Pixel 5a vs. Samsung S21, a Review

It hardly seems fair, right? Samsung’s S21 with the latest hardware vs. the Pixel 5a which some are calling outdated before it was even released (August 26th.)


OK, we know the Samsung is going to have a better display especially with the 120 Hz refresh rate vs. Pixel’s 60 Hz display. But what about software, camera, and battery?

Software: The reviewer gave the nod to the S21, but only because it has more stuff in Samsung’s One UI. Apparently the reviewer felt these extras in One UI was more important than Pixel’s monthly software updates, longer software support time and Android/Google integration. Supposedly One UI is a lot better than previous Samsung versions of overlaying skins on stock Android, but your mileage may vary. I’ve never liked the extra crap Samsung lays on. Also, not one word was said about Bixby, Samsung’s pathetic failure of an attempt at Google Assistant.

Battery: Pixel 5a comes with a 4680 mAh battery; S21 has a 4000 mAh battery. In an astounding display of dishonesty the reviewer gave the nod to the S21 battery BUT ONLY IF the display refresh rate was throttled down to 60 Hz. What Samsung owner would ever dial down their display to 60 hz?! According to the reviewer the Pixel 5a battery lasts for 9 hours 45 minutes when tested endlessly loading web pages at a set screen brightness of 150 nits. For the same test the S21 lasts for 6 hours 31 minutes BUT if the screen refresh rate is dialed down to 60 hz the battery lasts 9 hours 53 minutes, so the S21 "wins."

It should be noted that the S21 has a faster charger and wireless charging.

Camera: The reviewer felt the Pixel 5a had the better camera overall, citing Samsung’s long running tendency to oversaturate colors and lend a "warm" tone to photos rather than accurately reproducing colors.

Overall score was Pixel 5a, 82; Samsung S21, 85. (Out of 100 points.) That’s pretty darn close.

Oh yeah, Pixel 5a costs $449; Samsung S21 costs $799. That is just a wee bit important.

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