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Google Pixel 6 vs Samsung S21 (2022): Which Flagship Smartphone Is Better?

The Samsung Galaxy S21 owned the title of best Android smartphone for the majority of 2021. However, it finally met its match when the Google Pixel 6 was launched late last year. This new contender is as impressive as they come but the most surprising part is that it’s actually reasonably priced. So now, the question that everyone’s asking is: Is the newcomer better than the title holder? To help you answer this question, here’s a Pixel 6 vs Galaxy S21 comparison review that covers their design, display, camera quality, and performance.

Google Pixel 6 vs Samsung S21 Comparison Chart

ModelGoogle Pixel 6Samsung S21
 Google Pixel 6 chartSamsung S21 chart
PriceCheck Price at AmazonCheck Price at Amazon
Display 6.4-inch OLED with 411 ppi6.2-inch AMOLED 2X with 421 ppi
Refresh Rate90Hz120Hz
Water ResistanceIP68 ratingIP68 rating
Processor Google TensorSnapdragon 888
RAM8GB8GB
Storage128GB and 256GB128GB and 256GB
CamerasWide angle – 50MP, ƒ/1.85
Ultra-wide angle – 12MP, ƒ/2.2
Telephoto – None
Front camera – 8.0MP, ƒ/2.0
Wide angle – 12MP, ƒ/1.8
Ultra-wide angle – 2MP, ƒ/2.2
Telephoto – 64MP, ƒ/2.0
Front camera – 10MP, ƒ/2.2
Battery Capacity 4614mAh4000mAh
Dimensions6.2 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches6 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches
Weight207g171g

Design and Display

The Google Pixel 6 has a more premium design but the Samsung Galaxy S21 has a better display.

Google Pixel 6 vs Samsung S21 design
Both the Google Pixel 6 (left) and the Samsung Galaxy S21 (right) have an IP68 rating.

Back when Samsung first released the Samsung Galaxy S21, people were a little skeptical about their choice of material. They went for a plastic body instead of metal or glass, which people thought looked and felt less premium. However, the fact can’t be discounted that plastic fares better against falls. As for the Google Pixel 6, it has been given a glass backing which provides a more solid and expensive feel. It also has a stylish camera module spanning the width of its back which adds to the premium look.

While the Pixel 6 may have a classier design than the Galaxy S21, they’re on the same level durability-wise. They both have Gorilla Glass Victus screens which means they should both be able to survive minor falls, plus they come with an IP68 rating for protection against water and dust.

When it comes to displays, the Galaxy S21 is able to hold on to the top spot. While the Pixel 6 has a slightly bigger screen, the Galaxy S21 boasts of a dazzling AMOLED 2X display with HDR10+. Not to mention it has a denser pixel count, a 120Hz refresh rate, and blue light reduction, earning the Galaxy S21 its flagship model title.

Camera

The Google Pixel 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 each have their pros and cons when it comes to camera quality.

Google Pixel 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 camera
The Samsung Galaxy S21 (right) comes with a 64MP telephoto lens, a feature that’s missing on the Google Pixel 6 (left).

Just by camera specs alone, it’s impossible to name a winner between the Google Pixel 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 as they each have their own pros and cons. The Pixel 6, for example, has a 50MP wide-angle camera that trumps the 12MP wide-angle camera on the Galaxy S21. However, the Galaxy S21 has a more complete camera set-up because aside from the wide-angle lens, it also has an ultra-wide lens and a telephoto lens. Unfortunately, that last one is missing on the Pixel 6. The Galaxy S21’s 10MP selfie camera also beats the Pixel 6’s 8MP sensor.

While the Pixel 6 and the Galaxy S21 produce different image qualities, it’s good news that both models do a good job of post-processing. With the Pixel 6, photos come out looking bold and lively. While sharpness is slightly lacking when compared to a 108MP flagship sensor, the output isn’t bad at all considering that the Pixel 6 has an affordable $600 price tag. As for the Galaxy S21, the details are definitely more present and the dynamic range is impressive as well. However, Samsung has the tendency to overexpose when you’re in auto mode.

Hardware and Software

The Google Pixel 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 are neck and neck in terms of processing power but the former will receive more software updates.

Google Pixel 6 vs Samsung S21 hardware
The Google Pixel 6 is more future-proof than the Samsung Galaxy S21.

The Snapdragon 888 is the processor of choice among 2021 flagship smartphones and the Samsung Galaxy S21 is no exception. While it’s no longer the newest Snapdragon processor, it’s still able to deliver a fast and seamless experience while you’re gaming or using day-to-day apps. And it’s able to do so without draining the battery too fast.

As for the Pixel 6, it runs on the Google Tensor processor which was ironically developed by Samsung. Even though it’s inside a new phone, it’s not actually new hardware and it falls ever so slightly behind the Snapdragon 888 when it comes to processing power and battery usage. That said, it’s still able to delivery a buttery smooth performance and should be more than enough for juggling multiple tasks at a time.

When it comes to software updates, the Pixel 6 has the upper hand which isn’t surprising considering that it’s the newer phone. According to Google, the Pixel 6 will continue to receive updates for four years up until Android 16 in 2025. It will also receive an additional year of security updates up until 2026 which is unheard of for Android models. The Galaxy S21, on the other hand, will only be able to update until Android 14 in 2024 and will receive the last of its security updates in 2025.

Battery Life

The Google Pixel 6 pushes slightly ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S21 when it comes to battery life.

Google Pixel 6 vs Samsung S21 battery
The Google Pixel 6 has a bigger battery capacity than the Samsung Galaxy S21.

While the Google Pixel 6’s processor isn’t as efficient when it comes to battery optimization, it’s able to beat the Samsung Galaxy S21 for a couple of reasons. For starters, the Pixel 6 has a larger battery capacity of 4614mAh compared to the Galaxy S21’s 4000mAh. In addition, the Galaxy S21’s 120Hz refresh rate doesn’t help with battery conservation. While the Galaxy S21 will already have all of its juices drained at the 6-hour mark, the Pixel 6 will still have around 30% left at the 5.5-hour mark. Another point goes to the Pixel 6 for having a slightly faster charging time than the Galaxy S21 whether it be wired or wireless.

Verdict

The Google Pixel 6 wins against the Samsung Galaxy S21 for being more future-proof and affordable.

Even though the Google Pixel 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S21 have their own advantages, they’re not significant enough to say that one smartphone is better than the other. Both models are able to give users the kind of experience you’d expect from a flagship phone and more.

However, we’re picking the Pixel 6 as the winner of this comparison for a couple of reasons. For starters, the fact that you can get it for $200 less than the Galaxy S21 is hard to ignore. In addition, it’s a more future-proof option that will continue to receive software and security updates for a longer period of time.

FAQs

📌Is the Google Pixel 6 waterproof?

Yes. The Google Pixel 6 comes with an IP68 rating which means it’s both water and dust-proof.

📌What is the Google Pixel 6’s weight?

The Google Pixel 6 weighs in at 207g. Designed with a glass backing, it’s heavier and feels more solid than the Samsung Galaxy S21.

📌How long is the Google Pixel 6’s battery life

Equipped with a 4614mAh battery, the Google Pixel 6 can last up to 20 hours of offline video playback.

📌Does the Google Pixel 6 have wireless charging?

The Google Pixel 6 has both wired and wireless charging. For a faster wireless charging experience, you can charge it via the Pixel Stand.

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Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.