Shopping: iPhone X, Pixel 2 or Galaxy S8 - how each phone differs from one another

Sarah GillmorDec 12, 2017Mobile1 3658

If you’re shopping for a new smartphone, there’s a good chance three options immediately come to mind: the Apple iPhone X, the Samsung Galaxy S8, or the Google Pixel 2.

Your buying decision might come down to whether you’re more comfortable using iOS or Android. But for those who are struggling to decide which phone is best, or simply just want to get a better sense of how each phone differs from one another, here’s a closer look at the iPhone X, Google Pixel 2 XL and Samsung Galaxy S8.

Author of this review spent a week comparing the mega popular smartphones. Here’s what she found.

© Article’s author: Lisa Eadicicco.
© Source: Time

Design

How each phone differs from one anotherWhile more powerful processors, sharper cameras, and better screens have become routine annual updates, 2017 was the year that smartphone makers began to rethink design, too. All three companies released new phones with screens that cover nearly the entire front of the device, resulting in a look that’s more slick while also offering more screen space. And, most importantly, the new edge-to-edge design on the iPhone X, Galaxy S8, and Google Pixel XL means you’re getting a bigger screen in a phone that’s not noticeably larger, which makes them easier to hold than big-screened devices of years past.

That’s especially true when it comes to the iPhone X – it’s only slightly larger than the iPhone 8, but includes a screen that’s even more spacious than that of the bigger iPhone 8 Plus. Apple, Samsung, and Google achieve this by making the borders around the display smaller, allowing them to fit more screen real estate on the device. Both Samsung and Google have the camera situated in a strip that extends across the top of the screen for their respective phones’ cameras, while the iPhone X has a cutout in the top center which some have disparagingly called “the notch.”

I find the iPhone X to be the most elegant looking device, mostly because of its gorgeous glass back and stainless steel edges. But it also feels the most delicate, so I rarely get to appreciate that design, since I’m always covering it with a case. Some may prefer Samsung’s design primarily for its display, which slightly curves over the left and right edges of the phone, making it feel a bit more immersive than its rivals. It’s also the only phone of the three with a 3.5mm headphone jack, which means you can continue to use your older or non-Bluetooth headphones without an adapter. The glossy back panel of the phone, however, is quick to pick up fingerprint smudges. Of the three phones, Google’s Pixel 2 XL is the most practical to use without a case: Most of the phone’s back is covered in a matte material that’s easy to grip and isn’t as prone to smudges.

From Amazon’s “Top customer reviews” section:

About Samsung Galaxy S8. I was skeptical about buying this phone off Amazon instead of Verizon because the reviews were half good, half bad as far as activating it on the Verizon network. My advice is don’t go to the store and activate yourself on their website. It takes just 5-10 minutes. Just make sure to have a Verizon nano SIM card, I was able to use the one from my iPhone 6. Transfer your contacts, music etc on their app as well, it’s very easy. Other than that the actual phone is great. Very sleek looking phone. This phone is $756 at Verizon and they try to sell their payment plan to you but I would much rather pay the cheaper Amazon price and keep my phone bill lower. If you’re on the fence like I was I hope this review can help you out.

Display

The iPhone X, Galaxy S8, and Google Pixel 2 XL have screens that are capable of displaying rich color, bold text, and sharp detail. The iPhone X has a 5.8-inch OLED screen with a 2436 x 1125 resolution. Google’s Pixel 2 XL features a 6-inch OLED display with a 2880 x 1440 resolution. The Galaxy S8’s 5.8-inch OLED screen offers a 2960 x 1440 resolution.

While they all sound fantastically sharp on paper (and they are), there are a few differences to consider. Colors will sometimes appear more vivid and pronounced on Samsung’s smartphones, which can in certain instances make the iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 XL look muted in comparison. But this emphasis on color can be helpful or hindering depending on the situation and your preferences. For example, when browsing photos on National Geographic’s website, I found that the Galaxy S8 offered the best mix of color and detail. But I disliked the overabundant color when viewing the trailer for the upcoming film I, Tonya on all three devices side-by-side. There was one scene in which the shade of blue that star Margot Robbie was wearing looked so drastically different on the Galaxy S8 versus the iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 XL that it almost seemed like an entirely different color.

The iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 XL were more similar to one another, but I preferred the iPhone X’s screen the best because it was a bit brighter and bolder without exaggerating color too much. I also found it easier to read text on the iPhone X thanks to its True Tone technology, which adjusts the device’s white balance based on the surrounding lighting.

The Pixel 2 XL’s screen also appears to have a blueish tint when you’re not holding the phone directly in front of your face, which Pixel 2 XL owners have reported in the past. This isn’t always apparent in casual use, like when you’re viewing the screen from a straightforward angle. But it’s still noticeable, and it could be particularly annoying when watching videos with multiple people who may be looking at the phone from different angles. It has also been reported that the Pixel 2 XL’s display has a “burn-in” problem that leaves an imprint of an image on the display even after an app has been closed. But Google recently issued an update that should help fix this issue, and I had a difficult time recreating the problem on my own Pixel even when the reports first surfaced.

From Amazon’s “Top customer reviews” section:

About Samsung Galaxy S8. This phone should be a no-brainer. Easily the most stunning display ever on a phone, great specs, Samsung Pay, expandable storage, and waterproofing SHOULD make this the best phone on the market. Enter Samsung’s software. While Touchwiz isn’t nearly the raging dumpster fire it was back in the S4 and S5 days, there’s still a lot of extras that most will consider junk. Chief among these is Bixby. Have you ever wondered what Siri would be like if it were dumber and had a dedicated hardware button? That’s Bixby. Not content to let Google do the heavy lifting, Samsung’s MO continues to be creating inferior versions of services already offered by Big G. Want to remap that button to something actually useful? Too bad. Samsung keeps patching the phone in order to force their bloatware down your throat. As it is, that’s a dead button that you’ll press once out of curiosity, and a few dozen times while trying to turn down the volume. One other annoyance of note is the horrible placement of the fingerprint scanner. There’s just no excuse for this one. Overall, it’s a great phone that’s held back by Samsung’s usual goofball decisions.

User Interface

If you’re considering switching from Android to the iPhone, or vice versa, software is where you’ll notice the biggest changes. Both operating systems have a different feel, each offering their own benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s start with the iPhone X: Ever since Apple unveiled the first iPhone, it refused to include any extraneous apps from carriers – content that’s often referred to as “bloatware.” That holds true today, and remains one of the iPhone’s biggest strengths when it comes to user interface design.

Aside, as Apple’s software has gotten more intelligent over the years, the iPhone has received some helpful flourishes, like the ability to automatically silence notifications while driving and a feature that translates languages in real time via Siri. It’s worth noting, however, that the iPhone X’s software differs slightly compared to other iPhones. That means even longtime Apple fans will experience a learning curve, since you’ll have to learn some new gestures to compensate for the iPhone X’s lack of a home button.

Samsung, meanwhile, has significantly improved its smartphone software in recent years in ways that make newer phones like the Galaxy S8 feel easier to navigate. But the interface is still a little bit busier than what you’ll find on the Google Pixel and the iPhone. Depending on which carrier you purchase the phone from, you may find some extraneous apps on your device – my review unit came with a few T-Mobile apps. That being said, the Galaxy S8’s software comes with some handy extras that may make it a better choice for power users. Samsung’s smartphone has a sidebar for adding shortcuts to favorite contacts and apps, as well as a tool for cropping screenshots and saving GIFs from videos you’re watching. Like the Google Pixel 2, you can view more than one app in split screen mode, as well as see the time, date, and other information even when the display is turned off.

