Samsung Galaxy S8 vs Google Pixel: What the extra money gets you

Samsung Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel at a glance

The Samsung Galaxy S8 has received rave reviews since its release in April, with top techies paying attention to its long and super high-quality display. The change from a home screen cluttered with third-party apps to a lighter, more user-friendly design has added to the hype around the phone’s release. Despite the Samsung Galaxy S8’s seemingly universal popularity, it’s hard to get past its price tag – the mobile retails for £689.00. In comparison, the Google Pixel comes in a little cheaper at £599.

For Google, the Pixel is a full-throttle attempt to make waves in the mobile industry. Like the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Google Pixel has earned a reputation as a well-liked flagship phone. Which begs the question: is the Samsung Galaxy S8 worth that extra £90?

 Mobile Display

Samsung Galaxy S8 in Orchid Gray. Also available in black, silver, gold and blue

At the danger of sounding like a Samsung brochure, the display set-up of the Samsung Galaxy S8 is inspiring. Samsung has put great thought into optimising space. The bezel is gone, and the home button is under the screen’s surface, where it only appears at the touch of your finger. As a result, your display is truly edge-to-edge, transforming your viewing experience.

The quality of the display complements its size. The highest setting, WQHD+, puts your resolution at 2960 x 1440. The high pixel density ensures excellent colour and sharpness when watching videos or playing games. In fact, this level of detail is barely noticeable to the naked eye. So, you might want to turn it down a notch to extend battery life.

As with the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Google Pixel has an AMOLED display. Albeit, at the lower resolution of 1920 x1080. Despite the lower res, the display conveys a sound depth

Google Pixel Colours Available: Really Blue (limited edition), Very Silver, Quite Black

The Google Pixel is currently available in three colours: Really Blue (limited edition), Very Silver, Quite Black

of colour and its 441 pixels per inch (PPI) is ample for the phone’s 5-inch display. There are two main differences when putting the displays side-to-side: the Samsung Galaxy S8’s display is a) taller and b) covers its entire surface area. Are you going to base an entire purchase on this advantage? Probably not. But does it give the Samsung Galaxy S8 a more premium feel? Absolutely.

  Navigation & Ease of Use

Neither the Samsung Galaxy S8 nor the Google Pixel has a home screen cluttered with third-party apps. Instead, you swipe open your ‘app drawer’ to access apps on a new screen. It is a refreshing change that leaves room for you to personalise your home screen. For example, by customising it to display upcoming appointments or weather updates.

However, the Samsung Galaxy S8 goes above and beyond. To ensure you leave your home screen in the neat, clutter-free style you find it, Samsung has created the Edge Panel. It is a sidebar display accessed by swiping inwards from the right-hand side. You can customise what your Edge Panel displays to suit you, from calendar reminders and email notifications to social media and news updates.

The Google Pixel’s home screen might not be this stylish, but its usability is improved by scrolling using the fingerprint scanner on the back. Google has coined this feature fingerprint gesture. Fingerprint gesture lets you swipe through your notifications while holding the phone with one hand; swipe once to bring up your notifications and again to bring up your settings panel. In the future, Google could take this further to allow us complete flexibility when navigating its phones using a scanner on the back.

 Camera & Audio

Samsung Galaxy S8 Camera

Capturing images with the Samsung Galaxy S8. Options include slow-mo, hyperlapse and panorama mode

Taking a bad photo using the Samsung Galaxy S8 camera is hard. The 12-megapixel camera uses the same dual pixel technology as the S7, which is already known to work well. Even in dimly lit, busy places, you’ll continue to find the camera performs. The main difference you’ll notice from previous Samsung phones is that the camera stabilises images to increase their sharpness. This stabilisation occurs because the phone takes three lightning-fast shots of every image and uses the extra copies to resolve fuzziness.

The Google Pixel is one of the only phones on the market to come near the Samsung Galaxy S8’s camera quality. Though, this isn’t surprising given that Google has a higher DxO rating than any other manufacturer. That said, trying to capture fast movements, such as moving vehicles, will often blur your image. On top of this, the Google Pixel’s camera doesn’t work as well as the Galaxy S8’s in dimly lit surroundings.

Neither phone has stereo speakers, although both have a headphone jack. To get the most out of the phones’ audio, check that the settings optimised to serve up the best sound possible. The key difference when it comes to audio is that Samsung has included a set of AKG-tuned headphones in the Samsung Galaxy S8’s package. Google, on the other hand, give you none – zero, nada, zilch.

