I took over 200 photos with the Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Pixel 8 Pro — here's the winner

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Pixel 8 Pro.
(Image credit: Future)

I didn’t think I was going to like the Pixel 8 Pro when I first got my hands on it, but it’s been my daily driver for nearly 6 months for good reason. That’s astounding for me because it’s one of the longest Google phones I’ve ever used, and it was good enough to take me away from the Galaxy S23 Ultra. But now that the Galaxy S24 Ultra is its replacement, I was curious if it could reel me back into using a Samsung again.

That’s why I decided to do an in-depth camera shootout between Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Pixel 8 Pro, to really determine which is the worthier phone on our best camera phones list. I religiously rely on my smartphones as backup cameras to my mirrorless cameras on professional shoots, so I want to see which one would come out on top with this one.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Pixel 8 Pro: The cameras

What makes this one tough is that they have a lot in common with one another — like their optical telephoto lenses. The Pixel 8 Pro comes with a 50MP main camera, 48MP ultrawide camera, 48MP telephoto with 5x optical zoom, and 10.5MP selfie. In my Pixel 8 Pro review, I detailed how its generative AI features work really well in stuff Best Take and Magic Editor — but it sort of fails with Magic Audio Eraser on the video side.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is no slouch with its arsenal: a 200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x telephoto, 50MP 5x telephoto, and 12MP selfie cameras. It also injects life into how I edit photos and videos with Galaxy AI features such as Instant Slow-Mo, Generative Edit, and more. I will admit that I like the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s camera interface better because it comes complete with a manual video mode, which I don’t get with the Pixel 8 Pro.

For this Galaxy S24 Ultra versus Pixel 8 Pro camera shootout, I want to see how they compare in key areas such as dynamic range, low-light performance, and how well they capture selfies. Frankly, I’ve been spoiled by what the Pixel 8 Pro delivers with its camera performance, so the Galaxy S24 Ultra will really need to step it up if it has any chance of taking me away from Google’s phones.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs.Pixel 8 Pro: main camera

After taking countless photos, I can say with confidence that the Galaxy S24 Ultra has the better main camera. The shot above of the figurine nestled in a shaded spot in between two buildings is proof that not only is the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s shot brighter and more vibrant, but it also shows how it perfectly balances out the exposure with its excellent dynamic range. Although, I would say that detail capture is nearly identical with both devices.

Winner: Galaxy S24 Ultra

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs.Pixel 8 Pro: Ultra wide

I’m going to give the Galaxy S24 Ultra the win in the ultra wide department, even though the Pixel 8 Pro technically has the wider 125.5-degree field of view — versus the S24 Ultra’s narrower 120-degree one. That’s because I like how the S24 Ultra delivers the better dynamic range performance, which boosts the shadows and draws out a little more detail. You can see it in the archways of the New York Public Library above when you zoom in, with more definition in the words etched into the building and the ornate details in the arch.

Winner: Galaxy S24 Ultra

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs.Pixel 8 Pro: Macro

In another closely contested category, I’m giving the macro photography win to the Galaxy S24 Ultra, even though it’s very close. Macro mode is automatically engaged whenever I get the camera super close to my subject, but the Galaxy S24 Ultra pulls in a little more detail that I need in a macro shot. Colors are represented nicely with pair, but it ultimately comes down to the slightly better detailed capture of the S24 Ultra — which you can see in the other flower closeups below.

Winner: Galaxy S24 Ultra

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs.Pixel 8 Pro: Color Reproduction

Judging solely on the colors they’re able to produce, I like the warmer hues that the Pixel 8 Pro casts in the shot of all these beverages on display at the grocery store. The S24 Ultra isn’t bad either here, but the colors are just a smidge subdued — just look at the yellow label on the drinks near the middle of the shot to see what I mean.

Winner: Pixel 8 Pro

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs.Pixel 8 Pro: Dynamic range

In just about every high-contrast scene, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is more capable at capturing the colors and details. Take the photos near Times Square above, where you have a shaded area competing against the stronger light source in the foreground. The S24 Ultra does nicely to even out the exposure between the shadows and highlights, but it tends to subdue the colors in the process — which I can make out with the green boards in the building being constructed near the middle.

Winner: Galaxy S24 Ultra

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs.Pixel 8 Pro: Panoramic

When it comes to capturing panoramic photos, I recommend the Galaxy S24 Ultra because of the option to switch between the 1x main camera and 0.6x wide angle one. You’re stuck with the 1x main camera on the Pixel 8 Pro, so it won’t have anywhere as close to a wider view of view. Even when I rely on the 0.6x wide angle camera of the S24 Ultra, it still pulls in better details than what the Pixel 8 Pro captures with its 1x camera.

Winner: Galaxy S24 Ultra

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs.Pixel 8 Pro: 5x telephoto zoom

Things get really interesting when I switch to their 5x optical zoom cameras. In almost every 5x zoom shot I captured, I’m always leaning to the Pixel 8 Pro more because of how it produces the brighter image. You can see it in the image of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse above, but also with the set of images below — particularly with the Empire State Building. Detail capture is a smidge better with the S24 Ultra, but it’s hardly noticeable.

Winner: Pixel 8 Pro