One of the benefits Google’s smartphones have always offered is an interface that’s cleaner and simpler to use compared to most Android devices. This is no different with the Google Pixel 2XL. That’s largely because Google usually doesn’t include any unnecessary apps and services from wireless carriers. Many phone makers also put their own apps on the phones they sell in addition to Google’s apps and carrier apps (Samsung does this too, although some of its apps may be optional depending on the carrier.) Since the Pixel is Google’s phone, that type of app duplication isn’t a problem. Like the Galaxy S8 and other phones, the Pixel 2 XL also has an always-on screen for checking information at a glance. But Google’s phone offers an extra perk: If a song is playing nearby, the phone can display the title and artist name when the screen is turned off. Of the three phones, I prefer Google’s interface, because it combines the flexibility of Android with the simplicity of an iPhone.

From Amazon’s “Top customer reviews” section:

About Samsung Galaxy S8. Really bad service from Samsung. The phone came with a defect in the front camera. I called them and they told me it will be fixed when the phone updates to the new version. I was back and forward with Samsung since I notice the issue. I noted first when I made my first Skype meeting call. Then when my colleges told me about the issue, I started taking selfies, I notice that all the selfies have the same black spot in the same place. Unfortunately, I figured out the issue 36 days after I bout this phone from Amazon. So, I could not return the phone due to the 30 days return policy.

I contacted Samsung, they asked me to update and reset the phone and so a bunch of staff to the camera app. After the 2nd call, They sent me to a Repair Center close to my home. The repair center wanted to charge me $109 dollars. I called Samsung again. This time Samsung told me that because I was under warranty they can fix it for me. They cannot replace phones but just fix them. Samsung told me that they will take 11 days to fix it. I expressed my concern that I bought an expensive phone because the service as my work and my business depend on a reliable phone. I told them that I cannot afford 11 days without communication. So, they told me “Well you won’t be without communication you can buy a ship phone and exchange the SIM-card until your phone cames back”.

So, does not Samsung understand that an unlock cheap phone cost at minimum 120 and it won’t be able to multitask as fast I need to do my job and maintain my business? I do not recommend to buy this phone or any Samsung phone if service and reliability is the most important subject for your purchase.

Battery Life

Battery life was generally comparable across all three devices. When using each phone separately, I always had enough juice left after a full workday of sending emails, using social media, and streaming media, among other tasks. I found similar results when testing all three phones alongside one another. After more than six hours of mixed usage that included nearly two hours of streaming video over Wi-Fi and sporadically checking email, refreshing social media, and browsing websites, each phone’s battery level was about the same. The Galaxy S8 and iPhone X were both at 65% while the Google Pixel 2 XL had 75% of its battery left, which isn’t too surprising considering larger phones usually include bigger batteries.

From Amazon’s “Top customer reviews” section:

About Google Pixel 2. This phone has significant problems. I have swapped it out and the problems persist. everything listed below existed on both phones. So it’s clearly the phone/software and not a case of my having gotten a bum phone.

1. What I hate the most, is that while on a phone call, the text message notification, will ring at the same volume it does while in your pocket and from the speaker your ear is pressed up against. It’s like a fog horn going off. Maybe this is only with the verizon text ap, but that is my preferred texting app.

2. Squealing. Perhaps if you don’t have excellent hearing, this isn’t a biggie. But since day one, there has been a terrible squeal in the background of phone conversations. Not there on bluetooth, not there when listening to voice mails.

3. Texts don’t send. Sometimes the button to send out a text doesn’t respond the first 5 or 6 times.

4. The square button that gives you a scrolling window through all your open apps doesn’t always work.

I really wanted to like this phone. I’ve never owned an apple product, I’m not looking for an excuse to go to mac. It’s genuinely terrible in so many ways. I’m not a fan of the no headphone port. It doesn’t work with an adapter for wireless charging. My wife’s Pixel 1 is better in almost every way. That said, the battery life is excellent, and the camera is unbeatable.

Camera

It used to be the case that our smartphones were the best cameras simply because they’re the cameras we have with us at all times. But in recent years, smartphone camera quality has become so advanced that publishers (including TIME) and filmmakers are shooting magazine covers and full movies on iPhones. This year’s major flagship phones from Apple, Google, and Samsung all offer superb camera quality, but there are important ways in which they differ.

