On the Pixel 2 XL, OLED displays, and Samsung

Android Central

Android Central
Android Central

There are a lot of reasons to choose one phone over the other, and the only right choice is the one you make.

The internet is like that big platter your grandmother breaks out during the holidays. The one with little compartments for all the different things, from olives to cheese to onion dip. In our compartment, where everything mobile and all the things that connect to all the other things live, everywhere you look you see that the Pixel 2 XL has a horrible display. Like, the worst ever.

At least that's what the internet tells me. Tossing out the noise from folks who have never seen it and just like to say things to stir the pot, you'll find that people have some issue with the overall quality, but very few people who have it or have used it think the display is bad. It's just not as great as what we find in Samsung's latest phones. My reaction to this is "duh."

Nobody makes OLED displays at the sizes used for mobile devices as good as Samsung does. Not LG, not Toshiba, not Sony. Nobody. Nobody can "tune" an OLED display as well as Samsung can. This is because Samsung was one of the pioneers of OLED display tech and it throws away as many panels that don't meet its standards as other companies make in total. Samsung is the best there is, and anyone saying differently should be offering an explanation why.

No other company comes close to Samsung when making small OLED panels.

Samsung Electronics is a hardware company. It not only makes the best displays but makes other parts that are best-in-class or close to it: processors, memory controllers, solid-state memory, flash memory and all sorts of other electronics. This is what Samsung does, and has been doing since 1987 when Samsung split into groups like Samsung Electronics and Samsung Life Insurance. This is what Samsung Electronics is very, very good at.

Even if you buy a phone from another company that uses a Samsung OLED display, it's not going to look as good as a phone that says Samsung on the back. This will be an unpopular opinion, but that doesn't mean it's not true. Samsung goes the extra mile because it takes pride in its display technology. And it should — as phone enthusiasts, we all know it.

Google is not a hardware company. It is trying to become one and do a reverse Apple thing (Apple started with hardware first), but right now it has four phones that it designed and had other companies build, and one in-house SoC with the Pixel Visual Core when it comes to mobile hardware. The Google Wifi or Chromecast unit you see weren't built by Google, either. Google is a software company. A software company that earns a very healthy income through advertising.

We need to realize we're paying Samsung $900 for a superb display and very usable software when we buy the Galaxy Note 8, but we're paying Google $900 for a very usable display and superb software.

Don't buy a Pixel 2 XL because you want the best hardware. You'll be disappointed.

There's just no reason to buy a Pixel 2 XL that is not related to the software. Even the camera, which has wowed just about everyone, is great because of software. The regular updates — software. No carrier interference — software. Access to new features before anyone else — you guessed it. The Pixel 2 XL only exists as a vehicle for Google's software. Conversely, the Galaxy Note 8 uses the software as a way to make its superb hardware something you want to buy. Two different companies specialize in two different things, but both use a phone to sell them to you.

If I were to pull out my credit card and buy a phone today, I would buy a Samsung phone if I wanted a great display above everything else. I would tell you to do the same thing if you asked me. But if I cared more about the software, whether that means getting the latest versions of things right away, or staying up to date, or even not having to wade through a bunch of stuff I won't ever use, I would buy a Pixel 2.

Both are the best phones you can buy, but for very different reasons.

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