Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6: Which one wins?

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Editor's note: The Pixel 7 launched on October 13 and brings a lot of upgrades. The Galaxy S23 is expected to launch early next year.

A Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6 face-off pits two of the more affordable Android phones against each other to see which one comes out on top. You can find more premium models from both Samsung and Google — especially now that the Pixel 7 is out — but these are some great phones to consider, even better when you find them on sale.

But which phone is best for you? Our Samsung Galaxy S22 review found that Samsung's latest flagship delivers a bright display in a compact device with one of the best performing chipsets found in an Android phone. Samsung has also made camera improvements that bolster the S22's picture-taking capabilities. 

Still, capturing top-notch images is Google's calling card, and that's particularly on display with the Pixel 6. This 2021 entry-level flagship from Google also introduced us to Google's own Tensor silicon, which relies on a beefed-up neural engine to power a lot of Pixel-specific features.

You can read our Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Pixel 6 Pro face-off to see how the premium models match up. But to find out who comes out on top in a very close Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6 battle, read on.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Google Pixel 6: Specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Galaxy S22Pixel 6
Price$799$599
Android version12, One UI 412
Display6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED FHD+ (2340 x 1080)6.4 inches AMOLED FHD+ (2400 x 1080)
Refresh rate48-120Hz60-90Hz
CPUSnapdragon 8 Gen 1Google Tensor
RAM8GB8GB
Storage128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB
Rear cameras50MP (f/1.8) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto50MP wide (f/1.85), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2)
Front camera10MP (f/2.2)8MP (f/2.0)
VideoUp to 8K 24 fpsUp to 4K 60fps
Battery size3,700 mAh4,614 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)7:518:13
Charging25W wired, 15W wireless21W wired and wireless
Size2.8 x 5.7 x 0.3 inches2.9 x 6.2 x 0.4 inches
Weight5.9 ounces7.3 ounces
ColorsPhantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink GoldStormy Black, Sorta Sage, Kinda Coral

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6: Price and availability

The Galaxy S22 went on sale at the end of February, with a $799 starting price for the 128GB model. You can also opt for a 256GB version by paying an additional $50.

Because Samsung phones are so ubiquitous, you'll find them at every major carrier and retailer. The best Samsung Galaxy S22 deals can also help you save some money on your purchase, especially if you've got a current phone to trade in.

While $799 is a pretty fair price for a fully-featured flagship, Google undercuts that by selling the Pixel 6 for $599. And the best Pixel 6 deals can knock down the cost, too.

Winner: Google Pixel 6

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6: Design

Comparing the design of these two phones comes down to which style you prefer — compact or eye catching?

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6

Samsung Galaxy s22 (left) and Google Pixel 6 (right) (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Galaxy S22 is the more compact of the two, at 5.7 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches. The Pixel 6 is taller, wider and — thanks to a distinct camera array we'll talk about in a minute — thicker. I prefer my phones a bit smaller, so I'm inclined to like the Galaxy S22's approach, but even fans of bigger models will appreciate how easy Samsung's new handset is to use with one hand.

That said, the Galaxy S22 doesn't exactly feature a groundbreaking design. In fact, it looks a lot like the Galaxy S21 that preceded it, with a contour cut design that has the vertically stacked rear camera array blending into the side of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6

Samsung Galaxy S22 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In contrast, the Pixel 6 doesn't look like anything that's come before it. That's because its camera array stretches across the phone horizontally on a ridged camera bar. Because the bar runs the length of the phone, it means the Pixel 6 won't wobble when you set it on its back.

Google goes for a three-tone color layout — a main color taking most of the body, a different colored bar, and then a brighter color on the upper strip above the camera bar. For that reason, the colors on the Pixel 6 look a little more vibrant even though its black, sage and coral choices aren't as many as the black, white, green and gold pink options Samsung offers.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6

Google Pixel 6 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Both phones use Gorilla Glass Victus to protect against scratches, though the Galaxy S22 ups the ante with Gorilla Glass Victus Plus. That should make it a little more durable than Google's offering.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6: Display

People who value a lot of screen real estate over everything else will feel drawn to the Pixel 6. That larger frame supports a 6.4-inch screen, which is noticeably bigger than the Galaxy S22's 6.1-inch panel. The Galaxy S22 packs in a few more pixels per inch, at 425 ppi to the Pixel 6's 411.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6

Samsung Galaxy S22 (left) and Google Pixel 6 (right) (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Galaxy S22 has another display trick up its sleeve, as it can scale all the way up to 120Hz when your on-screen activity would benefit from things like smoother scrolling. When things are more static, the S22's adaptive refresh rate drops to a battery-saving 48Hz. The Pixel 6 can only adjust between 90Hz and 60Hz.

