Prior to 2016, the title of the best Android smartphone usually went to a Samsung smartphone. That reign started with the Galaxy S3, which jumpstarted Samsung’s Android dominance. However, in October of 2016, Google jumped into the market with a smartphone designed in its own image, offering something different to the world.
Fast-forward to now, and the Google versus Samsung battle is between the Pixel 2 XL and Galaxy S9 Plus. These two devices are the top choices when the question about which Android device is the best.
There are a few elements to consider when answering this question such as design, software, camera and price. Both phones are very evenly matched, but there are two contrasting details that make the argument for me: software and design.
When going with the Pixel 2 XL, it’s all about the software. Google’s Pixel line has the best Android software experience around and it’s not even close. The only other devices that come close are those that have stock Android, but even then, they don’t have the full backing of Google for regular updates. You can already download the Android P beta over the air with the Pixel.
Choosing the Galaxy S9 Plus will be about design. Samsung has hit its stride in making phones, and the S9 Plus wears its perfection of an aluminum band holding together a sandwich of glass panels very gracefully. It feels premium, looks fantastic and makes way for wireless charging.
You may be muttering underneath your breath, how about the display or camera? While there are differences there, the two are interchangeable, therefore they cancel each other out. The Galaxy S9 Plus has a better display and the Pixel 2 XL has a better camera. But vice versa, the Galaxy S9 Plus has a really good camera and the Pixel 2 XL has a really good display so you don’t miss out too much.
With software and design, it’s a different story. There is a clear winner in each category. So which do I take, the Pixel 2 XL or Galaxy S9 Plus?
It was a close call, but I’d go with the Pixel 2 XL. I value software over design ever so slightly. Samsung has done a much better job of late at improving its software; however, it’s still not as refined as what Google does with the Pixel line. With the Pixel, you don’t worry about bloatware like Bixby or random third-party apps. That is very comforting to me, so the Pixel 2 XL is my choice.