In my experience, the cameras on the iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 XL were about equally good, but they excel in different areas. In some test shots, the iPhone X captured better color and detail, particularly for selfies and in photos of outdoor scenery. But the Google Pixel performed better in low-light situations, both with and without the flash turned on. The Galaxy S8’s photos were almost on par with those taken on the iPhone X and Pixel, but it fell short in some areas. When shooting in sunlight outdoors, Samsung’s photos felt slightly washed out compared to those taken on the Pixel 2 XL and iPhone X. I also felt the Galaxy S8’s front-facing camera made my skin look a little too smooth to the point where the photo looked artificial and wasn’t as detailed as the others.

All three phones also offer their own version of what has come to be known as “Portrait Mode,” an effect that slightly blurs the background to make the subject in the foreground more prominent. Apple and Google offer a camera mode that lets you see this effect live as you’re setting up the shot, while Samsung’s phone adds the effect afterwards. Of the three, I thought the iPhone X’s photo had the best mix of sharpness and detail, with the Pixel 2 XL placing in second. The Galaxy S8’s photo wasn’t as detailed and blurred a portion of my subject.

From Amazon’s “Top customer reviews” section:

About Google Pixel 2. I really love this phone even the hardware is not as good of a Samsung but the Android 8 is really good. I haven’t realized how bad experience we have on Samsung Android version because the way they kill apps while in background. THey have been doing this since Android 6 and most of the apps doesn’t work as they should be. Also, I am pretty sure after a year of owning your phone or Samsung or T-mobile send an update to make it unusable.

I only complain with this Phone about the Bluetooth because is crazy and doesn’t work correctly with most of the devices. For example in my car, it use to play the last song as soon as it got connected. Now I have to launch the app and hit play and it is so annoying that I don’t use my phone any more to listen music. Second, Title, Author doesn’t show any more most of the time. This phone cannot handle several devices connected to the Bluetooth. It handle a Smartwatch like a headset, when I try to call, even if I trigger that from the phone send the call to watch. Notifications over the watch have become totally unreliable. If i have a Bluetooth headset and the Smartwatch, it’s a disaster. And finally, the compass is inverted and not accurate. But, but, but, this phone is still amazing compared with a Samsung. I wouldn’t go back.

Biometrics

Delivering on the basics, like screen quality, camera performance, and battery life, is crucial for any smartphone. But Apple, Samsung, and Google each offer a few special features that are meant to make it much easier to unlock and interact with your phone.

One of the iPhone X’s biggest selling points is the addition of Face ID. Apple’s facial recognition system can be used to unlock your phone without typing in a passcode, to authenticate Apple Pay purchases and app downloads, and within certain apps and services to personalize the experience. Warby Parker’s app, for example, uses Face ID to scan your face in order to suggest pairs of glasses that might look the best on you. Face ID works fine most of the time for these tasks, but I do find myself being prompted for a passcode more often than I would like when unlocking my phone. The best way to address this issue is to type in your passcode each time rather than resetting Face ID. This helps the system learn your face over time.

Samsung’s phones offer facial recognition, iris scanning, and fingerprint detection for unlocking your phone. In my experience, fingerprint scanning has generally been the most reliable option, and the iris scanning tech usually works more quickly than facial recognition. Even though I prefer fingerprint scanners in general, I often find myself using iris scanning on the Galaxy S8 because the fingerprint sensor is inconveniently located next to the camera and is sometimes difficult to reach.

The Google Pixel 2 XL supports facial and fingerprint recognition, both of which generally provide a fast way to unlock the phone. The fingerprint sensor’s placement in the center of the phone’s rear panel also makes it much easier to reach than with the Galaxy S8, but it doesn’t always read my fingerprint if I don’t keep my finger on the scanner for a long enough time.

From Amazon’s “Top customer reviews” section:

About Google Pixel 2. Upgrading from two years with a 128Gb Nexus 6p on Project Fi. Here are a few things I noticed immediately upon opening the packaging fro. project File.

