Google’s Pixel 8 Pro, out since October 12, 2023, sits at the top of the company’s phone lineup. But 2024 has seen the introduction of a number of other smartphone powerhouses, including the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. The Pixel 8 Pro launched with a price of $1,000 while the Galaxy S24 Ultra comes in at $1,300, putting them both in the high-end of the smartphone price spectrum, alongside the likes of the iPhone 15 Pro. Even though the two phones run Android, they’re very different devices.

After spending a great deal of time with both handsets, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy S24 to most people. It’s a capable, adaptable smartphone with a great camera and display. It’s exceptional build quality and good software support mean that it will serve you well, for years. To show you how we came to this conclusion, we’ve broken down our review into sections, making it easy to see why we love this smartphone.

Product image of Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra


Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra has the most advanced smartphone features.

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Price

An individual holds a black Google Pixel 8 Pro smartphone. The camera array on the backside of the handset is visible.

Credit: Google

The Google Pixel 8 Pro, which is powered by Google’s Tensor 3 chip, is a powerful smartphone that will receive a full seven years of software updates.

Interestingly, both the Pixel 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra are $100 more expensive than the launch prices of their predecessors. That increase in price does come with some extra benefits, notably in the extended software support (we’ll talk about this in a bit).

While the Galaxy S24 Ultra is $300 more expensive than the Pixel 8 Pro, it manages to maintain strong value by including plenty of extras for the money. For one, it starts with 256GB of storage whereas the Pixel 8 Pro only has 128GB. Samsung provides a bigger, brighter display alongside its built-in S Pen: a collapsable stylus that stores in the body of the S24 Ultra when not in use.

Which phone provides the most value will come down to what you want out of it, as things like an S Pen may not provide much to users who never use it. Since its launch, the Google Pixel 8 Pro has already seen discounts as low as $800, though, and with that kind of deal frequently available, the value question starts to lean even further in Google’s direction.

Our pick: Google Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Design

Four Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra phones on a black background.

Credit: Samsung

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra has an edge for its display because of its support for the S Pen.

A large element of design is aesthetics. While these two phones have unique looks, they perhaps share more similarities than differences. They both have quite narrow bezels around the display, offer exceptional water and dust resistance, and look fairly elegant. Samsung has gone with sharp angles at the corners that may be a little less comfortable in the hand than the curved corners of the Pixel 8 Pro, but this also provides a little extra screen space not cut off by the curves.

We love the fact that the Google Pixel 8 Pro’s rear camera array lets the phone sit on flat surfaces, without wobbling. This is in contrast to just about every other smartphone out there, including the Galaxy S24 Ultra. The flip side to Google’s camera bar is that it’s more prone to snagging on pockets when sliding in or out, gathering dust and lint, forcing you to give its lenses a wipe before taking a photo.

While most flagship phones are going with a combination of aluminum frames around the edges and glass on the front and back, Samsung steps out ahead of Google with a titanium frame and a new glass flavor from Corning, Gorilla Armor, that has proven more scratch-resistant than the Gorilla Glass Victus 2 found on the Pixel 8 Pro. Additionally, the finish on Galaxy S24 Ultra’s titanium frame doesn’t show fingerprints as easily as the aluminum of the Pixel 8 Pro.

There are even some benefits to the different button placement of the Galaxy S24 Ultra over the Pixel 8 Pro. The lower power button makes it easier to press and then reach the fingerprint scanner without repositioning your hand compared to the Pixel 8 Pro’s high power button placement. With volume buttons closer to the phone’s corner, it’s easier to use them as a camera shutter button without your hand blocking the display or cameras—at least, if you’re shooting in landscape.

Our pick: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Display

A person holds the Samsung S24 Ultra in their right hand. It is being used to transcribe audio.

Credit: Samsung

The Samsung S24 Ultra is a powerful smartphone for work or play.

