WE’VE PITTED OUR Android king of 2016, the Galaxy S7 Edge, against Google’s supersized Pixel XL.
Both phones cost a pretty penny and each have beautiful 5.5in QHD screens, so it’s going to be hard to pick a winner.
Pixel XL: 155x76x8.5mm, 168g, USB Type-C
Galaxy S7 Edge: 151x73x7.7mm, 157g, IP68 certification, microUSB port
The Galaxy S7 Edge is the S7’s curvier, sexier sibling, enough for us to proclaim it ‘the most beautiful Android smartphone of 2016 so far’ at the time of review in March.
The end of the year is fast approaching, and our view still stands. Ergonomically it has no equal, but that fusion of glass and metal does pick up fingerprints a little too easily, so you’ll need to invest in a micro-fibre cloth if you want to keep it looking its best.
Whereas the S7 Edge represents evolution, Google’s Pixel is a decidedly confused affair. It takes bits from the HTC 10 and iPhone 6S, but fails to carve out a design of its own.
It’s not bad by any means, just a little samey. The only highlight is that the metal on the back panel is partially replaced with glass, which gives it a reflective effect.
Those with smaller hands may struggle with the extra size of our pair and, although there’s little between them, the Pixel XL comes off marginally more beastly.
The Pixel XL lacks any physical buttons on the front. Instead, it uses a capacitive software-based solution. The home button found on the Galaxy S7 serves a dual purpose, as it also houses a nicely responsive fingerprint sensor. The Pixel has the fingerprint technology on the rear mirrored coating.
Google’s decision to exclude water resistance from the Pixel XL’s specs sheet is a baffling one given the price. The S7 Edge, meanwhile, meets IP68 certification for water resistance to a depth of 1.5m, and can survive submersion for up to 30 minutes.
In terms of connectivity, the Google Pixel XL shoots for the moon by adding support for USB-C. Samsung, on the other hand, decided to give it a wide berth and the S7 Edge retains microUSB. Both handsets include adapters that allow the transfer of data between phones, making the migration process almost painless.
Winner: Galaxy S7 Edge
Pixel XL: 5.5in 2560×1440, 534ppi
Galaxy S7 Edge: 5.5in 2560×1440, 534ppi
Up until now, Samsung’s Galaxy handsets have led the pack in terms of display technology, but it looks as though the S7 range has met its match with the Pixel and Pixel XL. Both phones have the same 5.5in screen with an impressive QHD resolution, and they’re evenly matched when it comes to ppi count.
Both handsets exhibit popping colours, crisp visuals and impressive black levels. The difference between Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology and the Pixel’s standard AMOLED screen is negligible.
The Edge S7’s screen curves around the phone entirely and makes it feel like one piece. Compared with the vanilla Galaxy S7, the Edge suffers slightly with viewing angles for this reason.
However, elsewhere it puts the extra space to good use with the innovative Edge display. This time around we’re happy that Samsung managed to build on the underused S6 feature, so you’re able to augment it with a RAM monitor, compass, data use monitor and app shortcuts.
The S7 Edge has a further trick up its sleeve in the shape of the always-on display. This lights up the screen with just a small number of pixels to provide information like time and date, battery health and selected notifications from Samsung’s staple apps.
The Pixel XL does have its own Ambient display, but this pops into life only when new notifications are received before disappearing from view.
Both handsets use Gorilla Glass 4 for protection.
Winner: Galaxy S7 Edge
Next page: Cameras and software
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