Tech: 6 things Google’s Pixel 2 does better than the Samsung Galaxy S9

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The Pixel 2 doesn't do a lot of things better than the Galaxy S9, but it's better where it really counts.

I've had a good long time with both the Google Pixel 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S9, and there are some obvious ways where the Pixel 2 excels.

That's not to say that the Galaxy S9 is bad in comparison. It's a phenomenal phone that does a lot of things better than the Pixel 2, and I'll make sure to highlight all those things in a later post.

But for now, here's a look at the six biggest ways that the Pixel 2 is better than the Galaxy S9:

1. The Pixel 2 runs Android the way Google intended it.

The Pixel smartphones are Google-made, and that means you get the pure and clean Android experience. And it turns out that the clean Android experience doesn't need to be messed with, which is something companies like Samsung, LG, HTC and so on keep ignoring.

Android on the Pixel 2 is speedy and lightweight compared to the version of Android running on the Galaxy S9. With its year-old specs, the Pixel 2 runs as smoothly – if not more smoothly – as it does on the Galaxy S9 and its brand-new innards.

2. You get the latest Android updates directly from Google the moment they're released.

The Pixel 2 grants you access to the latest versions of Android, as well as any security updates, as soon as Google releases them. That's something that no other other Android smartphone maker can boast.

The Galaxy S9 is a perfect example of this. It comes out of the box with the slightly older version of Android 8.0, and Galaxy S9 owners won't likely see an update to Android 8.1 for several months, even though it's currently running on the Pixel 2 phones.

In all fairness, Samsung's slow updates aren't the biggest deal, as you get a bunch of features on the Galaxy S9 that the Pixel 2 doesn't have. Still, if you want to see and experience the latest updates from one of the most prolific software companies in the world, your best bet is Google's Pixel 2.

3. I missed having the Pixel 2's Google Home screen when I started using the Galaxy S9.

Swipe to the right on the Pixel 2 and you get the Google Home screen, which shows me things that I'm actively interested in.

Swipe right on the Galaxy S9 and you get Bixby Home, which is trying to do the same thing as Google Home, but it's nowhere near as good, quite frankly. I just swiped through everything Bixby wanted to show me in Bixby Home and there was absolutely nothing of interest at all.

On the Galaxy S9+ I've been using, I've simply turned off Bixby Home, as well as anything else that has to do with Samsung's Bixby smart assistant. Unfortunately, I can't set Google Home to replace Bixby Home on the Galaxy S9.

4. The Pixel 2's camera doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but it still bests the Galaxy S9's.

You can get a taste of Google's software prowess when you look at the photos taken with the Pixel 2. Its camera specs are unremarkable, but Google's software makes photos taken with the Pixel 2 look better than any other smartphone out there.

Above is a pretty typical example, where the Pixel 2 gives a photo deep, rich colors and dynamic contrast. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S9 photo's colors look washed out, and the contrast is totally flat compared to the Pixel 2's photo.

I should note that the Galaxy S9 can take better low-light shots than the Pixel 2 due to its so-called variable aperture, which allows more light through the S9's lens. With its dedicated zoom lens, the Galaxy S9+ can also take better zoomed photos than the Pixel 2.

But for regular, normal photos, the Pixel 2 has yet to be beaten.

5. The Pixel 2's fingerprint sensor is far superior.

I'm thankful that Samsung kept the fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S9, but it's not as fast or accurate as the Pixel 2's.

The GIF above represents my overall experience with unlocking both the Pixel 2 XL and the Galaxy S9+ with their fingerprint scanners. The Pixel 2's fingerprint sensor is quick, responsive, and accurate. But the Galaxy S9's fingerprint sensor needed a second attempt, and it's slower overall.

It might seem trivial, but think of how many times you unlock your smartphone during the day. After using the Pixel 2 and Galaxy S9 for some time, I found that the Galaxy S9's fingerprint sensor can be frustratingly slow, inaccurate, and unresponsive more often than not.

6. The Pixel 2 is a lighter smartphone that's more comfortable to use.

I do appreciate the Galaxy S9's beautiful and premium design, but it's noticeably heavier than Google's Pixel 2. That's not to say Galaxy S9 owners are straining when handing their smartphone, but the Pixel 2 is a more comfortable device to use because of its lighter weight.

Still undecided?

Take a look at our camera shootout pitting Samsung's new Galaxy S9 versus the best smartphone camera in the world, the Pixel 2.

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