The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra might be the current top dog of the Android flagship world, but it’s just got a new challenger in the form of the Pixel 6 Pro. So how does Google’s revamped approach to high-end phones compare? Let’s take a look.
Google’s latest handset might be the year’s worst kept secret, but now that the device is finally here (with our hands-on also available for your perusal), there’s a good chance that Google might have finally hit the stride it needs for the Pixel to be taken seriously.
Of course, in order to make its case, the Pixel 6 Pro needs to improve upon the foundations of previous Android flagships, and there’s no beast more powerful than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. Given that you can now get Samsung’s top tier phone for a bit less than its eye-watering launch price, it could prove to be the main competitor against the Pixel 6 Pro. If you’re weighing up which one to get, these are the key differences you need to know.
Just like the S21 Ultra before it, the Pixel 6 Pro has put the camera first – even the design is centred around it. On Google’s handset, you’ve got a 50MP wide main sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor for those massive landscape shots, and a 48MP telephoto lens with 4x optical zoom that can be bumped up to 20x via digital zoom.
The S21 Ultra on the other hand has a total of four rear-facing cameras, including a 108MP wide main sensor, a 10MP periscope lens with 10x optical zoom, a 10x telephoto with 3x optical zoom and an ultra-wide 12MP lens. This is without mentioning the 100x digital zoom on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but that’s still more of a gimmick than a useful feature.
While the Ultra has the 6 Pro beaten on pure specs alone, it doesn’t necessarily determine that Samsung’s phone can take better shots – remember that it’s always been computational processing that’s given Pixel phones their advantage and that’s likely to still be the case here.
The S21 Ultra is renowned for having one of the nicest smartphone screens out there – its 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED display is great for watching films on the go, while the 120Hz variable refresh rate helps you to make the most of the phone without completely decimating the battery.
The Pixel 6 Pro is no slouch by comparison however, packing a slightly smaller 6.7-inch OLED display that also uses a 120Hz variable refresh rate and 512ppi. It’ll be harder to discern the differences on what are essentially small, pocketable displays, but it seems clear that neither are slouching in trying to give users a premium viewing experience.
One of the biggest features going for the Pixel 6 Pro is that it’s the first phone brought to market with Google’s new Tensor chipset. This in-house chip has been designed to make the most out of the Pixel 6 Pro’s hardware and software, so the experience should be more finely tuned than what you’d find on a typical Android device.
Samsung employs a similar technique with its Exynos chipsets, although the Exynos range has always been in the line of fire for never being as efficient as comparative chipsets from Qualcomm. Google has always favoured software over any other facet of the Pixel, meaning that all that computational prowess could become industry leading if the Tensor chip holds up.
For storage and memory, the S21 Ultra can go as high as 512GB with 16GB RAM to go with it. The Pixel on the other hand only reaches a peak of 256GB storage and 12GB RAM, which may hurt its chances with some of the more hardcore crowd who want top-level specs for their money.
Here are the full specs for both phones:
Here it is – the last but arguably most important aspect if you’re working on a tight budget. From a strictly monetary perspective, the Pixel 6 Pro has the S21 Ultra beat by having an entry level price of £899.
While expensive, this is far more palatable than the £1149 price tag slapped on the S21 Ultra at launch. With the phone having been out for a while now you can always shop around for bargain, but it’s hard to argue with everything Google’s packed into what is essentially a more affordable phone.
We won’t know for sure how these two phones stack up until our final verdict for the Pixel 6 Pro comes in, but from everything that we’ve seen of the phone so far (not to mention the fact that it’s running the beautifully designed Android 12) the Pixel 6 Pro could be the phone that comes closest to knocking the S21 Ultra off its perch.