SAMSUNG GALAXY S21 FE VS. GOOGLE PIXEL 6: WHICH PHONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

SAMSUNG GALAXY S21 FE VS. GOOGLE PIXEL 6: WHICH PHONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and Google Pixel 6 are aimed at customers who want a flagship experience without spending a small fortune. While the S21 FE is the successor to last year’s Galaxy S20 FE from Samsung, the Pixel 6 is the smaller, non-pro brother to the top-end Pixel 6 Pro. Google has managed to release a formidable Pixel phone after a few years of solid but modest launches, while the S21 FE is the latest entrant in the Galaxy S21 series. Both phones are scaled-down versions of their premium variants, and they make some compromises to achieve a lower price point, but there’s only one that’s right for you.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs. Pixel 6: Glasstic vs. glass

Like the Galaxy S21 and S20 FE before it, the S21 FE has a “glasstic” back, although Corning’s durable Gorilla Glass Victus still protects the front. The company uses the same type of backplane on many of its mid-range devices. The Pixel 6, meanwhile, has Gorilla Glass 6 on the back and extra-durable Victus on the front, giving it an overall premium feel in the hand.

Design aside, both phones are surprisingly similar in other areas: IP68 certification, stereo speakers, on-screen optical sensors, and multiple color options. Samsung’s optical fingerprint sensor is much better than the Pixel’s slow and buggy scanner. While software updates have improved the experience, performance is still far from ideal. The Pixel 6’s design has more personality than the S21 FE, thanks to the massive impact of the camera, although it might not be for everyone.

One area where the S21 FE outperforms the Pixel 6 is its size. Despite both phones having similarly sized screens, Google’s offering is significantly larger than Samsung’s, making it less compact and difficult to use with one hand. It’s still a big-screen experience, just with a more portable body.

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Galaxy S21 FE vs. Pixel 6: Similar screens, different refresh rate

Both the Galaxy S21 FE and Pixel 6 have 6.4-inch OLED displays. While Samsung uses a 120Hz panel in its offering, the Pixel maintains a 90Hz refresh rate. This gives Samsung’s phone an edge in terms of screen smoothness, although most users won’t be able to distinguish between 90Hz and 120Hz outside of side-by-side comparisons.

The screen quality of both phones is excellent, with excellent levels of brightness, contrast, colors, and viewing angles. Whichever phone you choose, you won’t have much to complain about the display. However, if we had to pick a winner, the S21 FE has a slight edge over Google’s latest device, thanks to its 120Hz refresh rate and sleek, minimal bezels.

Galaxy S21 FE vs. Pixel 6: flagship-level performance

The Pixel 6 features Google’s first internal Tensor smartphone chip with a strong focus on machine learning and AI performance. Like other Galaxy S21 models, the Fan Edition is powered by the Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 chip, the latter of which can be found on units sold outside the US. While neither is the latest or greatest in the Android world, these chips are still powerhouses in their own right and can run any app or game you want seamlessly.

This Snapdragon chip is about 8-10% faster than Tensor, but the latter improves GPU performance. Superior machine learning and AI performance allow Google to provide several features unique to the Pixel 6 series that are useful for everyday use.

The Pixel 6 comes with 8 GB of RAM in all its configurations, while the S21 FE only has this allocation for its higher-end configurations – otherwise, it leaves 6 GB. When it comes to software support, things get interesting. The Pixel 6 series is expected to receive at least three years of updates from the time they become available, with five years of security patches also promised.

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It will also be the first to receive any new release through Android 15. Meanwhile, Samsung promises three OS updates and four years of security patches for the S21 FE – although major releases always lag behind the Pixel. While this makes Google’s phone all the more tempting, you can’t ignore the sheer number of bugs currently plaguing Pixels. Samsung’s update time has improved significantly in recent years, making the S21 FE an attractive buy for any Google fan.

Galaxy S21 FE vs. Pixel 6: Dual and Triple Cameras

The Pixel 6 has a dual-camera setup consisting of a 50MP f/1.85 shooter and a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle lens. The S21 FE has a more versatile triple camera setup with a 12MP primary sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens, and an 8MP telephoto sensor with 3x optical zoom. As noted in the Galaxy S21 FE review, your photos lack that “wow” factor – something you certainly can’t say about the Pixel. The telephoto camera is also less useful than expected, at least in most scenarios, as your zoom shots are cropped from the 12MP primary sensor.

