And this year, Google is back with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. The next-generation smartphones build on their predecessors in a number of ways, including better cameras, faster processors, and a water resistant design.
The refresh brings the Pixel phones up to speed with a number of competitors, including the best-selling Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. So, which of these smartphones is the best fit for you?
A guide to help you choose when you want to upgrade.
Google Pixel 2 might not have the same flashy design as the Galaxy S8, but there’s still a lot here to like. Out of the box, Pixel 2 runs the latest and greatest version of Android.
Since the smartphone is designed and built by Google, it received the latest updates the moment they are available. That’s not true for the majority of Android smartphones, and is a huge differentiator for those picking a phone. Elsewhere, Google Pixel 2 looks to have the best camera of any smartphone on the market.
Google really impressed with its first-generation Pixel smartphone last year, and this year looks set to be no different. DxO bestowed the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL with the highest score in its history.
“The Google Pixel 2 is the top-performing mobile device camera we’ve tested, with a record-setting overall score of 98.
“Impressively, it manages this despite having ‘only’ a single-camera design for its main camera.
“Its top scores in most of our traditional photo and video categories put it ahead of our previous (tied) leaders, the Apple iPhone 8 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.”
These high-resolution photographs can be stored in the cloud free of charge. Like last year, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL land with unlimited cloud storage for full-resolution photographs and videos shot on the device.
That’s sure to provide users with peace of mind – especially when shooting family videos in 4K Ultra HD. Pixel 2 also includes Portrait Mode for your photographs, which uses artificial intelligence to add a bokeh-style blur to the background of your images.
Google supports this mode on both the front- and rear-facing cameras. Samsung has similar functionality built into the dual rear-camera set-up on the Galaxy Note 8, but it does not appear on the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+. If you want the best possible selfies, it might be worth picking up a Pixel over the Galaxy S8.
Anyone who is particularly passionate about the Android operating system, and wants to test the latest software features as soon as they’re announced, should probably stop reading, close this window, and buy a Google Pixel.
Android OEMs are notoriously slow when it comes to bringing the latest software updates to their devices – and Samsung is no exception. Google launched its Android 8.0 Oreo operating system in August, and yet, two months on, Samsung has yet to announce any details on a potential software update for its flagship smartphones, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ and Note 8.
Google Pixel smartphones receive software updates direct from the mothership, and therefore are always first to get the latest features and fixes. The Pixel range also runs Google’s stock Android software.
For our money, this “pure” version of Android is much nicer experience than the heavily-modified version that powers the Galaxy S8. However, this is subjective, and diehard Samsung fans might prefer the User Interface (UI) and icon design on the Galaxy S range.
And while it might not be as aesthetically pleasing, Samsung does include some genuinely useful functionality not available on other Android smartphones. For example, sliding the onscreen shutter button up-and-down within the camera app will either zoom-in or zoom-out.
It’s a nifty little shortcut, and makes taking photos one-handed with the 5.8-inch display much easier. There’s a swathe of similarly useful additions buried in TouchWiz.
Samsung Galaxy S8 is also an obvious choice for anyone who wants a large display. The phone flaunts an eye-watering 5.8-inch AMOLED display that bleeds to the very edge of the chassis, leaving just a wafer-thin bezel.
This ensures the physical footprint of the device remains manageable despite the mammoth screen. Samsung calls its stunning new edge-to-edge design the Infinity Display – and it certainly lives up to the lofty title.
By comparison, the chunky chin and forehead that bookends the 5-inch display on the Google Pixel 2 look impossibly antiquated. Galaxy S8 has a larger display – squeezed into a physical footprint that’s about the same size as the Pixel 2 (although it does miss out on the latter’s dual front-facing speakers).
The Samsung handset also offers greater future-proofing, since Samsung allows users to expand the onboard storage via MicroSD. That being said, Google does offer unlimited cloud storage for full-resolution photographs and videos shot with its Pixel smartphones.