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The best Google Pixel 6 alternatives: 5 phones to consider before you buy

From Google and Apple to Samsung and beyond, there are quite a few devices that can duke it out with the Pixel 6 series.
Features
By
October 23, 2021
Google Pixel 6 rear panel
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Google Pixel 6 series is here! The standard model looks like a very reasonably priced flagship device, while the Pixel 6 Pro brings plenty of premium features to the table. Looking for something a little different or just wondering what else is out there? You’re in luck, as this is our rundown of the best Google Pixel 6 alternatives.

Google Pixel 6 Pro
$899.00 at Amazon
Google Pixel 6
$599.00 at Amazon

The best Google Pixel 6 alternatives

1. Samsung Galaxy S21 series

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra stood by cactus, a great Pixel 6 alternative
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S21 series is one of the best Pixel 6 alternatives, bringing three years of OS updates and four years of security updates. But there’s more to these phones than simply offering a lengthy update commitment.

What we thought: Galaxy S21 review | Galaxy S21 Plus reviewGalaxy S21 Ultra review

These phones come with either an Exynos 2100 SoC or Snapdragon 888 chipset, 120Hz OLED panels, wireless charging, water-resistance, and 8K recording. The S21 Ultra is also equipped with a 5,000mAh battery, QHD+ display, and a quad rear camera setup consisting of a 108MP main shooter, 12MP ultra-wide lens, and a pair of telephoto cameras. Meanwhile, the standard Galaxy S21 serves up a 4,000mAh battery, 6.2-inch FHD+ screen, and a 12MP+12MP+64MP rear camera trio.

The middle child is the Galaxy S21 Plus, and it shares the S21’s camera system but offers a 6.7-inch FHD+ screen and a 4,800mAh battery. So you won’t be short of choices if you want a recent Samsung flagship.

Samsung Galaxy S21
$799.99 at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
$999.99 at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
$1,199.99 at Amazon

2. Apple iPhone 13 series

iPhone 13 Pro review showing back in hand
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Apple’s latest iPhones are definitely worth a look if you’re open to iOS and want a well-rounded flagship experience. One of the biggest perks is that these phones regularly get five or more years of software updates, ensuring that you’re running the latest iOS version years down the line.

All four iPhone 13 models bring Apple’s beefy A15 processor, wireless charging, and IP68 water/dust resistance. So you’re covered there in terms of cool additions. But things differ when we come to screen and camera details, to name a few.

Our verdict: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review

The iPhone 13 Mini and standard iPhone 13 both pack 60Hz OLED screens and dual 12MP rear cameras. Meanwhile, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max offer 120Hz OLED screens, add a 12MP 3x telephoto camera, and also bring autofocus to the ultra-wide camera (enabling macro mode photos and videos). The Pro Max also comes with a huge battery, and we thought endurance was fantastic on this device.

Apple iPhone 13
$799.00 at Apple
Apple iPhone 13 Mini
$699.00 at Best Buy
Apple iPhone 13 Pro
$999.00 at Best Buy
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
$1,099.00 at Best Buy

3. OnePlus 9 series

OnePlus 9 Pro showing phone, a Pixel 6 alternative
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

You could definitely argue that Google is specifically aiming at OnePlus with the Pixel 6 series pricing, but the OnePlus 9 series is still worth considering if you’re wondering what else is out there.

Both the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro offer 65W wired charging, a Snapdragon 888 SoC,  48MP main camera, and a 50MP ultra-wide lens. These two phones are also getting three years of OS updates and four years of security patches — a year short of the new Pixels for security updates but still pretty good.

More reading: OnePlus 9 review | OnePlus 9 Pro review

The Pro model is the more premium offering as you’d expect, touting a QHD+ OLED screen, 50W wireless charging, an IP68 rating, and an 8MP 3.3x telephoto camera. Unfortunately, only the T-Mobile OnePlus 9 has an official IP68 rating, while wireless charging is missing from the Indian model. Nevertheless, these phones are still worth considering, especially if they’re on a special deal as they often are.

