Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Google Pixel 7: there’s a clear winner


With the launch of the new Samsung Galaxy S23, Samsung has gotten 2023 off to a stunning start. The company has debuted an iterative update of one of the very best Android phones, refining what was already a winning formula with a streamlined design, a new processor, a larger battery, and a tougher body.

At the same time, it competes with the Google Pixel 7 which does the same things as the Pixel 6, but is simply better all-around. Which one should you buy? Let’s find out.

Galaxy S23 vs. Pixel 7: specs

Samsung Galaxy S23 Google Pixel 7
Size 146 by 70.9 by 7.6mm (5.76 by 2.79 by 0.30 inches) 155.6 by 73.2 by 8.7mm (6.13 by 2.88 by 0.34 inches)
Weight 168 grams (5.93 ounces) 197 grams (6.9 ounces)
Screen size 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X 6.3-inch AMOLED
Screen resolution 2340 x 1080 pixels (425 pixels per inch), 120Hz 2400 x 1080 pixels (416 pixels per inch), 90Hz
Operating system Android 13 with One UI 5 Android 13
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy Google Tensor Gen 2
RAM 8 GB 8GB
Camera Triple lens 50MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, and 10MP telephoto rear, 12MP front Dual lens 50MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide rear, 10.8MP front
Video 8K at up to 24 fps, 4K at up to 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps 4K at up to 60 frames per second (fps), 1080p at 60 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.3 Bluetooth 5.2
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display Yes, in-display
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery  3,900mAh

25W wired charging (no charger included in the box)

15W wireless charging

Reverse wireless charging

4,355mAh

30W wired charging (no charger included in the box)

21W wireless charging

Reverse wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store, Galaxy Store Google Play Store
Network support All major carriers Most major carriers
Colors Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender Obsidian, Snow, Lemongrass
Price Starting at $799 Starting at $599
Buy from Samsung, Amazon, Best Buy Google
Review Galaxy S23 hands-on Google Pixel 7 review

Galaxy S23 vs. Pixel 7: design, display, and durability

A white Samsung Galaxy S23 next to a pink Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S23 features a design that would have been indistinguishable from the Galaxy S22, had it not been for the removal of the camera bump, which produces a more streamlined design. It’s got a 6.1-inch display, just like the iPhone, making it quite compact in the hand, and it’s made of premium materials like glass (more on that later) and aluminum.

On the other hand, there’s the Pixel 7. It looks quite similar to the Pixel 6, keeping the distinctive camera bar at the rear and the same hole-punch design. It’s a little smaller than the Pixel 6 at 6.3 inches, and the camera bar is covered with metal and not glass.

The back of the Google Pixel 7, held in a man's hand.
Google Pixel 7 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Around the front, both of these devices have smooth AMOLED displays. The overwhelming difference between them comes from how smooth their displays are. The S22 already had a better display than the Pixel 7 at a variable 120Hz refresh rate that matches the Pixel 7 Pro’s, and we’re afraid that gap only grows with the S23. The Galaxy S23 keeps all the same skills as the S22, except it’s now also brighter. Google’s display is good, but it just doesn’t compete.

Finally, the S23 comes with that new Gorilla Glass Victus 2, compared to the Pixel 7’s Gorilla Glass Victus. Again, the Pixel isn’t bad, but it’s beaten by the Galaxy S23.

The Pixel’s real only standout here is the design. That camera bar is rather striking, and Google’s choice of colors — especially the gorgeous Lemongrass — make all the Pixel 7 phones look simultaneously businesslike and playful. The Galaxy S23 colors are good, but nothing really to write home about. Regardless, it’s the S23 that wins this round.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S23

Galaxy S23 vs. Pixel 7: performance, battery life, and charging

Holding the green Samsung Galaxy S23.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

The Galaxy S23 is equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. This is a processor that’s the best and newest you can get on Android phones, and it’s souped-up for Samsung specifically. With 8GB of RAM, you won’t want for much on the S23. The Pixel 7 comes with Google’s Tensor 2 processor. It’s built primarily for AI tasks, and consequently, it falls behind competing Android phones in synthetic benchmarks. That’s not a flaw; the phone is still plenty fast to use.

