The Google Pixel XL has held the top spot as far as smartphone cameras go since launch. Prior to that, the Samsung Galaxy S7 was regarded as one of the best cameras you could find on an Android smartphone. Even after the launch of the Pixel, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy 7 edge were still regarded as highly capable. In fact, we recently went for a trip to Thailand where we chose the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge over the Google Pixel and the OnePlus 3T as our travel companion. So when Samsung launched the flagship Galaxy S8 with little pomp and show around the camera, we were not entirely convinced that Samsung would let their next-gen smartphone run on a last-gen sensor. We briefly spent some time with the Galaxy S8+ at the launch event and armed with the Google Pixel XL, we managed to grab a few photos for a quick and dirty comparison.
Before we get into the camera comparison, it must be said that the two flagship devices are so different from each other in terms of design and build. While the Google Pixel XL has a more rugged and industrial design, The Samsung Galaxy S8+ has an extremely elegant build, comprising of mostly glass. While the google Pixel XL feels like a broad-shouldered jock, the Galaxy S8+ is more like a tall, slender gentleman. It’s interesting to see how two phones within the same category could be built so different from each other. The stark difference in design is a great thing as it gives Android lovers more choices in the top-shelf bracket of devices.
Here are a few photo of the two phones side by side from the launch event for your viewing pleasure.
There’s a lot that can be said based on the initial set of images that have come out of both the cameras. It would seem that the Google Pixel edges ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S8+ on their default settings when it comes to dynamic range. The shot of the exterior of the hotel shows how the Google Pixel XL is able to resolve better detail in the shadows in the overhead beams and even the foliage. Shooting directly into the sun, the Google Pixel XL resolves better detail in the Shadows, but the S8+ is no slouch. You can see a few of the images below. Images on the left (top for mobile readers) are shot on the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and those on the right (bottom for mobile readers) from the Google Pixel XL
The Front Facing Camera
The front facing cameras on both the smartphones are exceptionally good, but a closer look at the Samsung Galaxy S8 reveals how well it handles flair from direct sources of light. If you look closely at the light-bulb in the S8+ camera sample, you see a ring/halo around the light source. In the case of the Google Pixel XL, the flare is sharper, more pronounced and extrudes in multiple directions.
From the preliminary samples, it looks like the HDR algorithms of the Google Pixel XL might have an edge over the Samsung S8+. Given tht there is a fundamental difference at the sensor level, given that Google Pixel XL uses Sony’s IMX378 and the Samsung Galaxy S8+ uses a custom Sony IMX333 chip. We’re sure that there is more to the story than just their respective pixel pitches, but it is clear that Samsung can imprive the overall camera performance by further tweaking their HDR algorithms. This short comparison is by no means a definitive verdict, but we will put the Galaxy S8+ through its paces in our in-depth review very soon. Till then, you can see our hands on video where we look at the Samsung Galaxy S8+ along with its closest competitors.