Samsung and Google aren’t far apart on displays. The Pixel 8 Pro offers a 6.7-inch, 1344 x 2992 display using OLED technology and offering a 120Hz, variable refresh rate. Samsung uses a 6.8-inch, 1440 x 3120 display also using OLED technology with the same variable refresh rate and 120Hz peak. The difference is that the Pixel 8 Pro’s display peaks at 2,400 nits and Samsung’s reaches 2,600 nits. But the differences are small enough to be largely negligible. They are both excellent displays for just about anything. Samsung’s new display glass offers notable glare reductions, but it doesn’t eliminate it, and I was still inclined to angle the phone to avoid the reflection of bright overhead LED lights just the same as I was with the Pixel 8 Pro.

All that said, Samsung is still getting an edge for its display because of its support for the S Pen. This stylus requires a special Wacom digitizing layer built into the display that allows for precision input and supports pressure and tilt sensitivity for nuanced line work alongside palm rejection. While not everyone will have a use for the S Pen, the precision of stylus input is on another level compared to fingers. Having it as an option for editing photos, writing notes, doodling, or practicing foreign languages with complex characters can provide a big edge over the lack of it on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Our pick: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Cameras

A man, woman and child sit on a couch in their home. The man, sitting between the two females, is holding his arm out, with a Google Pixel 8 Pro in his hand. The three people are smiling for a selfie.

Credit: Google

The Google Pixel 8 Pro’s front and rear facing cameras, along with its exceptional photo software, make it difficult to take a bad picture.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Google Pixel 8 Pro both offer excellent camera systems. They each have a range of powerful sensors and optics in their rear camera arrays and respectably specced front-facing selfie snappers.

On Samsung’s phone, you’ll find a 200MP main sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide, a 10MP telephoto with 3x zoom, a 50MP telephoto with 5x zoom, and a 12MP selfie camera. Google uses a 50MP main sensor, 48 MP ultra-wide, 48MP telephoto with 5x zoom, and a 10.5MP selfie cam.

Both phones also use some AI optimization for their photos not only to improve the shots you take but also to enable some Photoshop-like edits with just a few taps, albeit with oftentimes questionable results. Those edits include the ability to selectively move or erase subjects in your shots or to eliminate shadows and reflections. As useful as this sounds, inconsistent results make this feature hard to rely on. Thankfully, the cameras take pretty great photos even without this AI-powered editing.

The main sensors on both phones are tremendous, and do a great job capturing photos in bright and dim conditions. Samsung gets a slight edge as lighting conditions get worse, though, as it showed less noise in photos and relied on a faster shutter speed, which helps ensure hand stability doesn’t impact quality as much. However, Samsung appears to boost shadow detail while brightening the image overall, whereas Google lets shadows stay dark and more natural. The winner here will come down more to taste than camera quality.

The ultra-wide sensors are also closely matched. Comparing photos side by side, there was little daylight between the two, in terms of quality. They captured plenty of detail and a broad image needing to be more appreciable distortion. Google has a slightly wider field of view, but this doesn’t necessarily make it better.

Both phones feature camera with 5x optical zoom, but Samsung also fits in 3x telephoto camera to bridge the gap between the 5x and 1x cameras. Ultimately, Samsung and Google are pretty much neck-in-neck in the zoom department. At 2x, I saw better detail in Google’s photos while Samsung wins at 3x with optical zoom. With the Pixel peaking at 5x, Samsung had an edge, but it’s not one that’s very noticeable. Boosting past their optical limits to 10x, the two phones remain evenly matched. Pushing the limits to 30x, neither phone’s photos look good, but Samsung appears to offer a bit more vibrant color and clarity at that level.

The selfie cameras both take crisp photos and once again exhibit only subtle differences. Samsung again appears to be brightening the image at the cost of deep shadows while Google provides a more lifelike picture, but this is nothing a simple adjustment while shooting wouldn’t fix.

