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The Pixel 6 Pro falls short on 5G speeds when compared to the Galaxy S21

Google Pixel 6 Pro Rf Antenna Top
Google Pixel 6 Pro Rf Antenna Top (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • PCMag compared the Pixel 6 Pro modem to Qualcomm's using the Galaxy S21.
  • The test compared the connection and speeds on Verizon and T-Mobile, two of the largest U.S. carriers.
  • The comparison shows that the Pixel 6 Pro modem falls short of Qualcomm in most circumstances.

Google touts its impressive AI chops with its new Tensor chip, but one area that the company won't be able to boast about is the Pixel 6 Pro connectivity.

PCMag ran a comparison between the Pixel 6 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S21 to see just how the modem paired with Google's new chip holds up against the competition. The tests were conducted on Verizon and T-Mobile's networks to see how the phones paired on two of the best carriers in the U.S.

Interestingly, PCMag found that the Pixel 6 Pro was doing something weird with how it reported signal strength, particularly with T-Mobile 5G and LTE. That said, the tests indicate that the Galaxy S21 reported better signal strength than the Pixel 6 Pro in most cases.

Similarly, the Galaxy S21 displayed better speed results when on T-Mobile's Ultra-Capacity 5G and Verizon's 5G mmWave. On the latter network, the S21 would hit or top 2Gbps when the Pixel 6 Pro would just reach above 1Gbps.

Source: PCMag (Image credit: Source: PCMag)

Our Jerry Hildebrand also noticed that the signal and speeds on his Pixel 6 Pro seemed a lot worse when compared to the Galaxy S21 on T-Mobile's network.

PCMag notes that the Pixel 6 Pro uses a Samsung modem while U.S. variants of the Galaxy S21 use the X60 modem, similar to the iPhone 13. They also note that the modem is just one piece of the puzzle; there are other things to factor in, such as software and antenna placement. Interestingly, the Pixel 6 Pro has been found to have a curious mmWave antenna placement on the top edge under a bit of plastic, while the Galaxy S21 has two on either side.

No doubt, the Pixel 6 Pro will still provide good speeds depending on your area and the network. However, PCMag's test suggests that you're likely to find better speeds from some of the best Android phones using Qualcomm's latest chips and modem, and the gap may widen with the launch of next year's flagships.

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.

5 Comments
  • So ONLY 1 gb on Verizon's mmwave experiment. Dang, better throw the Pixel 6 Pro in the trash. /s
    I understand that is much lower than the S21 but I'll not see mmwave for years so for me it won't be a fail.
  • I understand why pixel put the mmwave antenna at the top under plastic since that will be open to the air more than two antennas running down the sides being covered by a hand. Just not sure why they didn't also make it longer, or add two more, one on each side. But like stated by the other poster not a big deal for me either. I live in the mountains of ID; I'll be lucky if sub 5g makes it here in a year or two.
  • The length of the antenna is directly related to the frequency it is trying to use. I suspect to make it longer would actually have made it twice as big which may not have fit.
  • Out here in Exynos and Sub-6 land, I'm assuming they're identical.
  • Anyone notice how the phone is only saying it's connected to 5G and not 5G UC? The P6P is also reading as if it was connected at LTE and the Samsung as if it was connected to 5G. Something just seems off with this test. I also did the test comparing an iPhone 12 and the Pixel 6 PRO, the iPhone 12 registered a down speed of ~150, and the P6P registered ~450