A few weeks back, we compared the Google Pixel XL against the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge in a versus comparison battle. In that comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge emerged as the victor, but only by a very small margin. In most categories, the two smartphones were almost at par with each other. Today, we are going to be comparing their “smaller siblings” against each other. That’s right. Today we are pitting the Google Pixel against the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Like the Pixel XL, the Pixel too is one of the finest smartphones that Google has launched yet. It includes almost all the key hardware features that you will find on the bigger and more expensive Pixel XL, except for a few. But if you don’t like large phones, you will end up liking the Pixel more than the Pixel XL. It is the same story with the Galaxy S7. It happens to be virtually identical to the Galaxy S7 Edge in most areas, but offers a smaller, more compact design that should appeal to consumers who don’t like their smartphones too big.

Similar to our previous versus comparisons, we will be putting the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Google Pixel head-to-head in ten different categories – Display, Dimensions, Processor, Design, Connectivity, Memory, Camera, Operating System, Battery Life, and Price. A win in each round gives the winner 1 point, so the one that grabs the maximum number of points by the end of our Google Pixel vs Samsung Galaxy S7 specs battle will be declared the winner. So let’s get started and find out if the Google Pixel can manage to defeat the Samsung Galaxy S7 in our comparison today.

Display

We are going to start off our comparison by taking a look at the displays on the Google Pixel and the Samsung Galaxy S7.

The Google Pixel features a 5-inch AMOLED display with 1080 x 1920 Full HD resolution and a pixel density figure of 441 pixels per inch. For protection, the handset features a layer of 2.5D curved Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on top. The handset uses a latest generation Super AMOLED display from Samsung, so it does boast of strong punchy colors and fantastic black depth, along with low power consumption. Unlike Samsung Galaxy flagship smartphones, the Pixel doesn’t come with display modes that you can choose from. Instead, Google offers an sRGB display mode under Developer options, which makes colors more accurate than the default setting. So if you prefer natural color reproduction, you should enable the sRGB display mode as soon as you get your hands on your Google Pixel. By default, colors on the Pixel display aren’t very accurate, but the sRGB mode does make colors appear a lot closer to reality. However, the display on the Google Pixel isn’t as accurate in terms of color reproduction as the best in the business. In terms of the brightness, the Google Pixel display is very bright, hitting almost 450 nits on 100% brightness. That means you will not have any difficulties viewing the display clearly even on a bright sunny day. A unique software feature on the Google Pixel is the ability to adjust font settings. The scale of the UI can be adjusted with the Display Size setting under Settings – Display.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 features a slightly larger 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with 1440 x 2560 Quad HD resolution, resulting in a pixel density figure of 577 pixels per inch. The display is protected by a later of 2.5D curved Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on top. Like other recent flagship Samsung Galaxy smartphones, the Galaxy S7 Super AMOLED panel is outstanding in pretty much all respects. It offers fantastic color accuracy, greyscale accuracy, high peak brightness in auto mode, and brilliant sunlight legibility. Samsung offers a choice of four display modes to users – Basic, AMOLED Cinema, AMOLED Photo, and the default Adaptive Mode. The default Adaptive Mode is the least accurate, giving you punchy colors and adjusting the color reproduction depending on what is displayed on the screen. If you want the most accurate colors, then you can switch to the Basic Mode. The AMOLED Photo is a great mode as well, which still offers accurate colors but they do appear more vibrant when compared to the Basic Mode. The Galaxy S7 display also comes with the “Always on Display” feature, which keeps part of the display on all the time to show you the clock, unread messages count, missed calls, as well as the remaining battery percentage. As expected, the feature does drain battery life, so you may not use it all the time. You don’t need to worry about any burn-in issues however, as the display area used changes constantly. And when you slide the Galaxy S7 inside your pocket, the display is turned off completely to save battery life.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S7 display does have an edge over the Google Pixel Display thanks to greater color accuracy, higher resolution, and higher pixel density. So the display round goes to the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Dimensions

The Samsung Galaxy S7 managed to snatch the victory in the display round, but can it win the dimensions round too?

