In the war for the best smartphone on the market, you have many options to choose from. Yet, of those options, only a handful are from a brand we know and trust in the West. While many smartphone users are die-hard Apple fans, going back to the first iPhone, the rest of us have a less-than-straightforward decision ahead of us.
However, many consumers will agree that the three highest contenders in the smartphone game are Apple. Samsung, and Google. So if you’re not a fan of what Apple is up to, that leaves you with either Samsung or Google to choose from when it comes to quality, popular smartphone brands. While both phones use Android software architecture, their respective lines of phones couldn’t be any different.
Out of the current lineup, the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Google Pixel 3 are the two phones currently on the market that are most easily pitted against each other. Both are the most recent iterations by their respective companies and both were designed for a similar type of consumer. With that said, how do they compare against each other?
Both the Samsung S10 and Google Pixel 3 have killer, high-resolution displays that’ll display gorgeous, pixel-perfect colors. However, the S10 has a slightly larger display and with that, a slightly higher aspect ratio overall. Not to mention, the S10 touts an AMOLED while the Pixel 3 sports a standard OLED. Let’s break their respective stats down into crunchable numbers:
Samsung Galaxy S10 Display Specs
- Display Type: AMOLED
- Dimensions: 6.1”
- Aspect Ratio: 19:9
- Pixel Density: 550ppi
- Contrast Ratio: 2,000,000:1
Google Pixel 3 Display Specs
- Display Type: OLED
- Dimensions: 5.5”
- Aspect Ratio: 18:9
- Pixel Density: 443ppi
- Contrast Ratio: 1,000,000:1
As you can see after you break down each phone’s display specifications, the Samsung Galaxy S10 edges out the Google Pixel 3. While the S10s numbers are all just a bit higher, you still have to understand that the differences in the display are hard to spot with the naked eye. However, it’s worth noting that the S10 has twice the contrast ratio (and thus, more colors) than the Pixel 3.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 isn’t much different from its predecessors. Samsung may have a bit of leeway in the design of its phones because they have a few different models to choose from—perhaps that means less pressure to change their flagship designs between iterations. As is standard, the S10 is all screen on the front—they don’t suffer from the “notch” like the iPhone and Pixel. The back of the S10 is now ceramic, which feels nice and is acts as high-quality, hardy material.
On the other hand, Google Pixel 3 isn’t exactly the most aesthetically pleasing smartphone on the market. It has a thick bezel and suffers from the infamous “notch”, where it hides all of its sensors. The back of the device is made of textured glass and not much else.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Design Features
- No notch—the S10 does a great job of hiding its sensors on the front.
- Edge-to-edge display
- Ceramic back
- Three Cameras on the back
Google Pixel 3 Design Features
- Thick bezel around the screen
- Ugly “notch” interrupts the display and hides all of its sensors
- Textured glass back
- One camera on the back
Google has always been a fairly utilitarian company. They’ve always favoured a muted design while investing more into the idea of their creations. Google Pixel 3 isn’t much different but may appeal to those of us who take a pragmatic approach to smartphone ownership.
The largest difference between the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Google Pixel 3 is in their number of cameras. For the S10, Samsung opted to include three cameras on its device. Google, on the other hand, is still touting the standard single-camera.
For Samsung, you have a wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lens on the back of your device. The wide and telephoto lenses both come in at 12MP each while the ultra-wide lens clocks in at 15MP. It would be easy to take stunning, diverse photos with the S10 due to its wide range of photographic capability.
The Google Pixel 3 once again has gone for the utilitarian approach with its single, simple camera lens. At 12.2 MP, the camera sensor is “alright” by any definition. While it seems that the S10 beats the Google Pixel 3 when it comes to camera power, let’s break down the camera specs of each phone.
