Pixel 6 Pro vs Galaxy S21 Ultra comparison: which is better?

Pixel 6 Pro (left) and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Andrew Howell/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra And Google Pixel 6 Pro Both phones were among our top-ranked phones for 2021. With their impressive performance, great screens, and feature-rich experiences, both phones deserve the titles of “flagship” Android phones and still deserve attention even with New 2022 phones start appearing.

And they both have amazing cameras, with the S21 Ultra particularly impressive It’s an amazing 10x zoom lenswhile the Pixel 6 Pro managed to give a file iPhone 13 Pro a Running for his money.

But which camera is better? Is it still all about this zoom on the S21 Ultra? I took both phones out for a spin to see what.

Shore Girl Pixel 6 Pro

Pixel 6 Pro phone.

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Sure Girl S21 Ultra

Galaxy S21 Ultra.

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In this first shot outdoors using the main cameras on both phones, there’s not much to choose from. The S21 Ultra’s shot is probably warmer overall, but exposure, contrast, and details are basically the same.

Sure-Normal-Pixel-6-Pro

Pixel 6 Pro phone.

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shore normal s21 ultra

Galaxy S21 Ultra.

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It’s the same story here: both phones took sharp, well-exposed photos, but the S21 Ultra’s photo has warmer tones, giving the photo a nice feel of a sunset.

Sure-Zoom-Pixel-6-Pro

Pixel 6 Pro, 4x zoom zoom.

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sure-zoom-s21-ultra

Galaxy S21 Ultra, 10x zoom zoom.

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By switching to the maximum optical zoom of both phones from the same shooting position, it’s obvious the difference the massive zoom makes on the S21 Ultra. At 10x it can get very close to buildings, allowing for a different configuration.

squirrel zoom pixel 6 pro

Pixel 6 Pro, 4x zoom.

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Squirrel Zoom S21 Ultra

Galaxy S21 Ultra, 10x zoom.

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And it’s not just for travel photos; This zoom can be great for getting close to local wildlife, too. The Pixel 6 Pro’s 4x zoom feature can take some great shots, but it doesn’t have the 10x zoom range of the S21 Ultra.

Shadows Pixel 6 Pro

Pixel 6 Pro phone.

Andrew Howell/CNET

Shadows S21 Ultra

Galaxy S21 Ultra.

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Strong exposure balance from both phones in this sunny outdoor scene. The S21 Ultra’s shot has a touch of more contrast, which isn’t always a positive, but it did help make the stark shadows on the ground more defining here.

Water-pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro phone.

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Water- S21- Ultra

Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Andrew Howell/CNET

This added contrast on the S21 Ultra is even more pronounced here, with deeper blues in the sky and reflected in the water. A quick shot might be preferred, but I prefer a more natural-looking image straight from the camera in order to apply more contrast – or other effects – later if you so choose. This is why I shoot in raw format on my DSLR and that’s why I prefer the Pixel 6 Pro shot here.

Water display pixel-6-pro

Pixel 6 Pro, Ultra Wide Lens.

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Water Show S21 Ultra

Galaxy S21 Ultra, Ultra Wide Lens.

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The situation was identical when I switched to the ultra-wide lenses on both phones; The contrast boost from the S21 Ultra is particularly noticeable, and I’m not keen on how the shot looks here.

Grass Pixel 6 Pro

Pixel 6 Pro phone.

Andrew Howell/CNET

Grass-S21-Ultra

Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Andrew Howell/CNET

In dull evening light, this color balance plays in favor of the S21 Ultra, with a vibrant green grass visible in the shot, against the Pixel 6 Pro’s muddy, greenish-brown tones. The S21 Ultra’s shot is sharper too, with sharper sharpness on the blades of grass.

night boat pixel 6 pro

Pixel 6 Pro, Night Mode.

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night boat s21 ultra

Galaxy S21 Ultra, Night Mode.

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Using the night mode, both phones did a solid job of capturing this night scene, with great overall brightness and contrast. I prefer the Pixel 6 Pro’s shot, but its color balance is less crisp and fine details are generally sharper.

Overall, it’s clear that both phones can take some great photos from their cameras. Total. Better looking than the Pixel 6 Pro thanks to its more natural approach to color and contrast in the scene. Samsung phones have always tended towards higher contrast and saturation in images and the S21 Ultra is no exception.

However, it is inevitable that the S21 Ultra remains unrivaled when it comes to zooming skills. The 10x optical lens allows you to take pictures that you simply can’t get on the Pixel 6 Pro, or from almost any of its major competitors. If zooming skills are of paramount importance in your photography, then the S21 Ultra is the phone for you. If you’re more annoyed with overall image resolution and tend to prefer wider-angle photos, you’ll feel right at home with the Pixel 6 Pro.


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