The Google Pixel measures 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5mm and weighs in at 143 grams. Samsung Galaxy S7 on the other hand is 142.4mm tall, 69.6mm wide, and 7.9mm thin. In terms of weight, the Samsung flagship smartphone tips the scales at 152 grams.

Despite featuring a 0.1” larger display compared to the Google Pixel, it is the Samsung Galaxy S7 that is more compact. However, it is slightly heavier when compared to the Google Pixel.
Thanks to a higher screen-to-body ratio, the dimensions round too ends up in the Samsung Galaxy S7’s favor.

Memory

While we saw the amount of RAM go up significantly on flagship handsets this year, fewer manufacturers have bothered to upgrade the internal storage on their most expensive smartphones.
The Google Pixel, like the Nexus smartphones in the past, does not include a microSD card slot for memory expansion. You two storage variants – 32GB and 128GB. While it is always recommended that you go with the highest storage variant, you do have to consider the price as well. While we aren’t too thrilled with the 32GB of base storage, Google is using the latest UFS 2.0 internal memory on the Pixel, which offers significantly improved performance when compared to the traditional eMMC 5.0 flash memory chips used on most smartphones. Google also offers free unlimited cloud storage with the Pixel, so if you don’t mind relying on the cloud, you won’t run out of space very easily even on the 32GB variant. When it comes to RAM, the Google Pixel includes 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, which is not very impressive anymore for a flagship smartphone, as we have seen a number of new flagships launch this year with 6GB of LPDDR4 RAM. That said, 4GB of RAM is still perfectly fine and the Google Pixel handles multitasking quite well.

Samsung Galaxy S7, unlike the Galaxy S6, comes in only two storage variants – 32GB and 64GB. Samsung decided to axe the 128GB storage option this year, perhaps due to a lack of adequate demand from consumers. Another disappointing decision that Samsung made this year is to restrict the 64GB model to a select few markets only. And even in those markets, the 64GB variant is not as easily available for purchase as the 32GB variant. Perhaps the main reason behind this is that the Galaxy S7, unlike its predecessor, comes with a microSD card slot for further expansion. Samsung finally figured out a way to make microSD cards work in conjunction with the UFS 2.0 internal memory. So, although you are only getting 32GB of internal storage on the base variant, you do have the option of expanding it further by up to 2TB by adding a microSD card. The smartphone also includes 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, which isn’t the most impressive anymore, but we can’t blame Samsung as there were hardly any smartphones with 6GB of RAM on the market when the Galaxy S7 went on sale. Samsung has also improved their software optimization, which has improved the multitasking performance on the Galaxy S7. The 2015 flagship Galaxy smartphones were terrible in terms of multitasking, but the Galaxy S7 is a big improvement. That said, if you multitask heavily, the Galaxy S7 is not going to impress you.

Both the Google Pixel and the Samsung Galaxy S7 aren’t exactly “best in class” in the memory department and none of them has a clear edge over the other. While the Google Pixel offers up to 128GB of onboard memory, it does not come with microSD expansion that the Galaxy S7 offers. The Samsung Galaxy S7 on the other hand isn’t the most impressive device when it comes to multitasking. So the memory round ends up in a tie.

Connectivity

Most modern flagship smartphones are pretty much identical to each other when it comes to connectivity features. Is it the same case with the Google Pixel and the Samsung Galaxy S7? Let us find out.

The Google Pixel offers Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy, NFC, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, 4G LTE Cat.12 (maximum download speeds up to 600 Mbps), and a USB Type-C port. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 on the other hand comes with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, ANT+, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC, 4G LTE Cat.9 support (maximum download speeds up to 450 Mbps), and a Micro USB 2.0 port. Both smartphones come with a fingerprint scanner as well.

The Google Pixel, being the newer of the two handsets, holds the edge in the connectivity department with faster LTE speeds and a USB Type-C port. That means the winner of the connectivity round is the Google Pixel.

