Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro

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The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is quite possibly the most complete Android smartphone on the market but where does that leave Google, Android’s very creator, and its own Pixel phone? Out of lockstep, the two lineups are bound to be somewhat mismatched when it comes to having the latest hardware, but that doesn’t mean that the Pixel 8 Pro, now in the middle of its lifecycle, doesn’t have its advantages over the Galaxy. Let’s try and find them.

Table of Contents:

For starters, you can compare the complete specs sheets or directly continue with our editor’s assessment in the text further down below.

Size comparison

Neither phone is anything close to compact, but the Galaxy S24 Ultra is big even as big phones go. Its actual dimensions are only part of the story – in fact, the Pixel is both taller (if only just) and thicker than the Galaxy, but the S24 Ultra is wider (which is where the seemingly negligible 2.5mm difference can actually be felt) and heavier (by some 9-ish percent).

The thing is, though, that while the Pixel still maintains some sort of curvature on its back that makes it feel thinner in the hand, the Galaxy’s blockiness means you’d be feeling every bit of how big it is. So even if you’re well aware that you’d be getting a large handset, the Pixel is able to mask its size better.

The Galaxy does feature more premium materials in its build – the titanium frame and Corning’s latest Gorilla Armor are both a step up from the Pixel’s aluminum rails and Victus 2 sheets. But both phones carry the same IP68 rating (up to 1.5m for 30 min), so technically they should be equally well protected against dust and water ingress.


Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro

Design is subjective, of course, and both approaches probably have their fans, but we’ll say that the Pixel has more character thanks to that visor-like camera strip. The Galaxy offers more color choices, and if you order one directly from Samsung, there are some more interesting hues, while the Pixel’s Bay blue remains a favorite option in our office.

Display comparison

The latest Pixel makes few compromises with its display and features a really nice OLED panel, as does the Galaxy. You get an adaptive refresh rate on both, which can go as low as 1Hz or as high as 120Hz. Neither display has Dolby Vision support, so you’ll have to make do with HDR10 and HDR10+, whichever phone you choose.

In our testing, the Pixel was slightly brighter than the Galaxy with adaptive brightness enabled (1,600nits vs. 1,447nits) with a more pronounced difference when setting the brightness manually – 954nits vs. 755nits. We’re not saying the Galaxy isn’t bright enough; we’re just pointing out that the Pixel is even brighter.

Now, the Ultra does have one advantage that’s coming from the new glass it’s using, and that’s the reduced reflectivity. We’ve had some folks at the office hail it as a game-changer while others remain less excited, the fact is that there is indeed a noticeable difference.

The Galaxy’s display is not without its imperfections, and it suffers from a certain graininess that can be observed at low brightness levels – how irked you are by this will likely vary depending on how often you use your phone in dark environments.

Battery life

The two phones have almost identical battery capacities, the Pixel’s extra 50mAhs barely registering as a difference, but the Galaxy does make significantly better use of it. The Ultra has meaningfully longer endurance in three of our tests, and in the fourth, it still has an advantage, only a much smaller one. We’d count this as one of the major victories for the S24 Ultra.

Charging speed

Galaxies rarely win charging speed contests, so big thanks to Google for making a phone that charges slower still. At a time when others can go from zero to 100% in less than half an hour, the Pixel 8 Pro is barely over 50% in 30 minutes – the Galaxy’s 69% result suddenly looks good.

The Pixel nets a small win for wireless charging, at least in theory – Google says the 8 Pro can go as high as 23W when placed on the Pixel Stand, while the Galaxy is only rated for up to 15W with compatible Qi pads. That said, the Pixel drops to 12W with third-party wireless chargers, so it’s more like half of a win, really.

Speaker test

The two phones have similar two-speaker setups. There’s one speaker that fires out of the bottom of the handset, and another one at the top end outputs sound forward through a slit that also serves as the earpiece.

The two differ in that the Galaxy’s speakers will only output their respective channels, while the Pixel’s approach is to also play the opposite channel’s track at a lower volume. We can’t say we have a preference one way or the other.

The Galaxy proved louder in our testing, earning a ‘Very Good’ mark next to the Pixel’s merely ‘Good’ rating. We’d also give the nod to the S24 Ultra for sound quality as well.

You can compare how the two phones sound in controlled acoustic conditions with the samples below. Just make sure you have your headphones on and the volume is at max level.

Performance

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, as are most high-end Androids in 2024. The Pixel 8 Pro comes from last year, and its custom Tensor G3 chipset was already lagging behind in raw power against 2023 Qualcomm silicon, so comparing benchmark scores won’t do the Pixel any favors. Google insists that benchmarks and brute force don’t matter and that they’ve optimized for user experience and whatnot, but ultimately, it’s not a good look for them.

One thing that’s bugging us on the Pixel is the 128GB base storage – that’s just not right for a true flagship in 2024, and no, it doesn’t matter that it came out in late 2023. Both phones have 12GB of RAM across all versions, and both can be had with up to 1TB of storage, though the Galaxy does use faster UFS 4.0 chips (UFS 3.1 on the Google phone).

