In this article, we’ll compare the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5. Now, some of you may find this comparison to be a rather odd choice. Why? Well, the Galaxy S21 Ultra costs approximately twice as much as the Google Pixel 5, and it’s in a different category of devices. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is a premium flagship, both in its design and specs, and also a generation newer. The Pixel 5 is closer to a mid-range phone with its specifications, but it’s still premium, and it’s also the best Google has to offer at the moment. So… there you go, that’s the reason why.
Just because a phone costs twice as much doesn’t mean that it wipes the floor with the competition. The Google Pixel 5 is a great smartphone, and it does have plenty of upsides. That is why we’re here to compare these two devices. Perhaps you’re looking for a somewhat smaller device, and are not looking to break the bank in order to get the Galaxy S21 Ultra. If that’s the case, read on, as we’re kicking off the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5 comparison.
|Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra||Google Pixel 5|
|Screen size||6.8-inch WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display (120Hz adaptive refresh rate)||6-inch fullHD+ OLED display (90Hz)|
|Screen resolution||3200 x 1440||2340 x 1080|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 / Samsung Exynos 2100||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G|
|RAM||12GB/16GB (LPDDR5)||8GB (LPDDR4X)|
|Storage||128GB/256GB, non-expandable (expandable in some countries)||128GB, non-expandable|
|Rear cameras||108MP (f/1.8 aperture, OIS, 0.8um pixel size. Produces 12MP images with 2.4um pixel size)
12MP (ultrawide, Dual Pixel AF, 120-degree FoV, f/2.2 aperture, 1.4um pixel size)
10MP (telephoto, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, f/2.4 aperture, 1.22um pixel size, optical zoom 3x)
10MP (telephoto, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, f/4.9 aperture, 1.22um pixel size, 10x optical zoom, 100x Space Zoom)
|12.2MP (f/1.7 aperture, 27mm lens, 1.4um pixel size, dual pixel PDAF, OIS)
16MP (ultra-wide, f/2.2 aperture, 1.0um pixel size, 107-degree FoV)
|Front cameras||40MP (f/2.2 aperture, 80-degree FoV, 0.7um pixel size, PDAF)||8MP (f/2.0 aperture, 24mm lens, 1.12um pixel size)|
|Battery||5,000mAh, non-removable, fast battery charging (USB PD 3.0), Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare||4,080mAh, non-removable, 18W fast battery charging, 18W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging|
|Dimensions||165 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm||144.7 x 70.4 x 8.0 mm|
|Weight||229 grams||151 grams|
|Connectivity||5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C||5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C|
|Security||In-display fingerprint scanner (ultrasonic)||Rear-facing fingerprint scanner|
One UI 3.0
These two smartphones are completely different when it comes to the design. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is much larger than the Pixel 5, while it’s made out of metal and glass. It also has a curved display. The Pixel 5, on the other hand, has a flat display, and it’s made out of metal, while its back is covered by resin, in other words, it’s covered by fancy plastic. This makes the Pixel 5 considerably less slippery, while due to its size, it’s also much easier to use with one hand.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is quite slippery, to say the last. Using a case with it may be the best course of action. Having said that, both smartphones have extremely thin bezels. They both also include a display camera hole, though that hole does not have the same placement on both devices. On the Galaxy S21 Ultra it’s centered, while Google decided to put it in the top-left corner of the Pixel 5.
You’ll also notice a fingerprint scanner on the back of the Pixel 5. The Galaxy S21 Ultra, on the other hand, sports an in-display fingerprint scanner. It utilizes an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner from Qualcomm, the second-gen one. Rear cameras are placed in the same spot, but are considerably different. The Galaxy S21 Ultra’s camera housing is the extension of its frame, while the Pixel 5’s is more of a regular setup.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is considerably taller, and wider than the Pixel 5, while it’s also thicker. Its display is 0.8 inches larger, so that’s not exactly surprising. On top of all that, Samsung’s flagship is also much heavier at 227 grams, while the Pixel 5 weighs 151 grams. These two handsets are completely different when it comes to the design, it’s up to you to decide which phone suits you better.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra features a much larger panel than the Pixel 5. It includes a 6.8-inch WQHD+ (3200 x 1440) Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. That panel offers an adaptive refresh rate (up to 120Hz), and it’s protected by the Gorilla Glass Victus, the latest and greatest Corning has to offer. This display is curved, and it supports HDR10+ content. It can reach up to 1,500 nits when it comes to brightness.