Camera

For most users, camera performance is definitely key when it comes to deciding between two or smartphones. Most, if not all manufacturers stepped up their game in the camera department this year, so no matter which flagship Android smartphone you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

The main camera on the Google Pixel is a 12.3MP unit, sourced from Sony. The Sony IMX378 is a 1/2.3” type sensor, similar to the IMX377 sensor used on the Google Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P smartphones last year. The new sensor offers improved optimization, better HDR support, and higher frame rates. Thanks to a large sensor size and relatively low resolution, the sensor boasts of a large 1.55 micron sized pixels. For fast focus speeds, the camera integrates phase detection autofocus + laser detection autofocus technologies. The large pixel size is perhaps one of the main reasons why Google (HTC rather) decided to use an f/2.0 aperture lens instead of going with a brighter f/1.8 or f/1.7 aperture lens that we find on a few other 2016 flagship handsets. For video, the Pixel’s rear snapper comes with advanced Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) technology, which relies on a gyroscope to ensure you get highly steady footage when shooting videos. The camera also offers face detection, slow-mo video capture in 720p resolution at 240 fps, panorama shots, 4K video capture, and a powerful dual-tone LED flash. A great software feature available on the Google Pixel is the HDR+ feature. It is enabled by default and allows users to capture HDR images with great color accuracy and better highlights. So if you love taking photos in HDR mode, the Pixel will definitely please you. In fact, as far as image quality and camera performance goes, the Google Pixel is currently the best smartphone on the market, along with its bigger sibling, the Pixel XL. DxOMark has rated the Google Pixel camera as the best in the business right now, with a score of 89. Be it daylight or low-light situations, the Pixel’s 12.3MP camera delivers fantastic results that will impress everyone. For selfies, the Google Pixel comes equipped with an 8MP fixed-focus unit with large 1.4 micron sized pixels and an f/2.4 aperture lens. It can also capture videos at up to 1080p Full HD resolution.

Samsung surprised everyone earlier this year by going with a lower resolution 12MP camera on the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge. While the sensor may offer lower maximum resolution compared to the 2015 Samsung Galaxy flagship smartphones, it is a larger sensor with a 1/2.5” size and higher pixel size of 1.4 microns. The larger 12MP sensor has been paired with a brighter f/1.7 aperture lens, which helps draw in more light, boosting image quality under low-light situations. The sensor also integrates the innovative Dual Pixel technology, helping the Galaxy S7 camera achieve blazing fast focus speeds. Samsung has packed two photodiodes instead of one in each pixel, which is why the technology has been named “Dual Pixel”. You could consider Dual Pixel tech to be an evolution of the phase detection autofocus technology that is found on most smartphone cameras currently. The rear camera also integrates optical image stabilization (or Smart OIS as Samsung likes to call it), a single-LED flash, and support for video recording at up to 4K resolution. Some of the key software features include Panorama shots, Auto HDR, face detection, Motion Panorama, Motion Photo, Hyperlapse, and more. Users also get full manual control over the camera, with the ability to tinker with options such as the shutter speed, exposure, ISO, white balance, and more. Pro users can choose to shoot pictures in the RAW format as well, something that is still not very common on all flagship handsets. For selfies, the Galaxy S7 features a 5MP front-facing camera with an f/1.7 aperture bright lens and support for video capture at up to 1440p resolution. Key selfie camera features include Selfie Flash, Wide Selfie mode, Beauty mode, etc.

When it comes to camera performance, both the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Google Pixel are excellent smartphones. In most areas, the two cameras are pretty much on par with each other, so you really can’t go wrong with either handset. One thing that you should note is that the Google Pixel camera app isn’t the most feature-rich out there, and you don’t get any manual controls whatsoever. Since both the smartphones are comparable in the camera department, we are going to declare this round a tie.

Battery Life

On paper, the Samsung Galaxy S7 has the clear edge in this round. But will it be an easy victory for the Samsung Galaxy S7?

The Google Pixel features a 2,770mAh capacity non-removable battery, which is slightly on the lower side for a 2016 flagship smartphone. Google claims the battery delivers up to 26 hours of talk time on a 3G network, up to 13 hours of browsing over Wi-Fi, 13 hours of video playback time, and up to 110 hours of audio playback (via headset). The handset supports fast charging over the USB Type-C port, capable of delivering up to 7 hours of usage from just 15 minutes of charging. The fast charging speeds are achieved with an 18W USB Type-C charger, which is bundled along with the Google Pixel. However, there is no support for wireless charging.