Samsung also put a lot of effort into brightening up the displays on the S22 phones, and the Galaxy S22 is no exception, boasting a maximum brightness of 1,300 nits. While the Pixel 6's 843-nit reading on a light meter is pretty bright, we recorded the Galaxy S22 at 1,152 nits with HDR turned on.

Watching the trailer for Elvis on both phones, Elvis Presley's pink shirt looked a little bit more vivid on the Pixel 6's screen, but unnaturally so. Our testing confirmed the Galaxy S22 handles colors more accurately, with its Delta-E rating of 0.25 topping the 0.28 rating for the Pixel 6. (Numbers closer to zero are better.)

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6: Cameras

In a sense, Samsung and Google made similar improvements to the cameras found on the back of their flagship phones. Samsung went with a 50MP main shooter on the Galaxy S22, a big leap up from the 12MP sensor on the Galaxy S21. Likewise, the Pixel 6 also relies on a 50MP main camera, an upgrade from the 12.2MP sensor Google had turned to for years. Additionally, both the Galaxy S22 and Pixel 6 use 12MP ultrawide angle cameras.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6 cameras

Galaxy S22 (left) and Pixel 6 (right) (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

But Samsung didn't stop with two lenses as Google did. The Galaxy S22 also includes a 10MP telephoto lens, and for this version, Samsung offers a 3x optical zoom instead of the hybrid zoom the Galaxy S21 featured.

Can those changes help the Galaxy S22 against Google, which is widely considered to make the best camera phones among Android devices? It's a very close comparison.

Outside, a statue of bunnies in bright sunlight exhibits a common behavior of Samsung camera phones — the Galaxy S22 has oversaturated colors so that its image is much brighter than the one shot by the Pixel 6. In this instance, the emphasis on brighter colors works, though I do think the blues on the bunny outfits are richer and deeper in the Pixel shot and the green plants around the statues look more natural and pleasing to the eye. Either photo works, though.

Samsung didn't just boost the megapixel count on its main camera, though. The sensor on the Galaxy S22 is also bigger than the one on last year's flagship, so that the lens lets in more light, for better pictures in low light. I don't think that's in evidence in this photo of flowers in a dimly lit basement office. The lamp light off to the left has thrown off the S22's color, while the Pixel 6 is able to compensate for the artificial light while also making good use of shadows in the background.

Bolstering night photography was a big focus of Samsung with the Galaxy S22, and you can see the results of that when we test the Night mode on both cameras. All three animals stand out in the S22's shot, even the black bear who fades into background of the Pixel 6's more darkened effort. Still, in other areas, like the color of the house in the background and Kermit's shade of green, the Pixel 6 produces a more balanced image.

As for that ultrawide lens, the Galaxy S22's tendency to favor brighter colors over darker shades pays off in this shot that captures a jet statue. The Pixel 6 overly darkens the grass, and the sky doesn't pop the way it does in the Galaxy S22 shot. The S22 comes close to over-exposing the jet, but it's a better overall picture than what the Pixel 6 produces.

The Galaxy S22's inclusion of a dedicated telephoto lens gives it an edge when it's time to zoom in on the Oakland skyline. While the Pixel 6 manages to hold its own using Google's software powered super res zoom, it's Google's turn to wash out the image. Additionally, I found in my testing that the farther I zoomed in, the more noise entered the Pixel 6 image, while the S22 remained clear, with text still legible on some fo the buildings.

Let's compare the Portrait mode capabilities of the two phones by putting the front cameras to the test. In the S22's case, that's a 10MP selfie cam while the Pixel 6 relies on an 8MP shooter. 

In this self-portrait, both phones do an excellent job at separating me from the background. For whatever reason, the Galaxy S22 washes out my face a bit and the sunlight creates a halo around the right side of my face. I may not be as ruddy as I look in the Pixel 6 shot, but it's a definitely warmer portrait that I'd be more inclined to share. I do appreciate the S22's closer crop on my face.

All told, the Galaxy S22 does well when compared to the Pixel 6's cameras, and this would be the phone to get if you planned on making extensive use of the telephoto lens. But the Pixel 6 is one of the best camera phones for a reason, as it handles color and skin tones more effectively than Samsung's device.

