Introduction


It’s hard to say what was the most important event of the year 2016 in smartphones, but Google’s direct entry in the phone market with its Pixel lineup of phones that replaced the enthusiast-minded Nexus series was certainly one of them.

With the Google Pixel, the search giant is entering the Android phone market that it itself helped establish. And there, it will compete with the big guns, and when it comes to those big boys in town, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is the biggest of them all.

A few months after the launch of the Pixel, we want to share our experience with two of the most accomplished high-end Android phones out there, point out their specific advantages and shortcomings, as well as the little and big differences that might make you choose one over the other.

Design

The glass and metal Galaxy S7 is a statement of style, while the Google Pixel features solid build quality in a more subtle way.


Samsung, a company once criticized for flooding the market with uninspiring plastic phones, has changed tremendously in the past couple of years, and its latest Galaxy S7 is in fact a trend-setter in modern phone design. A beautiful glass sandwich with a metal frame, the S7 has evolved to feature subtle curves that make picking it up from a table and handling it in the hand easier and more pleasant than earlier Samsung phones. Unfortunately, the glass surfaces of the phone are also ones to attracts a ton of fingerprints and glass - as beautiful as it looks - is also prone to shattering, and to costly repairs.

The Google Pixel, on its part, is a surprisingly well-made first-generation device. It features a more practical (meaning less prone to shattering and not getting stained with fingerprints) aluminum body with a distinct glass accent in the top half. Pictures don’t do it full justice: on images it appears a bit thicker than it is in real life, and once you hold it, you appreciate the slight curve around the edges on the back. This makes it much easier to pick up the phone from a table, and just a more comfortable in-hand fit. We also love the heft of the Pixel, it feels just right: the phone is not too light, nor too heavy, very well balanced.

In terms of size, it seems almost as if Samsung and Google copied from the same book: the phones are nearly identical in terms of physical size.

Both phones have a fingerprint scanner: the Galaxy S7 has it on the front, while the Pixel - on its back. If you haven’t used a back-positioned fingerprint scanner before, it definitely takes some getting used to and feels a bit less practical, especially when you want to quickly check something when your phone is lying on a table and you can’t just tap a button, but you have to actually pick up the device to get to that rear-positioned finger scanner.This is much easier with a front fingerprint reader. For all else, both fingerprint scanners are fast, but we find the one on the Pixel more accurate and a bit snappier, as we get misreads a bit too often on the Galaxy S7.

On the bottom, there is a microUSB port on the Galaxy S7 and a USB-C port on the Pixel. The one on the S7 feels decidedly outdated: you have to check the right way to plug in a cable every time, while with USB-C on the Pixel it’s much simpler.

Both phones also sport a good ol’ 3.5mm headset jack and both feature a single, bottom firing speaker that you can easily muffle with your hand when watching videos / listening to music in landscape orientation. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind.

The S7 also has one cool feature that the Pixel lacks: water protection with an IP68 rating (meaning the phone can be submerged in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes).


Google Pixel

Google Pixel

Dimensions

5.66 x 2.74 x 0.34 inches

143.84 x 69.54 x 8.58 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

Dimensions

5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches

142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.36 oz (152 g)

Google Pixel

Google Pixel

Dimensions

5.66 x 2.74 x 0.34 inches

143.84 x 69.54 x 8.58 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

Dimensions

5.61 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches

142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.36 oz (152 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Display

Two gorgeous AMOLED screens.


The S7 features a 5.1” display, while the Pixel goes with a 5” screen, but in reality the perceived difference is even bigger: on-screen buttons take up some 6.6% of the screen on the Google Pixel, which means that when the on-screen buttons are on (which is most of the time), you will only be able to see 4.67 inches of usable space on the Pixel. The Galaxy S7 uses traditional buttons below the display, so the usable screen space amounts to the full 5.1 inches of the screen.

The Galaxy S7 sports a 1440 x 2560-pixel resolution, while the Pixel runs on a 1080 x 1920-pixel display. Both use a Pentile matrix, and yes, the S7 is the sharper one of the two, but it’s also true that this is a difference that is really hard to notice in real life: at a regular viewing distance, one can hardly notice much of that difference in sharpness.

Both phones use AMOLED technology. This is interesting to see particularly on the Pixel: it shows the way Google sees things going in the future. Samsung is of course manufacturing AMOLED displays, and has been using and improving the technology for years. The advantage of AMOLED is that pixels can be controlled individually: you can turn individual pixels off, which results in perfect blacks and brings excellent contrast rates on the two.

In terms of actual image quality, these are two of the best screens around. Bright and with lively colors, images and video come to life on the two.

The S7 defaults to punchy, slightly overblown colors that many people like. For photography enthusiasts and color perfectionists, the S7 also comes with an sRGB color mode (sRGB is the color standard that is universally accepted globally for pictures and video). You switch to this mode by going into Settings > Display > Color mode > Basic.

The Pixel also defaults to over-saturated colors as Google targets the NTSC color gamut. It’s not perfectly-balanced, but it does look good to the casual observer. If you want a color setting that corresponds to the industry-standard sRGB color gamut, you can switch to it in settings as well.

