Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5

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The Galaxy S21 series is here, giving us the fastest processor right now, an updated and unique design, and promising cameras. The smallest flagship, the Galaxy S21, is now ready to take on the market, so we have taken it for a spin in our Galaxy S21 review.

However, the Galaxy S21 has several competitors out there, such as the Galaxy S20 FE, still quite new and powerful, the iPhone 12, last year’s Galaxy S20, and the Pixel 5. In this comparison, we will have the Galaxy S21 face off the Pixel 5 in order to help you pick between the two phones, if you have been wondering. And although the Google Pixel 5 is not exactly a flagship device, it does boast Google’s exceptional image processing software that can easily help it rival the big phones on the market right now.

Although the base Galaxy S21’s price is higher than the Pixel 5's, we have seen great discounts on Galaxy models, so with a discount, its price may become more or less the same as the Pixel 5’s current price (or even lower).

Here, we compare the base Galaxy S21 and the Pixel 5 in several different categories: design, specs, cameras.

So, without further ado, let’s observe the differences and similarities between the Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5: Price

  • $799 (128GB) vs $699 (128GB)

As we can see, the Galaxy S21 is more expensive than the Pixel 5, despite the price cuts that Samsung introduced this year. However, if you’ve been keeping an eye on Samsung and carrier deals for Galaxy models, you will know you can often find flagship phones with enormous discounts. For example, big US carriers often offer base Samsung Galaxy S-models for free with select plans (mostly with trade-in). So it is quite reasonable to not hold the higher price of the Galaxy S21 against it.

The Pixel 5 costs $699 and is not a true flagship per se; however, it is still quite a powerful phone.

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5: Design comparison

Okay, let’s talk about design. First off, the Galaxy S21 has quite an adventurous camera module. Its camera bump is elongated to house a bigger sensor and is now taking even more space on the phone’s back. However, Samsung has managed to pull off this design: it looks seamless and unique, without looking weird at all.

On the front, Samsung has opted for slim and uniform razor-thin bezels for the S21 and a centered punch-hole for the selfie camera module. To keep the pricing low, the S21 comes with a plastic back, although the interesting colors and design compensate for the lack of premium glass on its back.

On the other hand, Pixel phones are known for their simple, minimalistic designs and the Pixel 5 doesn’t stray from this tendency. It has an aluminum body, covered by a thin plastic layer giving it a matte finish. On the front, the Pixel 5 also has pretty thin bezels (although not as thin as the Galaxy's) and a punch-hole on the left-hand side of the screen. Additionally, its camera bump on the back is noticeably smaller and less pronounced than the one on the Galaxy.

The Pixel 5 feels sturdy in the hand, thanks to the metal body, and does not feel cheap by any means, but neither does the Galaxy.

Samsung Galaxy S21

5.97 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm


6.03 oz (171 g)

Google Pixel 5

5.7 x 2.77 x 0.31 inches

144.7 x 70.4 x 8 mm


5.33 oz (151 g)

Samsung Galaxy S21

5.97 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm


6.03 oz (171 g)

Google Pixel 5

5.7 x 2.77 x 0.31 inches

144.7 x 70.4 x 8 mm


5.33 oz (151 g)

See the full Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5 size comparison or compare them to other phones using our Size Comparison tool.

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Pixel 5: Colors

  • Galaxy S21 comes in four colors (Black, Violet, Pink, or White) vs two color options for Pixel 5 (Mint Sage or Black)

The Galaxy S21 will come in four eye-catching colors: Violet, Grey, White, and Pink, however, special editions could bring even more color options to the S21 series. If you want to read a detailed examination of the colors for this years’ Galaxies, check our Galaxy S21 colors article. All the Galaxy S21 colors are matte and luxurious.

As for the Pixel 5 colors, it definitely has a more simplistic and minimalistic approach to color and comes in either Sorta Sage or Just Black.

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5: Display comparison

  • 6.2 inch 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED screen vs 6.0 inch 90Hz refresh rate OLED screen
Here, the differences aren’t major, at least in terms of display size and resolution. The Galaxy S21 sports a 6.2-inch panel with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, and an FHD+ resolution (2400 x 1080 pixels) with a pixel density of 421PPI. The adaptive refresh rate automatically adjusts to whatever is being displayed on the screen to save battery.

The Pixel 5 has the same FHD+ resolution and a pixel density of 430PPI. The Pixel 5 has a 90Hz refresh rate, which is also adaptive. The difference between 90Hz and 120Hz refresh rate is basically nonexistent, at least when you look at the phones with the naked eye. Both phones deliver a smooth browsing and media consumption experience, as is to be expected.

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Check out our benchmark results for the displays of both phones and how they compare:

The display of the Galaxy S21 is great, despite not sporting a QHD resolution. The colors are vivid and beautiful, and the very slim bezels and chin just make the viewing experience even better. The Pixel has slightly thicker bezels, but nothing too bothersome.

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5: Specs comparison

  • Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100 vs Snapdragon 765G
  • 8GB of RAM for both
  • 128GB internal storage for both, more storage options for the Galaxy

Of course, the Galaxy S21 comes with the flagship 5nm processor by Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 888 (if you live in the States). Galaxy S21 models sold outside the States will be equipped with the Samsung-made Exynos 2100. If you want to know the differences in the performance between the two chips for the Galaxy, you might find our Snapdragon 888 vs Exynos 2100 article interesting.

Google, on the other hand, has opted for a mid-range processor, the Snapdragon 765G, which although not being a Snapdragon 8-- processor, is still capable of delivering snappy performance. Both phones support 5G.

In recent years, midrange processors have become more capable of delivering a pleasant everyday experience with a phone. While we were testing the Pixel for our Pixel 5 review, we did not notice any stutter in everyday use.