Samsung S10 Camera Specs
- Three cameras total
- 12 MP wide & telephoto lenses
- f/1.5 to f/2.4 aperture for wide lens
- f/2.4 aperture for telephoto
- 15MP ultra-wide lens
- f/2.2 aperture
- “Neural Processing Unit” that will make your automatic photos look great without messing with settings
Google Pixel 3 Camera Specs
- One camera in total
- 12.2 MP lens
- f/1.8 aperture
- “Pixel Visual Core”, which touts sophisticated image processing that has never been seen before
While Google’s single-camera setup seems lame in comparison to the three cameras studding the back of the Galaxy S10, Google and many consumers swear that Google’s state-of-the-art software takes superior photos. However, you should see for yourself by testing each camera at a retail store. At the end of the day, the Samsung Galaxy S10 wins the numbers game.
Smartphones never really benefited from the marketing of their processors as computers did. If you remember the days of bunny-suit Intel commercials from the 90s and early 2000s then you remember that a computer’s processor was at one time a major selling factor. The same isn’t true for smartphones—while the processors they use are sophisticated, powerful, and ever-changing, they just don’t receive a lot of exposure to mainstream consumers. However, it’s still worth comparing this feature, as it’s the main driving force between performance and battery life.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Processor Specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor
- 8 GB of RAM
Google Pixel 3
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor
- 4GB of Ram
The Samsung Galaxy S10 fundamentally beats the Google Pixel 3—it sports a slightly better processor and double the RAM.
The biggest complaint most manufactures see is in the consumers’ perception of their smartphone battery performance. The easiest fix is to cram in a larger battery, but that trick has its limits when it comes to the form factor of your smartphone. Today, thinner and lighter are both coveted features, so simply having the largest battery on the market is not an option. Instead, a clever mixture of software and hardware (memory management and process management combined with the actual size of your battery) is what both Samsung and Google are banking on. But that doesn’t mean they’ve got the same battery.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Battery Specs
- 3,400mAH Battery
- Both wired & wireless charging
Google Pixel 3 Battery Specs
- 2,915mAH Battery
- Both wired & wireless charging
At face value, Samsung wins again when it comes to the size of its battery. However, the rating of your battery doesn’t always dictate its performance. Many things will affect your battery performance, and it’s hard to pin down which of the two phones have overall “better” battery performance—it’s a subjective thing. However, both batteries should last you a day of normal use. Samsung does have one feature that stands out—it doesn’t just wirelessly charged, it can wirelessly charge other QI wireless charging enabled devices from its backplate. Talk about versatile!
You’d think that since both the Samsung Galaxy S10 and the Google Pixel 3 run on Android that they’d have similar user experiences in regards to their software. Moreover, they both come with Android 9.0 (Android Pie) installed on their devices.
However, one thing that makes Google’s Pixel line of phones stand out is in the complete lack of “bloatware”, which Samsung phones are notorious for. While Samsung’s S10 phone does have a versatile and beautiful customized version of Android Pie installed (they call it One UI), that still doesn’t save you from the plethora of junk apps installed by your carrier before you ever even turn the phone on.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Software Specs
- Running Android 9.0 (Android Pie)
- Customized OS, known as One UI
- Still has bloatware, like every Samsung phone
Google Pixel 3
- Running Android 9.0
- No bloatware—your Google Pixel 3 will be completely clean when powered on
Which Phone is Best?
Deciding which phone is best is a completely subjective experience. That’s precisely why there’s such a thriving smartphone industry in the first place. Our phones are like anything we own—they serve as an extension of ourselves. And just like our personalities, we aren’t always looking for the best of everything. We’re looking for individuality and nuance, and that will shape our phone-buying habits as well.
With that said, the Samsung Galaxy S10 beats the Google Pixel 3 almost across the board on paper. It’s a thoughtfully crafted phone crammed full of the best of today’s smartphone hardware. What sets it back, however, is its user experience, which is derivative of most carrier-controlled smartphone operating systems.
Where Google Pixel 3 shines is in its ability to be the outlier. It’s not the best phone, it’s not even an incredibly popular phone, but it’s a phone crafted by geeky engineers who know exactly what they want and don’t care if those needs completely align with consumers. Google Pixel 3 is a clean phone for technology purists—it might not be the best of the best, but it does exactly what it wants to do with little fanfare. Between the two, it just depends on what you’re looking for in a smartphone. The choice is yours!