In terms of brightness, the Galaxy S7 goes up to 484 nits, while the Pixel reaches 398 nits (the higher - the better), but while the S7 has a special mode that boosts that brightness outdoors on a sunny day, the Pixel lacks such a mode, which makes it a bit harder to see in direct sunlight. At night, minimum brightness drops down to 1 nit on the Pixel and 2 nits on the S7. It’s important that phone displays can go to those low levels, as at night even a slight increase in brightness results in eye fatigue and a worse experience.



FEATURED VIDEO

21 Comments

1. NonFanBoy

Posts: 180; Member since: May 28, 2015

Its a close battle, but it depends on the market really. Here in india Pixel is priced 30% more than S7 and the after sales service is also much better for S7. Therefore S7 takes the win.

2. NonFanBoy

Posts: 180; Member since: May 28, 2015

Also, "It’s also got the promise for quick updates, something that Samsung phones have never had"; I never understand this logic. Samsung runs on TouchWiz while Pixel runs on pure android. Many features like multi-window which debuted on Android 7 has been available on TW for more than 2 years. Samsung will not get the latest version of android quickly just like Pixel will never get the latest version of TouchWiz. Comparing android software updates with SW updates offered by LG/Samsung is like comparing apples and oranges.

3. biophone

Posts: 1994; Member since: Jun 15, 2011

The Samsung is Android also. It's not apples and oranges. The skin also is newer with each version of Android. The pixel will have a newer version of Android then the Samsung

6. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

"skin also is newer" lol... and btw, newer android version isn't a big deal for most.. just like nonfanboy said, some androidUIs already have newer android feature before official android does (like split-screen on TW and MIUI, FPS gesture on FlymeOS, tap to wake on LGUI) and others android N feature isn't a must have for most android users

8. wildfiregt

Posts: 179; Member since: Jun 10, 2013

Updates are just placebo effects. You should care about features you have and not updates. If the S7 comes directly loaded with those feature , it's still better then getting them through quick updates

16. Mattyrye

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 19, 2017

After sales service is a really big deal. I bought a Moto Z two weeks ago and received a defective unit. Motorola's after sales service in India is abysmal/non-existant . Getting the s7 edge now, even though it's like a year old just cause their support is atleast way more extensive.

4. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

on that vids sample, EIS looks better than OIS imo :D

19. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

The Pixel's EIS is the best when it comes to recording while standing still or walking But its not as good as Apple/Samsung's OIS+EIS when it comes to recording while running or panning the phone

5. ameran

Posts: 344; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

Pixel XL is my first non Samsung phone for years. I really love Samsung phones and how Samsung pushes the boundaries, but nothing can replace a pure Android phone. Pixel XL is the best Android phone I have ever owned. The best user interface and smoothest operating system. I hope Samsung learns from Pixel to build phones that work without lags. It is nothing wrong with using pure Android. I am also impressed with the battery. I usually charge it every other day, where I had to charge my Samsung phones everyday. I owned S5, Note 3, Note 4, and disappointing Note 7.

7. blueyzfr6

Posts: 28; Member since: Nov 02, 2015

Will Samsung please bring back the IR on the S8. I LOVE that feature.

9. aman5mathur

Posts: 241; Member since: Mar 28, 2014

Too soon for the comparison eh? When s8 is just 2 months away!

10. aegislash

Posts: 1479; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

One of the top five ugliest, most barebones phones on the market vs one of the most feature packed AND most beautiful....doesn't seem fair like a fair battle.

17. Unordinary unregistered

Look up the word subjective

11. Joms_US

Posts: 200; Member since: Oct 02, 2016

Surprisingly both phones scored much lower than iCrap 6s, I wonder what iPhoneArena had been smoking for couple of years now.

18. sissy246

Posts: 7087; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Don't mean to post to your post, but it's the only I can post anything longer then 4 lines, PA The s7 has the same battery that my note 5 has, I get a easy 11 to 12 hours with about 20% left when I plug it in, about 10 if those being SOT. So I don't believe the battery time on the s7 being that low.

12. EC112987

Posts: 1215; Member since: Nov 10, 2014

Had both I love the pixel more

13. EC112987

Posts: 1215; Member since: Nov 10, 2014

Still have the pixel :)

14. Sammy_DEVIL737

Posts: 1529; Member since: Nov 28, 2016

PA is saying you get faster updates on pixel but whats the point in updating if you get the same features in touchwiz ui.

15. ebilcake

Posts: 1227; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

Definitely the Pixel... Quick look on GFXBench and the Galaxy S7 GPU performance lags behind and the long term performance is much higher on the Pixel, long term performance is twice as fast on the Pixel XL vs the Galaxy S7 and four times as fast on the Pixel. Samsung need to sort out the throttling, the battery life is good but no wonder, it's only giving you 50% the performance for extended usage, or 25% for the standard Pixel. Lulz.

20. levjaskulski

Posts: 4; Member since: Jan 26, 2017

My vote for the S7 :) I would have been happier if Google went with the ARA instead of the Pixel. That would've brought something new on the market. Then the others could've taken a dip in the modular world. At least make a decent modular case, not the sh***y "official" cases or the worst looking battery cases.

21. levjaskulski

Posts: 4; Member since: Jan 26, 2017

I admire brands like Nexpaq and I-blades and the line from Otterbox called uniVerse. They are setting the example of how a case should look. I am disappointed because Google has the experience on the ARA that can be applied to produce crazy case for the Pixel.

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