When it comes to older flagship Android phones, the Google Pixel 6 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra stand out as powerful contenders. But how do they measure up in terms of performance, design, camera capabilities, battery life, and price?
Both phones boast high-end processors, with the Pixel 6 Pro utilizing Google’s Tensor chip and the Galaxy S21 Ultra powered by the Snapdragon 888 chip (or the Exynos 2100 in some regions). Additionally, both phones offer 12GB of RAM, with the S21 Ultra having an optional 16GB RAM variant. Storage-wise, you can expect up to 512GB on both devices.
In terms of software, the Pixel 6 Pro has an edge, running on Vanilla Android—a UI that resonates with most users. The Pixel’s software offers unique features such as Magic Eraser and Hold for Me, often drawing comparisons to the iOS experience within the Android realm. On the other hand, the Galaxy S21 Ultra operates on Samsung’s One UI, which provides greater customization options and additional apps. Power users may find One UI more beneficial, particularly with features like Samsung Dex that transform the phone’s software into a PC-like experience.
When it comes to gaming, the Galaxy S21 Ultra performs slightly better, making it an ideal choice for gaming enthusiasts. However, the Pixel 6 Pro can handle nearly any modern mobile game with ease. Ultimately, both phones deliver excellent experiences for the average user.
Design: Premium Aesthetics and Durability
Both the Pixel 6 Pro and the Galaxy S21 Ultra exhibit premium build quality, sporting an aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back. Additionally, both devices are IP68 certified, guaranteeing water and dust resistance.
The Pixel 6 Pro boasts a unique two-tone design, featuring a black camera bar spanning the back of the phone. On the other hand, the Galaxy S21 Ultra offers a more subtle design with a matte finish and a curved camera module that blends seamlessly into the frame. In terms of display, the Pixel 6 Pro has a slightly smaller 6.7-inch screen, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra boasts a larger 6.8-inch display. Both displays offer a QHD+ resolution and a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz.
Camera comparison: S21 Ultra VS Pixel 6 Pro
Both phones showcase impressive camera systems, equipped with multiple rear lenses and high-resolution front cameras. The Pixel 6 Pro features a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, and a 48MP telephoto camera with 4x optical zoom. In comparison, the Galaxy S21 Ultra boasts a 108MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, and two 10MP telephoto cameras with 3x and 10x optical zoom. Both devices also incorporate laser autofocus sensors for swift and precise focusing. As for front cameras, the Pixel 6 Pro offers an 11MP lens, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra houses a 40MP lens. Both phones support 4K video recording at up to 60fps and HDR10+.
In terms of camera quality, both phones excel in bright environments. The S21 Ultra stands out with its versatile camera, capable of zooming up to 100x—an exceptional feature seldom found in other phones. Moreover, the S21 Ultra offers a 10X periscope lens, which is particularly impressive.
The S21 Ultra also has a dedicated Macro mode, allowing users to get up and close to the subject. The Pixel 6 Pro lacks a dedicated Macro mode, but some users have suggested that the 4X telephoto lens produces similar results.
Additionally, the S21 Ultra also boasts a cinematic mode for recording, providing a background blur effect. While the Pixel 6 Pro lacks this feature, it may be added through future software updates. Furthermore, the S21 Ultra offers a directors mode, allowing users to record using all three lenses and a Pro mode for those who love tinkering with camera settings. Users can also seamlessly switch between the front and back cameras while filming, making it ideal for vloggers.
Despite the array of features on the S21 Ultra, the Pixel 6 Pro’s camera consistently produces better photos, especially when capturing human subjects. The Pixel’s photo processing is superior, resulting in more consistent and visually pleasing images. The Pixel 6 Pro also excels in shooting moving subjects and pets, while the S21 Ultra sometimes produces blurry, soft, or smudged pictures. The Pixel’s Super Res zoom is also impressive and competes favorably with the S21 Ultra’s quality for zoom levels below 10x.
Battery Life: Longevity and Convenience
Both phones boast large 5,000 mAh batteries, ensuring a full day of moderate use. They also support fast wired charging—up to 23W for the Pixel 6 Pro and up to 25W for the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It’s important to note that neither phone includes a charger in the box, so a separate purchase or use of an existing one is necessary. Additionally, both phones support wireless charging, with the Pixel 6 Pro offering up to 23W and the Galaxy S21 Ultra supporting up to 15W. Furthermore, both devices can reverse wireless charge other devices—a convenient feature, particularly during long road trips when you need to charge your earbuds or other accessories.
Price: Affordability and Value
In 2023, both the Pixel 6 Pro and the Galaxy S21 Ultra are heavily discounted. You can now purchase these flagship phones for less than $500, an incredible deal considering their performance and features. It’s worth noting that the price difference increases with higher storage variants or when purchasing additional accessories such as the S Pen stylus for the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Which One Should You Choose?
Both the Google Pixel 6 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra are outstanding choices for anyone seeking a premium Android phone with exceptional performance, design, camera capabilities, battery life, and features. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on your needs and preferences.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra offers S Pen support, a more versatile camera system, better overall performance, and an abundance of useful features tailored to power users. On the other hand, the Pixel 6 Pro delivers a clean user interface and a superior camera that consistently produces excellent results. Additionally, consider the devices you already own. If you have other Galaxy devices like the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Buds, sticking within the same ecosystem may be more practical.
No matter which phone you pick, both the Pixel 6 Pro and the Galaxy S21 Ultra are guaranteed to provide a remarkable Android experience that will leave you satisfied.