OnePlus 9 Pro
$1,069.00 at Amazon

4. Google Pixel 5a

the Google Pixel 5a display with app icons on the Pixel launcher home screen
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
Pixel 5a

Like the idea of a 2021 Pixel phone but don’t want to spend a ton of cash? That’s where the $450 Pixel 5a comes in, making for one of the better Pixel 6 alternatives as a result.

You’re still getting that Pixel software experience, some neat camera features, and three years of OS updates. The mid-ranger also packs the same dual rear camera setup as the Pixel 5 (12MP main, 16MP ultra-wide), a 4,680mAh battery, and a welcome IP67 rating. So there’s a lot to like here.

Our thoughts: Google Pixel 5a review

You are sacrificing a few things by opting for this over the Pixel 6 though. The Pixel 5a has a mid-range Snapdragon 765G SoC, a 6.34-inch 60Hz OLED screen (no 90Hz or 120Hz here), the same primary camera we’ve seen on Pixels for years now, slow 18W wired charging, and no wireless charging. Some of these downgrades are understandable, but things like 18W charging are real disappointments in 2021.

Google Pixel 5a (Unlocked)
$449.00 at Google Store

5. Sony Xperia 1 III

Sony Xperia 1 III back, one of our Pixel 6 alternatives
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Sony Xperia 1 III continues the recent run of excellent Sony flagships, and it’s worth a look if you value premium features and photography. Starting with the former, the flagship offers a Snapdragon 888 SoC, a 6.5-inch 4K OLED panel at 120Hz, a 4,500mAh battery, 30W wired charging, wireless charging, and a water-resistant design.

Verdict: Sony Xperia 1 III review

Switch to the camera side of things, and the Xperia 1 III brings the heat here too. There’s a variable telephoto camera for the first time in the industry, switching between native 3x or 4.4x zoom. You’ve also got a 12MP main camera and a 12MP ultra-wide lens with autofocus. Toss in a comprehensive camera app and a dedicated Cinema Pro app and you’ve got a full-featured photography experience here.

Sony’s phone also stands out from other 2021 flagships by virtue of its 3.5mm port. So audiophiles should definitely be happy with this phone.

The company also offers the more compact Xperia 5 III, trading a 6.5-inch 4K panel for a 6.1-inch FHD+ screen. This device also drops wireless charging but almost everything else is intact here, including that variable telephoto camera and 3.5mm port.

Sony Xperia 1 III

Google Pixel 6 alternatives: Honorable mentions

  • Oppo Find X3 Pro (£1,099): Oppo’s phone isn’t available in the likes of the US, but this is definitely one of the better 2021 flagships. The Find X3 Pro offers a Snapdragon 888 chipset, a 4,500mAh battery, and brisk 65W wired charging. You’ve also got other premium extras like an IP68 rating, 30W wireless charging, and a 120Hz QHD+ OLED screen. The phone doesn’t have a long-range zoom camera, but swaps this for a 13MP 2x telephoto camera and a fascinating but flawed 3MP microscope lens.
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra (Rs 69,999): The Pixel 6 Pro is definitely a high-end device, but Xiaomi has a top-end flagship of its own in the Mi 11 Ultra. The two phones share a 120Hz QHD+ OLED screen, ~5,000mAh battery, 50MP main camera, 48MP periscope lens (albeit 5X here versus 4X on the Pixel), and an IP68 rating. But Xiaomi’s phone also packs a Snapdragon 888 SoC, 67W wired charging, 67W wireless charging, a 48MP ultra-wide camera, and a secondary rear display for selfies with the primary cameras.
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE ($699): The Galaxy S21 FE has been delayed for a while now, but the Galaxy S20 FE is still a great device in its own right and a good Pixel 6 alternative. The device launched at $700 but can be had for under $600 online these days. The phone serves up a 4,500mAh battery, Snapdragon 865 SoC (or Exynos 990 in earlier variants), wireless charging, and a 120Hz OLED screen. You’re also getting a flexible rear camera system and a lengthy commitment to updates.

These are our favorite Google Pixel 6 alternatives. Are there any other devices you’d recommend? Let us know via the comments section below.