Although I had a SIM card to use, it offered a cardless eSIM to be downloaded to the phone. Google making it one step easier to turn on the phone and go. Screen brightness is significantly higher by default than the 6p. The battery life is also significantly different as far as drainage per usage minute surfing, games, music, etc. The size fits way better in my pocket and hand. Thee phablet craze has passed for me. This phone isn’t small by any means, it’s just not approaching a tablet. The snappiness to absolutely every action including camera load speed, smoothness of transitions, instant fingerprint sensor, and seamless browsing. Wait time is virtually zero in every regard. I recommend this as a solid upgrade from a 6p if you’re looking for the newest hardware/software combo.

Recap

Your buying decision will likely boil down to your budget and whether you prefer iPhone or Android. But here are some key takeaways that should help you along:

Apple iPhone X

Buy now: iPhone X

The good: The Apple iPhone X stands out for its elegant design, excellent screen quality, and the way apps are starting to embrace Face ID to make the experience more tailored to you. But above all else, the iPhone X represents the best form factor of any iPhone to date. Until this point, Apple fans have been forced to choose between a phone that some may find to be too large and unwieldy and a screen that’s smaller than five inches. Now, they can enjoy the benefits of having a larger screen without carrying around a phone that’s much larger than what they’re used to – even if it does mean having to look at a “notch” that sits above the screen. Otherwise, the Phone X hits all of its marks when it comes to battery life, screen, and camera specs.

The bad: The iPhone X’s lack of a home button means there’s a learning curve in using it – you’ll have to get used to changing the way you perform basic tasks like restarting the phone and taking screenshots. There’s also no fingerprint sensor to use as backup if you should find yourself struggling with Face ID. And starting at $999, it’s notably more expensive than the Pixel 2 XL and Galaxy S8.

Google Pixel 2 XL (Amazon’s user rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars)

Buy now: Pixel 2 Unlocked

The good: The Google Pixel 2 XL’s long battery life, exceptional camera, and clean interface make it a top choice. If you often find yourself struggling with photos that are grainy in low light or appear too washed out when taken with the flash, you’ll especially appreciate how the Pixel 2 XL’s camera performs. I also found the battery life to be a bit longer than that of the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S8. The interface feels neat and clean compared to some other Android devices. The screen is also larger than that of the iPhone X even though the Pixel 2 XL is cheaper, starting at $849.

The bad: The screen has a blue tint that’s visible when looking at the phone from a side angle, which could be off-putting.

Samsung Galaxy S8 (Amazon’s user rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars)

Buy now: Galaxy S8 Unlocked

The good: The Galaxy S8’s curved screen is just as functional as it is gorgeous. Because the display disappears into the sides of the phone, the screen feels even more immersive. The Galaxy S8 also includes a headphone jack, which is a rare find on today’s high-end smartphones. The battery life is also comparable to what you would get on the iPhone X, and starting at about $725, it’s less expensive than both the iPhone X and the Google Pixel 2 XL.

The bad: The Galaxy S8’s interface doesn’t feel as simple and intuitive as Google’s, and its camera isn’t as good as that of the iPhone X or Google Pixel 2 XL.

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  1. Sarah Gillmor
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    10
    Author: Sarah GillmorJournalist
    2017-12-12, 11:23PM
    Samsung Galaxy S8 Unlocked 64GB - overall pretty nice phone, for some people. Being water resistant is a major plus, and the fact that the touch screen still mostly works while wet is amazing. It kind of stutters and lags a tiny bit which was disappointing. Battery life is hit or miss. Sometimes it lasts 2 days, and sometimes less than 1.



    Obviously that should be my fault for using apps that drain the battery but I can't figure out why it happens. I'm not a huge fan of the wrap around screen and it makes me really paranoid since almost no cases actually protect the sides. It could be cool technology when they do a 360 degree wrap around screen that covers the back as well, but in its current state I don't really get the point.

    +4
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