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Should you buy a Pixel 8 Pro or wait for the Galaxy S24 Ultra?

Decisions, decisions.
October 18, 2023

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is among the most impressive Android phones released this year. It features a new Tensor G3 processor, an enhanced camera experience, and a host of other exciting Pixel features. However, the Android world is constantly evolving, and new phones are on the horizon. In particular, the Samsung Galaxy S24 is likely just a few months away. How do the two compare? Let’s examine the Pixel 8 Pro versus the Galaxy S24 to help you determine if the latter device is worth the wait.

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S24: Performance and specs

Google and Samsung both have great flagships, but they take somewhat different approaches in designing them. Below, we take a closer look at how they differ. Please note everything we know about the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra series right now is based on rumors.

Pixel 8 Pro packs quite a few upgrades and isn’t prone to overheating!

google pixel watch 2 buds pro 8 pro family bay blue 7
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

At the core of the Pixel 8 Pro lies the new Google Tensor G3 SoC, composed of a single Cortex-X3, four Cortex-A715 cores, and four Cortex-A510 cores. It also features a new Mali-G715 GPU and a next-gen TPU (Tensor Processing Unit).

While the Tensor chip might not match the speed of Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon processors, it’s primarily designed for machine learning tasks over raw performance. It powers Pixel’s standout features, such as Magic Editor, speech-to-text translation, and advanced photo and video processing.

Historically, Tensor SoCs suffered from reasonable performance but poor thermal management. The Pixel 7 family, for instance, tended to overheat during basic tasks like social media browsing. The good news is that our Pixel 8 Pro review confirms that this issue has been significantly improved. While the chip can still warm up under heavy loads, it now takes more stress to reach uncomfortable temperatures. For everyday use, overheating doesn’t appear to be a major concern anymore.

In terms of other specifications, the Pro model boasts a 6.7-inch OLED display with a 2,992 x 1,344 resolution and a variable refresh rate ranging from 1Hz to 120Hz. It’s equipped with 12GB of RAM and offers storage options of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. Additionally, it includes UWB technology, allowing for precise device location tracking.

Lastly, there’s a new temperature sensor that can measure the temperature of objects around you and is expected to gain FDA approval for measuring human temperatures in the future. The need for this sensor may not be entirely clear, but it’s a relatively harmless addition.

Let’s talk software briefly. The Pixel 8 Pro has a much more minimalist approach, though the Pro has quite a few Pixel features that help it stand out as well. Samsung One UI takes a much more heavy hand to Android, creating something that stands out as distinctly Samsung while still being powered by Android with Google Play services. Preference will play a large role in figuring out which one is the right choice, but Google does have the advantage in terms of software support. The Pixel 8 series promises seven years of OS updates, patches, and feature drops. Meanwhile, Samsung currently offers just four years of OS updates and five years of security patches.

Galaxy S24 Ultra will remain on Snapdragon everywhere 

This year, there have been rumors about the return of Exynos chips in select Galaxy models. The good news is that the Galaxy S24 Ultra is expected to be exclusively powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, according to the latest rumors.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is a significant upgrade, featuring an eight-core configuration, including one Cortex-X4 core, two A-5XX cores, five A7XX cores, and an updated Adreno GPU. Moreover, there are reports of substantial improvements in its machine learning capabilities, allowing it to better compete with Tensor’s TPU.

In terms of other specifications, Samsung is said to be moving up to its 13th-gen OLEDs, which are thinner, more power-efficient, and potentially much brighter.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra might also receive an exciting upgrade in its RAM and storage options. The base model is expected to offer 256GB of storage and a minimum of 12GB of RAM. Additionally, there are reports of a 16GB RAM variant in development and storage options that could go as high as 2TB.

On the software side, we expect One UI to remain largely the same, though it will be based on Android 14 out of the box. It’s also possible Samsung will improve its software update commitment in order to better compete with Google’s new policy.

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Size comparison and design

The Pixel 8 Pro, while not a small phone, is just slightly smaller than its predecessor. In truth, the difference is hardly noticeable. It measures 162.6 x 76.5 with a thickness of 8.8mm. The design closely resembles that of the Pixel 7 Pro, albeit with a larger lens cut-out to accommodate the temperature sensor. The phone now boasts a matte glass back and a glossy aluminum frame, along with a flat display. This results in a more comfortable feel while still retaining a sense of familiarity.

Rumors suggest that the Galaxy S24 Ultra will maintain a similar design and size to the Galaxy S23 Ultra, albeit with a few tweaks. Leaked images indicate a flatter display and an upgrade to a titanium frame. The dimensions are also allegedly slightly different at 162.3 x 79 with a thickness of 8.7mm, making it marginally shorter and a bit wider than the S23.

