People often think that the only battle raging within the smartphone market is between Samsung and Apple. While the two companies are indeed at odds, there’s another one that’s shouldering in and getting in on the action.
Google’s new flagship phone has just been released into the wild and having recently reviewed the Pixel 2 ourselves, we can now pit Google’s new phone up against Samsung’s own flagship device, the Galaxy Note 8.
Pixel 2 vs Galaxy Note 8 – Design
In all fairness to the Pixel 2, it is hard for the phone to compete with the Note 8’s display. That is, however, something you’d expect from a much larger and more expensive phone. The Pixel 2’s screen does try and hold its own against the Note 8. How successfully that depends on what you’re expecting.
While the Pixel 2 looks almost exactly like the original Pixel, Samsung has gone for a sleek re-design with the Galaxy Note 8, borrowing the curves and bezel-less edge to edge display of the S8, and making it larger.
The Pixel 2, being a smaller device than the Note 8, has a more compact 5in display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a 1,080 x 1,920 resolution leaving it with 440 pixels per inch. The screen isn’t edge-to-edge however, and if that’s a deal breaker, turn your gaze back to the Note 8. The screen on the Pixel 2 is very bright and goes up to a maximum brightness of 418cd/m. This is actually higher than the Note 8’s standard maximum brightness of 331cd/m. The Pixel 2 also boasts vibrant colours with sharp detail, although we did find that the colour accuracy on the Pixel 2 seemed a touch worse than on the original Pixel.
The Note 8 on the other hand, has a beautiful screen that stretches 6.3in across with only tiny bars on the top and bottom. The phone has a great 1,440 x 2,960 WQHD+ resolution, equating to 522ppi. The phone’s screen, when using auto-brightness, sports the brightest looking display we have ever measured at 991cd/m. The colours are also highly accurate with the phone even giving you the ability to adjust the colour balance, something the Pixel 2 could have taken advantage of.
Saying that though, the two phones both make use of AMOLED technology with the Note 8 using Samsung’s own Super-AMOLED version.
Where the Pixel 2 wins in design, however, is in the weight and size of its body. The phone comes in at only 143g and a thin 7.8mm, albeit at the loss of the 3.5mm headphone jack. The Note 8 is much bulkier, weighing 195g and a thicker 8.6mm, although it does have its 3.5mm jack intact. It’s also quite large at 162.5 x 74.8mm. So if you want a smaller and less expensive phone, the Pixel 2 seems like the obvious option.
The Pixel 2 has a textured aluminium back and it has a glossy glbad panel. This is less slippery than the Note 8, which is coated in Corning Gorilla Glbad 5.0 instead
With regards to colours, you can get the Pixel 2 in Just Black, Kinda Blue and Clearly White. The Note 8 comes with a wider range of colours with Midnight Black, Orchard Grey, Deep Sea Blue and Maple Gold.
Pixel 2 vs Note 8 – Camera
As most people know, the Pixel’s secret weapon has always been its camera. It’s a 12.2-megapixel affair, with a f/1.8 aperture lens. It has a perfect dynamic range and colour saturation to boot with an accurate white-balance. The camera truly shines when low-light pictures are taken. Although it might be difficult for the Pixel 2 to hold up to the beefier dual-lens camera on the Note 8, it still manages to outdo it in some aspects.
The Note 8 houses a dual 12-megapixel lens. It combines a f/1.7 wide-angle lens with a f/2.4 telephoto lens with a mbadive 10x digital zoom. Like the Pixel 2, the Galaxy Note 8 also has image optical stabilisation, and the cameras can simulate a bokeh effect, much like Apple’s Portrait Mode. And whilst this is all well and good, the Note 8’s telephoto lens isn’t great in low-light, whereas the Pixel 2’s camera remains solid. The wide-angle camera is still better on the Pixel 2 over the Galaxy Note 8, so do bear that in mind.
The Note 8 does trump the Pixel 2 when it comes to capturing video though. The Note 8 can capture in up to 4K resolution and the electronic image stabilisation is excellent. The Pixel 2 can also shoot in 4K, but what lets the phone down is the colour capture: the colours are an oversaturated mess. The electronic optical stabilisation is just as good as the Note 8’s, though.
The Pixel 2 boasts a cracking 8-megapixel front-facing camera, whilst the Note 8 has a marginally less impressive 7 megapixel one.
Pixel 2 vs Galaxy Note 8 – Specifications
Lucky Pixel 2 users get Android Oreo installed on the device straight out of the box. The same can’t be said for the Note 8, however. When exactly the Note 8 will be able to take advantage of Oreo is a mystery. That also means the Pixel 2 will get first dibs on the next Android update in 2018 while the Note 8 will still have to wait.
The two phones share the same processor, on the US-version of the Samsung Note 8 at least. This is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, a monster 2.35GHz octa-core. In Europe, the Note 8 runs on Samsung’s own Exynys 8895 processor, but performance is pretty much identical. The Note 8 takes the lead on RAM however, featuring 6GB to the Pixel 2’s 4GB.
Storage on the Note 8 remains at 64GB, but the microSD will let you upgrade it to up to 320GB. The Pixel 2, however, locks you in at 64GB or 128GB, with no expandable storage, so if that’s too little for you, the Note 8 might be a better choice.
Unfortunately, both batteries in the two phones are actually smaller than their predecessors. The Note 8 has a 3300mAh battery which lasted 16 hours and 38 minutes in our tests. And for a smaller phone, the Pixel 2 isn’t actually that far behind. The Pixel 2 plays host to a 2700mAh battery which lasted 14 hours and 17 minutes. That’s good, but considering the original Pixel lasted 16, we can’t help but feel a little disappointed.
Pixel 2 vs Note 8 – Price
Well, there’s a clear winner here with the Pixel 2 retailing for £629 (64GB) or £729 (128GB model). The Note 8, on the other hand, is Samsung’s most expensive phone to date, costing a whopping £869.
Still, that needn’t rule it out – it all comes down to personal preference as both are excellent handsets. The Pixel 2 is a nice zippy, smaller phone with an excellent camera that runs on the latest software. While the Note 8 is a bigger phablet that is powerful, has a beautiful edge-to-edge screen and shoots some incredible video. Put simply, you need to make the decision as to whether the Note 8 is worth that extra £250+.