Google Pixel vs Samsung Galaxy S7: did Google steal back the Android crown?

Google Pixel vs Samsung Galaxy S7: did Google steal back the Android crown?

Google has presented the Pixel, unveiled as the Nexus successor. With the Pixel, Google finally wants to establish itself as a smartphone manufacturer, climbing into the ring with Samsung. But how does the Google Pixel fare against the Galaxy S7? Our comparison based on technical data and our short hands-on review allow us get an insight into the matter. Of course, we already have lots of feedback about the Galaxy S7 in everyday life.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S7: design and build

The question of design is a matter of taste, which is why we want to steer clear of imposing our judgement here. However, there are some differences that are well worth mentioning. The back of the Galaxy S7 is completely made of glass. The glass surfaces on the front and back are rounded towards the edge, so that the phone fits comfortably in your hand.

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The Galaxy S7 / © NextPit

The Google Pixel, however, only has a glass surface covering the upper third of the back. Otherwise, the Pixel has an aluminum unibody, striking the possibility to add wireless charging.

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Two-thirds of the back of the Google Pixel are covered in a striking glass panel. / © NextPit

An important difference is that the Galaxy S7 is waterproof (IP68), so it can be immersed up to one and a half meters in water. In contrast, the Google Pixel is only water resistant (IP53), but at least that means you can use it in the rain without worrying about it (granted it isn’t torrential rains).

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S7: display

5-inch vs. 5.1-inch, Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) vs. Quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels), AMOLED vs. AMOLED: in the end what does this mean? On paper, the Galaxy S7 wins on points as it has the higher pixel density. But it’s not as easy as you might think. On the one hand, you have to find out which display has the better color representation. On the other, the viewing angle is also important. All in all, the Galaxy S7 offers great viewing experience, the Google Pixel, however, has yet to prove itself here.

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Google Pixel vs. Samsung Galaxy S7 / © NextPit

Considering Google's VR Daydream project, the question arose whether the screen would also be suitable for that. With the Galaxy S7 and its QHD resolution, you encounter the problem that the display matrix is visible in the VR Gear. For VR, not only does a high pixel density count, most of all the sub-pixels have to be large and their frames as narrow as possible. Up to now, Google hasn’t revealed anything to this regard.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S7: camera

The camera isn’t only an important feature in the high-end sector. In the comparison between the Galaxy S7 and the Google Pixel, we already have some pointers, especially regarding the already well known quality of the Galaxy S7 camera.

DxOMark has already extensively tested the Google Pixel for its photo quality and has provided some comparison photos online from the Galaxy S7. You do have to be a little careful with DxOMark, because the company offers its know-how to manufacturers as a consulting service, so its objectivity could be called into question. It could also be that smartphones are optimized according to the DxOMark test criteria. Despite these problems, the DxOMark analyses are usually valid.

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A Google Pixel, photographed with the Galaxy S7. / © NextPit

The comparison images on public view show that the Google Pixel gives outstanding results and at least in one case beats the Galaxy S7: when zoomed in, the Pixel shows a brick wall in clear detail, whereas the Galaxy S7 produces significant artifacts. In two further comparative images, it’s not so easy to spot the winner. The image of a chair is not photographed from the same perspective. The colors vary greatly and the Galaxy S7 might be the one to produce a better picture. A test pattern that checks the display of the color green gets different results depending on the type of photo. The S7 captures a lawn and a tree with richer detail, whereas the Pixel shows the sky more vividly.

Overall, in its detailed photo rating, DxOMark comes to the conclusion that the Pixel earns 89 points, but the S7 only gets 88. A marginal difference which is mainly seen in the enlarged details. The Galaxy S7 gets a lower score mainly due to the artifacts.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S7: software

Regarding software, the two rivals differ from each other more than in any other area. Samsung employs the user interface TouchWiz. Google however, relies largely on the pure Android Material Design look, but has also developed its own launcher, which selectively uses different accents.

