Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Google Pixel 8 Pro: Which flagship could win?

 Samsung galaxy s24 ultra vs google pixel 8 pro image.
Samsung galaxy s24 ultra vs google pixel 8 pro image.

Android fans have a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Google Pixel 8 Pro battle on the horizon. Google and Samsung make the best Android phones, and anyone hoping to upgrade to the leading handset in the near future is going to have to make a decision between the two.

Should you pick up a Google Pixel 8 Pro now, because you can? Or should you wait until January 2024 when we’re expecting the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra to be announced? The Pixel 8 Pro may not have been able to claim the title of best smartphone, but it still has plenty to offer. Meanwhile Samsung is rumored to be pulling out all the stops for the S24 Ultra — even if we don’t know every detail right now.

Still we’ve heard enough preliminary rumors to get an idea of what the Galaxy S24 Ultra has to offer, and with the Google Pixel 8 Pro in hand, we can start to see how the two compare. Here’s how things are looking so far in a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Google Pixel 8 Pro showdown.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Google Pixel 8 Pro: Price and availability

A render of the Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back and front in black
A render of the Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back and front in black

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is available now, with prices starting at $999 for a model with 128GB of storage. It’s also possible to get models with higher storage capacity, including a 256GB model available for $1,059, 512GB for $1,119 and 1TB for $1,219. That’s slightly higher than what the Pixel 7 Pro cost, though the phone still comes out slightly cheaper than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is currently rumored to launch on January 18. That’s a couple of weeks earlier than the Galaxy S23 Ultra was unveiled, but still gives Samsung a bit of breathing room after the end of CES 2024, which wraps up on January 12. If this plays out the way rumors suggest, we may see the S24 range go on sale a couple of weeks later at the start of February.

It’s not clear how much the S24 Ultra will cost, but we hope it’ll arrive at the same $1,199 price tag as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which offers 256GB at that price. That would ensure the phone is priced equally to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, though it would still be $200 more than the Pixel 8 Pro.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Google Pixel 8 Pro: Design and display

Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.
Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.

The Google Pixel 8 Pro offers a 6.7-inch “Super Actua” display, which is supposed to be one of the brightest displays around. According to our testing the screen reached a maximum brightness of 1,526 nits, and while not as high as the 2,400 maximum Google claimed it’s still significantly higher than the 1,225 nits of brightness we measured on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra's display.

The Pixel 8 Pro display is LTPO, offering an adaptive 1-120Hz refresh rate, 1,344 x 2,992 resolution and has a flat-screen design.

Rumor has it that the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra will also go big on brightness this year, with an improved screen that could be rated up to 2,500 nits. In theory, then, the S24 Ultra could be even brighter than the Pixel 8 Pro, though we won't know until we get the chance to test the new phone after its release.

We’re expecting the Galaxy S24 Ultra screen to retain the 6.8-inch size and curved edges of previous Samsung Ultra models. However the fact other phone makers have ditched that curved design has me wondering whether Samsung will finally give up on the Edge display. It’s also claimed that the screen could get up to 144Hz refresh rate, something normally reserved for gaming phones.

There have also been rumors that the S24 Ultra could adopt a titanium frame, similar to that of the iPhone 15 Pro models. That, in turn, could reduce the phone’s weight by as much as a gram. We'll see if that brings the Ultra closer to the Pixel 8 Pro's 7.5-ounce weight.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Google Pixel 8 Pro: Cameras

A render of the Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back in white
A render of the Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back in white

The Google Pixel 8 Pro comes with a triple-lens camera system in which all the cameras have gotten some sort of upgrade from the Pixel 7 Pro. The new Pixel's rear camera setup consists of a 50MP main camera, 48MP ultrawide lens and a 48MP telephoto with 5x optical zoom. The front camera is a 10.5MP lens with autofocus, and overall the quality from the phone’s camera is very good, thanks to the mix of hardware and AI enhancements in the software.

That said, we don’t feel it’s as good as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which would put the Galaxy S24 Ultra at an advantage assuming Samsung can keep camera quality as an equal or better level than its predecessor.

Nevertheless, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra could offer a bunch of upgrades, least of all a 1-inch sensor — which would exceed the one found in the Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. On top of that we’ve heard rumors that Samsung could utilize a new hybrid telephoto lens with variable zoom, with the ability to switch between 3x and 10x optical magnification in a single lens. Subsequent rumors have suggeste that the maximum optical zoom could be reduced to 5x magnification.

We’ve also heard that the S24 Ultra's telephoto lens could get a resolution boost to 50MP and offer an overall improvement in quality. It’s unclear what resolution the main and ultrawide lenses will be, but we hope to see the return of 200MP sensor on the main lens for at least another year.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Google Pixel 8 Pro: Performance

Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.
Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.

