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Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely vs Google Pixel 5

In the case of huge names within the smartphone digital camera recreation, Google has one of many higher reputations. Its newest Google Pixel 5 flagship might not all of the {hardware} bells and whistles we see on dearer smartphones, nevertheless it takes some unimaginable photos. Against this, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely comes with some of the complete digital camera packages we’ve ever seen in a smartphone and a price ticket to match. So how do the 2 examine in a real-world shootout?

We’re clearly not anticipating the $699 Google Pixel 5 to greatest an ultra-premium flagship that prices virtually double its worth. But when it could actually come near matching the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely in additional than a handful of the commonest capturing eventualities, we’ll chalk it up as a serious win for Google’s computational pictures prowess.

If you would like a more in-depth have a look at these picture samples shot for this comparability, you possibly can view the full-res information right here.

Our verdicts: Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely overview | Google Pixel 5 overview

Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely vs Google Pixel 5: Digital camera specs

 Samsung Galaxy S21 ExtremelyGoogle Pixel 5
Important Digital camera108MP (12MP binned)
f/1.8 aperture
24mm focal size
1/1.33″ sensor
f/1.7 aperture
27mm focal size
1/2.55″ sensor
twin pixel PDAF, OIS
f/2.2 aperture
13mm focal size
1/2.55″ sensor
twin pixel PDAF
f/2.2 aperture
Telephoto zoom10MP
f/2.4 aperture
70mm focal size
1/3.24″ sensor
twin pixel PDAF, OIS
3x zoom
Periscope zoom10MP
f/4.9 aperture
240mm focal size
1/3.24″ sensor
twin pixel PDAF, OIS
10x zoom
FocusingLaser AF system

Daylight, colours, and publicity

Samsung has a repute for closely saturated colours and the Galaxy S21 Extremely isn’t any exception. The corporate has dialed its impact again a bit of this technology and the worst offenses can principally be circumvented by disabling the Scene Optimizer characteristic, which tends to go a bit overboard when taking a look at sure scenes. Nonetheless, Samsung’s pictures pack in some critical shade punch.

The Google Pixel 5, however, sticks very near realism in just about each state of affairs. Though this could have the disadvantage of leaving some pictures and topics wanting a bit of flat and washed out. See the instance under, the place the Pixel 5 is a bit of too darkish and doesn’t fairly supply the pop and punch you need from a scrumptious meals pic.

Even so, each telephones have glorious white stability and publicity in nearly all photos taken with them, so you possibly can simply tweak colours in your editor of alternative must you so want.

Images phrases defined: ISO, aperture, shutter velocity, and extra

The identical tendencies apply to out of doors photographs too. Colours, publicity, and white stability are all typically nice on each telephones. Nevertheless, the Pixel 5 will once more typically underexpose the odd darker picture, such because the woodland scene under. It’s difficult photographs like this the place the Galaxy S21 Extremely’s bigger predominant picture sensor helps to seize that bit extra mild and shade, which make a noticeable distinction.

The underside line is you gained’t be dissatisfied with pictures from both of those two telephones in broad daylight. No less than not with out peeking nearer on the 100% crops. There are some advantages to be gained from the Galaxy S21 Extremely’s dearer {hardware} package deal, however they’re hardly night time and day.


Like me, it’s possible you’ll assume the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely has a serious benefit within the element division because of its bigger 108MP predominant digital camera. However to take action does a serious disservice to the Google Pixel 5’s computational pictures capabilities and overestimates the extent of element that may be pulled from Samsung’s pixel binned digital camera association.

For starters, the Galaxy S21 Extremely crops seem oversharpened. Both on account of pixel binning or a post-processing move. The Pixel 5’s particulars are a lot softer and natural-looking. To my eye, the Pixel 5 has seen some notable enhancements to element seize since launch thanks to a couple software program patches. There’s nonetheless a notable grain in darker corners, however the degree of noise is now stored far more beneath management. Consequently, element rivals and sometimes exceed what you’ll get from the Galaxy S21 Extremely in additional demanding eventualities.

Detail Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5Detail Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5

Credit score: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The shot above showcases the similarity you’ll discover in particulars between the 2, notably when taking a look at moderately close-by topics. Samsung’s desire for sharpening results in some extra overly vibrant highlights on the vines however does assist the brickwork pop. Heavy post-processing is a case of execs and cons and Samsung isn’t any exception.

Excessive HDR capabilities

Samsung and Google supply exceedingly highly effective HDR capabilities and are two of the most effective within the enterprise in the meanwhile. Peeking into the highlights and shadows of our samples under reveals a effectively balanced dynamic vary, principally absent of clipping, and loads of element retention with each handsets.

