Pixel 6 vs Galaxy S21: It’s closer than you think


At one point in time comparing a Google phone against a Samsung phone would have left you just feeling silly. But the Pixel 6 is a bit different in more ways than one, and considering that the Galaxy S21 remains Samsung’s current non-foldable flagship phone, this is an apt comparison to make. Regardless, let’s check out the Pixel 6 vs Galaxy S21 and how these two devices stack up.

Pixel 6 vs Galaxy S21: Spec Comparison

Google Pixel 6 Samsung Galaxy S21
Price $599 / $699 $799 / $849
Screen size 6.4-inches 6.2-inches
Resolution 2340 x 1080 2400 x 1080
Density 411 ppi 421 ppi
Processor Google Tensor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Storage 128 / 256 GB 128 / 256 GB
Battery 4600 mAh 4000 mAh
OS Android 12 Android 11
Rear camera Dual cameras: 50MP (main), 12MP (ultra-wide) Triple-cameras: 12MP, f/1.8, OIS (wide), 64MP, f/2.0, OIS (telephoto), 12MP, f/2.4, 120˚, (ultrawide)
Front camera 8MP, f/2.0 12MP, f/2.2
Bluetooth v5.2 v5.0
NFC Yes Yes
Dimensions 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9mm 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm
Weight 207g 169g
Water Resistance IP68 IP68
Wireless Charging Yes Yes
Special features 33W fast charging, 21W wireless charging, 90Hz Refresh Rate, in-display fingerprint sensor, WiFi 6E, sub-6 and mid-band 5G, Titan M2 25W fast charging, 15W Qi/PMA wireless charging, In-display fingerprint scanner, WiFi 6, sub-6 and mid-band 5G, 120Hz refresh rate

Pixel 6 vs Galaxy S21: Google is back

On paper, it might look as though the Pixel 6 falls short of the Galaxy S21 in several different ways. While it has a larger display, it’s limited to a 90Hz refresh rate, and it remains to be seen really what the Tensor chip is capable of. Google’s 2021 flagship features the same RAM and storage configurations, along including an in-display fingerprint scanner.

One area where the Pixel 6 is going to blow the Galaxy S21 out of the water is battery life. Google packed a massive 4600mAh battery into the Pixel 6, compared to the 4000mAh cell in the Galaxy S21. We also have faster wired and wireless charging in the Pixel 6. Wired charging offers speeds up to 30W, providing a 0–50% charge in just 30 minutes, while wireless charging speeds max out at 21W. Meanwhile, Samsung’s offering maxes out at 25W wired and 15W wireless.

Another leg up that Google has is in image processing and photography features. With things like Magic Eraser and Face Unblur, these are things that Samsung just can’t match up with. Admittedly, Samsung has made great strides to improve the image processing on the whole, but it just doesn’t compare to with what Google is doing.

Then there’s the question of price, and it’s a weird one. At the time of this writing, it’s been almost a year since the Galaxy S21 was announced. Since then, we’ve seen the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3 released, but that’s been it in terms of Samsung flagships. Because of that, paired with the ongoing global chip shortage, it’s tough to get your hands on a standard Galaxy S21.

Matching dollar for dollar, the Pixel 6 again blows the Galaxy S21 out of the water with its $599 starting price compared to the Galaxy S21’s $799 retail price. But the Galaxy S21 has regularly been priced at around $699 for the last few months, when you can actually find one. Until the Galaxy S22 comes around, chalk this one up for the Pixel 6.

Google Pixel 6

Pixel 6 vs Galaxy S21: Don’t sleep on Samsung

The Galaxy S21 may not be the perfect example of Samsung flexing its muscles, like the Galaxy S21 Ultra does, but it’s no slouch. It offers a flagship performance, with many of the bells and whistles that you would expect. These include being powered by Qualcomm’s current flagship chip in the Snapdragon 888, offering a 120Hz refresh rate on an AMOLED panel, and including a triple camera setup.

There really aren’t too many things that you could point at with the Galaxy S21 and say that it’s “worse” in, other than battery life. But we’ve already touched on that and how the Pixel 6 is superior in that regard.

Where Samsung holds the candle is in the camera setup, simply because Samsung is giving users more flexibility when it comes to snapping photos. There’s a main 12MP wide-angle shooter, a 12MP ultrawide lens, and a 64MP telephoto sensor. The main and ultrawide cameras are fine, but having a proper telephoto lens with up to 1.1x optical zoom, and optical image stabilization can definitely make a difference for some.

With these cameras, you are also capable of recording 8K video at 24fps, while also recording HDR10+ footage if you find the need to do so. This definitely may feel like a spec sheet stuffer feature, but it’s still worth mentioning considering that you’re “capped” at 4K recording on the Pixel 6.

Then there’s the whole “kitchen sink” approach that Samsung takes with its flagship smartphones. The Galaxy S21 is equipped with Samsung DeX and Wireless DeX, meaning that you can take your phone and turn it into a pseudo-desktop computer. Just plugging in your phone to a monitor and pairing a Bluetooth keyboard gives you something that no other phone maker has been able to provide. But the question that you need to ask is whether this is something that you’ll actually find yourself using, or is it just a gimmick feature that looks cool, but doesn’t fit in.

No matter which way you look at it, the Galaxy S21 and Pixel 6 match up against one another pretty well, even if Samsung’s next flagship is likely just around the corner.

Samsung Galaxy S21

Pixel 6 vs Galaxy S21: Which is right for you?

What’s interesting about this comparison is that Google is rumored to have worked with Samsung on the Pixel 6, and even tapped the company to manufacture its Tensor processor. But regardless of that, we finally have a true flagship Google phone, with the company even claiming this is the first of its kind despite being the sixth iteration. The Pixel 6 brings Android 12, Material You, Google’s incredible image processing, and a flagship design to the masses. All of this, for a price that’s $200 lower than what the Galaxy S21 launched at.

We’ve reached a point in the Galaxy S21’s life-cycle that makes it a hard phone to recommend. On one hand, you can just go into a store and grab the Pixel 6, as Google is pretty much bringing this to every carrier and major retailer in the U.S. But on the other, you might be a Samsung faithful who is on the fence about getting a phone that is almost 11 months old. No definitive dates have been provided, but we expect that the Galaxy S22 will arrive within the next few months.

All of this is to say, if you need a phone now, get the Pixel 6. You definitely won’t regret it.


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