“Here’s how three of the most anticipated smartphones of 2017 stack up against each other”
First it was Samsung with the Galaxy Note8 (review), then it was Apple with its long-rumoured 10th-anniversary smartphone in the form of the iPhone X, and finally, Google has taken the covers of the Pixel 2 XL alongside the standard Pixel 2. Arguably the three most anticipated smartphones of 2017 have finally been unveiled, and it’s time we take a closer look at the three offerings. As can be expected, these smartphones offer top-of-the-line hardware, stunning new designs, and a bucket load of new features. But which one of these should you go for? Which one of the iPhone X, Galaxy Note8 and the Pixel 2 XL offers enough to the consumers to trump the other two? While we’ll surely get you an in-depth review of these devices as and when we get our hands on them, here we see how the three flagships stack up against each other on paper.
Design and display – better in every way
2017 has been the year when bezels take a backstage and make way for larger, taller displays on the fascia, and the three smartphones in question are no different. The Pixel 2 XL is the latest device to join the bezel-less bandwagon, although Samsung was among the first few brands to incorporate the design change into its flagship range. On the other hand, the iPhone X features perhaps the best screen-to-body ratio, though unlike the other two, it comes with a notch at the top for the front camera and Face ID hardware (more on that later), which might not appeal to everyone. At the back, the Note8 and iPhone X are equipped with glass panels, while the glass panel at the rear of the Pixel 2 XL only goes from the top of the device to just above the fingerprint scanner. The trio comes with dust- and water resistance, although if you want a headphone jack then the Galaxy Note8 is the only smartphone out of the three to offer one.
Talking about the display, the Pixel 2 XL flaunts a 6-inch QHD+ P-OLED display, while the Galaxy Note8 features a 6.3-inch QHD+ AMOLED canvas. On the other hand, the iPhone X sports the best resolution on an iPhone till date, coming in at 1,125 x 2,436 pixels for the 5.8-inch AMOLED display. And yes, that also makes the iPhone X the first iPhone to use an AMOLED display. All said and done, if the design and display is your priority, neither of the three smartphones will disappoint you even one bit.
Performance – ample with plenty to spare
This was a given, wasn’t it? Three of the most hardware-packed smartphones of the year are bound to offer seamless performance to the users. Both the Galaxy Note8 and the Pixel 2 XL are fueled by a Snapdragon 835 SoC, which provides enough horsepower to run even the most power-hungry applications without so much as a stutter. That said, the Pixel 2 XL comes with 4GB of RAM as compared to the 6GB of RAM found on the Galaxy Note8. In comparison, the iPhone X is powered by Apple’s latest A11 Bionic chip, and reportedly comes with 3GB of RAM. If benchmark results are something to go by, then the A11 Bionic chip throws most Snapdragon 835-powered smartphones into the water. And this is not because the Snapdragon 835 SoC is slow, but because the A11 SoC is just better. That said, you might not even feel the difference in day to day usage, unless you compare them side by side.
Cameras – three phones, eight cameras
Just like bezel-less designs, dual-camera setups are another thing the smartphone manufacturers have been quick to jump on. For the iPhone lineup, it isn’t a new feature, and the iPhone X comes equipped with dual 12MP rear cameras, with both of them supporting optical image stabilisation. One of the sensors uses a wide-angle lens, and the other uses a telephoto lens, and together they help in getting up to 2X optical zoom, as well as better portrait shots. Additionally, Apple has also included new features like 1080p slow motion recording at 240fps, as well as a new portrait lighting feature. Another interesting point here is that the portrait mode and the portrait lighting features are also available for the 7MP front camera on the iPhone X.
The Galaxy Note8 is the first Galaxy flagship to come with a dual rear camera setup. It shares a lot of features with the iPhone X, including two optically stabilized 12MP rear cameras with a telephoto lens and a wide-angle lens, the ability to zoom 2X without loss in quality, as well as an enhanced depth-of-field effect. Only that Samsung calls the latter as “live focus”. At the front, the Galaxy Note8 uses an 8MP selfie snapper which has an autofocus module built in.