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Google Pixel / © ANDROIDPIT

TouchWiz has often received negative criticism in the past because it was overloaded with pre-installed apps, in the process slowing smartphones down significantly and using up a lot of precious storage space right out of the box. Though Samsung has made efforts to rectify this, TouchWiz still puts on the brakes, although with powerful hardware, it’s not so noticeable. The old Nexus smartphones had software that was able to ensure smooth viewing in everyday use. The fact that the screen contents refreshed within 17 milliseconds vouches for that. Nexus smartphones can do that (even with the leaked Pixel Launcher), however the Samsung Galaxy S7 often can’t. We’re not saying that the Galaxy S7 display is jerky, but all seems to point to better everyday performance of the Google Pixel.

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Samsung Galaxy S7 / © ANDROIDPIT

What the Samsung doesn’t get are updates, which is also due to the major changes in software.  Although Samsung still responds relatively quickly with the Galaxy S7 monthly security updates, the Nougat platform updates are not even scheduled.

Google is going to provide the Pixel with the most recent version head-start over all other smartphones. It runs on Android 7.1 Marshmallow, while other smartphones probably won’t get that version until 2017. Pixel’s exclusive features, like the Google Assistant, round out the offer.

Whoever doesn’t want to buy a Pixel, but really needs the Assistant, can use it with the Allo Messenger.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S7: performance

Strong chipsets can be found in both the Google Pixel and the Galaxy S7. In terms of computing power, the Exynos 8890 of the S7 is slightly ahead, but the graphics performance in the Snapdragon 821 is probably higher. In everyday use, noticeable differences can hardly be expected.

Samsung’s Game Launcher is interesting for gamers, which allows the user to lower the resolution for games. In that way, games don’t have to be calculated in QHD, rather run in HD or Full HD. This function isn’t so urgently needed in the Google Pixel, as it has a lower screen resolution anyway.

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S7: accessories

Samsung has long been working on not only developing good smartphones, but has attempted to tinker around with a VR platform which is supposed to tie users down to Samsung. Google also started down this path.

Samsung has given its VR products a high priority: along with Oculus, Samsung has developed the VR Gear. In addition, the Samsung Gear 360 provides 360-degree images, which is a perfect complement for VR goggles. More accessories are available in the form of protective cases, which sometimes even include additional lenses for the camera.

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Samsung Gear 360 / © NextPit

With Daydream, Google has brought out a more open VR platform. The Daydream View VR goggles are a little cheaper and could be compatible with other smartphones in the future. In the Google universe, Chromecast is still around and (soon) Google Home will be here.

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The Google universe with Chromecast, Pixel and Daydream View. / © Google

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S7: specifications

Google Pixel vs. Samsung Galaxy S7 technical specifications

  Google Pixel Samsung Galaxy S7
Dimensions: 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.6 mm 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm
Weight: 143 g 152 g
Battery size: 2770 mAh 3000 mAh
Screen size: 5 in 5.1 in
Display technology: AMOLED AMOLED
Screen: 1920 x 1080 pixels (441 ppi) 2560 x 1440 pixels (577 ppi)
Front camera: 8 megapixels 5 megapixels
Rear camera: 12.3 megapixels 12 megapixels
Flashlight: Dual-LED Dual-LED
Android version: 7.1 - Nougat 7.0 - Nougat
User interface: Stock Android TouchWiz
RAM: 4 GB 4 GB
Internal storage: 32 GB
128 GB
32 GB
64 GB
Removable storage: Sorry, not yet available! microSD
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 Samsung Exynos 8890
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Number of cores: 4 8
Max. clock speed: 2.15 GHz 2.6 GHz
2.15 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2

Google Pixel vs. Galaxy S7: verdict

It can be said that the Google Pixel is a tough competitor for the Samsung Galaxy S7. Both are about the same size and have all the specs of high-end smartphones. All information that is available about the display and the camera indicates that the Google Pixel is on a par with the Galaxy S7 and sometimes even surpasses it in some areas.

Plus points for the Google Pixel are especially the guaranteed Android updates and the (presumably) higher performance user interface. However, the Samsung Galaxy S7 scores with a waterproof design and its microSD slot.

