Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra - PhoneArena

Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

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The early Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro announcement indicated a certain hubris on part of Google which is now certain that the Pixel 6 Pro, in particular, can be a great alternative to flagships phones like the Galaxy S21 Ultra, warranting a direct comparison.

Google Pixel 6 Pro 128GB: get it now for $350 less!

You can get the base version of the Pixel 6 Pro with a 28% discount at Amazon right now. Hurry up as some of the other color options have already been sold out!

Google Pixel 6 Pro 256GB: get it now for $250 less!

You can get the 256GB unlocked version of the Pixel 6 Pro for as little as $749 at Best Buy right now. That is almost 30% less than its original price.


You may also want to read:

Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Galaxy S21 Ultra display quality and design colors


  • 6.7" Pixel 6 Pro comes in Cloudy White, Sorta Sunny, and Stormy Black two-tone body colors.
  • 6.8" Galaxy S21 Ultra is in Black, Silver, Navy, Brown, and Titanium colors.

Also read:

The smaller, 6.7" diagonal of the otherwise equally resolute QHD+ display of the Pixel 6 Pro doesn't mean a much smaller than the Galaxy S21 Ultra phone, despite that the latter comes with a 6.8-incher. 

Google Pixel 6 Pro
Dimensions

6.45 x 2.99 x 0.35 inches

163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm

Weight

7.41 oz (210 g)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Dimensions

6.5 x 2.98 x 0.35 inches

165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm

Weight

8.04 oz (229 g)

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Dimensions

6.33 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65 mm

Weight

8.47 oz (240 g)

Google Pixel 6
Dimensions

6.24 x 2.94 x 0.35 inches

158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm

Weight

7.30 oz (207 g)

Google Pixel 6 Pro
Dimensions

6.45 x 2.99 x 0.35 inches

163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm

Weight

7.41 oz (210 g)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Dimensions

6.5 x 2.98 x 0.35 inches

165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm

Weight

8.04 oz (229 g)

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Dimensions

6.33 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65 mm

Weight

8.47 oz (240 g)

Google Pixel 6
Dimensions

6.24 x 2.94 x 0.35 inches

158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm

Weight

7.30 oz (207 g)

Compare these and other phones using our Size Comparison tool.

The Ultra is one unwieldy giant slab even though confirmation bias would have a lot of its owners disagree, yet the Pixel 6 Pro is no less of a shovel - thick as the S21 Ultra, slightly shorter, yet a bit wider - indicating Google has a lot more to learn about shaving bezels off from all sides.


The S21 Ultra one-ups the Pixel by offering a display digitizer to doodle with your S Pen stylus on, the Pixel 6 Pro has an unique design advantage. Aesthetics aside, the camera island in the top left corner is so ubiquitous, that people have gotten used to its bad ergonomics, always keeping their finger placement on the back of their minds when taking a shot, so as not to inadvertently snap a protruding phalange or two. That's not to mention the framing perspective gymnastics one has to do with cameras tucked there, especially the ultrawide shots, or the wobbling when the phone is lying on a table.

Well, the official Pixel 6 Pro shots say that Google is attempting something signature in its turn, a design that will be immediately recognizable and carry the brand with it like an iPhone notch. We kid, as the notch is another haphazard design abomination from the ranks of a giant top-left camera island, but Google is attempting something totally different.

All of the Pixel 6 cameras and accompanying paraphernalia are in a strip across the back that asymmetrically splits the two-tone body. We can't say that we have welcomed a phone design more in recent memory.

First, it is not just different for the sake of it. The neatly arranged sensor and lens combos can't easily snap photos of your fingers or butcher the ultrawide perspective as a corner camera island would. Plus, there will be ample strip space for our index finger to press against while we use the phone with one hand.

Second, the "belt" is unique to look at and blends with the back without sticking out like a sore, erm, thumb, even though it IS elevated. Third, it's a design playground, as there can be numerous two- and three-color combos of the Pixel 6 now to keep its looks fresh and us entertained, as you can see from the press renders above. Kudos to Google and the designers it poached when it bought HTC.

