Google at the Made by Google event in San Francisco on Tuesday unveiled two new Pixel smartphones, officially killing its Nexus series. Moving forward, Google looks to unveil its own smartphones built around the Android ecosystem powered by the newly announced Google Assistant. The Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones have been positioned as premium flagships boasting of high-end specs with exclusive features. At the event, Google executives took several digs at Apple, the most notable being that the Pixel smartphones do not sport the 'unsightly camera bump' - referring to the much-derided bump seen on recent iPhone models.
Camera bump or not, the Google Pixel and Pixel XL at their price point are placed among the other premium handsets out there - the most notable ones being the iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - or, the flagships by the two largest and most famous smartphone manufacturers in the world. We pit the three together to see whether the new Google Pixel stands firm amongst the leaders of the old regime, or falters in their shadow.
The Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones are set to arrive in India this month, with the pre-sale beginning as soon as October 13. The price of the Google Pixel 32GB is at Rs. 57,000, while the 128GB can be purchased for Rs. 66,000. The larger Pixel XL 32GB is priced at Rs. 67,000, while the 128GB variant can be purchased for Rs. 76,000.
In comparison, the iPhone 7 is priced starting at Rs. 60,000 (32GB variant). The 128GB is priced at Rs. 70,000, and the new 256GB will set you back by Rs. 80,000. The larger iPhone 7 Plus is priced at Rs. 72,000, Rs. 82,000, and Rs. 92,000 respectively. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is up for pre-order on Amazon and Flipkart, and shipments are set to begin on October 7.
Coming to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, the company only brought the 32GB variant to India and priced it at Rs. 56,900. However in August, it received a price cut of Rs. 5,000 and can now be purchased for Rs. 50,900 from the Samsung India Store. If the 32GB storage suffices your needs, then the Galaxy S7 Edge is the cheapest in the market currently. To put things into perspective, the 128GB variant of the Google Pixel is much cheaper than the iPhone 7 128GB variant in India.
(Also see: Google Pixel and Pixel XL First Impressions)
Specifications and Features
Google at the event highlighted various specifications and features of the Google Pixel including the camera, the fast charging, the unlimited storage, and the Really Blue colour variant. We dive deep into the specs to see which one holds more weight on paper.
The Google Pixel is slightly bigger than the iPhone 7 and sports a 5-inch full-HD (1080x1920 pixels) display with 441ppi pixel density. The iPhone 7, meanwhile, has a 4.7-inch (750x1334 pixels) display with 326ppi pixel density.
The 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge falls in the same category as the larger Google Pixel XL and the iPhone 7 Plus. The Google Pixel XL and the Galaxy S7 Edge have the same resolution and pixel density at - 1440x2560 pixels resolution and 534ppi pixel density. The iPhone 7 Plus on the other hand has the same 5.5-inch display, but with 1080x1920 pixels resolution and 401ppi pixel density. So, while it might be unfair to compare a 5.5-inch display with a 5-inch one or a 4.7-inch one, the Galaxy S7 Edge stands tall with the highest pixel density.
(Also see: Google Pixel Phones in Pictures)
While the Google Pixel XL is powered by the current fastest Snapdragon 821 quad-core SoC, the Galaxy S7 Edge is powered by the the company's own Exynos 8890 octa-core SoC in India. The former comes with an Adreno 530 GPU, while the latter houses a Mali-T880 MP12 GPU. Both the smartphones are paired with 4GB of RAM. The iPhone 7, on the other hand, has its own A10 processor paired with 2GB RAM (3GB of RAM on the iPhone 7 Plus). All the three smartphones look capable enough to handle multi-tasks and heavy games, however our full opinion is reserved till we review the iPhone 7 and the Pixel smartphones.
As mentioned, Samsung is offering only the 32GB Galaxy S7 Edge variant in India for now. The Google Pixel has been launched in 32GB and 128GB variants, while the iPhone 7 is available in 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB variants. However, Google goes a step further, and is even offering unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos to all Pixel and Pixel XL smartphone buyers. At its price, as we mentioned, the Galaxy S7 offers the most storage for your money (it also includes a microSD card slot), however, the lack of a variant larger than 32GB in the country might put some off.
Google positions its camera as the 'best in the market' and even asserts that it got the highest score of 89 on DxOMark. The camera analysis website does rate the Pixel smartphone higher than the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge. The Google Pixel has a 12.3-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, OIS, and dual-LED dual tone flash. It captures 1.55-micron pixel size, and offers HDR+ mode which claims to have no shutter lag. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor for selfies.
