Pixel 2 vs iPhone 8 vs Galaxy S8: Is Google's Great Camera Enough?
Google is offering two new Pixel 2 phones, boasting improved cameras, a smarter Google Assistant you can squeeze to activate and an impressive new Google Lens feature that will change the way you search.
But how do these flagships stack up to the best phones you can currently buy from Samsung and Apple?
The Galaxy S8, Google Pixel 2 and iPhone 8
Specs: Pixel 2 vs iPhone 8 vs Galaxy S8
|Pixel 2: $649; Pixel 2 XL: $849|
iPhone 8: $699; iPhone 8 Plus: $799
S8: $724; S8+: $824
|Pixel 2: 5 inches (1920 x 1080 AMOLED); Pixel 2 XL: 6 inches (2880 x 1440 pOLED)|
iPhone 8: 4.7 inches (1334 x 750 LCD),
S8: 5.8 inches (2960 x 1440 Super AMOLED); S8+: 6.2 inches (2960 x 1440 Super AMOLED);
Up to 256GB
|12.2 MP (f/1.8)|
12 MP (f/1.8)
12 MP (f/1.7)
7 MP (f/2.2)
8 MP (f/1.7)
|Just Black, Clearly White, Kinda Blue (Verizon Exclusive)|
Gold, Silver, Space Gray
Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver
|Pixel 2: 5.7 x 2.7 x 0.3 inches; Pixel 2 XL: |
6.2 x 3.0 x 0.3 inches
iPhone 8: 5.5 x 2.7 x 0.29 inches; iPhone 8 Plus: 6.2 x 3.1 x 0.3 inches
S8: 5.9 x 2.7 x 0.3 inches; S8+: 6.3 x 2.9 x 0.3 in
|Pixel 2: 5.01 ounces; Pixel 2 XL: 6.2 ounces|
iPhone 8: 5.22 ounces; iPhone 8 Plus: 7.13 ounces
S8: 5.5 ounces; S8+: 6.10 ounces
The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL look like they're stuck between the past and the present. While its bezels aren't as chunky as those of the iPhone 8, the Pixels have nothing on the edge-to-edge Infinity displays of the Galaxy S8.
None of its colors (Truly Black, Kinda Blue and Clearly White) really impress us, while the iPhone 8's new gold is an elegant hue that looks more like rose gold than its previous, pink-ish smartphones. The S8 comes in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray and Arctic Silver.
Also — just like the iPhone 8 — both Pixel 2 smartphones don't have headphone jacks, which now feels like a premium feature over on Galaxy S8. The Pixel 2 smartphones charge over USB Type-C, just like the Galaxy S8 phones, while the iPhone 8 still uses Apple's proprietary Lightning port.
If you want the biggest screens with the highest resolution, you won't find them in a Pixel 2. The Pixel 2 features a 5-inch (1920 x 1080) OLED display, while the Pixel 2 XL rocks a 6-inch (2880 x 1440) p-OLED panel.
Both are smaller than the screens in the S8 (5.8-inch, 2960 x 1440) and S8+ (6.2-inch, 2960 x 1440), though the iPhone 8 (4.7 inches, 1334 x 750) and iPhone 8 Plus (5.5 inches, 1920 x 1080) are even smaller.
The Pixel 2 displays boast vivid tones, thanks to their OLED panels, a technology that Apple declined to give its iPhone 8's which feature lesser LCD panels. Apple's making shoppers wait to pay more to get OLED, as it will be in the forthcoming iPhone X.
Google is touting the AI technology behind its cameras, and how its DxO Mark score is a record-breakingly high 98, but we're waiting for a face-off to crown a true winner. Google also boasts that the 12-megapixel rear shooter features increased dynamic range and reduced blur.
For now, we can look at the specs of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL's 8-MP front facing camera, which features f/2.4 aperture, and the 12.2MP rear camera with its f/1.8 aperture. The front cameras in the iPhone 8 (7 MP, f/2.2) and Galaxy S8 (8 MP, f/1.7) have smaller aperture rates, which makes for better low light photos.
Both the rear and front cameras in the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL offer a portrait mode for bokeh effect photography where the background blurs and the subject is in focus. Of the iPhone 8 models, only the 8 Plus's dual rear lenses feature such a trick. Both of the S8's cameras feature Selective focus. The pricier Galaxy Note 8 has a more robust Live Focus feature for portraits.
The Pixel 2 packs a fingerprint reader sensor, which is found on its rear side, under the camera sensors. That's the same amount of biometric security as you'll find in the iPhone 8 (where the sensor is below the screen), but one third as many options as you find in the S8, which scans fingerprints, irises and faces to unlock.
Google promises that the Pixel 2 will get security updates for the next three years. Neither Samsung nor Apple (both of which do a good job of issuing security updates) make such a promise.
Since it packs the Snapdragon 835 CPU — which is also in the Galaxy S8 — we already can tell a lot about how fast the Pixel 2 will perform. It also means that the iPhone 8 has practically already won this section, as its A11 Bionic chip drove it to an incredibly strong 10,170 on the Geekbench 4 general performance test, which annihilates the 6,295 from the Galaxy S8.
Google hasn't made any claims about how long the Pixel 2 phones will last on a charge, but the company stated the phones feature a quick charge technology that drives 7 hours of usage in 15 minutes of charging. The Pixel 2's have a high standard to meet, as the iPhone 8 (9:54) and Galaxy S8 (10:39) posted long times on our battery test (web-surfing over LTE).
The iPhone 8 Plus (11:16) and Galaxy S8+ (11:04) lasted even longer.
The Pixel 2 is a little lacking when it comes to some of the major special features found on its competitors. The new Pixel smartphones don't have wireless charging (with both the S8 and iPhone 8 have), nor does it have the iris scanning or facial recognition you get from the S8.
One major perk the Pixel 2 does get — which it gains from running Android 8.0 Oreo — is the ability to use two apps at the same time in split-view mode. The S8 offers this, while the iPhone 8 does not.
The Pixel 2 phones also get Google Lens, which uses its cameras to identify objects (such as movie posters, album covers and more) to tell you more about them.
Google also boasted that the Pixel 2 phones will feature exclusive animated AR stickers, something you won't find natively in an iPhone 8 or Galaxy S8. Snapchat, though, provides similar fun for all devices.
The Pixel 2 is lacking, though, when it comes to expandable memory. The Galaxy S8 still offers a microSD card port, which allows users to install an extra 256GB of storage. Just like every iPhone that came before it, the iPhone 8 has no expandable memory.
Pixel 2 owners who grip their phones hard better like digital assistants, as squeezing the smartphone launches the Google Assistant. The S8 gives users a dedicated button for its Bixby assistant, while the iPhone 8's home button needs to be held down for a moment to access Siri.
The Pixel 2 gives users a lot to like, but still lags behind the Galaxy S8 and the iPhone 8 in certain categories. Google may have the right to boast about its best-in-class cameras, but we'll have to see how well it performs in our tests. The Pixel 2 is not expected to dethrone the iPhone 8's record-breaking speed, and we doubt that Galaxy S8 owners will trade their screens away any time soon.
Where the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL excel is in features that marry hardware ans software, such as Google Assistant and Google Lens. We'll bring you our final verdict after we perform our full review.