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Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Google Pixel: Find out which smartphone flagship is best

Nathan Spendelow Emma Sims
20 Apr 2017
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The Google Pixel was once hailed as the greatest Android phone on the planet, but how will it compete when the Samsung Galaxy S8 launches?

Samsung's Galaxy S8 flagship smartphone is official, and it's coming very soon. Previously hailed as the king of Android smartphones, Google's Pixel was (and still is in many ways) the greatest phone ever made. It'll be no easy feat for another phone to knock it off the top spot, but could its reign soon be usurped by this fancy new Samsung Galaxy S8? It's versus time.

Below, I run down all the nitty gritty details about both the Pixel and Galaxy S8, pitting them against one another in the ultimate smartphone contest. I take a look at UK price, specs, their design and crucially, any fancy features they may have up their sleeves. Why? To give you an idea of which smartphone you should buy in 2017 of course. 

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We've had a lot of hands-on time with both handsets, putting them vigorously through their paces with our own in-house testing, to determine a clear winner. Without further adieu, here's the definitive Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Google Pixel contest. Who wins? Read on to find out.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Google Pixel: UK Price

For people lulled into a false sense of security by the competitive pricing of Google Nexus series of phones, the pricing of the Pixel flagships will have been a serious disappointment. The Pixel starts at a barely surmountable £599 for the 32GB model, accelerating to £699 if you’re after the 128GB model.

Not to be outdone though, Samsung's pricing for the Galaxy S8 is dizzyingly high. You're looking at £689 for the Galaxy S8 and £779 for the Galaxy S8 Plus. Yikes. Yet more post-Brexit price hiking, perhaps?

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Google Pixel: Design

Despite pre-launch hype, Samsung’s next flagship phone doesn't deviate too far from that of the Galaxy S7. It's still a sleek combination of metal and glass, but with significantly slimmed-down bezels and crucially no home button, which is now integrated into the front display. That does mean that the fingerprint sensor has a slightly awkward new home, next to the camera sensor on the back of the handset bringing it in line with the Pixel.

In comparison with the Samsung Galaxy S8’s near-non-existent bezels and curved edges, the Pixel’s design was underwhelming. Not ugly by a long shot, but nothing to write home about. In our full review, we cited “dull design” as one of the admittedly few cons of the Google Pixel. That being said, the half-and-half plain and glossy hybrid design on the rear of the phone looks good, and many prospective buyers wax lyrical about the Really Blue Pixel phone.

Size-wise, there’s a substantial difference. The Samsung Galaxy S8 packs a hefty 5.8in screen, to the Pixel’s more modest 5in display. That being said, the dimensions remain similar, given the S8’s barely-there bezels, so no need for prospective buyers to concern themselves too much with that. It's 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0mm for the S8 and 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5mm for the Pixel, if you want to get a ruler out.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Google Pixel: Specs

Spec-wise, the Galaxy S8 has a lot to live up to with the Pixel, with the latter being the first phone ever to run the Nougat version of Android. The S8 also runs Android Nougat of course, but it's worth remembering that sticking with Google will always ensure you're first in the queue for the latest and greatest version of Android.

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Samsung’s Galaxy S8 includes Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 chipset depending on your region, which is a significant performance boost from the Pixel’s Snapdragon 821 processor. The latter is a fine processor, speedy and smooth, but it's not quite as future proof as the 835.

On top of this, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 display is a real beauty: 5.8in of expansive AMOLED screen. In comparison, the Pixel’s 5in AMOLED display might seem rather puny, but in reality both screens should satisfy smartphone amateurs and aficionados alike. The S8 has a higher resolution too: 1,440x2,960 against the Pixel's 1,080x1,920 – in terms of pixels per inch, that means the S8 has around 570 to the Pixel's 441. This shouldn't be an issue for day-to-day use, but important to remember if you see yourself donning the Gear VR or Google's Daydream virtual reality headset anytime soon.

As for photography, the Pixel came to be defined by its stunning camera (the hint is in the name). It features a 12-megapixel camera, proving a worthy rival to the phenomenal 12-megapixel camera of the Galaxy S7. The S8 packs a 12-megapixel snapper, with a f/1.7 aperture with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and phase-detection autofocus (PDAF), as have become standard-issue specs in high-end camera-focussed smartphones, including the Pixel. Both phones go head to head when it comes to cameras, compounded by the fact that both of them support 4K video shooting, along with what have now become camera hallmarks, the once-flash ability to capture slow-mo and time-lapse footage.

They’re neck and neck, with pundits agreeing that it’s certainly a very close fight.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Google Pixel: Features

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is fully water-resistant, so garners obvious kudos there. The Pixel, on the other hand, is only splash-proof – get caught in an April shower and you’re fine, but drop it in the bathtub and the fun ends there.

Another advantage the S8 wields over the Pixel is its capacity for microSD expansion. If you’re a keen photographer or videographer and require lots of media storage, that probably means shelling out for the 128GB Pixel model – an unwelcome price bump on an already expensive phone.

To avoid instances of breakage, both phones offer a handy one-handed mode, particularly helpful when you take the S8’s hefty 5.8in display into consideration. In addition to this, both phones featuring fingerprint sensors for heightened and streamlined security. Both phones put this on the rear of the handset, which some will find awkward.

Both phones are also VR-ready, with the Samsung Galaxy S8 offering Samsung’s Gear VR platform and the Pixel supporting Google’s Daydream VR. VR fiends won’t be disappointed with either handset, although it’s worth noting that given the longer lifetime of Samsung’s Gear VR, we can expect it to be a bit more advanced.

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