 Battery Life

The Samsung Galaxy S8’s battery life isn’t the best. Most likely after the fiasco with their batteries blowing up, Samsung decided to play this one safe and keep battery capacity conservative. You could forgive Samsung for holding back on the battery, but what’s more irritating is the battery life messages you’ll see as you use applications. Pop-ups repeatedly suggest you reduce the quality and brightness of the display to make your battery efficient. These messages only serve to make you feel guilty about using the phone on its highest settings and feels like a bit of a killjoy.

The Google Pixel has a superior battery life. In fact, it would outlast most iPhones, even if you had multiple apps running at once.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel don’t take long to charge. Fresh out the package, you’ll find these phones go from zero to full charge within a couple of hours.

 Design

The design category is an easy win for the Samsung Galaxy S8. The phone is super slim and light in your hand. The decision to make the phone tall a sensible one; the narrowness makes the phone comfortable to hold despite its size.

The Google Pixel’s bezel was always going to limit how pleasing it was to the eye. The two-tone casing, which combines aluminium with glass, adds to its odd look. Some speculate Google added glass to improve data speed and reception. Whatever the reason, the Google Pixel lacks the classy, modern vibes that the Samsung Galaxy S8 radiates.

Bixby vs Google Assistant

Samsung has named their voice assistant Bixby. Just like the Google Assistant, Bixby is meant to be an artificial intelligence tool that understands and responds to voice commands.

Bixby needs work. For starters, Samsung has only recently begun rolling out Bixby’s voice command feature, which wasn’t enabled upon launch the Samsung Galaxy S8. However, even when inputting text, the AI tool won’t answer questions with the accuracy we’ve come to expect from Google.

What Bixby can do is recognise objects. So, point your camera at your new kettle and Bixby will tell you all about it. Realistically though, this is a gimmicky feature that doesn’t have much practical use.

By comparison, the Google Assistant is intelligent enough to remember your previous questions and tailor its answers accordingly. So, your conversation can go like this:

You: Okay Google, how old is Leonardo DiCaprio?
GA: Leonardo D’Caprio is 42 years old.
You: Where was he born?
GA: Leonardo DiCaprio was born in Hollywood, Los Angeles, United States.

There’s no need to keep repeating the subject of your question – Google just knows.

Is the Samsung Galaxy S8 worth a little extra dosh?

In a nutshell, yes. Whether you go for the Samsung Galaxy S8 or the Google Pixel, you’ll be paying premium prices and want a standout phone to show for it. Following this logic, you should go for the phone that combines design, usability and innovative features to deliver a knock-out experience.

The Google Pixel is by no means a bad phone. Its interface is user-friendly, the camera is decent, and the phone’s audio matches that of the S8. There are also areas where it surpasses the Samsung Galaxy S8 when its voice assistant does what it’s meant to do – assist.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S8 has set the bar in a way the Pixel never managed. The edge-to-edge ‘infinity’ display puts the handset ahead of its time when it comes to immersing yourself in videos and games. Meanwhile, the camera’s knack for stabilising and defining images means you won’t find yourself taking a few extra shots for good measure – every image will be sharp.

Why settle for good when you could have something remarkable? If you’re seriously considering these two phones, consider pushing your budget a little further to get the one that truly reflects the price tag put on it.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel Product Specifications

 Samsung Galaxy S8Google Pixel
Pricecirca £689.00circa £599.00
Body
Weight155 g 143 g 
Dimensions148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm (5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 in)143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5 mm (5.66 x 2.74 x 0.33 in)
Display
Size 5.8 inches5.0 inches
Resolution1440 x 2960 pixels (~570 ppi pixel density)1080 x 1920 pixels (~441 ppi pixel density)
Platform
OSAndroid 7.0 (Nougat)Android 7.1 (Nougat)
ChipsetExynos 8895 Octa - EMEA Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 821
CPUOcta-core (4x2.3 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz) - EMEAQuad-core (2x2.15 GHz Kryo & 2x1.6 GHz Kryo)
GPUMali-G71 MP20 - EMEA Adreno 530
Memory
Card slotmicroSD, up to 256 GB (dedicated slot) - single-SIM model
microSD, up to 256 GB (uses SIM 2 slot) - dual-SIM model
No
Internal64 GB, 4 GB RAM 32/128 GB, 4 GB RAM
Camera
Image capture12 MP, f/1.7, 26mm, phase detection autofocus, OIS, LED flash 12.3 MP, f/2.0, EIS (gyro), phase detection & laser autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
Video2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, HDR, dual-video rec. 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps, 720p@240fps
Sound
Audio32-bit/384kHz audio
- Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
Single bottom-firing speaker with noise suppression