Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Google Pixel 6 Pro: which Android phone is best?

These flagships represent two different visions of Android

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
(Image credit: Samsung)

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is now a thing and you can watch the Galaxy S22 livestream video to see it unveiled live. You can also get all the latest information on the phone in T3's Samsung Galaxy S22 live blog.

And, from what we already know about the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Google Pixel 6 Pro, they both look like two of the very best Android phones you can buy in 2022. But, crucially, there are some very big differences both in their specifications and in their approach.

For Google, the Pixel represents Android as it should be; for Samsung, the S22 Ultra shows what Android should be. For very many smartphone users, Samsung's One UI is Android. But which flagship is the better buy? Let's find out.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Google Pixel 6 Pro: design and display

The Google Pixel 6 Pro is a striking thing, especially in Cloudy White or Sorta Sunny where the black camera stripe gives it a distinctly 70s retro vibe. The display is a 6.7-inch QHD+ LPTO OLED delivering 120Hz and a resolution of 3210 x 1440 with HDR support, a high brightness mode and a contrast ratio of a million to one.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra has a 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with refresh rates from 1 to 120Hz and 240Hz touch sampling rate in game mode. It’s 100% P3 colour certified, has a peak brightness of up to 1750 nits and has a contrast ratio of up to 3 million to one. It’s spectacular and IP68 rated for water resistance.

Google Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Google)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Pixel 6 Pro: processor and storage

The processor in the Google Pixel 6 Pro is Google’s own Tensor, which benchmarks very similarly to the Exynos 2100 in the previous Samsung Galaxy. It’s backed with 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage.

The Samsung has the Exynos 2200 or Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 depending on where it’s being sold, and it comes with 8 or 12GB of RAM and 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB of storage.

Samsung Galaxy S22

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Pixel 6 Pro: cameras

The Pixel’s front camera is an 11.1MP shooter with f/2.2 and a wide field of view. Round the back you’ll find a 50MP Octa PD Quad Bayer wide camera with f/1.85, a 21MP ultrawide with f/2.2, a 48MP telephoto with f/3.5 and a laser auto-focus sensor. Optical zoom is 4x and digital zoom is 20x. Video is 60fps for 1080p or 4K recording and there’s 4K time-lapse with stabilisation and 240fps slow-mo.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a four camera assembly on the back: a 12MP ultrawide with f/2.2m a 108MP wide with f/1.8, a 10MP telephoto with f/2.4 and 3x optical zoom and another 10MP telephoto with 10x optical zoom and f/4.9. Digital zoom, which Samsung calls Space Zoom, is up to 100x.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: EVleaks/Twitter)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Pixel 6 Pro: battery and charging

Google promises up to 24 hours of battery life from the 5000mAh battery here and a whopping 48 hours in extreme battery saver mode. With Google’s 30W fast charger (sold separately) it’ll charge to 50% in about 40 minutes and it supports fast wireless charging too. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is 5000mAh with 45W wired and 15W wireless charging.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Pixel 6 Pro: software

As you’d expect from a Google flagship, the Pixel Pro has the latest version of Android: Android 12. It’s free from the fiddling that other manufacturers tend to do: this is Google’s vision of a pure Android experience, and very nice it is too. The Pixel benefits from Google’s AI-based features, particularly in the camera app, and Google Assistant is a lot smarter too.

The Samsung has Android 1.1 and Samsung’s One UI 4.1, which will be pretty familiar to existing Galaxy users. S-Pen support is baked into the OS for easy sketching, scribbling and navigation.

Samsung Galaxy S22

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Pixel 6 Pro: price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is confirmed to start at $1,199 / £1,149.

The Pixel 6 Pro starts at £849 / $899, making it quite considerably cheaper than the Samsung device whether the leaks are accurate or overly optimistic.

Google Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Google)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Pixel 6 Pro: early verdict

If money's a key consideration then the Pixel 6 Pro looks like much better value: it isn't quite as screamingly fast as the Samsung but the camera tech is fantastic and there's a likeable simplicity to its unadorned Android OS. But it's not perfect. In our Google Pixel 6 Pro review we argued that to get the camera system you're making a trade-off in performance. And with Android 12 coming to the Samsung too, the USP of the Pixel isn't so unique any more.

The Samsung costs more, but it's the better phone too: it may lack the AI of Google's phone but Samsung's own neural processing is doing impressive things with photography and video, and while the two phones take different approaches they both deliver excellent image quality in a wide range of conditions. But when the camera app is off, it's the Samsung you'll want to spend more time with.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).