Battery-wise, it’s hard to tell which would be a winner sight unseen. We’re going to tentatively hand it to the Galaxy S23 here. Google’s Tensor chips have shown a tendency toward overheating and battery drainage, and it’s a flaw that’s crossed generations. While other phones do still drain rapidly and do still get hot, on balance, a Qualcomm phone will stay on longer and run cooler than a comparable Pixel phone.

In terms of charging, the Pixel 7 also charges slower than the Galaxy S22. As the S23 uses the same charging technology as the S22 does, one can surmise that the Pixel 7 takes the loss here as well.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S23

Galaxy S23 vs. Pixel 7: cameras

The rear cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Cameras are another area where it’s hard to tell which phone is better at without a full review. The Pixel 7 is a well-regarded phone, and its camera is genuinely impressive. It’s the same dual-camera layout with a 50-megapixel main camera and a 12MP ultrawide that Google’s used since the Pixel 6. It consistently punches above its price point, in no small part thanks to software.

However, Samsung just offers more than Google here. The S23’s 50-megapixel main shooter will take images that are close enough to Google’s that you won’t mind. Its ultrawide lens will capture wider images, and Google’s super-res zoom can’t compete with an actual zoom camera.

We’re giving the win to Samsung based solely on its technical advantages over the Pixel 7’s camera system, but we’ll see how/if that changes following a full Galaxy S23 review.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S23

Galaxy S23 vs. Pixel 7: software and features

Joe Maring holding a Samsung Galaxy S23 and a Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Both the Galaxy S23 and the Pixel 7 are powered by Android 13. The Pixel runs a Google version of it with very strong Material You influences present in every aspect of the software, giving it an overall polished look and feel. Samsung’s One UI 5.0 also has Material You themes mixed with more Samsung-centric styling, but it’s also very functional and robust. Samsung stuffs its Android overlay with a bunch of apps and features you won’t find on Google’s, including well-regarded stock apps that sync with Windows versions. Speaking of Windows, you can also use Samsung’s apps on your PC with the Your Phone app. Google says it’s working on a version for Pixels and Chromebooks with Android 13, but the company has yet to roll that out or announce a timeline.

Quick Settings on the Google Pixel 7.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

When it comes to updates, the Pixel wins at speed, but underwhelms in terms of longevity. A Samsung Galaxy S23 will get four Android updates and five years of security updates — guaranteed. Despite using its own chips, Google will only distribute three Android updates while matching Samsung on security. This means that an S23 can run Android 18 with one more year of life, while the Pixel 7 will be stuck at Android 17 and finished.

Google’s Pixel is also chock-full of helpful little special features including Now Playing for identifying music all around you, more native Google Wallet support, Google Assistant, and the fully realized Material You design. Still, Samsung’s phone is more feature-packed. It even supports lock screen customization in a manner similar to iPhones, and there’s a wider selection of third-party accessories to extend your phone’s functionality. In other words, finding something you like in our roundup of the best Galaxy S23 cases should be a piece of cake.

Google wins on software features for certain, but Samsung offers a more broadly complete package.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S23

Galaxy S23 vs. Pixel 7: price and availability

Back of an obsidian black Google Pixel 7.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Pixel 7 is available from the Google Store for $599. It’s a fairly cheap phone for what it offers. The Samsung Galaxy S23 is available for $799 and will go on sale shortly from Samsung’s online store, Amazon, and essentially all mainline retailers.

On a pure pricing point, the Pixel 7 wins here. It offers a close-enough package to the S23 that the extra $200 in your pocket could buy you a tissue to wipe your tears away for that little bit where it falls short. But, as we’ve seen throughout this comparison, the Galaxy S23 makes its higher price worth it.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S23

The Samsung Galaxy S23 in all four colors.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Samsung phones are popular for a reason. The company has built a refined machine that does what anyone would want a smartphone to do — and it does it while looking positively stunning. A raft of cases and accessories mean your phone can be further tailored to your tastes, while the thriving Samsung ecosystem ensures you don’t have to be jealous of your iPhone-toting friends. The Galaxy S23 may be expensive and it may get slower updates than a Pixel, but it’s well-suited to be Android’s iPhone.

Does that mean the Pixel 7 is a bad phone? Certainly not — especially considering it leaves $200 of spare change in your wallet. But when it comes down to it, the Galaxy S23 is the better of the two phones, and it wins this comparison.

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