Even when it comes to their AI editing tools, they’re closely matched. Samsung has an edge when it comes to selecting objects in a photo not just because it has the S Pen to help out but because it also makes those selections much quicker. The actual edits vary widely, and I’ve almost never seen results without some overt weirdness plainly visible in the edited photo. Edits often take long enough to generate that the sheer tediousness of doing, undoing, and redoing makes them kind of a crapshoot.

Our pick: Draw

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Performance

Google has gone all-in on the AI capabilities of its Tensor chips since they were introduced with the Pixel 6. The Pixel 8 Pro runs on the Tensor G3. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra packs in a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, the latest from Qualcomm. While Google’s chips have gotten progressively better, there’s still a considerable gap in overall performance between them and the best Qualcomm has to offer. Across a swathe of benchmarks, Samsung blew Google out of the water with its performance.

Geekbench 6 showed significantly higher single-core and multi-core performance from the Galaxy S24 Ultra, suggesting the phone will be faster and more responsive overall and be better able to handle larger tasks, such as video editing. While both phones are perfectly snappy right now, the extra performance headroom of the Galaxy S24 Ultra is likely to have it continue to feel speedy, further into the future, as the minimum requirements for apps and the demands of future Android OS updates will require greater system resources.

Gaming and graphical performance also see a wide gulf between the two phones. In a series of GFXBench tests, the Galaxy S24 Ultra performed 48.5% faster. Geekbench 6’s GPU tests saw Samsung lead by over 140% in OpenCL and Vulkan. And in 3DMark’s Wildlife Extreme benchmark, Samsung again came out ahead by 83.7%. An even more demanding benchmark, Solar Bay, which uses high-resolution graphics and real-time ray tracing isn’t even supported by the Pixel 8 Pro but ran fluidly on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

What this means for the phones in practical use is that the Galaxy S24 Ultra can smoothly run the latest games with ease, while the Pixel 8 Pro sees some performance dips and hitches that will only become more prominent as newer games increase the demand on the phone’s hardware.

It’s even a close match when it comes to AI capabilities. Both are offering live translation, dictation, smart search features, and web page summarization. The Circle to Search feature Samsung hyped at its phone launch is powered by Google and is now available on the Pixel 8 Pro as well. Meanwhile, article summarization is available on each phone, albeit in their respective, first-party browsers.

During testing, Samsung summarized faster and provided a much more useful summary for one article. For a second article, both phones provided a summary equally as fast, but again Samsung provided a more useful explanation. Google sort of pieces together ideas in a way that may or may not be conducive to understanding an article’s thesis. Samsung extracts definitive bits of the article that try to give an overall picture without really generating any ideas of its own.

Our pick: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Software support

Google made waves when it announced seven years of software support for the Pixel 8 Pro, effectively promising Android updates and security patches up to an eventual Android 21. This was huge news, given most flagship Android phones were getting at most a promise of 3 years of OS updates, and plenty of other handsets were lucky to get 1 or 2 years.

That promise might have given Google the edge if Samsung hadn’t matched it with an equivalent promise for the Galaxy S24 UItra. Both devices are set to get updates for seven years, so they should begin and end on the same operating systems. This is an incredible promise and great news for the long-term security of the devices. However, just how well both of these phones can run the apps and features in 2030 is a huge uncertainty.

Our pick: Draw

And the winner is… the Samsung Galaxy S24

A grey, Samsung S24 Ultra on a peach colored background.

Credit: Reviewed / Samsung

The finish on Galaxy S24 Ultra’s titanium frame doesn’t show fingerprints as easily as the aluminum of the Pixel 8 Pro.

Samsung knows how to make an exceptional phone with high levels of performance and a remarkable design. In almost all respects, the Galaxy S24 Ultra matches or exceeds the Pixel 8 Pro, making it stand out as the better phone.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the Pixel 8 Pro, however. If you don’t plan on gaming, the performance of the Pixel 8 Pro is more than adequate for everyday use. The cameras are excellent, and though the design and capabilities aren’t quite on Samsung’s level, its much lower price (especially factoring in discounts) makes it an attractive alternative.

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