Lastly, the Pixel 2 XL comes with a single 12.2MP dual pixel rear camera with OIS and EIS. Google says that it was able to work out the portrait mode using just a single camera and machine learning, negating the need for a secondary sensor or additional hardware. Interestingly, the Pixel 2 XL gets the highest DxOMark score for the rear camera at 98 points. Other features include the ability to click 3-second motion photos, as well as doing a search using Google Lens (will be coming to the phone later this year). Just like the iPhone X, the portrait mode features will also be available on the 8MP front camera of the Pixel XL 2. Google will continue to provide free unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos shot on the Google Pixel phones.
Additional features – why not?
A Note device is incomplete without the S-Pen. It adds so much functionality to the smartphone, including the ability to take quick notes, make gifs and now even make live messages. For all we can say, the S-Pen is such a successful feature of the Note8, that no recent smartphone has even dared to challenge it in this segment. On the other hand, the Note8 also comes with features like iris scanning, face recognition and of course, an awkwardly-placed rear fingerprint scanner.
On the other hand, the iPhone X has courageously dropped Touch ID for Face ID. The new face recognition technology looks like the most convincing set up on a smartphone till date, and Apple says it should work even in dark areas and with sunglasses. The iPhone X also comes with stereo speakers.
The Pixel 2 XL isn’t far behind when we talk about drool-worthy features. For instance, the smartphone uses an Active Edge Sense technology, allowing you to squeeze the phone to invoke the Google Assistant. Another new feature new to the Pixel phones is an always on display, which also supports automatic song recognition for times when you want to find out more about a new song. Not to mention the AR stickers, which allow you to add some spice to your photos and videos.
Storage and battery – enough to keep things running
In terms of storage, the iPhone X is available in 64GB and 256GB variants, with no support for expandable storage. On the other hand, Samsung has only launched the 64GB storage variant of the Galaxy Note8 in India. That said, the smartphone does support storage expansion with the help of a microSD card. Talking about the Pixel 2 XL, it comes with 64GB and 128GB storage variants with no room for expansion.
While Apple does not reveal the battery capacity of its iPhones, reports say that the iPhone X comes with a 2,716mAh battery. This doesn’t sound big, but Apple promises up to two hours better battery life than the iPhone 7. In comparison, the Galaxy Note8 draws fuel from a 3,300mAh unit and the Pixel 2 XL comes with a bigger 3,520mAh cell. All the three smartphones come with fast charging support, although you would need to buy a separate charger and cable to be able to fast charge your iPhone X.
Software and connectivity
How often have you heard that if you want to truly experience Android, you must use Android in its unadulterated avatar? The Pixel 2 XL does exactly that, with it running stock Android Oreo without any bloatware or unnecessary features. However, if you want a more feature rich and customised experience, then the Samsung Experience UI on the Galaxy Note8 is the way to go. Do note however that the Galaxy Note8 comes with Android Nougat and is slated to get an update to Oreo soon. Lastly, the iPhone X runs on the latest iOS 11 from Apple and uses gestures to navigate because of the lack of a front home button.
In terms of connectivity, all three smartphones come with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, A-GPS, 4G LTE and mobile hotspot. The Galaxy Note8 also supports dual-SIM cards.
Pricing and availability
Given that all three smartphones are top-tier flagships, they don’t come cheap. The Samsung Galaxy Note8 is available via both offline and online channels at a price point of Rs 67,900. On the other hand, the iPhone X will be available later this year at a price of Rs 89,000 for the 64GB variant and Rs 1,02,000 for the 256GB variant. Interestingly, India is among the first countries where the Pixel devices will be launched. It will be available for pre-order starting October 26th, before going on sale from November 15th. As per the pricing, the 64GB variant of the device will set you back by Rs 73,000 while the 128GB variant would cost Rs 82,000.
Smartphones have come a long way in such a short span of time. From beautiful designs to mesmerizing displays, from sharp cameras to seamless software and from smart assistants to fast charging, these three smartphones have it all. Choosing one between the three is as difficult as it sounds. All three offer such different experiences yet they do it so effortlessly. So instead of core hardware, it all boils down to this: the Note8 would please the productivity-centric audience thanks to the S Pen, while the Pixel 2 XL is for those who want the latest and purest iteration of Android. The iPhone X on the other hand, is for those who want to be future-ready and don’t mind paying a premium for that. Which of these smartphones would you choose and why? Do let us know in the comment section below.