Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Pixel 7 Pro: Does Samsung regain the Android crown? [Video]
Samsung is taking on 2023 with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but just how does it stack up against one of the best flagship phones of 2022? This is how the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Pixel 7 Pro compare.
Why compare the “Ultra” to the “Pro”? Well, the Pixel 7 Pro was voted by our readers as the “Phone of the Year 2022,” usurping the Galaxy S22 Ultra in the process. By fixing a number of the glaring errors and issues with the previous generation, Google has crafted arguably the best Pixel to date.
It is still an exceptional purchase, but does the Galaxy S23 Ultra surpass it in every area as some expected? This is everything you need to know.
Table of contents
Video – Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Pixel 7 Pro
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Samsung has upped the ante with Galaxy S23 Ultra once again this year. This is an ultra-premium smartphone in every single regard. From the materials, the fit, and the finish. Sure, there are annoyances and frustrations. In recent years we’ve found it hard to forgive Samsung for removing micro SD card support along with the ability to make MST payments with Samsung Pay. Those frustrations aside, the fusion of the Galaxy Note and S lines has been a triumph in most regards.
The Pixel 7 Pro is a great phone that is well-made, but when in the hand, the Galaxy S23 Ultra feels like a different beast. It is a behemoth, courtesy of a boxy design and requirements which even has room for extras like the S Pen. Because of that, it’s almost impressive just how the Pixel 7 Pro manages to stack up. It too is a big, bold phone that is similarly large. It’s actually almost 1oz, or 20g, lighter (7.48oz/212g vs. 8.25oz/233g), which is noticeable.
|Galaxy S23 Ultra||Google Pixel 7 Pro|
|Display||120Hz / AMOLED / QHD+ / Gorilla Glass Victus+ / 3,088 x 1,440 pixels / 501ppi||120Hz / LTPO / QHD+ / Gorilla Glass Victus / 3,120 x 1,440 pixels / 512ppi|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||Google Tensor G2|
|RAM||8/12GB DDR5||12GB DDR5|
|Storage||256/512/1TB GB UFS 4.0||128 / 256 / 512GB UFS 3.1|
|Rear camera||200MP wide / 12MP ultra-wide / 10MP 3x telephoto / 10MP 10x telephoto||50MP wide / 12MP ultra-wide / 48MP telephoto|
|Biometrics||In-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner||Pixel Imprint fingerprint scanner|
|Colors||Botanic Green / Cotton Flower / Misty Lilac / Phantom Black||Obsidian / Snow / Hazel|
Despite the Galaxy S23 Ultra having a larger screen, the Pixel 7 Pro manages has similar dimensions. Pocket piercing sizes are par for the course with these massive mounds of tech. The designs are vastly different here too. The Galaxy S23 Ultra aesthetic is almost indistinguishable from the S22 Ultra. There are some tweaks to make the chassis a little sharper and boxier. The display curves have been shaved and this almost mimics what Google did with the Pixel 7 Pro.
Both QHD+ displays are exceptional, but it’s hard to look past the simply gorgeous Galaxy S23 Ultra’s panel. It has a higher maximum brightness, smaller bezels, and the marginally flatter screen is just nicer to use. Throw in the S Pen, and it’s a note-takers dream screen. The Pixel 7 Pro screen is great in its own right – it just can’t quite match the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
It’s no contest when we talk performance and internals. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has the top-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, 8/12GB RAM, and even faster UFS 4.0 storage onboard. The Pixel 7 Pro hangs in there but is blown out of the water in areas such as gaming performance but relies heavily on AI-powered tasks to gain an upper hand.
Android 13 comes preinstalled on the Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra. The differences between One UI and Google’s version of Android for the Pixel series now feel further apart than ever. While you can find traces of Material You in One UI 5.1, these changes are minimal at best. Dynamic Color plays a bigger role, but Samsung’s interface is laden with lots of functions and tweaks to make it appear like a completely different form.
The Pixel 7 Pro is the best way to experience Android in our opinion. It’s laden with features and functionality that you simply will not get elsewhere. It’s not all in the Pixel’s favor though, as the Galaxy S23 Ultra has slowly added some similar AI-powered functionality that utilizes the hard-to-kill Bixby voice assistant.
|Galaxy S23 Ultra||Pixel 7 Pro|
|Software||Shipped with Android 13 w/ One UI 5.1||Shipped with Android 13|
|Updates||4 OS / 5 years of patches||3 OS / 5 years of patches|
|Features||In-display fingerprint scanner
Bixby Text Call
Meet x Note integration
|In-display fingerprint scanner
Google One VPN
Cough and snore detection
Sadly, the Pixel does not provide owners with a support window that can match Samsung. You’ll get four full operating system version updates alongside regular monthly patches for up to five years when using the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Samsung’s move to offer such support windows puts pressure on Google, which still only offers three Android version upgrades but recently improved the monthly patch promise to five years. To put this into context, it’s likely that the Galaxy S23 Ultra will get Android 17 at some point. The Pixel 7 Pro will get Android 16.