Pixel 6 Pro vs S21 Ultra screen quality

The Pixel 6 Pro sings a surprise chart-topping display hit

When we were reviewing our screen testing database for the phones with best displays roundup, we were somewhat surprised to find that the Pixel 5 was one of those and included it as a bonus entry. Surprised not because Google is not capable of credible color presentation with the best of them, but because it never advertises it.

Well, looking at our Pixel 6 Pro display tests below, Google continues with the wonderful tradition of near-perfect display calibration, with white balance almost a match for the 6500K reference point, hence neither a too cold and blueish nor a too warm and yellow or red-looking overcasts. 


What really sets the Pixel 6 Pro apart, though, is the spot-on standard color gamut coverage with very little deviation from all of the reference colors, unlike the Ultra that overshoots the greens and blues3, and outstanding delta scores that beat both the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. 

Well, what do you know, Samsung got nearly beat at its own display game by the Pixel 6 Pro, save for the typical and peak brightness numbers that are, however, only firing up when the phones display HDR content. It certainly seems that the camera kit is not the only thing that Google does a per-unit factory calibration for during the Pixel 6 Pro production process.

Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Galaxy S21 Ultra camera

Neck and neck, even in zoom shots


For the first time, Google is listing a modern camera set in the Pixel 6 Pro specs sheet. We get a primary 50MP sensor, most likely a custom Sony IMX700-series one like on the P50 Pro, as well as a 12MP ultra-wide-angle unit, and a sweet 48MP sensor with 4x periscope zoom lens on top, or, should we say, sideways. That's the first time Google is using such a zoom camera and such a large main sensor on a Pixel, so we are salivating. 

While on paper these Pixel 6 Pro camera specs are no match for the 108MP main and 10x optical zoom cameras of the S21 Ultra, the Pixel 6 Pro photography can definitely match the Ultra, save for longer zoom ranges or amount of detail.




Here is a comparison between the zoom capabilities on the Pixel 6 Pro and the S21 Ultra:


Both phones also support portrait mode:


And here is how these cameras perform at night:



In both main and ultrawide camera night shots the phones perform rather comparable, meaning that sometimes the Pixel 6 Pro overshoots the highlights and light sources, sometimes the S21 Ultra darkens the shadows too much, depending on the scene. 

We are not big fans of the warm and yellowish tonality that Google has chosen for the night shots (or for the day ones, for that matter), making them look too much like ones from an iPhone. That's an easy fix, though, as Google has placed a color temperature slider in the Camera app, just like Apple has provided cold and warm color filters in the new 13 series camera settings. 

Still, out of the box, the S21 Ultra does night shots with a bit more credible color and level of illumination representation, whereas the Pixel's HDR algorithms lean towards the higher exposure brackets and make night shots look less like night than the Ultra. 


There is something more about the upcoming Pixel 6 Pro camera set, though, and it is the homebrew Tensor processor, which Google's Rick Osterloh said was years in the making precisely to elevate computational photography to another level with the modern sensor and lens set on the new Pixels:


To make a good example of the new Pixel 6 Pro camera features possible with the Tensor chipset, Google introduced something called Magic Eraser that can take away photobombing objects like, well, magic. Take a peek at our Google Pixel 6 Pro Magic Eraser test experience here.


Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Galaxy S21 Ultra processor specs and interface performance


The Pixel 6 Pro's Tensor chipset is a 5nm affair based on Samsung's superior EUV production method that Qualcomm uses for its flagship Snapdragon 888 processor that is found in the S21 Ultra.

We benchmarked Google's first homebrew Tensor chipset, and while it couldn't beat the Galaxy S21 Ultra processor in terms of raw power scores, the graphics subsystem managed to outrun Snapdragon 888, with a lot more artificial intelligence and image co-processing tacked on for a good measure. 

Higher is better
Google Pixel 6 Pro
1042
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
1081
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
1734

Exclusive Pixel 6 Pro features include Speech Recognition and Live Translate, for instance, all possible like never before thanks to the Tensor processor.


Google didn't equip the Pixel 6 Pro with the Galaxy S21 Ultra's 16GB RAM pack, as the stock Android 12 with flat Material You interface needs much less operating memory to run then the feature-rich Samsung One UI. It did, however, introduce a 512GB Pixel 6 Pro storage option, albeir paired with "just" 12GB RAM.

