The battle of premium smartphones just got more interesting. Apple and Samsung have dominated the holiday season smartphone sales for years. But Android fans looking to upgrade this year will have many options. Google has officially announced its second-generation Pixel phones that aim to eat into the sales of the Galaxy Note 8 and Apple’s flagship iPhones. Not too many Apple fans want to switch to Android. So, the big battle in the Android sphere will be between the Google Pixel 2 XL and Note 8, which is Samsung’s latest and greatest smartphone. Here’s a detailed Google Pixel 2 XL vs Galaxy Note 8 comparison to help you determine which one is a better buy.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Galaxy Note 8
Image Source: Google Store (screenshot)

First, we are comparing the Pixel 2 XL rather than the regular Pixel 2 with the Note 8 because the 5-inch Pixel 2 isn’t a phablet. It retains chunks of bezels at the top and bottom. It can be compared to the iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8. The Note 8 and Pixel 2 XL are phablets with similar screen sizes. They will target the same audience. Anyway, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are almost identical in every aspect except for the screen size, battery, and price.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Galaxy Note 8: Display

Samsung is years ahead of its rivals when it comes to OLED display technology. So, few were surprised when DisplayMate crowned the Galaxy Note 8 as the world’s best smartphone display. Samsung’s flagship phablet comes with a beautiful 6.3-inch Super AMOLED Infinity display. The display covers the almost entire front panel of the device. It has a resolution of 2960 x 1440, which gives you a pixel density of 521ppi. It has an aspect ratio of 18.5:9. Despite its giant 6.3-inch display, the Note 8 doesn’t feel too large in hand because of its bezel-less display.

The Pixel 2 XL comes with a 6-inch P-OLED display, which has a resolution of 2880 x 1440 with a pixel density of 538ppi and aspect ratio of 18:9. Google’s device gives the Note 8 a tough competition in the display department. However, with these screen sizes and resolutions, you will not be able to notice the difference in pixel density between the Note 8 and Pixel 2 XL. Both devices feature OLED screens, which offers excellent contrast ratios. The Note 8 display is curved on the sides. In contrast, the Pixel 2 XL still has bezels at the top and bottom, and the screen is not curved.

Both handsets come with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 protection, which protects the screen from accidental drops.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Galaxy Note 8: Design

Let’s admit it, Google’s Pixel line is not known for its design. Just like the last year’s model, the Pixel 2 XL has a pretty ordinary design. It retains the metal and glass back of its predecessor, which feels so passe. The Galaxy Note 8 has an incredible beautiful design with a curved glass display. The rear glass also curves on the sides. It has a metal frame to support the front and rear panels. The Note 8 measures 6.4 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches and weighs 195g. The Pixel 2 XL is slightly slimmer and lighter than its rival at 6.2 x 3.0 x 0.3 inches and 175g.

Both the devices have rear-mounted fingerprint scanners. The Note 8 has its fingerprint sensor placed next to the dual camera setup and heart rate sensor. It’s not the most appropriate place for the fingerprint sensor, and it’s difficult to reach. On the Pixel 2 XL, Google has positioned the feature near the middle of the rear panel, which is easier to reach without accidentally smudging the camera lens.

Google has done away with the 3.5mm headphone jack, which means you have to rely on a dongle. The Pixel 2 XL boasts of dual front-facing stereo speakers to offer an impressive audio experience. Thanks to Android Oreo, Google’s latest flagship also has advanced wireless codecs to improve audio quality with wireless headphones. The Note 8 retains the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack, and features a bottom-firing speaker.

The Galaxy Note 8 is available in Midnight Black and Orchid Gray colors in the US. The Pixel 2 XL comes in Black & White and Just Black colors.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Galaxy Note 8: Software

Google says it is taking an AI first approach with its products. And the new Pixel phones clearly reflect that. The Pixel 2 XL’s design lacks the wow factor that the Note 8 enjoys, but the search engine giant seems least worried about it. At its special event, Google highlighted how its software and artificial intelligence help you do more and make life easier for users.

The Pixel 2 XL runs Android Oreo out of the box, while the Note 8 features the Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Samsung’s custom UI on top. Samsung is planning to release the Android Oreo update to Note 8 users in the near future. Google has tied the Google Assistant to all the aspects of Pixel 2 XL. The company has added an Active Edge feature to make it easier to activate the Google Assistant. Just squeeze the sides of the device to summon the Google Assistant.

