In the realm of Android excellence, two heavyweight champions stand tall: the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Google Pixel 8 Pro. These Android powerhouses have captured the attention of tech enthusiasts with their impressive features and capabilities. In this head-to-head comparison, we aim to help you decide which of these flagship smartphones is the right choice for you.
Size Comparison The Pixel 8 Pro maintains a compact profile, similar to its predecessor, making it slightly smaller than the robust Galaxy S23 Ultra. While the size difference is not substantial, the Galaxy’s blockier design makes it feel noticeably larger and heavier. Both phones feature Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front and back, aluminum frames with glossy finishes, and are water-resistant, capable of surviving under 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
A notable distinction lies in their fingerprint readers; the Pixel 8 Pro features an optical reader, while the Galaxy employs an ultrasonic one, known for its speed and convenience, especially in low-light conditions. Additionally, the Galaxy offers a broader color selection, with eight choices, while the Pixel is available in three colorways.
One standout feature of the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the inclusion of the S Pen, a stylus that can be used for note-taking, creative endeavors, and even as a camera remote. This feature sets the Galaxy apart from its competitors.
Display Comparison The Pixel 8 Pro boasts a remarkable display labeled as Super Actua, which impresses with a brightness of 954 nits in manual mode, surpassing the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 831 nits. In bright conditions with auto-brightness, the Pixel shines even more, offering 1,600 nits compared to Samsung’s 1,274 nits. Both phones exhibit excellent color calibration and support HDR10 and HDR10+, though they lack Dolby Vision compatibility.
Battery Life Both phones feature a 5,050mAh battery, which might suggest similar battery life. However, in testing, the Galaxy S23 Ultra consistently outperformed the Pixel 8 Pro, delivering better results in terms of battery longevity.
Charging Speed The Pixel falls short in charging speed, rated at 30W compared to the Galaxy’s 45W, which allows the Samsung flagship to charge from 0% to 100% in under an hour, while the Pixel 8 Pro takes 1 hour and 23 minutes. The Pixel does claim an advantage in wireless charging, supporting up to 23W with the Google Pixel Stand, whereas the Galaxy maxes out at 15W with Samsung’s proprietary solutions.
Speaker Test Both phones have similar speaker setups, delivering good audio quality. The Pixel received a “Good” rating for loudness, just slightly below the Galaxy’s “Very Good.” Sound quality is balanced and enjoyable on both devices.
Performance The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, Galaxy edition, offering higher CPU clock rates. In contrast, the Google Pixel 8 Pro features the in-house-designed Tensor G3 chipset by Samsung. Both phones offer substantial storage options, but the Galaxy starts at a reasonable 256GB, while the Pixel’s base model begins at 128 GB. The Pixel, however, boasts 12GB of RAM across all configurations, whereas the base model of the S23 Ultra comes with 8GB.
Benchmark scores indicate that the Pixel’s performance is not exceptional, falling short of flagship standards. Despite this, both phones deliver a smooth user experience, with the Pixel offering exclusive AI features while the Galaxy boasts proprietary offerings such as One UI and S Pen functionality.
Camera Comparison At the top of their class, the Pixel 8 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra excel in photography, albeit with distinct approaches. The Galaxy packs four rear cameras with a primary 200MP sensor, while the Pixel relies on three cameras with larger sensors on the ultrawide and single telephoto (5x), potentially forming an equally capable setup.
In terms of photo quality, the Pixel impresses with superior detail rendition, especially on the main camera. The Galaxy’s extreme sharpening can be off-putting. When zooming, both phones perform well at 2x, but the Pixel’s 2x offers a more zoomed-in perspective, while the Galaxy’s photos can appear noisier.
The Samsung Galaxy shines with more colorful images, while the Pixel delivers a more toned-down look. Both phones excel in dynamic range.
In low-light conditions, the Galaxy’s ultrawide and main camera tend to outperform the Pixel’s, though the Pixel competes well at 2x. The Galaxy’s 3x remains noisier than the Pixel’s 5x. Both phones have their strengths and weaknesses when zooming in further.
Video Recording Both phones offer solid video recording capabilities. The Galaxy has an advantage with its 8K30 capability, while the Pixel supports 24fps recording. Video quality in daylight varies, with the Pixel excelling in ultrawide shots and the Galaxy performing better at 2x. The Pixel falls short between 1x and its telephoto’s 5x zoom level. In low light, the Pixel’s ultrawide lens maintains an edge, while the main cameras are comparable.
Both phones excel in stabilizing footage on ultrawide and main cameras. The Galaxy’s telephotos offer more stability, especially at 3x and 10x, compared to the Pixel’s 5x.
Verdict Choosing between the Pixel 8 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra comes down to personal preferences. Both phones offer exceptional Android experiences, but Google’s approach is characterized by simplicity and AI functionality, while Samsung’s One UI is feature-packed and includes the unique S Pen and DeX support.
The Pixel 8 Pro stands out for its ‘stock’ Android experience, exclusive Google AI features, and its 5x camera if that focal length suits your needs. On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 Ultra shines with S Pen support, better battery life, and options for 3x and 10x zoom.
Your choice may depend on your preferred zoom range, your affinity for Google’s Android experience, and regional availability. Ultimately, both phones represent Android excellence, offering a blend of impressive features and capabilities.
Get the Google Pixel 8 Pro for:
- The stock Android experience
- Exclusive Google AI features
- The 5x camera, if that’s your preferred focal length.
- The general Pixel look of photos
Get the Galaxy S23 Ultra for:
- The S-Pen and DeX support
- The better battery life.
- The 3x and 10x zoom options, if you prefer those to 5x.
|Feature||Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra||Google Pixel 8 Pro|
|Size||Larger and Heavier||Compact and Lighter|
|Display Brightness (nits)||831 (Manual), 1,274 (Auto)||954 (Manual), 1,600 (Auto)|
|Battery Life||Outperforms Pixel||Slightly Lower Battery Life|
|Charging Speed (Watts)||45W||30W|
|Wireless Charging||15W (Samsung)||23W (Pixel Stand)|
|Speaker Loudness||Very Good||Good|
|Camera Quality||Competitive||Excellent Detail Rendition|
|Zoom Range||3x, 10x||5x|
|Video Recording Features||8K30 Capability||24fps Support|
|Operating System||One UI||Stock Android Experience|
|Additional Features||S Pen, DeX Support||Exclusive Google AI Features|
|Regional Availability||Wide Availability||Availability may vary|