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Google Pixel 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S21: Why You Should Pick The S21.

author Luis Silva (February 2021 Updated: August 2021 - 6 min. reading time)

You shouldn't have to pay much more for the Galaxy S21, but considering its features, it is the one you should pick.

It comes with better performance (+89%) and a better display.

What else sets them apart?

The Galaxy S21 also comes with a higher refresh rate and larger (+0.2") display. But the Pixel 5 adds a cleaner user interface.

How much will the additional specs cost me?

If you're considering a new and unlocked smartphone, you're going to shell out an extra amount of about $116.

Is it worth buying the Pixel 5 in 2021?

The Pixel 5 isn't the perfect smartphone, but there aren't many better phones for this budget. Sure there are other devices like the Apple iPhone 12, but this one does hold a good cameras, good battery life, and excellent glass protection.

Just keep reading if you want to know everything about them, how they fare against their competition, and how other specialists evaluate them.

Check prices on Amazon Check prices on Amazon
Click here or scroll down to check prices on eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions.

Google Pixel 5, Samsung Galaxy S21

CONTENTS

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Introduction

Samsung introduced its Galaxy S21 model last January. Meanwhile, Google's Pixel 5 started to sell in October 2020.

We are looking at how the Pixel 5 and the Galaxy S21 compare to each other to help you decide which might be the right one for you.

The weight of each section

For additional information regarding our smartphone comparisons, check this FAQ.

to check who their rivals are.

Price*
vs.
Device Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
Release Date 2020, October 2021, January 1y.
OS Updates 3 years 3 years 0y.
Security Updates 3 years 4 years 1y.

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Which One Has The Best Performance?

As for performance, Geekbench 5 scores the Galaxy S21 89% ahead of its competitor in the multi-core ranking. Speed isn't everything, but in this case, it's a lot!

When it comes to performance, the Pixel 5 is way under the average if you consider its rivals. While the average sits at 2726, this one is 40% below them.

It's safe to say that the Pixel 5 can be tagged as mid-range and the Galaxy S21 as high-end.

Performance*
vs.
Features Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
SoC Snapdragon 765 Exynos 2100
Graphics Adreno 620 Mali-G78 MP14
Geekbench 5 Score 1647
3113
1466
OS Android 11 Android 11 and OneUI
Tek-Score
4.7
7.2
2.4

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

Google Pixel 5 front transparent png Samsung Galaxy S21 front transparent png

The Galaxy S21 has a better display, but this is pretty much a tie.

If you prefer a smartphone with a small display, don't waste your time searching for other devices, and go for the Pixel 5. There are just not that many choices in its class.

Given the Pixel 5, just know that 88% of its rivals can play HDR content and have an Always-On display, and 96% have an AMOLED screen.

For the Galaxy S21, as a reference, 92% of its rivals can play HDR content and have an Always-On display, and all have an AMOLED screen.

Display Density (DPIs)*
vs.
Features Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
Size 6.0
6.2
0.2
Screen Type AMOLED AMOLED
Resolution (px) 1080x2340
1080x2400
64800
Refresh Rate 90hz 120hz 30
Dots per Inch 429.53
424.48
-5.05
Always-On-Display Yes Yes
Notch Hole Hole
Peak Brightness 699 nits
856 nits
157
HDR HDR10+ HDR10+
Sub Tek-Score
8.7
9.2
0.5
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 6 Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
Tek-Score
7.9
9.7
1.8

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

Google Pixel 5 back transparent png Samsung Galaxy S21 back transparent png

Be aware that the Pixel 5's picture quality is, on average, 48% above its adversaries in its class. But you won't find a winner here.

About the Pixel 5: DXOMARK gave this shooter a score of 129. By including its wide-angle lens, you'll end up with a score of 138. For an in-depth review, click here.

PS: all of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more and have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and 92% feature Optical Image Stabilization. On the other hand, only 19% of them feature a macro lens.

About the Galaxy S21: DXOMARK has rated this camera with a score of 123. And by adding its wide-angle lens, we end up with a score of 137 points. If you want to know more about every tidbit, check it here.

Last (but not least), just to let you know, all of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K, have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and feature Optical Image Stabilization. Additionally, only 4% of them feature a macro lens.

If you're not a numbers person, we can tag these two more as high-end.

If you take optical zoom seriously, none of these will help you. Just pick something like the Apple iPhone 12 Pro instead.