Associated: The most effective digital camera telephones you may get

Once more, the Galaxy S21 Extremely provides a bit of extra saturation and punch to its pictures, whereas the Pixel 5 can come out a bit of darker. Nevertheless, it’s solely on a really shut interplay that we are able to make out a small benefit for the Galaxy S21 Extremely in relation to HDR capabilities.

Peeking in on the 100% crops reveals a bit of additional noise with the Pixel 5, leading to a lack of element within the shadows. The instance under highlights this distinction as an excessive case. You may also see some inexperienced and purple tint on the white partitions, the place the small picture sensor struggles to seize correct colours on this harshly lit scene. Nonetheless, it takes an excessive HDR instance to identify these artifacts and each pictures come out fairly effectively.

HDR Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5HDR Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5

Credit score: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely ekes out a small benefit in HDR picture high quality however this isn’t shocking giving the cellphone’s bigger picture sensor. It’s vastly spectacular simply how shut the Pixel 5 comes with a a lot smaller and older digital camera setup. Google’s picture processing capabilities assist the Pixel 5 punch effectively above its weight right here.

Taking pictures in low mild

The identical Pixel 5 picture sensor {hardware} limitations from our HDR photographs present up once more in low mild. The instance under highlights the sunshine seize variations between the 1/1.33-inch Galaxy S21 Extremely and the 1/2.55-inch Pixel 5 predominant sensors with Night time mode disabled. Samsung has a transparent benefit when desirous to take a fast snap in low mild, whereas Google’s flagship is noisy and underexposed.

Nevertheless, enabling Night time mode closes this hole considerably, with the Pixel 5 offering publicity, colours, and even particulars to match the Galaxy S21 Extremely. The Pixel 5 is certainly nonetheless the noisier of the 2, however the Galaxy S21 Extremely is a bit of too aggressive on the denoise, which smooths out a few of its particulars. A really perfect outcome would in all probability be proper in between the 2.

So sturdy is Google’s religion in its Night time processing expertise that it markets astrophotography capabilities too. Whereas the result’s satisfactory on a darkish night time, the picture is a bit of noisy. Samsung’s bigger sensor once more showcases the restrictions of Google’s {hardware}, capturing the sunshine from distant stars that the Pixel 5 merely can’t make out. Once more each are good, however the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely is even higher.

The Pixel 5 continues to commerce blows with the far dearer Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely in different low mild photographs. Highlights and shadows are simply as effectively balanced, however Samsung clocks in a barely higher dynamic vary. Element smart, the 2 are additionally very shut. The Pixel 5 is softer and noisier whereas the Galaxy S21 Extremely is heavier on the sharpening move and might show odd artifacts on texture particulars.

Associated: 6 ideas for enhancing smartphone low mild pictures

It’s solely after we take photos in virtually pitch black that the Pixel 5 struggles to maintain up, handing in a blurry, noisy, and unfocused image in our remaining instance. Similar to our HDR showdown, the Pixel 5 comes near matching the majority of the Galaxy S21 Extremely’s capabilities at a fraction of the value.

Zooming in on particulars

We gained’t dwell on zoom capabilities an excessive amount of, because it’s fairly clear from the {hardware} specs that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely outclasses the Pixel 5 right here, which has neither a telephoto or periscope zoom digital camera.

At 2x Google’s Tremendous Res Zoom software program really arms in superior element versus Samsung’s software program zoom expertise. Nevertheless, as soon as Samsung’s telephoto lens kicks in at 3x the Extremely begins taking a high quality lead. Though you’ll be hard-pressed to identify too many main particulars variations at full-frame. The Pixel 5 holds up moderately effectively given its lack of zoom {hardware}.

At 5x and past the variations turn into extra pronounced, notably when taking a look at advanced textures like tree traces. The Pixel 5 faucets out at 7x zoom whereas the Galaxy S21 Extremely kicks in its periscope zoom at 10x for a serious enhance in zoom high quality at lengthy vary. Samsung boasts as much as 100x capabilities, however we wouldn’t advocate taking photos a lot past 20x otherwise you’ll discover a serious drop off in high quality.

Complete, versatile digital camera packages are costly so it’s not shocking to see the Pixel 5 fall quick in relation to long-range pictures. That mentioned, Google’s Tremendous Res Zoom expertise yields fairly good outcomes for short-range zooms and we’d like to see this paired up with a 3x telephoto lens to supply aggressive long-range pictures with out the expense of Samsung’s twin zoom lens setup.

