 4K resolution video, for those super-crisp home movies. Of course, the S8 once again packs in a bunch of extra features, including the AR mode which turns you into a cartoon character. If that’s your bag.

Check out our full Galaxy S8 camera review and Pixel 2 camera review for samples and more.

Our other comparisons with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL can be seen by following the links below.

Pixel vs Pixel 2

Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL

Pixel 2 vs OnePlus 5

Pixel XL 2 vs iPhone 8 Plus

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