Picture Quality*
vs.
Primary Camera Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 1.7
1.8
0.1
Lens 27mm
26mm
-1
Lens Type Wide-Angle Wide-Angle
Flash 1 1 0
HDR Yes Yes
OIS Yes Yes
Video 2160 4320 2160
Score 138
137
-1

*Reference: 100: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Extra Camera(s) Pixel 5 Galaxy S21 vs.
Megapixels 16
64
48
Aperture 2.2
2.0
-0.2
Lens 17mm 29mm 12
Lens Type Wide-Angle Regular
Megapixels - 12
Aperture - 2.2
Lens - 13mm
Lens Type - Ultra-wide-Angle
Score 9 14 5
Selfie Camera Pixel 5 Galaxy S21 vs.
Megapixels 8
10
2
Aperture 2.0
2.2
0.2
Lens 24mm 26mm 2
Pixel 5 Galaxy S21 vs.
Tek-Score
8.1
8.1
-0.1

Who has the best frame?

The Pixel 5 does win some points here, mainly for its weight, aluminum back, and better looks.

By doing some math, I found out that the Pixel 5 is 12% smaller than most similarly priced devices.

The Pixel 5 weighs 151 g. (5.33 oz), while the other is 18 g. (0.71 oz) heavier. But because this is a bit relative, I've developed a formula for a kind of "display size to phone weight" ratio. The Pixel 5 got a score of 8.4, showing it's one of the lightest phones for its screen size. The Galaxy S21, in its turn, has 6.6, which is pretty nice.

You can drop the Pixel 5 into the water, up to 1 to 3 meters deep, just like the Galaxy S21. Remember that it shouldn't be for over half an hour, on standby, and freshwater only.

Looks*
vs.
Body Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
Size 144 x 70 x 8 mm
(5.08 x 2.47 x 0.28 in)
151 x 71 x 7 mm
(5.33 x 2.50 x 0.25 in)
-5593
Weight 151 g. (5.33 oz)
169 g. (5.96 oz)
18
Build Front glass and aluminum back Front glass
Colors Just Black and Sorta Sage Phantom Gray, Phantom Violet, Phantom White, and Phantom Pink
Screen To Body Ratio 87.67%
86.57%
-1.10
Disp.Size To Weight Score 8.4 6.6 -1.9
Looks 9.1/10
6.5/10
-2.6
Waterproof IP68 IP68
Biometrics Fingerprint Under Display Fingerprint
Tek-Score
9.1
7.7
-1.4

*100% = 4+ colors + front and back glass + S2BR: 86+%.

Which has the best battery?

In theory, they should have about the same battery life because they have the same capacity: about 4080 mAh. And as reported by GSMArena, both should theoretically get the same battery life.

Battery life on the Pixel 5 isn't anything to write home about, but Google put some effort into making an overall battery saver device. That's what a "battery to smartphone size" rate of 7.9 shows.

Battery*
vs.
Features Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
Capacity (mAh) 4080 4000 -80
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 82% left
81% left
-1
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 66% left
62% left
-4
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 69% left
67% left
-2
Bat. To Phone Size Score 7.9 6.2 -1.7
Sub Tek-Score
7.2
7.0
-0.2
Fast Charging 18w
25w
7
Wireless Charging 12w
15w
3
Reverse Charging 5w
4.5w
-0.5
Tek-Score
6.9
6.9
0.0

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

There isn't a winner here.

Storage*
vs.
Features Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
RAM (GB) 8GB
8GB
0
Internal (GB) 128GB
128GB
0
Micro SD No No
Tek-Score
6.0
6.0
0.0

*Internal Storage + 256GB Memory Card (Max: 512GB).

Which is the most connectivity-friendly?

These two do look alike sometimes.

About the 3.5mm jack: Now may be the time to consider moving to wireless earbuds. You can buy an adapter, but the wireless buds are your only option. You can also check other devices if you're not really leaning towards any of these. You'd have to pick a smartphone like the Galaxy S10 or the Oppo Find X3 Lite.

These two are (LTE and) 5G compatible.

Connectivity
vs.
Features Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
Network 5G 5G
Bluetooth 5.0
5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack No No
Tek-Score
4.6
4.6
0.0

Which is more affordable?

Here are the best deals on some major online stores:

Google Pixel 5

Reference: $682

Google Pixel 5

Samsung Galaxy S21

Reference: $798

Samsung Galaxy S21

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions, but it will mean a lot if you click on one of these buttons before purchasing your next phone (or whatever else you end up buying). You'll be helping to take this to the next level.

