Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus vs. Google Pixel XL: Two plus-sized phones battle it out

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are finally here, boasting perhaps the best specs we’ve seen in a flagship phone yet. But they’re not the only flagship phones around — some pretty excellent devices have launched in the past six months or so. Like, for example, the Google Pixel XL.

But how do the two “plus”-size phones compare when it comes to overall power and performance? We pit the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus against the Google Pixel XL to find out.

Specs

Google Pixel XL

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Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

google pixel vs samsung galaxy s8 thumb
Size 154.7 × 75.7 × 8.5 mm (6.09 × 2.98 × 0.33 inches) 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm (6.28 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches)
Weight 5.93oz 6.1oz
Screen 5.5-inch AMOLED 6.2-inch AMOLED
Resolution 1,440 × 2,560 pixels (534 ppi) 2,960 x 1,440 pixels (529 ppi)
OS Android 7.1 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat
Storage 32GB/128GB 64GB
MicroSD Card Slot No Yes
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Samsung Exynos 9 Series 8895 (International)
RAM 4GB 4GB
Connectivity GSM, CDMA, HSPA, EVDO, LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 4G LTE, GSM, CDMA HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
Camera 12.3MP Rear / 8MP Front 12MP Rear with OIS / 8MP Front
Video 4K 4K
Bluetooth 4.2 5.0
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Barometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, proximity sensor, compass Barometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, proximity sensor
Water Resistant No IP68
Wireless charging No Yes, PMA and Qi-compliant
Battery 3,450mAh 3,500mAh
Ports USB Type-C, Headphone USB Type-C, Headphone
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Color options Quite Black, Very Silver, Really Blue Silver, Black, Orchid Grey, Blue (International), Gold (International)
Price $649 Starts at $840
Availability Unlocked, Verizon Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Unlocked
DT Review 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

When it comes to specs, it’s truly a case of newer is better. For starters, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus has the latest and greatest Qualcomm chipset, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, while the Google Pixel XL has the Snapdragon 821. The Snapdragon 821 was certainly a good chip for its time, and still is relatively powerful, but not against the newer Snapdragon 835.

So just how powerful is the Snapdragon 835? Well, we don’t know exactly just yet, but early benchmark results suggest the device is at least 15 percent more powerful than its predecessor.

Of course, the processor isn’t the only thing to note in the specs department. It’s expected that we’ll start seeing more phones with 6GB of RAM over the next year or so, but for now Samsung has stuck safely with 4GB, putting it on par with the Google Pixel XL when it comes to RAM.

Next up is storage. The Google Pixel XL offers either 32GB or 128GB of storage, while the Galaxy S8 Plus only comes in 64GB — so while the base model of the Galaxy S8 Plus has more than the base model of the Pixel XL, the Pixel XL has more options. Of course, then there’s the microSD card slot in the Galaxy S8 Plus, which lets you expand your storage by up to 256GB.

The Galaxy S8 has a better processor and the ability to expand on storage, so it’s the winner in the performance department.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Design

google pixel high demand low supply xl home

Both the Google Pixel XL and the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus are relatively stylish phones, and both feature some unique design choices by Google and Samsung respectively. The Google Pixel XL, for example, has a half glass back, which was somewhat criticized when the Pixel was first launched. The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, on the other hand, features a full glass back, helping it look very sleek and stylish.

The S8 Plus on the front, though, looks very much like a Samsung device that has evolved. Ultra-slim bezels coupled with the familiar Edge display make for a gorgeous smartphone that has an 83 percent screen-to-body ratio. The Pixel XL, on the other hand, is quite the opposite with glaringly large bezels that only seem to take up a lot of room for no reason.

On the right of the Google Pixel XL, you’ll find the power button and volume rocker, while the bottom sports the USB-C port and the top the 3.5mm headphone jack. On the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, you’ll find a dedicated Bixby button below the volume rocker on the left of the phone, while the power button sits alone on the right. The bottom features a USB Type-C charging port and, thankfully, a headphone jack.

The dimensions of the phone are interesting. While the display on the 6.2-inch S8 Plus is much bigger than that the 5.5-inch Google Pixel XL, the phone is only a tad taller — that’s thanks to the much smaller bezels on the Galaxy S8 Plus. On top of that, the phone is phone is slightly less wide, and a little thinner, but not by much.

Design is largely subjective, but this one’s a no-brainer — the S8 Plus takes the cake.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Display

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The two phones aren’t too different in the display department as they both feature AMOLED screens. While the Google Pixel XL has a pretty decent 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1,440 × 2,560, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Plus offers a massive 6.2-inch display with a resolution of 1,440 x 2,960 — so you get a slightly higher resolution to accommodate for the larger panel, but the Pixel XL packs slightly more pixels per inch.

The Google Pixel XL features a pretty standard display, but the Galaxy S8 Plus utilizes the famed “Edge” panel on the sides of the device, which offers some more functionality. The S8 Plus is also premium HDR compliant, so you can be sure to see accurate colors, deep blacks, and an overall vibrant display.

Because of the higher resolution, classy curves, and HDR-ready display, the Galaxy S8 Plus is the winner.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Battery life and charging

Google Pixel XL
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The battery is obviously an area that Samsung will want to be careful about — especially considering the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. The Galaxy S8 Plus offers a battery with a capacity of 3,500mAh, which isn’t slightly larger than the 3,450mAh battery on the Google Pixel XL.

That doesn’t mean that the Galaxy S8 Plus will last longer on a single charge — in fact, it probably won’t. The display is the single biggest user of battery life, and considering the fact that the Galaxy S8 Plus’ display is larger and has a higher resolution means there’s a chance the S8 Plus could take up a lot more battery.

Thankfully, Samsung’s S8 Plus supports wireless charging, offering users more options in how they want to charge their phone. That helps it win this contest.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

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