The Google Pixel 5, on the other hand, features a 6-inch fullHD+ (2340 x 1080) OLED panel. This is also a high refresh rate panel, but it’s a 90Hz panel, and it’s not adaptive. The display is flat, and it’s protected by the Gorilla Glass 6. This panel can also project HDR10+ content. Needless to say, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s panel is much more advanced in terms of tech. Still, the Pixel 5 can compete.
That display on the Galaxy S21 Ultra looks better side-by-side, no doubt about that. It’s one of the best displays in the business, if not the best one. Still, the Pixel 5’s display is nothing to scoff at, not at all. It offers great viewing angles and punchy colors as well, just like the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s display. Its black are also deep, and it’s a good display overall. Not many people will have complaints here, that’s for sure.
Spoiler alert, the performance is great with both devices. The thing is, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is much more powerful, on paper. The device comes with the Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 SoC, depending on where you get it. Those two are flagship processors from Qualcomm and Samsung for 2021. The Pixel 5 packs in a way more modest Snapdragon 765G mid-range processor.
The rest of the internals are also more advanced in the Galaxy S21 Ultra, including both RAM and flash storage, both of which affect performance. Still, in day-to-day usage, both phones are quite snappy. For regular smartphone tasks, both of these devices will serve you, and they’ll do a similarly good job, at least for the time being. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is more future-proof, that’s for sure.
When it comes to gaming, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a better bet. It will do a better job when it comes to performing high-end games, while it will also load such titles faster. That is where you will notice the difference. However, in regular day-to-day tasks, there’s not that much difference. They are both great in opening / closing apps, browsing, multitasking, reading / replying to emails, and so on.
When it comes to battery life, both of these phones are excellent, to say the least. These two handsets are amongst the best devices when it comes to battery life that we’ve used in the last year or so. They can comfortably push past the 7-hour screen-on-time barrier, at least in our usage. Do note that your usage is different, so you may end up getting different results in the battery department.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with a 5,000mAh battery, while the Pixel 5 offers a 4,000mAh unit. Both of those batteries are physically large enough, and thanks to optimizations from Samsung and Google, these two phones really shine in the battery department. Do note that you may get considerably different results if you’re pushing the SoC intensively with games, video processing, or something similar
Both devices offer fast charging, and fast wireless charging. You’ll get 25W wired charging on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, while the Pixel 5 offers 18W charging. When it comes to wireless charging, the two devices offer 15W and 12W charging, respectively. Reverse wireless charging is also supported by both phones, at around 5W.
Camera setups are fundamentally different on these two phones, in comparison. The Google Pixel 5 includes two cameras, a regular one, and an ultrawide one. Both of them are heavily backed by Google’s software, and are not exactly brand new sensors. The main sensor has been used by Google for a number of years now. That being said, the Galaxy S21 Ultra delivers four cameras, and the main camera sensor is actually a 108-megapixel unit, compared to a 12.2-megapixel camera on the Pixel 5.
Now, don’t let that difference in megapixels fool you, though. Nor the difference in the number of cameras. The Pixel 5 is still amongst the best camera smartphones in the market, but the Galaxy S21 Ultra really does bring on a challenge. Both smartphones can take excellent pictures in good lighting, with plenty of details. The Galaxy S21 Ultra tends to overprocess them sometimes, and boosts up the colors on top of that. Google is also heavy on processing, though it results in different shots. Both phones handle HDR situations like pros.
Ultra-wide cameras are excellent on both. In low light, both phones do an excellent job. Pictures end up well-lit, and a lot of details end up being preserved. Both offer night camera modes, for even better results. The Galaxy S21 Ultra also offers an excellent telephoto camera setup, and images up to 30x are actually usable. The Pixel 5, on the other hand, doesn’t have a telephoto camera at all. Read our Galaxy S21 Ultra and Pixel 5 reviews for more information, but one thing is for sure, they’re both excellent camera smartphones.
The audio department is actually quite interesting here. On one hand, the Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with a true stereo setup. Its main, bottom-firing speaker is backed by yet another physical display that is placed above the display. The sound is tuned by AKG, and it’s great. The speakers are loud enough, while the sound ends up being sharp, and well-balanced.
The Pixel 5, on the other hand, also comes with a bottom-firing speaker, but that speaker is not backed by another physical unit. The second speaker is basically the display, its vibrations, as the hardware is placed below the panel. That results in a rather silent secondary speaker which affects the whole performance. The main speaker is really good, though. Don’t get us wrong, the sound is good, but it’s nowhere near what the Galaxy S21 Ultra offers.
Neither of the two phones offer a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you’ll need to use their Type-C ports, or Bluetooth connection. Speaking of which, the Galaxy S21 Ultra offers Bluetooth 5.2, while the Pixel 5 comes with Bluetooth 5.0. They can both provide really good sound through a good pair of headphones.