If you don’t want to activate the Assistant with unintentional squeezes, you can adjust how firmly you want to squeeze to summon the digital assistant by going to Settings. The Google Assistant can detect the music playing nearby and show the title and album on the lock screen. The Pixel 2 XL also has a new Google Lens feature that can spot phone numbers, URLs, and email addresses in photos, and perform actions on them.

Since Google controls both software and hardware on Pixel devices, it has done an incredibly job at optimizing Android Oreo for the Pixel 2 XL to deliver maximum performance.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Galaxy Note 8: RAM, processor, storage

Both the Pixel 2 XL and Note 8 are powered by the same octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset. Samsung also sells an Exynos 8895-powered variant of Note 8 in the EMEA markets, though. While the flagship Pixel comes with 4GB RAM, which is pretty standard for premium Android phones, Samsung has included a huge 6GB RAM on its device. It doesn’t mean the new Pixel is slower than the Note 8. Google has optimized the software to deliver enhanced performance even with lower RAM.

The Google Pixel 2 XL is available in 64GB and 128GB storage options. There is no microSD card slot, which may turn off some buyers. But there is no reason to be disappointed because Google gives Pixel users unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos. It ensures that you never run out of storage space. The Galaxy Note 8 comes in 64GB storage option. It also has a microSD card slot that supports up to 2TB of external storage.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Galaxy Note 8: Camera

The camera is one of the most important features buyers look at before deciding which phone they would purchase. Just a few days ago, DxOMark said the Galaxy Note 8 camera was as good as the iPhone 8 Plus. The Note 8 scored 94 points out of 100. Unsurprisingly, the Google Pixel 2 XL outperformed both the Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, scoring a record 98 points on DxOMark. Last year’s Google Pixel was also crowned as the best smartphone camera of 2016.

The Galaxy Note 8 has a dual camera setup on the back, consisting of a 12-megapixel f/1.7 wide-angle lens and a 12-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto lens. It gives you a great photography and video shooting experience because both the lenses support optical image stabilization. Samsung also allows you to adjust the depth of field before and after taking pictures. You can also capture close-up and wide-angle photos at the same time. The Note 8 has an 8MP front snapper for selfies.

With the Pixel 2 XL, Google has proved that you don’t need a dual camera system to take great photos. You can even take depth of field Portrait images with a single camera. The Pixel 2 XL sports a 12-megapixel f/1.8 rear camera, which includes optical and electronic image stabilization. There is no secondary camera. Google uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to blur the background and take DSLR-like Portrait Mode images. That’s not all, the Pixel 2 XL’s 8MP selfie camera also allows you to take Portrait Mode images. However, the Pixel 2 XL doesn’t offer 2x optical zoom due to the lack of a secondary camera.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Galaxy Note 8: Battery

Samsung has taken a cautious approach with the Note 8 after suffering from the Galaxy Note 7 battery debacle. The Korean company has included a 3,300mAh battery in the Galaxy Note 8. It also offers fast-charging and wireless charging capabilities. Though the battery is enough to last a day of normal usage, it is smaller than the Pixel 2 XL’s 3,520mAh. Google’s device should deliver a better battery life than the Note 8 because of a bigger battery size, and the fact that it has a slightly smaller display. The Pixel 2 XL supports fast charging, but not wireless charging.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Galaxy Note 8: Special features

The Galaxy Note 8 comes with its signature S Pen stylus that you can use to take quick notes, doodle, and do much more. The new Pixel offers support for Daydream VR headset, and gives you unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos. The Pixel 2 XL has an IP67 rating for water- and dust-resistance, which means it can survive in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes. The Note 8 has an even better IP68 rating for water- and dust-resistance.

Google Pixel 2 XL vs Galaxy Note 8: Price

Both the devices target the premium segment. They are not cheap. The Galaxy Note 8 has a starting price of $929 for the 64GB model in the US. It is one of the most expensive flagship Android smartphones out there. The Google Pixel 2 XL has been priced at $849 for the 64GB version and $949 for the 128GB option. For a limited time, the search engine giant is giving you a free Google Home Mini worth $49 with the Pixel 2 XL purchase.

The Note 8 is a bit more expensive, but it also comes with additional goodies such as the S Pen stylus, an extra 2GB RAM, a heart rate sensor, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a dual curved Infinity display.

Conclusion

Both the Pixel 2 XL and Galaxy Note 8 are excellent smartphones. The Note 8 with its bigger display and S Pen stylus has an advantage when it comes to multitasking. But the Pixel 2 XL gains an upper hand in software and hardware optimization. Though the Note 8 takes brilliant photos, DxOMark puts the Pixel 2 XL ahead of every other smartphone on the planet in terms of photography. If you want a beautiful design, the Note 8 leads on that front.