We’re back to parity when it comes to software update policy, believe it or not – Google promised 7 years of updates for the latest Pixels and so too did Samsung for the S24 family. It’s unclear how usable a 7-year-old phone will be with the latest software, but the long-term commitment is praiseworthy. It’s, in a way, a bigger deal for Samsung, which was once heavily criticized for poor software support, while it’s almost taken for granted on the Pixel – after all, it’s Google’s OS and Google’s phone, of course they should support it indefinitely.

During the S24 announcement event, Samsung and Google demoed AI features exclusive to the S24 lot. The two companies are working together, and for better or worse, the Galaxies and the Pixels possess smarts that haven’t been unlocked on other Android phones. Whether one lineup has a meaningful advantage over the other is hard to quantify, though.

While still on the subject of software, it’s worth saying a few words about the S Pen – the stylus adds another layer of productivity that simply having a large screen and AI capabilities doesn’t quite match. Jotting down notes, ‘signing’ documents, or just having a wireless remote for your camera always there with you – the S Pen remains a unique selling point for the Ultra.

Camera comparison

The Pixel has always been lauded as one of the best camera phones, and the Galaxy Ultra is not without imaging pedigree. The two take somewhat similar approaches in leaning heavily on the computational side of things and taking it easy with hardware – there are no one-inch sensors to be found here.

Both phones feature main cameras at around the 1/1.3” mark; only Samsung’s sensor is 200MP, while the Pixel has 50MP on the badge. The Pixel’s ultrawide uses a larger imager (1/2.0” vs. 1/2.55”), and both have autofocus. Both phones have 5x zoom telephoto cameras with similar specs too. The Galaxy has one extra camera, though – a 3x telephoto to bridge the gap between the main camera and the 5x telephoto.

Photo quality

Image quality from both phones in daylight is great, with some specifics for each lineup giving them distinct character when it comes to color reproduction, tonal balance and detail presentation.

Picking one over the other is mostly a matter of personal preference, though there are a few areas where the Galaxy is objectively better.

The S24 Ultra does win at 3x, but that’s to be expected – it has a dedicated camera for that focal length, and the Pixel doesn’t.

However, the Galaxy also has an edge at the 2x zoom level – so if you like shooting at focal lengths between the main camera and the 5x, the Pixel is in a trailing position.

Finally, the Galaxy’s 5x is also sharper than the Pixel’s.


Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight samples: 0.6x - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/3282s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight samples: 1x - f/1.7, ISO 12, 1/1441s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight samples: 2x - f/1.7, ISO 12, 1/1449s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight samples: 5x - f/3.4, ISO 32, 1/1418s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro


Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight samples: 0.6x - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/3309s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight samples: 1x - f/1.7, ISO 12, 1/1614s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight samples: 2x - f/1.7, ISO 12, 1/2404s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight samples: 5x - f/3.4, ISO 32, 1/2180s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro

Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight samples: 0.6x • 1x • 2x • 5x


Pixel 8 Pro daylight samples: 0.6x - f/2.0, ISO 40, 1/3311s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro daylight samples: 1x - f/1.7, ISO 19, 1/1572s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro daylight samples: 2x - f/1.7, ISO 21, 1/1984s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro daylight samples: 5x - f/2.8, ISO 17, 1/640s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro


Pixel 8 Pro daylight samples: 0.6x - f/2.0, ISO 34, 1/3049s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro daylight samples: 1x - f/1.7, ISO 19, 1/2336s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro daylight samples: 2x - f/1.7, ISO 26, 1/2717s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro daylight samples: 5x - f/2.8, ISO 20, 1/694s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro

Pixel 8 Pro daylight samples: 0.6x • 1x • 2x • 5x

Selfies are also pretty nice on both phones, but there is one difference that can be of some significance. The Pixel’s selfie camera has a focal length equivalent of 21mm, while the Galaxy stands at 25mm, so if you’re after wider-than-most selfies, the Pixel is the way to go.


Selfie samples: Galaxy S24 Ultra - f/2.2, ISO 40, 1/120s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Selfie samples: Pixel 8 Pro - f/2.2, ISO 45, 1/280s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Selfie samples: Galaxy S24 Ultra - f/2.2, ISO 25, 1/1742s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Selfie samples: Pixel 8 Pro - f/2.2, ISO 54, 1/1916s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro

Selfie samples: Galaxy S24 Ultra • Pixel 8 Pro

If you’re out shooting at night, both phones will give you pleasing exposures and nice colors across all cameras. The Galaxy maintains an edge in sharpness and detail at all zoom levels, though – the differences may not be huge, but the Ultra is just consistently better.


Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light samples: 0.6x - f/2.2, ISO 1600, 1/33s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light samples: 1x - f/1.7, ISO 2000, 1/100s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light samples: 2x - f/1.7, ISO 800, 1/50s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light samples: 5x - f/3.4, ISO 1250, 1/33s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro


Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light samples: 0.6x - f/2.2, ISO 2000, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light samples: 1x - f/1.7, ISO 1600, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light samples: 2x - f/1.7, ISO 1250, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light samples: 5x - f/3.4, ISO 2500, 1/17s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro

Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light samples: 0.6x • 1x • 2x • 5x


Pixel 8 Pro low-light samples: 0.6x - f/2.0, ISO 336, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro low-light samples: 1x - f/1.7, ISO 124, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro low-light samples: 2x - f/1.7, ISO 97, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro low-light samples: 5x - f/2.8, ISO 245, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro


Pixel 8 Pro low-light samples: 0.6x - f/2.0, ISO 973, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro low-light samples: 1x - f/1.7, ISO 604, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro low-light samples: 2x - f/1.7, ISO 272, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro low-light samples: 5x - f/2.8, ISO 614, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro

Pixel 8 Pro low-light samples: 0.6x • 1x • 2x • 5x

Video quality

Both phones can record video at up 4K60 with all cameras, and they also let you shoot at 24fps. The Galaxy is a bit more versatile still, offering 8K capture, but also (and more importantly) 4K120.

The Galaxy and the Pixel both have h.264 and h.265 codec options, but Samsung also gives you extra (higher) bit rate options. HDR10 video recording is also on the menu (well, both menus), and stabilization is available in all modes.

Video quality is generally great on both, though there are certain specifics in rendition – as usual. The Pixel’s output is a bit more expressive – with higher contrast and saturation, next to a slightly more laid-back Galaxy (even accounting for the different time of capturing these). There’s no meaningful advantage in video sharpness one way or the other, so this remains mostly a matter of which look you prefer. Well, that, and the Galaxy’s wider feature set.


Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight video samples: 0.6x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight video samples: 1x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight video samples: 5x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro

Galaxy S24 Ultra daylight video samples: 0.6x • 1x • 5x


Pixel 8 Pro daylight video samples: 0.6x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro daylight video samples: 1x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro daylight video samples: 5x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro

Pixel 8 Pro daylight video samples: 0.6x • 1x • 5x

In low-light video recording, we’d say that the Galaxy is giving us better exposure and dynamic range making for lighter, more easily likeable output. It also has a bit of an edge in terms of detail on the main camera, while the ultrawides and the telephotos are mostly on par.


Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light video samples: 0.6x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light video samples: 1x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light video samples: 5x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro

Galaxy S24 Ultra low-light video samples: 0.6x • 1x • 5x


Pixel 8 Pro low-light video samples: 0.6x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro low-light video samples: 1x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro
Pixel 8 Pro low-light video samples: 5x - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro

Pixel 8 Pro low-light video samples: 0.6x • 1x • 5x

Verdict

With the latest Galaxy Ultra, Samsung has once again made the ‘have-it-all’ Android smartphone. Google’s approach to the matter isn’t quite as comprehensive – the software company’s vision for its hardware is simply different. In that sense, there’s no wonder that the Galaxy S24 Ultra and the Pixel 8 Pro diverge in many ways and will attract different customers.

The Pixel 8 Pro has a couple of esoteric advantages that are hard to quantify, but we know, for a fact, they exist. Google’s own version of Android feels different from the rest, and no one else can quite match it. It’s a similar story with the image processing which, if you’re on #teampixel, may feel the only right way.

Of course, there are a couple of more objective reasons to pick an 8 Pro over an S24 Ultra – like the ultra-ish wide selfies and the lower price – in most places and most of the time.

But for most things measurable and observable, the Galaxy S24 Ultra has an advantage. The new materials promise better durability, while the less reflective display glass is one of few readily perceptible physical developments when it comes to your immediate interaction with your phone. The S Pen remains a staple of the lineup that you can’t get elsewhere, the Ultra’s chipset is vastly more powerful than the Pixel’s, and the Galaxy has better battery life too.

Perhaps of most significant importance is the Galaxy’s generally superior camera performance. It does intermediate zoom levels better than the Pixel, but tends to outclass it at the native magnifications too, particularly in stills. In video, on the other hand, it offers a wider feature set that makes it more appealing for serious use.

In summary, Google is indeed making the best Pixel phone – that is to say, if you’re the type of person who likes the Google way of doing things, the Pixel 8 Pro is for you, and you’ll be able to rationalize around its shortcomings. But if you’re after the most full-featured Android smartphone, that would be the Galaxy S24 Ultra.


    Samsung Galaxy S24

    Get the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra for:

  • The less reflective display
  • The tougher build
  • The longer battery life
  • The S Pen
  • The much more powerful chipset
  • The overall superior camera


    Google Pixel 8 Pro

    Get the Google Pixel 8 Pro for:

  • The lower price
  • The Google software experience
  • The Pixel camera look
  • The wide selfies

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