Please note that this is a preliminary comparison as the Galaxy S21 is still not officially released, the information we have included about it here is based on reputable leaks and conclusions, backed by our experience.
Leaks about the upcoming Galaxy S21 series are all over the internet right now, as the Galaxy S21 possible release date of January 14 is fast approaching. The Google Pixel 5, on the other hand, is not exactly a flagship device, however, it does boast Google’s exceptional image processing software for great photos and many other software-related pros. Although the base Galaxy S21’s expected price may be 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. Therefore, a comparison between the two may be interesting if you’re possibly considering buying one of those two phones. Here, we compare the base Galaxy S21 and the Pixel 5 in several different categories: design, specs, cameras. We have already made comparisons between the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, as well as between the Galaxy S21 Plus vs OnePlus 9 Pro, so if you’re interested, do check them out as well.
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Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5: Price
- $850 (128GB) vs $699 (128GB)
As we can see, at least according to the most recent rumors, the Galaxy S21 is more expensive than the Pixel 5, despite the price cuts planned by Samsung. However, if you’ve been keeping an eye on Samsung and carrier deals for Galaxy models, you will often find them with big 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.
This year, Google has not released a true flagship per se; however, the Google Pixel 5 is still quite a powerful phone, coming at a more of a mid-range-like price.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus vs Google Pixel 5: Design comparison
Design render of the Galaxy S21 by LetsGoDigital
Okay, let’s talk about design. First off, according to leaks and design renders, the Galaxy S21 has quite the adventurous camera module. On renders created by LetsGoDigital and based on real-life photos of the devices, the Galaxy S21’s camera bump is seen elongated to house a bigger sensor and is now taking even more space on the phone’s back. On the front, Samsung has opted for slim and uniform bezels and a centered punch-hole for the selfie camera module.
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 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.
Google Pixel 5 in Sorta Sage
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Pixel 5: Colors
- Violet, Pink, White, Grey vs Sage, Black
Galaxy S21 colors, renders by LetsGoDigital
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5: Display comparison
- 6.2 inch 120Hz 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. According to the latest rumors, the Galaxy S21 sports a 6.2-inch panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, which is non-adaptive, and an FHD+ resolution (2400 x 1080 pixels) with a pixel density of 424PPI. The Pixel 5 has the same FHD+ resolution and a pixel density of 430PPI. This means that, at least on paper, the viewing experience in terms of resolution on both phones should be pretty similar. The Pixel 5 has a 90Hz refresh rate, but it is adaptive, meaning that it will drop down the refresh rate depending on what you’re visualizing on the screen to save battery life.
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 will come 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 Samsung-made Exynos 2100. 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 will 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 might bring 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.
We might be tempted to give this one to the Galaxy, at least on paper. Once we have the phone, we will see whether or not this improvement in processing power is even noticeable in everyday usage.
For multitasking, both phones come with 8GB of RAM, which is more than enough for the majority of people.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus vs Google Pixel 5: Camera comparison
- 12MP main, 64MP zoom, 12MP ultra-wide vs 12.2MP main, 16MP ultra-wide
It will be interesting to see how the Galaxy S21’s camera performs once it is released, but at the moment, we can just look at specs and base our assumptions on previous camera performance noticed in Galaxy S-models.
First off, the Galaxy S21’s zoom camera does not feature a periscope lens according to rumors, so keep in mind it will do all zooming digitally. That being said, digital zoom doesn’t always mean photos will turn out terrible, so we should wait and see. 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.
Check out some photo samples from the Pixel 5:
Here are some photo samples from this year’s Samsung Galaxy S20:
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5: battery life and charging speeds
- 4000mAh vs 4080mAh
- 45W vs 18W wired charging
- 25W 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. However, the battery life depends on a lot of factors. Rumors say that for one, the Galaxy S21’s 120Hz refresh rate display is not adaptive, so we can expect it to drain more battery than the adaptive 90Hz refresh rate on the Pixel 5. Google Pixel phones are usually good with power efficiency and this big 4,000mAh 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. For the Galaxy S21, we can expect the 120Hz to hit the battery life noticeably: for the Galaxy S20, we have measured that the higher refresh rate reduces the S20’s battery life by around 36%.
As for charging, the specs show that 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 at least it may take less time for you to quickly top off the S21’s battery.