Samsung Galaxy S7 on the other hand is a significant improvement over its predecessor in the battery life department, packing a 3000mAh capacity battery inside. Similar to the Google Pixel, Galaxy S7 too offers fast charging support and is in fact one of the fastest charging flagship handsets on the market. It also includes support for fast wireless charging, which means you get the convenience of both fast charging as well as wireless charging at the same time. The Galaxy S7 is actually one of the few smartphones on the market right now that supports the fast wireless charging standard. While the Galaxy S7 does offer impressive battery life, it is the Exynos 8890-powered version that is more efficient. In the US, Samsung only sells the Snapdragon 820-powered version of the Galaxy S7, which offers slightly lower battery life.

As you would expect, the Google Pixel doesn’t manage to deliver similar battery life as the Samsung Galaxy S7, simply because it features a smaller capacity battery. So if battery life is of prime importance to you, the Samsung Galaxy S7 should be your pick. The battery life round goes to the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Processor

The Google Pixel runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC, one of the most powerful mobile chipsets released in 2016. For the most part however, the Snapdragon 821 is similar to the Snapdragon 820 chipset that Qualcomm debuted in early 2016. It is manufactured on the same 14nm LPP node as the Snapdragon 820 by Samsung. The main difference between the two chips is that the Snapdragon 821 comes with a higher clocked CPU as well as GPU. However, this is strangely not the case with the Snapdragon 821 chipsets powering the Google Pixel. Instead, the Snapdragon 821 SoC inside the Google Pixel has been clocked at the same frequencies as the Snapdragon 820. The two high-performance Kryo cores have been clocked at 2.15 GHz, while the two power-efficiency oriented Kryo cores are clocked at 1.6 GHz. It is a similar story in case of the GPU as well, the Adreno 530, which has been clocked at 624 MHz. Since there is basically no difference in the clocks, the Snapdragon 821 SoC inside the Google Pixel performs similar to a Snapdragon 820 SoC.

Samsung Galaxy S7 on the other hand is available in two versions – one powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC under the hood and the other powered by Samsung’s in-house developed Exynos 8890 SoC under the hood. Both the chipsets are manufactured by Samsung on a 14nm Low Power Plus node. In the US, Samsung sells the Snapdragon 820-powered version. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 is a 64-bit quad-core SoC utilizing Qualcomm’s custom Kryo cores. The two performance-oriented cores are clocked at 2.15 GHz, while the two efficiency-oriented Kryo cores are clocked at 1.6 GHz. Powering the graphics is the Adreno 530 GPU, which is a significant upgrade over Adreno 430 GPU used on the 2015 Snapdragon 810 flagship SoC. The Exynos 8890 on the other hand is an octa-core 64-bit chipset with Samsung’s custom M1 and ARM Cortex-A53 clusters. The high-performance M1 quad-core cluster is clocked at 2.3 GHz and the ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core cluster is clocked at 1.6 GHz. The chipset comes with the ARM Mali-T880MP12 GPU, clocked at 650 MHz. In terms of performance numbers, the Snapdragon 820 and the Exynos 8890 SoCs are largely similar to each other in most benchmarks.

While the Snapdragon 821 has an edge over the Snapdragon 820 in terms of performance numbers, this is not true in the Pixel’s case, as Google has underclocked the SoC. That means the Google Pixel and the Samsung Galaxy S7 end up tied in the processor round.

Design

Made for Google by HTC, the Pixel features a premium build with Aerospace-grade aluminum unibody and a glass “window” on the upper portion of the handset’s back. In terms of the overall design, the Google Pixel does resemble the HTC One A9 from 2015, which launched as the company’s “Hero” device. Similar to the One A9, the Pixel has visible antenna strips at the back, which we aren’t a fan of. The fingerprint scanner positioning is different though. Instead of being embedded on the home button, the Google Pixel comes with the fingerprint scanner mounted at the back. The smartphone is IP53 certified for dust and water resistance, providing limited resistance against the elements. It is not a waterproof device, so you shouldn’t take it to the pool or use it under the shower or rain. The Pixel comes in two color options – Quite Black and Very Silver.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 design is similar to its predecessor for the most part, with a few subtle changes. The solid frame in the middle is made out of Series 7000 aluminum, while the front and back of the handset feature Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection. At the back, the most noticeable change is that the rear camera lens doesn’t protrude outwards as much as it did on the Galaxy S6. It is however, thicker than its predecessor, mainly due to the higher capacity battery that Samsung has fitted inside the Galaxy S7. The flagship handset also comes with IP68 certification for dust and water resistance, which means it is capable of surviving under water up to 1.5 meters deep for a period of 30 minutes. In terms of color options, the Galaxy S7 is available in Black Onyx, Pink Gold, and Gold Platinum color options in the United States market.

