Samsung has just announced its flagship Galaxy S23 lineup, and the S23 Ultra is at the top of the heap. It is equipped with advanced hardware, including the Galaxy Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, the high-performance Snapdragon X70 5G modem and a 200-megapixel camera. But is it enough to compete with Google's high-end Pixel 7 Pro?
Now we're testing the Galaxy S23 Ultra. So while we can give you buying advice based on our reviews, we analyze how the phones compare in terms of specifications.
Pixel 7 Pro or Galaxy S23 Ultra is better?
Google definitely wins in this category. Prices for the Pixel 7 Pro start at $899, which is $300 less than the starting price of the Galaxy S23 Ultra (which is already available for pre-order).
Winner: Pixel 7 Pro
Pixel 7 Pro or Galaxy S23 Ultra, which phone design is better?
The Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra are roughly the same size as they use 6.7-inch and 6.8-inch displays, respectively. That being said, the Pixel 7 Pro weighs slightly less (7.5 ounces vs. 8.25 ounces).
Pixel 7 Pro (Source: Eric Zeman)
Both phones use a Corning Gorilla Glass Victus panel and an aluminum frame, but the S23 Ultra uses the new Victus 2 material, which Corning says is more durable. This difference in materials may explain the heavier weight of the S23 Ultra. Both the Pixel 7 Pro and the S23 Ultra are IP68 rated, which means they're fully protected against dust and water.
Does the Pixel 7 Pro or Galaxy S23 Ultra have a better screen?
You get an incredibly sharp and bright OLED display with either phone, with only slight differences in brightness and resolution.
The Pixel 7 Pro's 3120 x 1440 resolution beats the S23 Ultra's (3088 x 1440 resolution), but the difference is less than 50 lines (or about 1.5% of screen height). The pixel density is almost identical: 512 ppi for the Pixel and 500 ppi for the S23 Ultra. You're unlikely to notice a huge difference in screen clarity in day-to-day use, especially since both support the same smooth 120Hz refresh rate.
Galaxy S23 Family (Source: Eric Zeman)
According to Samsung, the S23 Ultra's dynamic AMOLED display has a peak brightness of 1,750 nits, while Google rates the Pixel 7 Pro's OLED display at 1,500 nits. Perceived brightness starts to increase significantly as brightness increases, especially after 1000 nits, so again the difference is negligible.
Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Pixel 7 Pro: Which phone is faster?
We won't know the answer to that question for sure until we test the S23 Ultra, but the Pixel 7 Pro and its Tensor G2 chip lag far behind the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Galaxy S22+ in past tests. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor is faster, so we don't expect the Pixel to win here.
The Pixel 7 Pro didn't perform as well as the S22+ in our cellular signal tests. Since Samsung equipped its new flagship with the best modem, we expect it to win in this category as well.
Winner: Galaxy S23 Ultra
Can you take better photos with the Pixel 7 Pro or the S23 Ultra?
The Samsung phone has a wide-angle camera capable of taking ridiculous 200-megapixel photos. Like most flagship phones, it can use pixel binning to produce better quality smaller photos (50MP and 12MP in this case). Meanwhile, the Pixel 7 Pro only has a 50-megapixel sensor that compresses the footage to 12.5 MP. Again, we'll have to wait for more testing before we can say how the tethering process affects the S23 Ultra's image quality, but it definitely has the edge in resolution.
Galaxy S23 Ultra (Source: Eric Zeman)
Both phones share the same 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with f/2.2 lens. We expect equal performance from both.
Both phones start to differ again in the telephoto area. The Pixel 7 Pro's 5x zoom camera uses a 48-megapixel sensor to produce 12-megapixel images. Samsung, meanwhile, uses two separate 10-megapixel sensors; One has 3x optical zoom and the other has 10x optical zoom. Again, we plan to take a closer look at the test photos to gauge the difference in quality, but as a general rule, the higher the optical zoom, the better.
Another question we leave for testing is how Samsung's latest software stacks up against Google's best, including Magic Eraser, Night Sight, Motion Mode, True Tone, Face Unblur, and Top Shot.
As for video, the S23 Ultra can record 8K30 as well as 4K60 in HDR. The pixel reaches 4K60.
Winner: Galaxy S23 Ultra
Are you getting more RAM and storage with the Pixel 7 Pro or the S23 Ultra?
The biggest difference here is what you get at the minimum and maximum levels for each. The Pixel 7 Pro starts with 128GB of storage and 12GB of RAM, while the base S23 Ultra has 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. Meanwhile, the more expensive Pixel 7 Pro variant has 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, while the top-of-the-line S23 Ultra offers 12GB of RAM and 1TB of storage.
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Cluster of galaxies (Source: Eric Zeman)
Memory is important, but RAM has a major impact on performance. On paper, the starting resolution of 8GB puts the S23 Ultra at a disadvantage (especially considering its high price). Of course, 8GB of RAM might not be a problem for the Galaxy's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, but that's what we'll be looking at in our review.
Winner: Pixel 7 Pro (but by a narrow margin)
Which phone has the best battery life, the Pixel 7 Pro or the S23 Ultra?
The Pixel 7 Pro and S23 Ultra both have 5,000 mAh batteries, but that doesn't really tell us how long each phone will last without a charge. In the end, the Pixel 7 Pro lasted an hour and a half less than the Pixel 7 with its smaller 4,355 mAh battery in our tests. We expect similar results compared to the S23 Ultra due to the similar displays, but will report on official testing results.
The S23 Ultra's 45-watt wired charging easily beats the Pixel 7 Pro's 25-watt charging. However, both charge wirelessly at 15W.
Winner: S23 Ultra
Do Google or Samsung offer better software support?
Surprisingly, Samsung is slightly ahead of Google when it comes to software support. It promises four full OS updates for the S23 Ultra, including five years of security updates to Android 17. Google has been providing security updates for the Pixel 7 Pro for a long time, but only guarantees updates until October 2025, which is less than three years away. Of course, Pixel phones tend to be the first to get the latest updates, but that advantage doesn't matter much in the long run.
Winner: S23 Ultra
First Verdict: Power vs. Cost
As always, we can't be sure of the actual performance of the S23 Ultra until we test it officially. But on paper, Samsung's new flagship phone comes with a much faster processor, a higher-resolution camera, faster cable charging and an improved software update policy. These are quite significant advantages.
However, it's difficult to overcome the $300 starting price gap, and you may not need all the technological advances of the S23 Ultra. In our next in-depth S23 Ultra review, we plan to address the issue of cost, so stay tuned for our full analysis.
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