Comparison of Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Google Pixel 8 Pro Cameras: Which One Comes Out on Top?

Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra and Google’s Pixel 8 Pro are notable for their photography abilities. Their extra 5x telephoto cameras are the key features that differentiate these phones from their lower-priced counterparts: the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus and the Pixel 8. With the Galaxy S24 Ultra starting at $1,300 and the Pixel 8 Pro regularly priced at around $1,000, I was interested to see how the two stack up against each other.

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Both phones have sturdy cameras with their strengths and limitations. For example, Samsung occasionally exaggerates or oversaturates colors, although there are occasions when that benefits the photo. Google’s images have a more natural appearance, but they occasionally seem dull next to Samsung shots with their livelier hues. Samsung has more flexibility when it comes to zooming, since it can zoom up to 100x digitally, but Google occasionally captures brighter photos in low-light settings.

Learn more: Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra Could Be Doing So Much More With AI

Each company has encountered fair criticism concerning the quality of their cameras. My CNET colleague Andrew Lanxon encountered numerous issues with the Pixel 8 Pro’s camera when evaluating the device in October, such as softening and muddiness in high contrast areas like shadows. Meanwhile, X user @smasithick had problems when switching between zoom levels on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Notably, I haven’t encountered either issue on my Galaxy S24 Ultra and Pixel 8 Pro review units.

Critiquing photography is subjective, and how the photos look largely depends on a variety of factors, including the device you’re viewing them on and the size of the shots. When I compared photos alongside each other, I viewed them on a 27-inch monitor and a 16-inch laptop screen to reduce any bias that viewing them on their respective phone screens brought.

I took more than a dozen photos on both phones to see how they compare, and the examples below best illustrate their differences. 

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Pixel 8 Pro cameras

Galaxy S24 Ultra Pixel 8 Pro
No. of rear cameras 4 3
Main camera resolution, lens aperture 200MP, f/1.7 50MP, f/1.68
Telephoto camera resolution, lens aperture 50MP, f/3.4; 10MP, f/2.4 48MP, f/2.8
Ultrawide camera resolution, lens aperture 12MP, f/2.2 48MP, f/1.95
Front camera resolution, lens aperture 12MP, f2.2 10.5MP, f/2.2

Outside in sunlight

When capturing images outdoors in bright sunlight, I observed that photos from the Pixel sometimes had more contrast while those from Samsung had their the color and brightness dialed up. This was usually the case when taking photos of colorful subjects, like artwork and flowers. Take a look below at these photos of a mural on a fence. Samsung’s image is brighter, but the additional contrast in Google’s photo makes the border between each piece of the mural look sharper and more defined.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Taken on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Google Pixel 8 Pro

Taken on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The situation was different when capturing photos of a person. I preferred the photo below that I took of my husband on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, since it had more detail. You can really notice the difference when looking at the strands of hair in his beard and the denim of his coat.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

This photo was taken on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Google Pixel 8 Pro

A photo taken on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

I mentioned earlier that Samsung’s tendency to emphasize color can work for or against it. The photos below of produce taken at a local fruit stand really demonstrates that. Samsung’s photo looks more lively and colorful, making Google’s look a bit drab by comparison. However, you can notice the light brown spots speckled all over the green apples in Google’s photo, indicating that its colors may be more realistic.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

A photo of produce taken on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Google Pixel 8 Pro

A photo of produce taken on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Now below is an example of Samsung’s oversaturated colors working against it. Some of the petals are hard to distinguish because the colors are so blown out. It makes the petals in the red carnations, in particular, look like they’re blending together. Google’s photo may be a bit blurrier around the edges, but you can see all the petals clearly. I should note that the photos below were taken at the full resolution available on each phone, which is 200 megapixels for the Galaxy S24 Ultra and 50 megapixels for the Pixel 8 Pro. Although I viewed the full resolution versions of both photos during my testing, I had to resize the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s image because the full version exceeds CNET’s file size limit.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

A photo of bouquets taken on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Google Pixel 8 Pro

A photo of bouquets taken on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Zoom

When I was shooting outdoors at short zoom lengths like 2x, photos from the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S24 Ultra looked essentially the same. But when zooming closer at 10x, I started to see a difference. As an example, take a look at the photos below of a sign hanging outside a restaurant. Samsung’s may look a little washed out, but the glowing burger sign is sharper in its photo than in Google’s. The light from the sign also doesn’t bleed the way it does in Google’s photo.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (10x zoom)

A photo of a sign hanging outside a restaurant, taken at a 10x zoom.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Google Pixel 8 Pro (10x zoom)

A photo of a sign outside a restaurant, taken at a 10x zoom. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

I also noticed that Samsung sometimes had the upper hand when zooming indoors, both at short and long distances. The photos below of a vase of flowers at a 3x zoom in CNET’s New York office, you can tell Samsung’s is clearer. 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (3x zoom)

A photo of flowers taken at a 3x zoom on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Google Pixel 8 Pro

A photo of flowers taken at a 3x zoom on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Samsung also performed better when I shot this photo of a bouquet of preserved flowers in my living room at a 30x zoom with the lights turned down.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

A photo of a bouquet of preserved flowers taken at a 30x zoom on the Galaxy S24 Ultra in dim lighting. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Google Pixel 8 Pro

A photo of a bouquet of preserved flowers taken at a 30x zoom on the Pixel 8 Pro in dim lighting. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

However, I’ve also realized that results can vary depending on the situation. When I reviewed the Galaxy S24 Ultra, my testing indicated that Google actually produced a sharper zoomed-in shots at 5x compared to the S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max.

240123-site-samsung-galaxy-s24-ultra-review-4 240123-site-samsung-galaxy-s24-ultra-review-4

Watch this: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: More AI at a Higher Cost

Night mode

Night mode makes it possible to capture photos in dark situations without having to use the flash. In my experience, Google produced brighter photos in the dark, though it takes longer to snap the photo, while Samsung’s had more detail.

Take this photo below of my cat Buddy, for instance. Google’s picture is brighter overall, but you can see more detail in Buddy’s fur — especially around his nose and legs — in Samsung’s photo.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

A photo of my cat Buddy taken on the Galaxy S24 Ultra in night mode.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Google Pixel 8 Pro

A photo of my cat Buddy taken in night mode on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Here’s another example below. Google’s is once again brighter, while Samsung’s captured a darker shade of green in the plant’s leaves. 

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