Extensive-angle lenses

The Pixel 5 does characteristic a wide-angle lens, giving it {hardware} to match the capabilities of Samsung’s flagship. Its lens doesn’t fairly match the extraordinarily huge discipline of view discovered on the Galaxy S21 Extremely, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a notable step again from the principle digital camera that lets you match extra into your photos.

Taking a look at full-frame outcomes, each digital camera hand in good wanting wide-angle photographs that observe the look of their predominant cameras. Once more, the S21 Extremely presents vivid colours and brighter exposures, whereas wide-angle pictures from the Pixel 5 can once more look a bit of washed out and missing vibrancy.

Learn extra: The entire information to ultra-wide digital camera telephones

Neither wide-angle digital camera captures a lot in the way in which of element. The Pixel 5 is noisier and softer, and seems out of focus at some distances. Whereas Samsung’s processing leads to harsher edges and messy textures. However pixel-perfect high quality shouldn’t be actually the purpose of the sport with wide-angle pictures.

Wide Angle Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5Wide Angle Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5

Credit score: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Sadly, each wide-angle lenses endure from chromatic aberration (purple halos) when capturing right into a vibrant mild. This impact is extra pronounced with the Pixel 5. Edge distortion is fairly comparable between each telephones, with much less and fewer element captured on the picture edges.

General high quality boils all the way down to a well-known debate about overzealous post-processing from Samsung and a softer however noisier strategy from Google. Google’s strategy would in all probability look higher general, however the Pixel 5 cuts corners on a less expensive lens setup and a slim discipline of view, that are two vital attributes to high-quality wide-angle pictures.

Bokeh and portraits

Samsung has one other {hardware} trick to lend it a bonus in relation to portrait photographs and bokeh blur — its laser focusing system. With additional depth data at its disposal, the Galaxy S21 Extremely ought to, in concept, apply its bokeh impact a bit of extra precisely.

That is certainly the case in our first two examples. We will spot edge detection errors with the Pixel 5 in each the flower and figurine examples that don’t seem to the identical extent with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely. In any other case, each telephones supply extremely correct colours, publicity, white stability, and blur high quality. The photographs are extra alike than one would count on.

The identical applies to portrait photos. The Galaxy S21 Extremely performs higher edge detection, notably in relation to advanced edges like hair and furs. Though Samsung’s implementation isn’t with out its faults in these areas. Open air, the 2 supply very comparable facial particulars, pores and skin tones, and textures which can be once more extremely comparable. Though the Pixel 5 is, once more, a bit of noisier.

Indoor lighting reveals an even bigger distinction between the 2, however once more it’s important to look intently on the pictures to make out the distinction. The Pixel 5 suffers from extra noise, which eats into the extent of element the cellphone is ready to seize on face textures and the like. Samsung’s processing is comfortable and doesn’t produce much more element, nevertheless it’s a touch higher search for portrait photographs general.

Portrait Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5Portrait Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5

Credit score: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

As soon as once more, the outcomes are nearer than we would count on given the value distinction between these smartphones. Samsung’s extra complete {hardware} package deal produces marginally higher outcomes, however it’s important to pixel peek to essentially discover.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely vs Google Pixel 5 digital camera take a look at: The decision

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Pixel 5 camera brightGalaxy S21 Ultra vs Pixel 5 camera bright

Credit score: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

After taking a look at an intensive vary of images, it’s clear that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely comes out on prime in a number of key areas. Its bigger picture sensor wins out in HDR and low mild scenes, notably in relation to a fast snap. The excellent zoom package deal additionally presents high quality at a distance that Google’s flagship can’t compete with.

Nevertheless, the Google Pixel 5 performs equally effectively in plenty of eventualities, showcasing that computational pictures can hold older {hardware} within the recreation. Normal element remains to be surprisingly good and though the cellphone’s colours can look a bit of subdued, the Pixel 5 nonetheless appears nice in daylight and even low mild. Offering you could have the endurance to attend a number of seconds for Night time mode to do its factor. Its wide-angle digital camera can be very aggressive, regardless of not providing fairly the identical prolonged discipline of view.

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In case you’re out there for a finances flagship with a stable digital camera, the Pixel 5 remains to be among the best picks out there. As this shootout has clearly proven. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the handset’s {hardware} package deal isn’t fairly in the identical league as dearer flagships available on the market. Personally, I’d be very excited to see what the Pixel 6 may do with even only a small replace to its digital camera {hardware}, as Google’s computational pictures capabilities are nonetheless a few of the greatest within the enterprise.

What do you concentrate on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely vs Google Pixel 5 digital camera take a look at? Does Samsung do sufficient to justify an additional $500 in relation to pictures capabilities?

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