One big difference is to be found in the price. The Samsung Galaxy S7 currently costs $670, whereas for the smallest internal memory Google Pixel you will need to spend $649.

Google's jab at top Samsung smartphones seems to have worked, although thanks to its cheaper price the Samsung will probably get away with just a black eye.

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  • Kang Omen Jun 1, 2018 Link to comment

    samsung s3 gt-19300

  • Kelvin Boeie Oct 25, 2016 Link to comment

    I still go for Oneplus, Honor, LeEco etc
    They are better imo, i used the S7 and it was laggy af, my OP3 crushed it

  • Pamela Ritzau Oct 15, 2016 Link to comment

    I inherited the Samsung from my daughter and just trying to make it work. Not much friendly out there in Samsung stores except to refer me to this, which I am trying to understand.

  • Miroslav Dimitrov Oct 15, 2016 Link to comment

    my edge 7 has 3500mAh and the pixel has only 2770 mAh. on top of that s7 is 70% charged in less than 30 minutes. S7 still has better specs, but the competition is more than welcome as that will lead to progress.

  • Muhammad Imran Oct 13, 2016 Link to comment

    and i personally believe that exynos chipset is much better then snapdragon chipset

  • Muhammad Imran Oct 13, 2016 Link to comment

    i think samsung s7 is still better then google pixel

  • rick Oct 12, 2016 Link to comment

    nice job Google!

  • Dazzler Oct 12, 2016 Link to comment

    For me, the S7 range wins the hardware war here.

    It looks nicer, has an SD card slot, smaller bezels, physical/haptic buttons (rather than on-screen) and full waterproofing.

    The software aspects of the Pixel would not be enough to get me to buy one, I would go with S7 every time.

    • Paul Matencio Oct 12, 2016 Link to comment

      Hardware is nothing without software. The camera is enhanced by software. The Pixel Google assistant is simply awesome. The assistant is not as smart as you would expect at the beginning , however the more you teach your assistant, the best you will get from it. Yes it can learn pretty well and pretty fast. I would go for a Pixel for the excellent camera, the full resolution photos backup, the excellent assistant and much better software update, particularly security update. OIS vs EIS + Software? I will go for EIS+ Software because it will be enhanced over time, thanks to Software update.

      • Clive Richards Oct 12, 2016 Link to comment

        I disagree - you can update and add to to software - even root the device for greater control - you cannot increase or change the hardware specs once you have bought it.

  • BruinGuy Oct 11, 2016 Link to comment

    No wireless charging, no buy. No OIS, no buy. No Samsung Pay, no buy.

    • Paul Matencio Oct 12, 2016 Link to comment

      OIS or EIS + Software? I will choose the second option because your camera will be enhanced over time thanks to regular software updates.

    • Kelvin Boeie Oct 25, 2016 Link to comment

      Ofcourse google doesn't offer samsung pay -_-

  • steve Oct 11, 2016 Link to comment

    Both devices burn a hole in your pocket.!!

  • ljhaye Oct 11, 2016 Link to comment

    Daydream vs Gear VR, Viv vs Google Assistant; Pixel makes sense for Google. This is all about stopping Samsung's hardware platform from both dominating and stealing Android users from Google.

    Most android users wear Tizen watches (Gear S2, S3) and use Oculus for VR (Gear VR) all because they are tied to the Samsung hardware ecosystem. Most don't even know that these hardware devices are not at all related to either Android or Google. Google needs Samsung's smartphone customers if it's going to be successful in pushing Android into other hardware categories. Pixel will allow that to happen.

    With AI being the next big battleground for computing all smartphones will need to have an AI assistant. Now that Samsung has purchased Viv, Google Assistant will struggle on the popular Galaxy series of premium phones. Google saw that when the Galaxy customers overwhelmingly chose Samsung Pay over Android Pay. Samsung has become Android and the Pixel is Google's hope to change that reality.

    • jet sky Oct 19, 2016 Link to comment

      stealing Android users from Google? As i know android is no fully belong to google. Android is develope between Open Handset Alliance and Google

  • Josh Fuller Oct 11, 2016 Link to comment

    Android 7.1 Marshmallow?

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