Google Pixel 9 Pro XL vs Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: The gloves come off

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Pixel 9 Pro vs Galaxy S24 Ultra

Intro


Google surprised almost everyone when it announced that the upcoming Pixel 9 series will get announced on August 13. That's way earlier than the Pixels' usual announcement window in the deep fall. 

This year, we are seemingly getting three Pixels: Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, and Pixel 9 Pro XL. As you could probably imply, the Pixel 9 Pro XL will be the proverbial cream of the crop, the largest and most advanced new Pixel phone that's coming this August.

This would position the Pixel 9 Pro XL as a direct rival to the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which is Samsung's best conventional smartphone released in 2024 so far. Which one would have come up on top?

Pixel 9 Pro XL vs Galaxy S24 Ultra differences:



Table of Contents:

Design and Size

Premium as premium can get

As per the rumors and leaks we've been seeing, the Pixel 9 Pro XL will actually be a direct successor to devices like the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 8 Pro. This means that it will rely on a 6.7-inch screen and won't be much larger. 

From a design perspective, we're expecting a stainless-steel frame with a mostly flat design (as is trendy these days). From a visual standpoint, it should closely follow the distinct Pixel design style: a redesigned camera strip will be present at the back, somewhat moving away from the distinct 3D Visor look of previous Pixels. 

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S24 Ultra employs a mostly flat titanium frame, which still features an ever-so-slight curvature for enhanced ergonomics. It's Samsung's largest traditional phone released thus far in 2024, with a completely flat 6.8-inch screen up front. Of course, just like previous Galaxy devices, this one comes along with the S Pen tucked into its silo right out of the box.

Both phones will surely match each other's endurance with an IP68 water and dust resistance. This means you'll be able to dunk each phone for up to half an hour in up to 1.5m of water, and they'll live to tell the tale. 

Colors-wise, we'll likely get the Pixel 9 Pro XL in the following hues: black, white, pink, and green. At the same time, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is available in Titanium Black, Titanium Gray, Titanium Violet, Titanium Yellow, Titanium Blue, Titanium Green, and Titanium Orange.

Display Differences

Little differences

Although the displays of the two phones will differ slightly in terms of overall size, they wouldn't be that much different. 

For one, we expect the Pixel 9 Pro XL to boast a 6.7-inch QHD+ OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate that will make content appear super-smooth. While nothing is known yet, we expect the Pixel 9 Pro XL to have a super-bright screen, following into the footsteps of last-year's Pixel 8 Pro. Thus, a maximum peak brightness of above 2,400 nits is likely coming along for the ride, boosting legibility under strong ambient lighting. 

At the same time, the Galaxy S24 Ultra comes with a slightly larger 6.8-inch screen, but it's also a QHD+ OLED screen with 120Hz refresh rate. Samsung is also participating in the brightness wars, so its latest flagship can hit upwards of 2,500 nits of peak brightness in the right ambient conditions. 

Regarding biometrics, the Pixel 9 Pro XL will most certainly match the Galaxy S24 Ultra and come with an in-display fingerprint scanner. We just hope it's of the ultrasonic and not the optical kind, as the former ones are usually faster and more accurate.  

Performance and Software

Another episode of the "Tensor vs Snapdragon" drama

As per our expectations and all the rumors that have surfaced so far, it's fairly logical to expect the Tensor G4 to make the rounds inside the Pixel 9 Pro XL. 

Just like previous Tensor chips, this one is betting heavily on on-device AI and machine-learning, shifting the focus away from raw performance. Still, just like previous Tensors, we wouldn't expect the Tensor G4 to lag or be incompetent in heavier tasks, that's simply not the case. 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra, on the other hand, comes along with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, which is pretty much one of the top choices in 2024 as far as raw performance comes. Aside from besting our synthetic benchmark tests, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is one of the more efficient chips out there despite being based on a 4nm manufacturing process. 


We might see 16GB of RAM on the Pixel 9 Pro XL, which should be more than enough to accommodate any and all on-device AI necessities. If that rumor doesn't pan out, 12GB of RAM should be a safe bet. The Galaxy S24 Ultra comes along with 12GB of RAM, which is plenty-ish, but might not be quite future-proof given the massive hardware requirements of AI that will only grow in the coming years. 

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Both Samsung and Google now have a top-of-the-line seven-year software update policy in place. This means that the Pixel 9 Pro XL will be supported until 2031, which is just as long as the Galaxy S24 Ultra

There's a high chance that the Pixel 9 Pro XL will come along with Android 15, which is shaping up to be a minor refresh over Android 14. The Galaxy S24 Ultra comes along with One UI 6.1, which is based on Android 14, but Samsung will probably release One UI 7 based on Android 15 not long after Google officially unveils it. 

Camera

Little change on both accounts

Granted, our intel on the Pixel 9 Pro XL camera specs is sparse. This is why the blogosphere has currently accepted that the device will feature the same general camera loadout as its predecessor: a 50MP main camera aided by a 48MP ultra-wide and a 48MP telephoto with 5.0X optical zoom. Pixel camera quality is top-notch, so we don't doubt Google's ability to squeeze out better image quality out of the existing hardware. 

In the case of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, we got the same camera as the one on the S23 Ultra… but with a twist. Instead of a 10MP periscope camera with 10X optical zoom, we got a 50MP telephoto with 5.0X optical zoom. This turned out to be an upgrade, as the device still hit the same 100X Space Zoom levels, but delivered arguably better zoom quality, which is key in such scenarios. 

Overall, it will be a toss up as to which phone will deliver better image quality. So far, it seems the Galaxy S24 Ultra could have the upper hand as it employs a more versatile setup.

Battery Life and Charging


Rumors put either a 5,050mAh or a 5,100mAh battery inside the Pixel 9 Pro XL, which would be a nearly negligible upgrade over the 5,000mAh battery inside the previous model. Paired with the efficient Tensor G4, the next top Pixel phone should deliver excellent battery life. 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra boasts a 5,000mAh battery which delivers superb battery life in concert with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

In terms of charging, rumors have it the Pixel 9 Pro XL could come with 33W wired charging, thus potentially charging slower than the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which comes with 45W wired charging. However, the Pixel 9 Pro XL will likely boast 23W wireless charging, an upgrade over the Galaxy's 15W wireless charging.

Specs Comparison


Check out the Google Pixel 9 Pro XL vs Galaxy S24 Ultra specs comparison, which should give a pretty clear picture of what to expect, despite being based on preliminary specs. 
 

Summary


Overall, Google seems to be prepping another high-level rival to the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which will undoubtedly escalate the war for the crown in the Android space. 

The Pixel 9 Pro XL will undoubtedly be the test bed for tons of AI features that Google is surely working on. At the same time, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is undoubtedly the best alternative and easily one of the best phones released in 2024. 

Which one is better? Remains to be seen, but so far, it seems like the Galaxy S24 Ultra could retain its crown. 

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