The Galaxy S7 Edge gas a 12-megapixel sensor at the back with f/1.7 aperture, OIS, and LED flash. It captures 1.4-micron size pixels, and has auto-HDR mode as well. At the front, there is a 5-megapixel camera with a screen flash for low-light photography.
The iPhone 7 boasts of a 12-megapixel sensor as well, but with f/1.8 aperture, OIS, and quad-LED dual tone flash. HDR mode is also available on the iPhone 7, and the front camera has a 7-megapixel sensor for selfies (with screen flash). The iPhone 7 Plus has a dual camera setup - one 28mm wide-angle lens with f/1.8 aperture, and another 56mm telephoto lens with f/2.8 aperture. With the second lens, optical zoom can go up to 10x, without compromising on clarity. Once again, we'll reserve our judgement until after we've reviewed both the iPhone 7 and Google Pixel.
Apple falls behind as usual, when it comes to battery size, however, battery life figures are arguable. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus pack 1960mAh and 2900mAh batteries respectively. The Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones have 2770mAh and 3450mAh batteries, while Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge sits on top with a 3600mAh battery. Batteries of all three smartphones are non-removable, and only the Android-based smartphones support fast charging. We'll hold back in declaring a winner in this case as well, as we haven't independently tested the battery life of the iPhone 7 and Google Pixel.
This is probably one of the biggest reasons why a consumer buys an iPhone over an Android smartphone, and vice versa. While the iPhone 7 runs on the latest iOS 10, the Google Pixel runs on Android 7.1 Nougat out-of-the-box. Each operating system has unique features and offerings, and has loyalists around the world. Both the smartphones run on the latest respective software, while the Galaxy S7 Edge runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow (with TouchWiz UI tweaks on top) out-of-the box. The iPhone 7 and Google Pixel stand tall here, with the Galaxy S7 lagging behind in terms of the latest Android features, if nothing else.
In this department, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is the clear winner. The Google Pixel is IP53 certified, which means it can withstand splashes and rain when held at an angle not more than 60 degrees from the vertical, but it will falter if kept flat or at an angle more than 60 degrees from the vertical - all of which means it is not very water resistant at all. Apple on the other hand announced an IP67 certification for the iPhone 7, which means it is rated to withstand immersion in up to 1 metre of water for up 30 minutes - it is also marketing it as splash and water resistant. Coming to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, it has an IP68 rating, which means it can withstand immersion in up to 1.5 metres of water for up to 30 minutes - it is also being marketed as water resistant.
All three smartphones have their own share of exclusive features making them stand apart from the other. The Google Pixel is offering a Really Blue colour variant, something that was heavily rumoured to come with the iPhone 7, but didn't. It also is the first phone to have built-in Google Assistant and a live 24x7 customer care support with integrated Screen Share for better help. As mentioned, it offers unlimited cloud storage, a useful feature that isn't a part of Apple or Samsung. Apple charges for cloud storage after a certain limit is exceeded.
The iPhone 7, on the other hand, has Siri - the venerable voice-based virtual assistant built much before Google Assistant. It performs all the tasks that Google Assistant can, including third-party integration now, and has been a popular feature among users. The iOS platform also offers exclusive services like FaceTime and iMessages, apps that some loyalists swear by. The iPhone 7, however, lacks the headphone jack, a feature that Apple tries to compensate for with the bundled but arguably inconvenient adapter inside the box.
The Galaxy S7 Edge is the only smartphone of the three to sport a dual edge display. The S7 Edge has garnered high sale numbers for Samsung, and has proved to be very successful in the market. The TouchWiz UI brings some useful tweaks to the Android interface, such as Smart Share, and many Samsung fans swear by them.
Companies like HTC and LG have tried hard to make a solid mark in the highly competitive market, but have failed to measure up with Samsung and Apple, who continue to rule the premium smartphone segment. But now with the entry of Google, there is potential for change. Even with the steep price tag, the Google Pixel and Pixel XL have all the muscle on paper to give Apple and Samsung a fair bit of fight. Our final call on which smartphone makes for the best investment of your hard earned money will have to wait for our reviews of the Apple's and Google's latest. Stay tuned.
Corrigendum: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge does not support a microSD card, and the iPhone 7 sports an f/2.2 aperture on its rear camera. We regret the errors.