Google's Android on the Pixel 6 Pro and Galaxy S21 Ultra


When it comes to interface, it's stock Android 12 with the fastest updates out there and the flat, colorful Material You design, against the more versatile and feature-rich One UI on the Galaxy S21 Ultra that is receiving Google's latest OS update after the Pixel 6 Pro, but not by much. We'd rather have all the interface bells and whistle that Samsung puts in its phones, yet there is no denying Google's stock Android 12 speed and simplicity, not to mention the guaranteed updates range.


Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Galaxy S21 Ultra battery life and charging speeds

Our phones with best battery life pantheon just got another entrant

Both phones come with giant 5000mAh batteries, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra already proved to be the longest lasting Android flagship phone in its top-shelf specs segment. Google is famous for optimizing the stock Android software on its Pixel line, though, plus the 6 Pro is powered by an in-house processor for the first time. Google cites 34 hours of average Pixel 6 Pro battery life, which is pretty respectable but, as usual, your mileage may vary, so we got both tested.

The team from Mountain View finally has all the pieces of the iPhone puzzle when it comes to a perfect possibility for a software/hardware synchronicity that delivers battery life wonders commensurate with the best out there like the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It gives way to the Ultra a bit in the gaming and 120Hz browsing departments then compensates in the YouTube streaming test, so we can definitely say that the Pixel 6 Pro ranks right up there in our phones with best battery life roundup.  

Browsing test 120Hz (hours) Higher is better
Google Pixel 6 Pro 13h 13 min
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 14h 43 min
Video Streaming (hours) Higher is better
Google Pixel 6 Pro 9h 10 min
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 8h 52 min
3D Gaming 120Hz (hours) Higher is better
Google Pixel 6 Pro 4h 19 min
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5h 3 min

Samsung takes just a bit over an hour to top up the 5000mAh with the included 25W charger, however, so Google toоk note and supplied a more powerful 30W charger for the Pixel 6 Pro, too, though not in the box. Thankfully, it also gave it the respective durable circuitry to pump the Pixel 6 Pro battery full of electrons nearly as fast as Samsung does.

Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Galaxy S21 Ultra price


  • S21 Ultra MSRPs: $1,200 for 128GB model, $1,250 for 256GB, $1,380 for 512GB
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro starting price: $899 for 128GB, $999 for 256GB, $1099 for 512GB

Google's Senior VP Osterloh also mentioned that they will try and pierce the flagship phone segment with the "expensive" Pixel 6 Pro, while the Pixel 6 will also be priced in the "upper segment."



None of that happened, and the Google Pixel 6 Pro price is just $899. Thus, given that the Galaxy S21 Ultra starts from $1199, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max commands $1099 without a periscope zoom camera, while Google gives you 512GB for that price, the Pixel 6 Pro one-ups them both in the value-for-money ratio in the eyes of the average user.

After all, the most expensive Pixel so far have been the Pixel 4 XL and Pixel 3 XL, and those puppies did cost $999 without packing much to stand against the best Android flagships in their respective years of release. Not any more, as Google scored a very sweet price point with the Pixel 6 Pro, given that those periscope cameras are one of the most expensive components you can currently put in a phone, yet Google has to squeeze at least some margin out of its "first flagship phone."

Google Pixel 6 Pro or Galaxy S21 Ultra, which one to buy?


Which one should you pick in that case, you ask? The newer guy, of course, for the lack of corner camera island wobble, and the lower price. We kid, yet we found the cheaper Pixel 6 Pro to be a direct match even for the storied Galaxy S21 Ultra in camera and display quality, or battery life endurance. Given that Google now holds both the hardware Tensor and software Android power, Samsung should be rather worried about Google's current flagship, the Pixel 6 Pro.

Google Pixel 6 Pro 128GB: get it now for $350 less!

You can get the base version of the Pixel 6 Pro with a 28% discount at Amazon right now. Hurry up as some of the other color options have already been sold out!

Google Pixel 6 Pro 256GB: get it now for $250 less!

You can get the 256GB unlocked version of the Pixel 6 Pro for as little as $749 at Best Buy right now. That is almost 30% less than its original price.
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