The Tensor G3 chipset inside the Pixel 8 Pro is supposed to be the most powerful chip Google has ever produced — though that isn’t exactly a high bar. Tensors have been notorious for being less powerful than their counterparts from Qualcomm or Apple, and the same is true of the silicon inside the Pixel 8 Pro.

The phone scored 1,669 and 3,666 in respective single-core and multi-core Geekbench benchmarking tests. That followed with 52 fps and 8,797 score in 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited, and 71 seconds of processing in Adobe Video Rush. For comparison the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy score noticeably higher, with 1,396 and 4,882 scores in benchmarking tests, 87 fps and 14,661 in 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited and a 40 second time in Adobe Premiere Rush.

No doubt the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy that’s expected to come in the Galaxy S24 Ultra will be doing significantly better. In fact, leaked benchmarks suggest we’re looking at a single-core score of 2,234 and a multi-core score of 6,807. If that’s true it means the S24 Ultra will absolutely dwarf what Google’s latest phone can do.

That assume the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 will find its way to the Galaxy S24 Ultra, of course. There's a rumor that some Galaxy S24 models could use Exynos chipsets instead, depending on the market they're released in. But other reports have suggested that the Ultra will rely solely on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.

Granted the Galaxy S24 Ultra may not have the same Tensor-powered AI abilities as Google. But given the jump in popularity of machine learning and generative AI, especially over the past 12 months, it’s pretty likely Samsung will be leaning into this category as well. What we might see is still a mystery for now.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Google Pixel 8 Pro: Battery life and charging

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra concept renders
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra concept renders

Battery life has never been Google’s strong suit, while Samsung has made a bunch of advances over the past couple of years — especially thanks to its more power-efficient chipsets. In our exhaustive battery life test, we found that the Pixel 8 Pro lasted 10 hours and 3 minutes. That's a lot better than the Pixel 7 Pro, but still 90 minutes short of earning a place on our best phone battery life rankings.

In the same test the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra averaged nearly 12.5 hours — an achievement we expect the Galaxy S24 Ultra to improve upon. We don’t know how much bigger the battery might be in comparison, but rumor is that Samsung is utilizing a new “stacked” battery that allows for more battery capacity without needing extra space.

One report claims we could see around 10% more power storage in the S24 Ultra as a result, alongside a new cooling system that would no doubt be needed to account for the extra heat such a battery would generate.

That new battery may also push the S24 Ultra’s maximum charging speed up to 65W. That’s 50% higher than the 45W speeds in the S23 Ultra and more than double the 30W charging speeds in the Pixel 8 Pro. Keep in mind a more recent rumor claims that the Galaxy S24 series may retain the exact same charging speed as last year. In either case, it still exceeds what’s available on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Google Pixel 8 Pro:  Software and special features

Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.
Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.

Google usually has a major advantage in the software department, since Pixel phones come with a bunch of exclusive features and get to enjoy Android updates as soon as they’re released. The Pixel 8 Pro is no exception to this, but has the added advantage of seven full years of software support.

That obliterates the Galaxy S23’s 4 years of Android and 5 years security updates, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this pledge pushed Samsung to offer a similarly lengthy amount of software support.

The Pixel series also gains the AI-centric abilities afforded by the Tensor G3 chipset. New features include the new Audio Magic Eraser, for removing errant sounds in your videos, and the Magic Editor. The latter uses generative AI to give you significantly more freedom to edit your photos more easily, letting the phone fill in any gaps that may occur as a result of your meddling.

Samsung often has extra software flourishes that come as part of its OneUI interface. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has Bixby Text Call, which answers calls and relays them to you in a text message format you can respond to. Modes also lets you create customized settings for different parts of your life: including, driving, sleeping, exercising and so on. Plus there are stacked widgets and other personalization options, not to mention all the things you can do with the S Pen.

We don’t know what sort of software to expect from the Galaxy S24 Ultra right now, so it’s difficult to say how they might compare. Needless to say the phone will get all the best parts of Android 14 as standard, with Samsung adding its own improvements on top.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Google Pixel 8 Pro: Outlook

A render of the Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back and front in black
A render of the Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back and front in black

The Google Pixel series has always lagged behind the likes of Samsung and Apple. Its software and low starting price has been a big part of the phone's appeal, especially where software updates are concerned. That's especially true now that Google has pledged to support the phone for a full seven years.

We don’t know everything about the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra just yet, so we can’t thoroughly compare the two phones right now. Then again, considering the Pixel 8 Pro still lags behind the S23 Ultra, Samsung would really have to drop the ball if Google were to take the upper hand. Not that the latest Pixel is a bad phone, it just seems that Samsung does seem to have a lot more to offer.

But potential aside, we still have to wait a little while longer before we can say for sure which phone will be better in our Samsung Galaxy S24 vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro showdown.

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