Samsung makes the most popular high-end phones, but Google has a huge following despite its much smaller sales. Both are on the minds of flagship phone buyers, and we know everything about them to help you find which is right for you.
Do it all
Samsung Galaxy S10+
- Best display in the industry
- Relatively compact and light
- Headphone jack and SD card slot
- Ultrawide rear camera
- Weaker low-light camera quality
- Cumbersome software is tougher to learn
- Slower (and shorter) software update schedule
The Galaxy S10+ is an easy default pick for most people because it does it all, with every hardware and software feature you could want. It has a brilliant display, its triple-camera combo is versatile and consistent, and all of the little hardware additions add to the appeal. You just have to be willing to learn and tweak the software.
Google Pixel 4 XL
- Best camera you can get today
- Super-smooth 90Hz display
- Simple and beautiful hardware
- Years of the latest software, guaranteed
- Weak battery life
- No headphone jack
- Less RAM and storage
The Pixel 4 XL has simple software that’s easy to understand and simple to use, without any superfluous features or cruft, and it’s brilliant to use on its 90Hz display. It also has the best smartphone camera you can buy, even without an ultrawide sensor. However, its Achilles’ heel is battery life, which is hours shorter than the GS10+ on a typical day.
What’s the difference between the Pixel 4 XL and Galaxy S10+?
Let’s set the stage for this comparison by pointing out that Samsung absolutely has the advantage in terms of the number of specs, features, and capabilities. Samsung has always played the "more of everything" game, and it really shows against Google’s simpler approach that focuses more on the whole rather than the parts.
Samsung has always played the "more of everything" game, and it really shows against Google’s simpler approach.
Even though they have the same processor, the Galaxy S10+ has 2GB more RAM than the Pixel 4 XL, which doesn’t really impact usage today but can make a big difference over a couple years as apps get more resource-hungry. What does make a difference today is storage, which at 128GB is double the Pixel 4 XL — and that storage can be expanded with a microSD later on. Both phones have solid stereo speakers, but for private listening the Galaxy S10+ has the ever-so-rare 3.5 mm headphone jack still.
There’s also a big differentiator in biometrics: the Pixel 4 XL has a new face unlock feature, while the Galaxy S10+ has a tried-and-true fingerprint sensor. The new face unlock is just as secure as a fingerprint, and works well in all lighting conditions — but the one big caveat is that apps have to be updated to support it, which could take months. Samsung’s fingerprint sensor works with every app that needs it.
Things are much closer when it comes to hardware, design, and display quality.
The display comparison is a bit more nuanced. The Galaxy S10+’s display is, overall, better — it’s considerably brighter and easier to see in direct sunlight, which is really important. However, the Pixel 4 XL’s display has a 90Hz refresh rate that’s just glorious to see because it smooths out every bit of movement on-screen. Brightness aside, it’s right on par with the Galaxy S10+.
Choosing between these phones based on hardware and design is also nuanced, and comes down to personal preference. The Galaxy S10+ is a bit more flashy, while the Pixel 4 XL is simpler and a bit cleaner overall with its flat display and matte metal frame. All of Samsung’s color options feature glossy glass backs, too, while the Pixel in both white and orange have matte glass backs that strike a great balance between grip and resisting fingerprints.
|Google Pixel 4 XL||Galaxy S10+|
|Operating System||Android 10||Android 9|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Pixel Neural Core
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Rear Camera 1||12.2MP, 1.4µm, f/1.7
|12MP, 1.4µm, f/1.5 or f/2.4
|Rear Camera 2||16MP, 1.0µm, f/2.4
|12MP, 1.0µm, f/2.4
|Rear Camera 3||n/a||16MP, 1.0µm, f/2.2
|Front Camera 1||8MP, f/2.0
|Front Camera 2||n/a||8MP, f/2.2
|Security||Face unlock||Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor|
|Charging||18W USB-C PD
|15W USB-C PD
Quick Charge 2.0
Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 (12W)
|Dimensions||160.4 x 75.1 x 8.2 mm
|157.6 x 74.1 x 7.4mm
All of that is sort of "shades of gray" stuff, though — both phones are really good overall, and you’ll be generally happy with either one. However, when you compare, there are a few notable differences that swing the decision of which one is best for you: battery life, cameras, and software experience.
Battery life is a huge differentiator. The Galaxy S10+’s battery is over 10% larger than the Pixel 4 XL’s, which of course leads to better battery life, although the real-world gains are bigger than capacity difference. The GS10+ is a solid full-day performer, even on heavier usage days, while the Pixel 4 XL can struggle to make it morning to night. The Pixel benefits from a quick midday charge if you have evening plans or need to do anything out of the ordinary; the Galaxy can typically handle it.
The Galaxy S10+ lasts longer on a charge … but the Pixel’s camera is unmatched.
The Pixel 4 XL wins, on the other hand, when it comes to camera quality. It takes better photos across the board, but stands out at night where photos are still clear and colorful. The Galaxy S10+, on the other hand, gets overwhelmed by the lack of light. The Pixel also has excellent hybrid zoom with its telephoto lens and software processing. The only real trump card the Galaxy S10+ has here is its ultrawide camera, which is super fun to shoot with and provides an unique look you can’t get on the Pixel.
There’s also a considerable difference in the software experience, with Google taking a very simple and streamlined approach compared to Samsung’s focus on providing as many features and as much customizability as possible. Google has a handful of neat features, with deep integration in its own services, and you aren’t burdened with duplicate apps or unnecessary extras. Samsung, on the other hand, gives you a ton to play with, and you can make your phone anything you want, but that requires a lot of extra time and tweaking to get set just right.
Which should you buy?
With prices being similar, the choice basically comes down to how much you weigh battery life, camera quality, and software experience.
If you use your phone hard, and need to have worry-free all-day battery life more than anything else, the Galaxy S10+ is going to be your choice. You’ll give up camera quality and those Google-specific software features, but it may be the case that none of that matters if you’re worried about charging all of the time — or worse yet, your phone’s just dead.
The Pixel 4 XL has its own redeeming qualities, though, with simpler software and an outstanding camera system. And you may just prefer the look and feel of the hardware, along with its super-smooth 90Hz display. And the rest of the experience, for the most part, matches Samsung — even if it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles in terms of specs and hardware features.
However, the Galaxy S10+ manages to pull ahead in that it’s just a better overall package, even if you’re missing out on some great cameras. Plus, your phone can actually last during the day.
Do it all
Samsung Galaxy S10+
Hitting every bell and whistle.
The Galaxy S10+ does it all, with every hardware and software feature you could want. It has a brilliant display, its triple-camera combo is consistent and versatile, and all of the little hardware additions add to the appeal.
Google Pixel 4 XL
Simple software meets great hardware and an incredible camera.
The Pixel 4 XL has great Google-powered software, and runs on a super-smooth display. It also has the best cameras you can get on a smartphone today.
October 24, 2019 at 08:01AM