SAMSUNG RELEASED THE Galaxy S7 to great fanfare earlier this year, and it built just enough on the successes of the S6 for us to deem it one of 2016’s highlights and award it 9/10. If you missed it, our original Galaxy S7 review can be found here.
Google, on the other hand, has a lot to prove with the Pixel and Pixel XL, which represent a new focus on hardware and a culmination of research, engineering and design. But how has the firm done? To answer that we’ve pitted it against the S7 to see which is worth your money.
Google Pixel XL: 155x76x8.5mm, 168g, USB Type-C
Galaxy S7: 142x70x7.9mm, 152g, IP68 certification, microUSB port
It’s probably unfair to compare the handsets in terms of size. What is surprising, however, is how similar each feels in the hand. Despite the Google Phone’s larger girth and weight, the smooth curves of the metal chassis fit comfortably into the palm. After using the Pixel XL for some time, we almost feel like we’d lose the Galaxy S7 owing to its diminutive profile and mixed materials.
We’ve already noted the Pixel XL’s similarities with the HTC 10 and iPhone 6S. That’s not to say Google hasn’t tried to inject some flair. You can’t help noticing the mirrored coating on the rear that houses the camera and fingerprint sensor, but it’s a somewhat puzzling design choice. And while the S7 may mimic the bold design choices laid down by its predecessor a year before, there’s just enough refinement here to give it an identity of its own.
The Galaxy S7 is by far the more desirable of the two, but we feel compelled to mention that it also has a habit of being the muckiest. That shiny finish is a sucker for fingerprints and dirt, so you’d better keep a cloth handy.
The Pixel XL abandons the usual front-mounted Home button, relying instead on a capacitive software solution. The S7 retains the button and adds a fingerprint sensor, while similar fingerprint technology lives on the rear of the Pixel.
It’s clear that the Galaxy S7 is the more safety conscious of the two. It comes with IP68-certification that protects against dust and water to a depth of 1.5 metres for 30 minutes. The Pixel XL offers nothing in the way of resistance.
In some ways, Google has ensured the Pixel’s future by fitting it with a USB Type-C port. So while it might take a while to build up a replacement cable collection, the newer standard will save you time in the long run by offering superior speeds.
Google also thought to include an adapter in the box that allows painless data migration from an old Android or iPhone to a shiny new one. The Galaxy S7, meanwhile, sticks with the tried and trusted microUSB.
Winner: Galaxy S7
Google Pixel XL: 5.5in 2560×1440, 534ppi
Galaxy S7: 5.1in 2560×1440 resolution, 577ppi
Despite outputting the same QHD resolution, the Pixel’s increased panel size (5.5in vs 5in) serves as the better platform to show off the crisp, bright and punchy visuals. The very notion that the Pixel can match Samsung in the display department is not something we ever saw coming.
On the flipside, Samsung opts for a Super AMOLED panel while the Pixel XL uses an AMOLED. In truth, it’s hard to see a difference between the two. It would be a different story if we were comparing LCD with AMOLED, for example.
Neither handset suffers particularly when used in harsh sunlight or from poor viewing angles.
The Galaxy’s Always-On Display lights up with the date, time, notifications and alerts of your choosing. Despite the much-rumoured drain on resources, we’ve always championed the feature and believe it offers genuine value.
Not to be outdone, the Pixel XL has an Ambient Display that springs into life whenever new notifications are received. A good thing, seeing as the Pixel lacks any form of LED notification light.
The Pixel XL has also been certified ‘Daydream Ready’, meaning it can be used with Google’s forthcoming VR headsets.
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