Google Pixel XL Vs. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: 6 Weeks With Android Nougat Purity

Living On Google's Pixel XL, Coming From A Different Galaxy

When Google set out to develop and market its first Phone by Google branded device - not co-branded with a partner - and spiritual successors to its legacy Nexus brand, the company drew a line in the sand. Not only was the target to develop smartphones that demonstrated best of breed functionality and performance for the Android platform, but these devices would have features and capabilities not found in other Android devices on the market. To date, very few other smartphones, save for the LG V20 for example, are running Android 7 Nougat and there are only a handful of phones on the market currently that support Google’s Daydream VR headset technology. Google Daydream VR is a compelling answer to smartphone VR solutions like Samsung Gear VR, but what’s really interesting to many consumers is how Google’s latest flagship handset compares experientially versus other hot-selling Android devices, like Samsung’s Galaxy S7 series.

Pixel XL Vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge front2

As a perennial Samsung Galaxy S series user, I decided it was high time, beyond just the sterile confines of a product review, to live with Google’s latest Android purist device for an extended period of time. I’ve spent quality time with Nexus devices in the past, but the Google Pixel XL, with its 5.5-inch AMOLED display, felt like a possible successor as a daily driver for me. So, here are my high level take-aways of a Galaxy S7 Edge to Pixel XL migration, from hardware to software, and creature comforts.

Our hands-on video walk-around of the Google Pixel XL with Daydream View

Pixel XL vs Galaxy S7 Edge – The Display Goes To Samsung

I’m going to get this one out of the way early. If your primary focus is on the display in a handset, there is just no comparison to Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays currently, especially the curved glass of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Google’s Pixel XL AMOLED display does a reasonably good job of reproducing the saturation, contrast and pop of the Galaxy S7 Edge, but it’s not quite as bright, nor does it have quite the viewing angle capability. 

Pixel XL display

There’s also no substitution for the effect of the curved, edge-to-edge display on the Galaxy S7 Edge. The Pixel XL (seen here above) is flanked with more bezel and the display itself is not quite as close to the glass as the GS7 Edge. So oddly enough, if you’re a pixel snob, the Galaxy S7 Edge actually wins over Google's namesake Pixel XL. That's not to say the Pixel XL is hampered in any way from an image quality standpoint; it's just once you've seen what Samsung's curved 5.5-inch display can do, there's nothing quite like it currently. Although, admittedly, close seconds are indeed the Google Pixel XL as well as the Moto Z

Power Efficiency And Battery - A Landslide Win For The Pixel XL

Pixel XL BatteryLife

Here’s where the always-on benchmark numbers, versus real world anecdotal use case, vary greatly.  The Galaxy S7 Edge has a larger 3600 mAh battery versus the Pixel XL’s 3450 mAh power plant, but that doesn’t always equate to longer mixed-usage uptime; at least with the current setup of Android 6 Marshmallow on an AT&T GS7 Edge, versus the Pixel XL with Nougat and the same carrier. Android 7 Nougat’s advanced Doze capabilities make an appreciable difference in mainstream usage battery life.

Pixel XL Phone and Charge

If you’re not the type to be on your phone constantly, the Pixel XL offers a significant battery life advantage versus the Galaxy S7 Edge. This could change as Samsung rolls out Android 7 to its Galaxy line, but it’s up to carriers to push via OTA updates as well – which of course AT&T is late to the party with, as usual it seems.

That said, I've noticed the Pixel XL survives for nearly two days of mixed use (calls, web browsing, emails, text), in my specific use case. I would consider myself a moderate, but not heavy user. For reference, I generally consume about 3 - 4 Gigs of data per month, though I am on WiFi quite a bit. Also, though I don't use Google Maps a lot, I did leave the High Accuracy location services function on as the Pixel XL noticed my every move from office to restaurants and back home. In short, versus the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge in the same exact use case with my personal usage patterns, the Pixel XL generally survives, again mostly due to Android Nougat Doze features when idle, hours longer on average than what I was realizing on the Galaxy S7 Edge. I wish Google delivered wireless charging with the Pixel XL, but regardless, its battery life prowess offers a significant, tangible gain.

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