Winner: Google Pixel 6

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6: Performance

The Galaxy S22 takes a more conventional route for an Android phone, opting for Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. (The version of the phone released in Europe uses Samsung's Exynos 2200 chip, which is Samsung's standard practice for its Galaxy S releases.) Instead of relying on Qualcomm for its chips, Google went its own way by designing its own Tensor chip to power the Pixel 6.

Tensor is not necessarily about maximizing performance. Instead, Google opted for its own silicon to include a Tensor Processing Unit to handle tasks driven by machine learning. The result is many of the user experience like call screening and real-time translation in the Messages app that make the Pixel 6 a unique phone.

Galaxy s22 vs Pixel 6

Google Pixel 6 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As a result, in terms of raw benchmarking numbers, the Galaxy S22 tends to outshine the Pixel 6. On Geekbench 5, the S22's single-core score of 1,284 and multicore result of 3,348 beat the Pixel 6's comparable numbers (1,029 and 2,696). Likewise in graphics testing using 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited, the Galaxy S22 finished on top with a 60 FPS score to 34 FPS for the Pixel 6.

Things were a little more even in our real-world test where we use Adobe Premiere Rush to transcode a 4K video. The Galaxy S22's time of 47 seconds was only 2 seconds faster than the Pixel 6's time, though up until now, Google's phones have outperformed Samsung's flagships on this test.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Pixel 6

Samsung Galaxy S22 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Both phones can connect to 5G networks, though you'll need to get your Pixel 6 directly from AT&T and Verizon for a phone that takes advantage of those carriers' fastest 5G speeds. The Galaxy S22 also uses a more recent modem in the form of Qualcomm's Snapdragon X65. The Pixel 6's modem is a couple generations behind, and its modem speeds are a little slower as a result.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6: Battery life and charging

Frankly, neither phone wowed us when it came time to subject their batteries to our custom testing in which we have a device surf the web over cellular until it runs out of power. It's a demanding test and neither the Galaxy S22 nor the Pixel 6 were up to that demand.

The Pixel 6 lasted for 8 hours and 13 minutes, nearly 2 hours shy of what the average smartphone can do. The Galaxy S22 fared even worse with a time of 7 hours and 51 minutes. Both those results came with the phones' adaptive display rates enabled. Turning off that feature improved battery life on both devices, but disabling a marquee feature is a less-than-ideal solution.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6 charging port

Samsung Galaxy S22 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

On paper, the Pixel 6 would seemingly charge faster than the Galaxy S22, which supports 25W wired charging. However, the Pixel 6 only charges at 21W despite initial claims that it would charge at 30W with a Google-made charger. At any rate, our Pixel 6 got to a 29% charge after half-an-hour. The Galaxy S22 reached 60% in that time. It's clear who offers the better experience there.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6: Software and special features

Google phones usually hold a big edge over other Android devices by promising more immediate software updates and longer periods of support, but Samsung has undercut that with the Galaxy S22. Starting with this new phone, Samsung is promising four years of software updates, plus an additional year of security updates. That tops Google's level of Pixel 6 support by a year.

Of course, Google makes up for that by making the experience on the Pixel 6 more unique with features like call screening where the assistant can handle incoming calls; the assistant is also capable of transcribing phone menus. I'm particularly impressed by how I can dictate text messages, and the Pixel 6 is smart enough to even punctuate texts.

Galaxy s22 vs. Pixel 6 fingerprint sensor

Google Pixel 6 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the under-display fingerprint sensors on both phones. The Galaxy S22's sensor is responsive and unlocks your phone quickly. The Pixel 6's sensor is more of a slowpoke, and it doesn't always get a good read on your fingerprint. Ultimately, the Pixel 6's Tensor-powered features help it win this category, but the gap isn't as big as you'd figure.

Winner: Google Pixel 6

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6: Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Google Pixel 6 face-off is a surprisingly strong battle with both phones exhibiting different strengths. But it's Samsung's new phone that wins in enough areas to overcome the Pixel 6's lower cost and its edge as a mobile camera.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy S22Google Pixel 6
Price and availability (10 points)89
Design (10 points)87
Display (15 points)1413
Camera (20 points)1719
Performance and 5G (20 points)1715
Battery life and charging (15 points)119
Software and special features (10 points)89
Overall (100 points)8381

The Galaxy S22 boasts the better display, superior design and best performance of either phone. And Samsung's decision to extend software support for its new phone narrows what would have been a larger gap with Google's superior software experiences.

The Pixel 6 has a lot going for it, not the least of which are its low price and its top-performing cameras. But the Galaxy S22 is the better value overall considering the premium features it delivers.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.