Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: which is the better Android phone?

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: which is better?
(Image credit: Samsung)

Ready to upgrade your Android smartphone? Or betray your iPhone loyalty? The Samsung Galaxy S20 and Google Pixel 4 are two of the best Android smartphones we've tested, so considering these isn't a bad place to start. Both flagship-grade handsets sport excellent cameras and stunning OLED displays – but which is best? Join us as we compared two of the best smartphones to see which deserves a space in your pocket.

At first glance the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Google Pixel 4 look similar, but each device has its strengths and weaknesses. If you like watching movies on the go, you'll want to know which has the best display. Keen photographer? You'll need to know how each phone's camera performs in low light.

So without further ado, let's see how these state-of-the-art smartphones stack up in terms of features, price, design, waterproof rating, camera, display, audio and more, to see which is the best smartphone for you... 

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: price

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: which is better?

(Image credit: Google)

The Samsung Galaxy S20 hit the shelves earlier this year at £899 ($999, AU$1499), but prices have since dropped by around 10 per cent. (It's worth noting that for a limited time, Samsung is giving away a free Galaxy S20 smartphone when you buy any Samsung 2020 8K TV).

We tested the Google Pixel 4 at £669 ($799, AU$999) shortly after it launched towards the end of last year. However, the Pixel 4 is on the cusp of being trumped by the Pixel 4a and PIxel 5, so prices could soon drop.

Short answer: the Pixel 4 is the best smartphone for those on a budget.

*Winner* Google Pixel 4

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: battery life

If battery life is your number one priority, you should perhaps avoid the Pixel 4. The Samsung Galaxy S20 has a significantly larger battery to its rival 4 (4000mAh vs 2800mAh). Unsurprisingly, we found that the Pixel 4 just about lasted through a regular 16-hour day, whereas the S20 is more than durable enough for a day’s heavy use.

The Samsung device charges quicker, too – while the Galaxy S20 boasts a 25W fast-charging battery, the PIxel 4 maxes out at 18W.

It's also worth noting that the S20 can perform a trick called reverse charging (Samsung calls it 'PowerShare'). This allows you to use your phone's battery to wireless charge other compatible wireless devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live.

The S20 aces this round.

*Winner* Samsung Galaxy S20

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: design and build

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: which is better?

(Image credit: Samsung)

Both these phones are flagship-worthy, meaning premium design cues such as smooth glass backs come as standard. 

The curvy Galaxy is S20 is an impressive piece of engineering that feels light and boasts an edge-to-edge screen makes the most of the the thin bezel. It comes in a range of stylish mirror finishes, including Cosmic Grey, Cloud Blue and Cloud Pink.

The Pixel 4 has a slightly thicker bezel and doesn't cut quite the same dash. It's only available in black or white, too.

Size-wise, there's almost nothing in it. The Samsung is 3mm thinner (7.9mm vs 8.2mm), while the Pixel 4 is 2g lighter (162g vs 164g). Both devices are solidly built and their iP68 water-resistance means they should survive a dunk in water up to 1.5m deep.

So which is the best smartphone when it comes to visual appeal? You've be hard pressed to tell these two devices apart from a distance, so it's really down to personal taste.

*Winner* Draw

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: display

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: which is better?

(Image credit: Google)

With the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Sky Go offering the option to download content to watch offline and on-the-go, smartphones are now competing with TVs for eyeball time. So how do these phones stack up screen-wise? 

The Pixel 4's 5.7in fullHD+ OLED screen shines in all the right areas: crispness, contrast and colour reproduction. It's a good performer that far from lacks insight, even if the deeper blacks sacrifice a little dark detail. The 90Hz refresh rate is means it's very smooth, too.

The Galaxy S20, however, is even better. Its 6.2in WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display boasts a maximum refresh-rate of 120Hz, putting the S20 in a fairly exclusive club with the likes of the OnePlus 8 Pro. The tech delivers a smoother picture, particularly when gaming. You also get support HDR10+, Samsung’s own HDR processing technology.

To be fair, switching the S20's screen to 120Hz mode will sap the battery, but if you want the best smartphone for movies on the go, the S20 is the phone for you. We'd put it same elite category as the also-class-leading iPhone 11 Pro in this regard.