Prices on eBay are in $US but Europe-based. You can click to check the prices in your country.

Prices marked with ! are from renewed/refurbished/carrier-locked phones (except eBay prices that, as a last resort, can be from bids or used devices).

How much of a "phone" can your money buy?
That's how much "score" you can get with $100 based on the global score that you'll see in the next section (higher is better).

Have you found better prices elsewhere? The formula is simple: score/price*100.

Value for money Pixel 5 Galaxy S21 VS
Amazon - 0.82 -
eBay 1.17 1.02 -0.15
Best Buy - 1.14 -
Walmart - - -

Also, don't forget to check the latest deals from these four stores, and the state of the art on mobile technology, if you don't want to overpay on your next smartphone.


Related articles:


Best smartphone deals


The Best Unbiased Smartphones For All Budgets


Smartphone Specs Statistics: The State Of The Art (Q1 2021)

Want to know about that global score? Let me point out the average of its competitors. It's 6.9 for the Pixel 5 and 7.0 for the Galaxy S21.

Verdict: What Makes the Samsung Galaxy S21 Stand Out?

You should've noticed by now that Google is no longer trying to compete with other flagship devices. The Pixel 5 is more like a premium mid-range with below-average performance. But at least you'll get a cleaner user interface.

But if you're willing to spend a bit more, the Galaxy S21 will get you so much better performance, higher refresh rates, and a better display.

Although if you want the best bang for your buck, you should consider the OnePlus 8 Pro or the Galaxy S20 FE 5G.

Pros Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
#1 AMOLED Performance
#2 Always-On-Display AMOLED
#3 Cameras Always-On-Display
#4 Fast Charging Cameras
#5 Wireless Charging Fast Charging
#6 Glass Protection Wireless Charging
#7 Glass Protection
Cons Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
#1 MicroSD Slot MicroSD Slot
#2 3.5mm Jack 3.5mm Jack
#3 Price Price
Relative Score*
vs.
Global Score Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
Gaming Score
6.6
7.6
1.0
Tek-Score
6.78
7.42
0.64
Your Score

Scroll the sliders down below to get your own personalized score. Let's suppose you value performance and battery life, and you don't really care about anything else. Then, just set the "Performance" and the "Battery" sliders up to 5 (5+5=10), and then the other sliders down to 0. You'll know what's the best phone for you.

Performance 1.9
Display 1.7
Cameras 1.4
Frame 0.9
Battery 1.9
Storage 2.0
Connectivity 0.4
Total Should be 10 or as close as possible: 9.6

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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If you want to know more about them, click here:

About me

Hello!

My name is Luis Silva, and I have a degree in computer management. Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved everything to do with tech. Music, pictures, video editing, I've done it all! This site is a place for me to share some of the knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current trends. This is a wonderful place for tech-geeks and everyone else that just want to learn more about tech and smartphones in general.


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Google Pixel 5 Related Comparisons


Samsung Galaxy S21 Related Comparisons

×

"Display size to phone weight" ratio explained

This indeed is a "display size to phone weight" ratio, but because every phone ended up somewhere between 0.0272 and 0.0421, I've amplified (adapted) those values so they would fit in a 0-10 scale. As of now, the best smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy A40, with 140g. (4.94 oz) for a 5.9 inch display. It got a score of 9.92. While the worse device is the iPhone 8 Plus, which weighs 202 g. (7.13 oz) and has a 5.5-inch display. It ended up with a score of 0.75.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

"Battery to device size" ratio explained

This score should give you an idea about the energy footprint of the devices you're considering. It reflects not only the hardware and the energy that it requires but also the amount of energy that the battery can deliver.

The major spenders on any device should be the display and the SoC. But everything from a notification led to its modems need to be optimized, or else, the OEM should simply include a bigger battery as a compensation. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible due to size limitations. But in the end, if a particular OEM can do a good job and give you excellent battery life on a small device, so should everyone else. That's why I've added a "battery to device size" ratio. But since the real scale went from 119 (for the Galaxy S10e, Snapdragon variant) and up to 164 (for the iPhone 7 Plus), I've decided to convert them so they would fit in a 0-10 scale, being 0 the worst device, (the iPhone 7 Plus) and 10 the one every OEM should look up to.