Overall, both the Google Pixel and the Samsung Galaxy S7 are fantastic devices in terms of design as well as build quality, justifying their premium pricing. Since there is no clear winner here, we’re leaving it up to you to decide which one you feel is better in terms of the design. We’re calling it a tie.

Operating System

The Google Pixel currently runs on the latest Android 7.1 Nougat operating system, which is a minor upgrade over the Android 7.0 version that most manufacturers are releasing for their flagship handsets now. Google’s Pixel is the first smartphone on the market to ship with Google Assistant, an evolution of the Google Now virtual assistant found on other Android smartphones. The Google Assistant offers greater functionality when compared to Google Now, and also seems to have quite a chatty personality. It is also the first smartphone to support the Google Daydream platform, allowing users to explore the world of virtual reality when paired with the Google Daydream VR headset. It isn’t the only smartphone to support Daydream anymore though, as a few other manufacturers have announced new products with Daydream support. Being a Google-branded device, the Pixel is guaranteed to receive two years of OS upgrades from launch and three years of security updates from launch.

Samsung Galaxy S7 on the other hand currently runs on the outdated Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow operating system, with the latest version of TouchWiz running on top. By now, almost everyone will be aware of the fact that TouchWiz has been refined by Samsung in the recent past, so it isn’t anywhere near as bad as it used to be a few years back. The latest Samsung flagship smartphones do not exhibit lag after a few months of use, and the amount of bloatware has been reduced significantly as well. That said, Samsung does offer a variety of features such as Smart Manager, S Voice, Slide Sync, S Finder, Download Booster, S Health, Quick Connect, and various power saving modes to extend battery life. An update to Android 7.0 Nougat is expected to be rolled out in January, with some reports claiming Samsung could directly jump to Android 7.1 Nougat instead of 7.0.

While the Samsung Galaxy S7 may soon be getting updated to Android Nougat, the Google Pixel definitely has the edge in terms of software. It is guaranteed to receive software support for a longer period of time, and the stock Android experience it offers cannot be matched by TouchWiz. So the operating system round goes to the Google Pixel.

Price

The Google Pixel is currently available in the US only via Verizon Wireless among the major carriers. Apart from Verizon, the Pixel is also sold unlocked by Google on the Play Store. From Verizon, you will be able to purchase the Google Pixel for a monthly payment of $27 for a period of 24 months. If you opt for a 2-year contract, a $199.99 payment will be required. And if you purchase it off-contract, you will have to shell out $699.99. On the Play Store, the Pixel is listed at $649 for the unlocked unit.

Samsung Galaxy S7 on the other hand can be easily bought from any major carrier or retailer in the United States. The 32GB variant of the Galaxy S7 can be purchased for a monthly payment of $20.83 to $21.75 for a period of 24 months, depending on the carrier you are getting it from. Off-contract prices range from $599.99 to $669.99, again depending on the carrier.

So when it comes to price, as well as availability, the Samsung Galaxy S7 does have a slight edge over the Google Pixel. That means the price round goes to the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Conclusion

Out of the ten different categories that we pitted the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Google Pixel against in, the Galaxy S7 managed to come out on top in four categories. Four categories ended up in a tie, and the Google Pixel managed to win over the Galaxy S7 in two categories. That means the winner of our specs comparison today is the Samsung Galaxy S7. However, both smartphones are pretty much on par with each other in most areas, so whichever smartphone you choose, you will not end up disappointed.

Which smartphone would you pick? The Google Pixel or the Samsung Galaxy S7?

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