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Camera

google pixel 8 pro cameras
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Pixel 8 Pro camera features a 50MP main sensor, which, while familiar, now boasts a wider f/1.7 aperture. It replaces its predecessor’s 12MP ultrawide sensor with a 48MP shooter sporting an f/2.0 aperture. The 48MP telephoto sensor on the Pro remains the same size but sees improvements, including a wider maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a slightly increased field of view by about one degree.

The Pixel camera experience is enhanced by Google’s excellent software and Tensor-based AI features. Magic Eraser has evolved into Magic Editor, offering greater control. A new feature, Best Take, allows you to replace individual faces in group shots for a perfect photo.

While Google’s camera experience has always prioritized simplicity, the Pro model finally introduces manual camera controls, allowing you to adjust the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.

Turning to the Galaxy S24 Ultra, the latest rumors suggest it will replace the S23 Ultra’s 10x periscope camera with a 50MP 5x telephoto camera, potentially incorporating a variable folded lens. If true, this could enable lossless zoom at any level from 5x to 10x, while the rest of the camera package may remain largely unchanged.

Hardware is just one part of the camera experience. We all know Pixel’s history of great software, but well-known leaker Yogesh Brar claims the S24 will have “massive” software improvements as well.

There is no clarity as to what these improvements look like. That said, the Ultra will reportedly have a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in every region. Why does this matter? The latest Snapdragon is expected to have some big machine learning upgrades. This could tie into Samsung’s upgraded software plans.

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Battery life and charging

google pixel 8 pro port
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is equipped with a 5,050mAh battery, which is only 50mAh larger than its predecessor. Of course, the improved thermals and battery efficiency of the Tensor G3 make a much bigger difference than the minor battery increase. You’ll find the phone is more than capable of lasting about a day and a half between charges.

Quick charging also sees a minor improvement with the Pixel 8 Pro, as it now can charge at speeds of 27W, up from the 23W charging on the Pixel 7 Pro.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is rumored to stay at the same 5,000mAh capacity as its predecessor. That said, one rumor claims the S24 Ultra might have a stacked battery. This is a newer technology that increases capacities without increasing the physical size of a battery. It works by stacking multiple battery cells on top of each other. This type of battery is also said to be more efficient and have better longevity.

The same rumor claims the phone could see as high as 65W charging speeds. Unfortunately, China’s 3C certification website seems to refute this, as it lists the Ultra as having 45W charging. Even if charging remains at 45W, the Galaxy S24 Ultra will still have faster charging than the Pixel Pro.

How long do I have to wait for the Galaxy S24 Ultra?

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is expected to arrive alongside the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus sometime between January and February of 2024. This is the historical window in which all Galaxy S flagships launch, so unless this pattern changes suddenly, we’ll see the next Ultra three to four months from now at a special Unpacked event.

Pixel 8 vs Galaxy S24: Will there be a price difference?

google pixel 8 rose 8 pro bay blue stack money dollars euros
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Samsung has kept consistent pricing for a few years now — at least in the United States. Earlier this year, Samsung increased the price tag on the S22 series in the UK and most of Europe amid growing inflation. The US market avoided the mark-up in 2023, but with the economy continuing to struggle, it’s very likely Samsung will raise pricing in all regions next year.

More than likely, this price increase may see the S24 Ultra start at around $1,299 (a $100 increase) or maybe even a tad bit more. For what it’s worth, Google has also been increasing prices recently, with the Pixel 8 Pro starting at $999, which is $100 more than its predecessor. That said, the Pixel started off much cheaper, so it’ll still likely be the better value option of the two.

Should I buy the Pixel 8 Pro or wait for the Galaxy S24 Ultra?

google pixel 8 pro vs samsung galaxy s23 ultra cameras in hand
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is an outstanding phone with enhanced cameras, new Pro controls, and a host of new AI features. The improved SoC is a significant upgrade, and it successfully addresses one of its predecessor’s major weaknesses: thermal performance. While it can still get warm under heavy use, it’s a notable improvement compared to previous Tensor-based Pixels. It’s also a much more substantial upgrade than the Pixel 8.

Meanwhile,  the Galaxy S24 Ultra may offer an even faster SoC, larger storage options, and a hopefully equally impressive camera package.

If you urgently need a new phone, the Pixel 8 Pro is a compelling choice. But if you can afford to wait and don’t require an immediate upgrade, it’s advisable to hold off. There are still many unknowns about the Galaxy S24 Ultra, and waiting for its official release might be a wise decision. It’s worth noting that Google has a history of discounting its phones shortly after launch, so waiting could potentially yield a better deal.

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AA Editors Choice
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Excellent cameras • Fun, exclusive Android 14 customizations • Industry-leading update promise
MSRP: $999.99
Powerful Google phone with powerful camera features
The Google Pixel 8 Pro is packed with unique camera features and AI-assisted software that puts the smart into smartphone.