Google Pixel 4 XL vs. Galaxy S10+: Which should you buy?

Samsung Galaxy S10+ and Google Pixel 4 XL
Samsung Galaxy S10+ and Google Pixel 4 XL (Image credit: Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Samsung Galaxy S10+

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.

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Do it all

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

Google Pixel 4 XL

Google Pixel 4 XL

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.

Google Pixel 4 XL

Simply great

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

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.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Google Pixel 4 XLGalaxy S10+
Operating SystemAndroid 10Android 10
Display6.3-inch OLED3040x1440 (19:9)90Hz6.4-inch AMOLED3040x1440 (19:9)60Hz
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 855Pixel Neural CoreQualcomm Snapdragon 855
Rear Camera 112.2MP, 1.4µm, f/1.7OIS12MP, 1.4µm, f/1.5 or f/2.4OIS
Rear Camera 216MP, 1.0µm, f/2.4telephoto12MP, 1.0µm, f/2.4OIStelephoto
Rear Camera 3n/a16MP, 1.0µm, f/2.2ultra-wide
Front Camera 18MP, f/2.0fixed focus90-degree lens10MP, f/1.9auto focus
Front Camera 2n/a8MP, f/2.2wide-angle
SecurityFace unlockUltrasonic fingerprint sensor
AudioStereo speakersUSB-CStereo speakers3.5mm headphone
Charging18W USB-C PDQi wireless15W USB-C PDQuick Charge 2.0Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 (12W)
Water ResistanceIP68IP68
Dimensions160.4 x 75.1 x 8.2 mm193 g157.6 x 74.1 x 7.4mm175 g

Google Pixel 4 XL and Galaxy S10+

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

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.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.