That being said, the Snapdragon 888 processor on the Galaxy S21 brings something else to the table with its new 5nm building process, that delivers higher efficiency while draining less battery. Qualcomm says that the 888 chip delivers up to three times performance per watt improvement compared to the 865 in the Galaxy S20, and its Kryo 680 CPU is 25% more power-efficient than the previous generation. For our tests, we have tested the Exynos-powered Galaxy S21, we haven't tested the Snapdragon option yet. However, the Exynos chip delivers top performance for the Galaxy, which is snappy and responsive in all tasks you throw at it.

For multitasking, both phones come with 8GB of RAM, which is more than enough for the majority of people. The Galaxy has a 256GB storage option, as well as a 128GB one, while the Pixel 5 comes only with 128GB of storage.

Performance Benchmarks:
Geekbench 5 SingleHigher is better
Google Pixel 5588
Samsung Galaxy S211043
Geekbench 5 MultiHigher is better
Google Pixel 51597
Samsung Galaxy S213090
GFXBench Car Chase on-screenHigher is better
Google Pixel 514
Samsung Galaxy S2150
*Please note that we have the Exynos version of the Galaxy S21.

We notice the big advantage the Galaxy has over the Pixel when it comes to speed, and the same is also true for 3D gaming where the Galaxy is clearly the better choice.

Sustained Gaming Performance

This test is particularly interesting for gamers because it is much closer to the real-world experience where you play for half an hour or more, and inevitably the performance on your phone drops as it gets hotter (something that regular benchmarks don't catch).

So what we notice here is that the Galaxy S21 has a very high baseline performance, but just after 3 minutes of running the gaming test, it throttles and the performance drops by more than 30%. Still, even after throttling, the Galaxy is nearly three times faster than the Pixel, but it's worth noting that the Galaxy does heat up quite a bit and is not quite as impressive in real life as the benchmarks may suggest.

Storage Speed Comparison

An additional advantage the Galaxy has over the Pixel are much faster storage speeds, that impact your experience all throughout: from saving photos and videos to opening apps, the Galaxy will be the faster phone.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus vs Google Pixel 5: Camera comparison

  • 12MP main, 64MP zoom, 12MP ultra-wide vs 12.2MP main, 16MP ultra-wide
First off, the Galaxy S21’s zoom camera does not feature a periscope lens, so keep in mind it will do all zooming digitally - this means it will crop the photo taken with the 64MP camera. That being said, digital zoom doesn’t always mean photos will turn out terrible, even the contrary as you can see down below in our photo samples. On the other hand, the Pixel 5 also zooms in digitally, using Google Super Res Zoom technology.

As far as the main camera is concerned, photos from the Google Pixel 5 look amazing, not overly-saturated, crisp, clear, and vivid. Pixel phones are indeed quite famous for their cameras and top-notch image processing software.

The software on the S21 has been improved over last year’s Galaxy S20, and now you get additional features that will make your photo-taking experience better and more intuitive. The Galaxy S21 does quite well with capturing vivid images, realistic colors, and crisp details.

Overall, the photos taken by both phones are good-looking, although, in some instances, the Galaxy S21 gives us a more bright, vivid photo, when the Pixel 5’s colors are more subdued and warm. People may like the bright lively colors on the S21, but folks that prefer more warm photos may prefer the Pixel 5’s.

There’s something we noticed worth mentioning: the Galaxy S21 has some detail smudging on the edges of the photos, especially seen on photos shot with the ultra-wide camera, and it’s worse than what we have seen on other phones.

The portrait shots by both phones are also quite similar in terms of photo quality and dynamics. The Pixel 5’s appear a bit on the warmer side.

The zoom department is where the Pixel 5 obviously lacks in comparison to the Galaxy S21. The Pixel’s maximum zoom is 7x, and the photo quality is way worse than the one on the Galaxy. A lot of detail is lost and the zoom-in photos are quite unusable.

If you want to know more about how the Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra’s cameras perform against the competition, check out our Galaxy S21 camera comparison with the iPhone 12, Pixel 4, Note 20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5: battery life and charging speeds

  • 4000mAh vs 4080mAh
  • 25W fast charging vs 18W fast charging
  • 15W wireless charging vs 12W wireless charging
  • Fast charging, reverse wireless charging on both phones
As you can see, in terms of battery size, both phones are similar on paper, with a slight win for the Galaxy in charging speeds, both wired and wireless. However, the battery life depends on a lot of factors. Google Pixel phones are usually good with power efficiency and this big 4,080mAh battery cell on the Pixel can last up to 48 hours with light usage, while heavy users may get up to a day and a half on a single charge.

In our extensive battery tests, the Pixel 5 outperformed the Galaxy S21 in a lot of categories. For example, in our browsing test, we tested both the 60Hz and the 90Hz for the Pixel, and 60Hz and 120Hz for the S21, and the Pixel lasted longer than the Galaxy. The Pixel 5 in 90Hz browsing lasted 12 hours and 40 minutes, while the Galaxy in 120Hz lasted 7 hours 47 minutes. That’s not a terrible result, but still if you’re a heavy user and want the bigger, longer lasting battery, you’ll be better with the Pixel 5. However, for normal usage, both phones should last you at least a day, and maybe well into the second day for the Pixel.

*Keep in mind we have tested only the Exynos-powered Galaxy S21 at the moment. The Pixel 5 supports 90Hz high refresh rate, while the Galaxy 120Hz.

As for charging, the Galaxy S21 beats the Pixel 5 in terms of speed. Both wired and wireless charging speeds of the Galaxy S21 are higher than the Pixel 5's, so it takes less time for you to quickly top off the S21's battery.

If you’re interested in more details about the Galaxy S21’s battery life and comparison with the competition, check out our Galaxy S21 battery life: all you need to know article.

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