When it comes to the best Android smartphones, two companies sit at the top of the market: Samsung and Google. The former just introduced the Galaxy S23 Ultra, complete with a large display, S Pen, powerful new processor, and 200MP camera. Meanwhile, the latter’s Pixel 7 Pro, which released last year, was at the top of its class with some of the smartest features on the market and a tried-and-true flagship experience.
Both phones will be in the conversation when considering which high-end Android phones are worth buying this year, but which one is best for you? We’re pitting Samsung’s newest flagship against Google’s to see which one deserves to become your daily driver.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the best phones on the market, packing an all-new 200MP sensor, a refined design, a custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset, and One UI 5.1.
The Pixel 7 Pro is Google’s best phone ever, with a refined, premium design and Google’s second-generation silicon — plus awesome cameras, as usual.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro: Price and availability
The Pixel 7 Pro is on sale now, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra starts shipping on Feb. 17 and is available for preorder. The phones are priced quite differently, with Samsung’s flagship starting at $1,199 while the Google device starts at $899. The former has a baseline of 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, whereas the latter doubles the storage to 256GB but decreases the RAM to 8GB. The Pixel 7 Pro is available in Hazel, Snow, and Obsidian colors, while the S23 Ultra ships in Phantom Black, Cream, Lavender, Green, Lime, Graphite, Red, and Sky Blue (the latter four are exclusive to Samsung’s website).
Here are the prices of each model available.
- Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
- 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: $1,199.99
- 12GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1,379.99
- 12GB RAM, 1TB storage: $1,619.99
- Google Pixel 7 Pro
- 12GB RAM, 128GB storage: $899
- 12GB RAM, 256GB storage: $999
- 12GB RAM, 512GB storage: $1,099
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro: Specifications
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Google Pixel 7 Pro
Dimensions & Weight
RAM & Storage
Battery & Charging
Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner
Optical in-display fingerprint scanner
One UI 5.1 based on Android 13
Design: Various approaches
Samsung and Google have taken different approaches to the design of their respective flagships, which gives you more to consider when deciding between them. The Pixel 7 Pro has a much friendlier design with curved edges and its signature camera bar on the back. The screen is slightly curved on the left and right sides, and it uses Gorilla Glass Victus and aluminum for its construction.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra takes things up a notch with the stronger and newer Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and Samsung’s Armor Aluminum, which is supposed to be stronger than standard aluminum. The phone is much more rectangular than the Pixel 7 Pro, with sharp corners and fewer curves, but the screen still boasts a couple of gentle curves on either side. The cameras are scattered around in the top left corner on the back with no housing.
At 8.25 ounces (or around 233 grams), the S23 Ultra is noticeably heavier than the Pixel 7 Pro, which weighs 7.5 ounces (or about 212 grams). In addition, Samsung made its phone slightly taller and thicker than Google’s, although those differences are minimal if you look at the spec sheet above. Both phones are also rated for IP68 water and dust resistance.
Displays: Galaxy S23 Ultra has that AMOLED 2X screen
You can’t go wrong with either of these displays, but if you want the one that has the best specs, look no further than the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel stretches 6.8-inches from corner to corner and boasts a Quad HD+ resolution, a 120Hz variable refresh rate (which can go all the way down to 1Hz), and up to 1,750 nits of peak brightness.
The Pixel 7 Pro is no slouch with its 6.7-inch AMOLED panel, Quad HD+ resolution, and 1,500 nits of brightness. Obviously, it won’t get as bright as the S23 Ultra, and the 120Hz refresh rate, while variable, can only crank down to 10Hz (although the differences will be negligible). Both offer amazing viewing experiences, but the edge goes to Samsung for, once again, creating one of the most advanced smartphone displays on the market.
Performance and software:
Under the hood, Samsung includes a special Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset from Qualcomm. We have yet to run benchmarks or put the chip through its paces in everyday use, but it’s safe to say that it’ll outperform Google’s Tensor G2 chip. That’s not to say Google’s chip is bad by any means, but it couldn’t quite keep up with last year’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, at least beyond AI and machine learning tasks, which the chip is a master at.
The S23 Ultra pairs its processor with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, depending on how much storage you get. The Pixel 7 Pro comes with 12GB of RAM across the board. Either way, you’ll have plenty to manage your everyday tasks.
Both UIs are fast, smooth, and wildly capable software experiences. It’s just a matter of personal taste and what you think you’ll use frequently.
Both phones run Android 13, with Samsung applying its OneUI 5.1 skin while Google keeps it simple with its signature Pixel experience. It’s entirely up to personal preference to say which one is better. You’ll get a lot more duplicate apps with One UI since Samsung includes its own dialer, gallery, calculator, and calendar apps, and it feels a lot further from pure stock Android. The Pixel, while not entirely stock Android, is definitely well-suited for Android purists.