We’re anxious to see just what the Galaxy S23 Ultra is capable of when it comes to battery longevity. Moving back to flagship Qualcomm processors in all regions is a godsend for performance and it could have efficiency gains too. With both phones packing 5,000mAh internal cells, you should be able to get a full day with absolutely no issues whatsoever.
|Galaxy S23 Ultra||Pixel 7 Pro|
|Charging speed||45W wired
10W Qi wireless
5W reverse wireless
|30W wired (21W peak)
21W Qi wireless w/ Pixel Stand 2
5W reverse wireless
Neither device has particularly fast charging when compared to the likes of OnePlus, Xiaomi, and Oppo. That said, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has faster wired charging but the Pixel 7 Pro hits higher speeds when using a compatible Pixel Stand. For those worried about your overall device life span, the lower speeds should cause less battery degradation.
The raw camera specifications of the Galaxy S23 Ultra put it right at the top of the totem pole when it comes to Android smartphone camera systems. It isn’t the most cutting-edge, as some of last year’s sensors have been utilized. It’s the 200-megapixel main wide camera that is undoubtedly the star of the show here though. This is double the resolution of the previous generation and should provide a substantial step up in all lighting conditions.
We all know that Google prefers to rely less on raw camera hardware horsepower and utilize computational tuning. Moving to a 50-megapixel main sensor has done wonders for the Pixel camera system. Does it compare? Well, it’s hard to determine at this stage. However, the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers a substantial set of cameras that are among the best in the business once again.
|Galaxy S23 Ultra||Google Pixel 7 Pro|
|Main sensor||Samsung ISOCELL HP2
|Samsung ISOCELL GN1
|Secondary sensor||Sony IMX564
|Sony IMX 386
|Tertiary sensor||Sony IMX574
10MP 3x telephoto
|Quarternary sensor||Sony IMX574
10MP 10x telephoto
|Front-facing sensor||Samsung ISOCELL 3LU
|Sony IMX 663
|Camera hardware features||OIS
|Camera software features||100x zoom
Super HDR at 60fps
Super High-Resolution Photo
Selfie Night Portrait
4K UHD 60fps (all lenses)
10-bit HDR10 Video
Real Tone 2.0
Although the front-facing camera has taken a step down in maximum resolution, it should offer great-quality selfies. The enhanced 100x “Space” zoom is also improved with better color processing. The Pixel can compete up to about 10x at least in our brief testing. Go above an beyond this zoom range, and the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the best zoom camera phone we’ve tested.
It’s not just in hardware where the Galaxy S23 Ultra bests the Pixel 7 Pro camera system. If you want camera functions, it’s another no-contest. From a dedicated Pro mode to improved video recording resolutions, the S23 Ultra could be a verifiable content-creation machine, whereas the Pixel 7 Pro is exceptional when it comes to processing and AI-powered functionality. From Real Tone 2.0 to Guided Frame, it’s a basic but stupendous point-and-shoot smartphone camera system.
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Pixel 7 Pro: Which is the best choice for you?
About upgrading: 9to5Google often gives specific product recommendations. Sometimes, we may suggest not upgrading, due to various reasons including, but not limited to: increased device cost, negligible performance gains, or environmental impact. Whether to upgrade is always your call, but our aim is to help you make as informed a decision as possible.
Just like last year, the Galaxy S23 Ultra provides so much in every single area that it is undoubtedly one of the finest Android packages ever sold. In many ways, it pulls the Pixel 7 Pro into focus, given it has a substantially lower price point. For Google to have crafted a device that actually manages to enter the conversation, it’s a testament to the improvements made since the launch of the Pixel 6 Pro.
Even though we have only spent a short period with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, it looks as if it is about to return to the summit of flagship Android phones. If you cannot stomach the $1,000+ asking price, then the Pixel 7 Pro is still a super choice. Like the regular Pixel 7, it hangs in there against devices that should on paper provide a major step up. The software tuning is equally impressive and, despite less processing power, it doesn’t ever feel as such.
If your budget can stretch beyond $1,000, then there is no doubt that the Galaxy S23 Ultra could be vying for the title of best Android flagship throughout 2023.
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