Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs Google Pixel XL: We compare Samsung’s latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S8 Plus, to Google’s mighty Pixel XL smartphone. Can the S8 Plus topple the Pixel XL as the king of Android premium devices?
Rejoice, rejoice, the Galaxy S8 Plus is finally here and it’s just as bloody lovely as we hoped – but is it the best Android blower around right now?
Android creator Google launched its latest mighty flagship phone, the Pixel XL, at the tail end of 2016 and we were immediately bowled over. The Pixel handset might be significantly smaller than the S8 Plus, but it boasts some seriously impressive specs and incredible camera tech, for a fantastic all-round user experience.
So is the Galaxy S8 Plus the victor in the Samsung vs Google battle? Here’s our full Pixel XL vs Galaxy S8 comparison review.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs Google Pixel XL: Specs
|Phone||Google Pixel XL||Samsung Galaxy S8+|
|Screen size & type||5.5-inch AMOLED||6.2-inch Super AMOLED|
|Rear camera||12.3MP f/2.0||12MP f/1.7|
|Front camera||8MP f/2.4||8MP f/1.7|
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs Google Pixel XL: Design
The Galaxy S8 Plus might sport a much bigger screen than the Pixel XL, at 6.2-inches versus a positively demure 5.5-inches, but these two handsets still sport very similar dimensions. That’s down to Samsung’s innovative design work. The S8 Plus’ display curves around the edges of the handset, as with last year’s Edge handset, while also reaching impressively close to the top and bottom rims. This bezel-free approach keeps Samsung’s latest flagship phone pleasingly slim, as well as light.
As for the aesthetics, there’s no denying that Samsung has once again nailed it. Those eye-pleasing curves and the front-filling screen, as well as that winning combination of glass and metal, make for a truly stunning device.
Of course, the Pixel XL is also a good-looking device, albeit rocking a more standard smartphone design. That half-matt, half-glossy rear is a nice touch and we love the Really Blue model, which certainly stands out from the crowd.
However, the Pixel XL is only ‘splash resistant’, while the Galaxy S8 Plus offers full-on water resistance.
Read next: The most disturbing Galaxy S8 rumours so far
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs Google Pixel XL: Screen and media
Both phones here boast AMOLED displays (in Samsung’s case a Super AMOLED screen), which offer vibrant colour reproduction for truly striking visuals.
The Pixel XL’s 5.5-inch screen isn’t quite as spacious as the mighty 6.2-inch display of the Galaxy S8 Plus, but both phones offer a solid on-the-go movie viewing experience. The S8’s QHD+ resolution is more or less a match for the Quad HD Pixel XL panel, offering supremely sharp images at all times. However, Samsung’s flagship phone also sports a widescreen aspect ratio and support for Mobile HDR, which makes it better suited to enjoying the latest films on the move.
The Galaxy S8 Plus also boasts microSD expandability, while the Pixel XL has no such feature. That means you’ll want to splash out extra on the 128GB Pixel model if you want to carry around a massive media collection.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs Google Pixel XL: Features
Both the S8 Plus and the Pixel XL run Android Nougat OS, although Samsung has tinkered with it for the S8 Plus to add a few bonus features. For one, you get the new Bixby virtual assistant, who can work out exactly what you need at any time based on your recent activities. It certainly seems like a match for the Google Assistant, found on the Pixel XL. We’ll be sure to compare the two in a future feature.
VR fans will be satisfied with either phone here too. The Pixel XL supports Google’s Daydream VR platform, which already offers a pretty decent selection of games despite its youthfulness. Meanwhile Samsung has its own Gear VR platform in collaboration with Oculus, which has an even meatier catalogue of VR games and experiences to enjoy.
Both phones also sport a fingerprint sensor, for quickly and securely unlocking to your desktops and authorising contactless payments. In both cases, this is mounted on the rear edge of the phone. And in both cases, the scanner is fast and accurate, as expected. Of course, the S8 Plus also offers a bit of flexibility, in the form of the front-facing iris scanner. If your hands are covered, wet or a bit dirty, you can use that reliable scanner to match your eyeballs instead. Nice.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs Google Pixel XL: Performance and battery tech
The Pixel XL is one of the nippiest mobiles around right now, thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor backed by 4GB of RAM. The Galaxy S8 Plus also appears to boast impressive top-end performance thanks to Samsung’s own Exynos chipset. Our hands-on session showed some seriously smooth performance, and we’d be surprised to see any kind of slowdown in the coming year or so.
Google’s phone and the Galaxy S8 Plus have almost the same size of battery, while both handsets support fast charge. However, only Samsung’s blower boasts wireless charging out of the box.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs Google Pixel XL: Cameras
As for the camera tech, the S8 Plus hasn’t strayed too far from last year’s flagship Samsung shooters. You get a single 12-megapixel f/1.7 lens, which can capably capture sharp and detailed images in pretty much any lighting conditions. Optical Image Stabilisation is on board to reduce blur from hand tremors and other movements, while the same Dual Pixel focus tech proves just as dependable as ever – this is one super-fast snapper indeed.
Last year’s Pixel XL impressed us greatly with its own 12-megapixel camera, one of the few mobile snappers to prove a worthy rival to Samsung’s cameras. You have a winning combination of Phase Detection Autofocus and laser-guided focus to keep your subject sharp, plus some solid digital image stabilisation to keep things blur-free.
Both the S8 Plus and Pixel XL offer full manual controls and can shoot up to 4K resolution video, as well as the likes of slow motion capture. The S8 Plus can also live stream to the likes of Facebook and YouTube, if that’s your bag.
Check out our in-depth Pixel XL camera review and stay tuned for our full Galaxy S8 Plus camera review.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs Google Pixel XL: UK pricing
If you actually wish to own either of these phones, you’ll unfortunately have to dig deep.
The Pixel XL starts at £719 for the 32GB model, rising to £819 if you fancy the 128GB model. Meanwhile the Galaxy S8 Plus comes with a hefty £899 price tag, for the base storage model.
Check out our hands-on Samsung Galaxy S8 review and Galaxy S8 Plus review, ahead of our in-depth analysis. In the meantime, have a wander to our S8 and S8 Plus hub for more on Samsung’s blowers, and check out our Google Pixel and Pixel XL hub for everything you need to know about Google’s premium flagship phones.