As an example, Apple did an excellent job on the iPhone 7. It has a score of 8. Despite having a small capacity, the hardware is well optimized, and it still gives you decent battery life considering its size. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, with those bezels shrinking its display size, clearly could've been the #1 in our top 10 list of best battery devices if Apple simply filled all that empty space with a bigger battery.

As a side note: I haven't included the dept of the devices in this formula because even if a device ended up being 1mm/0.03 inches thicker, it wouldn't matter that much to those who really value battery life.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

Rivals

As of now, these are the rivals that were considered for each of them. They may change every time its prices are updated.

These are the lowest prices found on Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.


 Google Pixel 5 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12
    $689
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10+
    $565
  • ApplerivaliPhone X
    $579
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11
    $575
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $684
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $650
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10
    $499
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10e SD
    $499
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 SD
    $499
  • OnePlusrival7T Pro
    $503
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $599
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $600
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • OnePlusrival8
    $480
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Plus
    $600
  • XiaomirivalMi 10T Pro
    $480
  • OnePlusrival8T
    $549
  • XiaomirivalMi 10
    $529
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • OnePlusrival9
    $551
  • OpporivalFind X3 Lite
    $554

 Samsung Galaxy S21 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12
    $689
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $684
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $650
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 EX
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 U.EX
    $789
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $599
  • GooglerivalPixel 4 XL
    $780
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $600
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Ultra
    $809
  • HuaweirivalMate 30 Pro
    $849
  • HuaweirivalP40 Pro
    $799
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • OnePlusrival8 Pro
    $799
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Ultra
    $846
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12 Mini
    $739
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Plus
    $600
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • XiaomirivalMi 11
    $698
×

Formula deviation

Since the guys at DxoMark don't review every camera out there, I've come up with a formula based on the ones that they do rate, so I could get an equivalent score for the ones they don't review. After testing it against these cameras, I got the deviation between that and their DxO score.

Device: DxOScore Deviation
Samsung Galaxy A50: 88 -1
Apple iPhone XR: 104 1
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: 108 -7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro: 87 1
Sony Xperia 1: 99 -1
Sony Xperia 5: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: 126 2
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 96 -3
Xiaomi Pocophone F1: 92 -1
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 90 -1
Apple iPhone X: 101 3
Apple iPhone 11: 112 -1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: 107 1
Apple iPhone XS Max: 110 -2
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 124 1
Samsung Galaxy S10: 124 2
Apple iPhone XS: 110 -1
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 120 -2
OnePlus 7 Pro: 122 0
OnePlus 7T Pro: 122 0
Huawei P30 Pro: 125 -1
Google Pixel 4: 117 0
Google Pixel 3: 103 0
Google Pixel 2: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: 127 -2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 132 2
OnePlus 6: 100 0
OnePlus 6T: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: 105 -1
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: 120 0
Xiaomi Mi 9: 115 0
Huawei Mate 30 Pro: 132 0
Huawei P40 Pro: 140 -1
Apple iPhone SE 2: 101 0
OnePlus 8 Pro: 126 0
Xiaomi Mi 8: 105 1
Samsung Galaxy A71: 89 1
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro: 134 0

As you can see, most cameras sit between 1 and -1, while a few of them go up to 2 or -2. That means it's reasonable to assume other similar cameras that they don't review to, in the worst-case scenario, be anywhere from -2 to 2 points from the score that the formula gets.

For example: Given that the Pixel 4 got 117 points and that the Pixel 4 XL share the same year and camera specs, it's reasonable to expect a score of 117 too. But in reality, if they do review that camera, it may end up anywhere between 115 and 119.

Be aware that at DxO, they give a score based on their opinion, not based on any formula. That's why I think there's an odd difference of 6 points between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. In theory, they should have the same camera.

I'm guessing that the Mi 9T Pro got a deviation of 7 points because they tested its Chinese variant (the K20 Pro).

Update: They just changed their protocol to include preview image evaluation and trustability. I'm keeping the old table (for now) for reference purposes, and I'll be adding a new one as soon as they review at least a couple of new mclass-range cameras.

You can expect the same (or a bit bigger) deviation for high-end cameras, but anything with a score below 100-110 should be taken with a grain of salt.

This is valid for all cameras tested with the previous protocol. For those that they dclassn't test, the deviation may be up to twice as much.

×

About GeekBench 5

This is just a quick note to let you know that, if, by any chance, the smartphone you're looking for isn't on the GeekBench site yet, you can check on GsmArena.com, as they also usually test smartphones with that benchmark tool.



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