The Pixel 6, with its larger sensor and the magic of Google AI, can take excellent photos in a variety of lighting conditions. The ultrawide isn’t as impressive, especially in low light, but it can still hold its own. Google’s offering lacks a telephoto camera and despite having a 50MP primary sensor it only offers 7x digital zoom – the S21 FE maxes out at 30x.

The Pixel 6 has a 10MP snapper for selfies, while the S21 FE has a 32MP snapper. The former has autofocus, which gives it a slight edge, but you should be happy with the selfies from both phones.

Ultimately, if camera performance is paramount, get the Pixel 6. While Samsung’s phone may have a more versatile camera setup on paper, it doesn’t offer much value in real life.

Galaxy S21 FE vs. Pixel 6: battery life

The Pixel 6 has a slightly larger battery than the S21 FE: 4614mAh vs. 4500mAh. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t make much of a difference in real life. Both phones offer enough power to last a day, but the Pixel 6 can have problems if you use 5G a lot. The S21 FE with Snapdragon 888 can easily deliver 7-8 hours of screen time on a single charge.

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Both phones charge relatively slowly compared to the OnePlus 9. The Pixel 6 technically supports 30W wired charging speeds, but it won’t consume more than 20-22W of power for battery management reasons. Likewise, the Galaxy S21 FE supports 25W fast charging, although it only drew 20W in our tests. Phones can charge from 0 to 50% in about 30 minutes, but charging the battery to 100% takes over an hour.

There’s also support for wireless charging, with the Pixel supporting speeds of up to 21W as long as you’re using the second-generation Pixel Stand. In comparison, the S21 FE comes in at 15W.

Galaxy S21 FE vs. Pixel 6: which one should you buy?

The Pixel 6 and Galaxy S21 FE are great value for the price, and it’s hard to go wrong with either one. Whatever phone you buy, you won’t be disappointed with the overall package. Google’s biggest problem is availability: the phone is only available in a few markets, while the Galaxy S21 FE is available in significantly more countries. Also, Google’s customer support is poor compared to Samsung’s, which can cause problems if you encounter hardware failures.

If you can look beyond the Pixel’s camera capabilities, the Galaxy S21 FE is a better buy. The Pixel 6 is $100 cheaper than the S21 FE, although Samsung’s usual post-launch deals should lower the price to compete directly with Google’s latest smartphone. However, if Pixel availability isn’t an issue for you — or if you’re dying to get the best mobile camera on the market — don’t hesitate for a second.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

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Buy Google Pixel 6

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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs. Pixel 6 Technical Specifications

SmartphoneSamsung Galaxy S21 FEGoogle Pixel 6
Operating SystemOne UI 4.0 based on Android 12Pixel UI on Android 12
Dimensions155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm
Weight177g207 grams
Display6.4-inch, FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, (1080 x 2400)6.4-inch FHD+ OLED Display, Adaptive Refresh Rate (up to 90Hz), (1080 x 2400)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 888Google Tensor
Memory6GB RAM with 128GB storage
8GB RAM with 128GB storage
8GB RAM with 256GB storage
8GB RAM with 128GB storage
8GB RAM with 256GB storage
Expandable StorageNoNo
Rear Cameras12MP, ƒ/1.8 aperture, Dual Pixel AF, OIS
12MP, ƒ/2.2 aperture, ultrawide with FOV 123-degrees
8MP, ƒ/2.4 aperture, 30x Space Zoom
50MP, f/1.85 with OIS
12MP, f/2.2 Ultra-wide Angle
Front Camera32MP, ƒ/2.2 aperture8MP, ƒ/2.0 aperture
SecurityUnder-display Optical Fingerprint ScannerUnder-display Optical Fingerprint Scanner
ConnectivitySub6GHz/ mmWave 5G, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/x, Bluetooth 5.1, Samsung Pay with NFCSub6GHz/ mmWave 5G (mmWave for devices sold through AT&T, Verizon, and Google Store), Wi‑Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.2
PortsUSB-CUSB-C
Battery4,500 mAh
25W wired charge speed
15W wireless charge speed
Wireless PowerShare
4614 mAh
50% charge in up to 30 minutes with 30W USB-C Adapter
21W Wireless Charging with Pixel Stand, 12W Qi Wireless Charging
Water ResistanceIP68IPX8
ColorsGraphite, Olive, Lavender, WhiteStorm Black, Sorta Seafoam, Kinda Coral
Price$699.99$599.99

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