One UI also gives you a lot more multitasking and productivity features thanks to things like split-screen, multi-window, the Edge panel, and DeX. Plus, there are all the bonus goodies that come with the S Pen, like lockscreen notes, more precise screenshots, and more. Meanwhile, the Pixel provides a boatload of intelligent features like Call Screen, Direct My Call, Hold for Me, Face Unblur for photos, smart text and image recognition, the Google Recorder app, and Now Playing.
Again, it’s entirely up to you to decide which is the best. They’re both fast, smooth, and wildly capable software experiences. It’s just a matter of personal taste and what you think you’ll use frequently.
Cameras: The systems are more similar than ever
Samsung and Google have historically taken different approaches with their camera systems, with the former leaning on raw hardware performance and the latter with excellent post-processing techniques. Lately, the two camera systems have started to trade some of their qualities, thanks to Samsung’s improvements in handling HDR effects after a photo is taken and Google’s vast upgrade in hardware with the inclusion of an utlrawide lens.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra and Pixel 7 Pro take those trends to new heights, with Samsung including one of the most physically-capable camera systems on any smartphone, while Google goes all-in on intelligence and a more appealing image processing pipeline.
We don’t have camera samples from the S23 Ultra just yet, so we can’t compare the quality to the Pixel 7 Pro. However, we can discuss the hardware and software differences.
On the back of the S23 Ultra, Samsung includes a massive 200MP ISOCELL HP2 sensor which will give you much sharper images since a lot more detail can be captured. That contrasts with Google’s primary 50MP Samsung GN 1 camera, which can only capture a quarter of the megapixels. Obviously, the comparison of two cameras always means more than their megapixel counts, but it’s clear the S23 Ultra has a huge advantage in resolution.
Another big difference in hardware is between the two phones’ telephoto setups. The Pixel 7 Pro has a 48MP periscope lens with 5x optical zoom that can stretch to 30x with software. Meanwhile, the S23 Ultra gets a 10MP periscope lens with 10x optical zoom and Samsung’s insane 100x Space Zoom. Samsung is known for going all-out regarding zoom photography, and its latest Ultra smartphone is no exception.
The ultrawide cameras on both phones are at 12MP, the selfie shooters are 12MP on the S23 Ultra and 10.8MP on the Pixel, but the Galaxy is the only one that gets 8K 30 FPS video support.
Camera settings on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with quick access to Expert RAW
Regarding software tricks, the S23 Ultra doesn’t do anything extraordinary. Its camera app is straightforward, with a selection of different modes like Pro, Night, Food, Portrait video, and Director’s View which allows you to flip between the front and rear cameras while recording. The biggest new software feature is the Expert RAW app, which gives you full manual control over each sensor on the back of the S23 Ultra. It’s ideal for those who value professional camera controls and shooting in RAW formats for editing later.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 inside the S23 Ultra offers a few AI improvements for the camera. This helps the camera identify different subjects and objects in the frame and adjust its processing accordingly. Of course, we’ll have a better grasp on whether this makes a difference day-to-day once we review it.
Google, on the other hand, takes a more user-friendly approach with computational photography and intelligent features on the Pixel 7 Pro. Instead of a dedicated Pro mode or neat camera tricks while recording (although it does have that with Cinematic Blur), the 7 Pro aims to make perfecting your photos easier. Astrophotography lets you capture amazing pictures of the night sky, Face Unblur can correct blurry faces of moving subjects, Magic Eraser lets you erase subjects and objects in photos and use AI to fill in the background, and Real Tone helps to more accurately capture skin tone. This processing happens on your device by leaning on the Tensor G2 chip.
Samsung is happy to give you a ton of control over how the camera hardware on the S23 Ultra captures images, while Google focuses strongly on giving you the tools to perfect them after you’ve hit the shutter button.
Battery life and charging: Samsung offers faster charging
Both the S23 Ultra and Pixel 7 Pro come with a big 5,000mAh battery, with the main difference being how fast they can recharge. Samsung supplies 45W fast charging, while Google only offers 30W. Granted, that’s still pretty quick since it’ll take you from zero to 50% in 30 minutes, but there’s no questioning that the S23 Ultra will be much quicker. Both phones also ship with reverse wireless charging.
We’ll have more to say about how long the S23 Ultra lasts on a charge compared to the Pixel 7 Pro once we’ve reviewed it, so stay tuned.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro: Which phone should you buy?
I’m a sucker for the Google Pixel experience, and the Pixel 7 Pro has the best one yet. However, Samsung has checked many boxes with the Galaxy S23 Ultra with its huge screen, powerful specs, amazing camera hardware, and onslaught of new productivity features.
You’ll have to decide if all that’s worth a $200-$300 premium over the Pixel 7 Pro. Comparatively speaking, the Pixel 7 Pro is a much better value since you’re still getting amazing performance, excellent camera quality, and solid battery life in a design that’s easier to hold and just as beautiful. Of course, die-hard fans of the S Pen will find the extra costs to be worth it.
All in all, you can’t go wrong with either of these phones. Of course, we’ll have a clearer picture of the S23 Ultra’s strengths and weaknesses once we’ve had time to thoroughly review it, but so far, it looks like it’ll be stiff competition for Google’s latest flagship.