Google's Pixel XL alongside Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge. Credit Android Authority

For many, it’s the battle between iOS and Android that continues to dominate the smartphone market. After all, brands such as Apple and Samsung have done battle for nearly a decade now, with the iPhone X and the Galaxy S9 range set to compete for a share of the current market.

In fact, the iPhone X is already available at competitive rates through distributors like the fonehouse, while the subsequent release of the S9 in March will create even more intense levels of competition in the near-term.

Whisper it quietly, however, but there’s also a new battle emerging in the sector and one that’s entirely confined within the Android niche. More specifically, Google and Samsung are now competing to secure the premium end of the market, with devices such as the Pixel 2 offering a genuine alternative to popular Galaxy range of handsets.

In this post, we’ll address this battle in further detail, and ask why Samsung may hold an edge over their rivals.

Software vs. Hardware – Google’s Historical Problem

If you were to peruse the graveyard of Google’s failed projects, you’d see that the majority were undermined by chronic hardware issues. This has been a point of vulnerability for the brand ever since its inception, with the ill-fated Google Glass project the poster boy for these failings.

So, when developing the Pixel and the Pixel 2, Google took the step of partnering with specialist smartphone manufacturers to provide a suitable vehicle for their cutting edge software packages. The Pixel 2 was made by HTC, for example, while the XL iteration was manufactured by LG, creating premium quality and reliable devices that enabled Google to finally compete aggressively as a smartphone brand.

This year will see a further stage in Google’s hardware evolution, with the brand having acquired around 2,000 phone engineers from HTC along with some vital IP and equipment. As a result of this investment, Google will design and create every piece of hardware internally during 2018, while arguably seizing the initiative in the ongoing battle with Samsung.

The Case for Samsung and Why it May be Gaining the Upper Hand

Despite this, there are genuine signs that Samsung may be gaining the upper hand over Google at the premium end of the Android market. The so-called ‘Samsung Experience’ is a seminal reason for this, as the unique interface and innovative settings of the S8 introduced far greater flexibility for customers and a wider range of usage options.

Whether you want to hide your navigation bar, annotate screenshots or simply customize the appearance of video content, Samsung’s modern devices have made this easier than ever before.

This also has the advantage of enabling users to truly personalize their smartphones, beyond limited options such as augmenting wallpaper and changing notification settings. Now, it’s possible to purchase a Samsung handset and make it your own, in a way that Google is struggling to keep pace with (at least without the use of a third-party launcher). The S8 even allows you to download and install a number of available OS themes, along with revamped icon packs and additional customisation tools.

Samsung has even introduced a wider range of innovative and experimental features, such as the hugely popular App Pair option. Exclusive to the Note 8, this allows users to launch two separate apps from a single icon, optimising productivity and efficiency in the process.

The Last Word

When it comes to premiums smartphones, customers demand value for their hard-earned money. The range of available customisation tools is therefore a crucial consideration, as this can truly justify a premium price tag and afford handsets a competitive edge over similar alternatives.

In this respect, Samsung is definitely gaining an edge over Google in the smartphone market, and one that may be cemented with the release of the coveted S9 range.

This is definitely a space to watch in the Android marketplace, particularly as Google continues to become an increasingly influential player.