*Winner* Samsung Galaxy S20

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: features

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: which is better?

(Image credit: Samsung)

Do you hate buttons? If you do, you'll almost certainly appreciate the Google Pixel 4's radar-powered motion sensing technology. Simply wave your hand left or right over the phone's display to skip songs, or wave it across the screen to silence calls. The sensor also facilitates rapid face unlock, which features instead of a fingerprint reader.

The Galaxy S20 offers an in-screen fingerprint scanner and the option of face unlock. We found the latter to be a little less reliable when it comes to working in low light or off-axis than the Pixel 4, but we largely had few issues.

As for cameras, the S20 has the upper hand on paper. It boasts a triple lens set-up on the rear with 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP wide-angle and 64MP telephoto lenses (the Pixel 4 makes do with a dual lens camera). 

The S20 also records video in 8K – handy if you're considering an 8K TV – and boasts some clever AI-powered camera trickery including Single Take, which picks out all the best moments you capture and compiles them in one shot.

So the S20 wins hands down? Not so fast – the Pixel 4 offers some camera trickery of its own. Night Sight – arguably the biggest asset of the Pixel’s camera – brings compelling clarity and coherence to shots in poorly-lit environments. You also get a magnificent Astrophotography mode for shooting celestial bodies. 

Both phones are capable of producing stunning images packed with clarity, texture and depth, but the S20 has an ultra-wide camera for landscapes, a stronger optical zoom (3x vs 2x) and a great portrait mode. (Also consider the S20's larger sibling, the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which adds a whopping 100x zoom to proceedings.)

As for operational performance, the Galaxy S20 has a bit more oomph and supports 5G. It has a newer, faster chip (the Snapdragon 865 over the Pixel 4's Snapdragon 855) and twice as much RAM as the Pixel 4. So, while both devices are extremely fast and handle everyday tasks such as video streaming with ease, the S20 is the more powerful phone.

On the other hand, the Pixel runs stock Android so may find that it gets the latest software updates before the S20, which runs Android with the Samsung One UI 2 overlay. 

So, which phone is richest in features? Honestly, you can't go wrong with either of these handsets, but the S20 has more internal firepower, records video in 8K, supports 5G and has an extra lens.

*Winner:* Samsung Galaxy S20

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: sound

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: which is better?

(Image credit: Google)

AKG tuned the S20's built-in speakers and supplied headphones, so expect a surprising amount of scale, space and detail from this device. Indeed, we've called the S20 "one of the best Android phones for sound quality", with impressive insight across the frequency range, and bass details rendered accurately alongside natural, open voices. The Apple iPhone 11 might add a little more refinement, but you’ll be hard-pressed to be disappointed with the S20 audio quality.

The S20 also offers some nice new audio features including Music Share, which allows owners to  set their phone as a music hub and source for other components (such as Bluetooth speakers and car stereos). 

The Pixel 4 puts on a good show, but it's no match for the competition. The dual stereo speakers aren’t short of clarity or volume but sound is lacking in dynamics and energy compared with the best. It's also worth noting that you don't get a free pair of headphones bundled with this phone. 

Oh and neither the Pixel nor the S20 has a 3.5mm headphone input so you'll need to use wireless headphones, USB-C headphones, or buy a USB-C-to-3.5mm adaptor for your wired pair.   

*Winner:* Samsung Galaxy S20

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Google Pixel 4: verdict

There can only be one winner and that winner is... the Samsung Galaxy S20. It's newer, smarter and provides notably better battery life than the Pixel 4. With good audio, 5G connectivity and a sharp and smooth 120Hz display, the five-star S20 has an awful lot going for it. If you're on the hunt for a premium Android phone, the S20 will likely wow you.

The Google Pixel 4 is a great phone – we awarded it four stars – but it's let down by poor battery life and so-so sound. On the upside, its camera technology is some of the best in the business and Google has packed it with smart features. Oh, and it's around £100 cheaper than the Galaxy S20. Overall, the Pixel is good bang for buck – and could be even cheaper soon when the Pixel 5 arrives.

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