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Google Pixel 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Which should you buy?

You can't go wrong with either, but which one should you pick?
By
February 2, 2024
Google Pixel 8 Pro
MSRP: $999.99
Check price
Positives
Excellent cameras
Improved wired charging
Premium build
Fun, exclusive Android 14 customizations
Industry-leading update promise
Negatives
Tensor G3 still benchmarks behind the best
Gimmicky temperature sensor
Some features not available at launch
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
MSRP: $1,199.00
Check price
Positives
Powerful, flexible camera setup
Great battery life with solid charging
Convenient S Pen
Excellent software update promise
Premium materials and display
Great performance
Negatives
Will be too large for some
Limited base RAM for the price
Expensive, especially for extra storage

When you think of Android, chances are that you picture a Google or Samsung smartphone before anything else. Indeed, the two companies offer some of the best hardware and software combinations money can buy. Now that both companies have released their 2023 flagship smartphones, we can pit them against each other. In this comparison, we’ll take a closer look at how the Google Pixel 8 Pro differs from the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and help decide which smartphone you should buy.

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: At a glance

  • The Pixel 8 Pro is significantly cheaper than the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
  • The Galaxy S23 Ultra is slightly larger and heavier than Google’s Pixel 8 Pro.
  • Even though both Android phones share similar dimensions, Samsung has managed to fit an entire stylus within the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
  • Google’s in-house Tensor G3 chip found in the Pixel 8 Pro is the company’s fastest yet. However, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC should run faster and cooler.
  • The Galaxy S23 Ultra ships with double the internal storage compared to the base model Pixel 8 Pro. It also relies on faster UFS 4.0 tech for faster transfer speeds.
  • The S23 Ultra houses Samsung’s S Pen, while you get a temperature sensor on the Pixel 8 Pro.
  • Samsung has given the S23 Ultra a new 200MP sensor, which will likely capture more detail than the Pixel 8 Pro’s 50MP shooter.
  • While both smartphones have a periscope lens, the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers 10x optical zoom vs. the Pixel 8 Pro’s 5x.
  • The Samsung flagship offers an additional 3x zoom sensor.
  • The Pixel 8 Pro relies on a slower optical fingerprint reader compared to the S23 Ultra’s ultrasonic technology.
  • The S23 Ultra can charge at up to 45W, which is significantly faster than the Pixel 8 Pro’s 30W maximum.
  • Google promises to deliver seven years’ worth of software updates to the Pixel 8 Pro. That’s three years longer than Samsung’s four year OS update commitment.

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Specs

Google Pixel 8 ProSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Display
Google Pixel 8 Pro
6.7-inch Super Actua OLED
20:9 aspect ratio
2,992 x 1,344
1-120Hz dynamic Smooth Display
Gorilla Glass Victus 2
HDR support
1,600 nits brightness for HDR, 2,400 nits peak brightness

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Edge display (curved)
19.3:9 aspect ratio
QHD+ resolution (3,088 x 1,440)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz)
Gorilla Glass Victus 2
HDR support
Processor
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Google Tensor G3
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM
Google Pixel 8 Pro
12 GB

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
8GB or 12GB
Storage
Google Pixel 8 Pro
128GB, 256GB, 512GB. Optional 1TB (US-only)
No expandable storage
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
No expandable storage
Power
Google Pixel 8 Pro
5,050mAh (typical)
30W wired charging
23W wireless charging (w/Pixel Stand 2nd gen)
12W Qi wireless charging
Battery Share
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
5,000mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W Qi wireless charging
No charger in box
Cameras
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Rear:
- 50MP main
1.2 μm, f/1.68, 82-degree FoV
1/1.31-inch sensor
2x "optical quality" zoom
OIS and EIS

- 48MP ultra-wide
0.8 μm, f/1.95, 125.5-degree FoV

- 48MP telephoto
0.7 μm, f/2.8, 21.8-degree FoV
5x optical zoom
OIS and EIS

Front:
- 10.5MP
1.22 μm, f/2.2, 95-degree FoV, autofocus


Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Rear:
- 200MP main
f/1.7, 1/1.3-inch sensor, OIS and EIS

- 12MP ultra-wide
1.4µm, 120-degree field of view, 13mm, f/2.2

- 10MP Telephoto, 10x Optical Zoom and 100x Space Zoom

- 10MP Telephoto, 3x Optical Zoom

Front
- 12MP selfie cam
Audio
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Stereo speakers
Triple mics
Spatial audio
Bluetooth 5.3
No 3.5mm port
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Stereo speakers
Triple mics
Spatial audio
Bluetooth 5.3
No 3.5mm port
IP rating
Google Pixel 8 Pro
IP68
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
IP68
Others
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Object thermometer
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor
Accelerometer
Gyrometer
Magnetometer
Barometer
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Integrated S Pen
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor
Accelerometer
Gyrometer
Magnetometer
Barometer
Biometrics and security
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Face Unlock (highest Android biometric class)
Optical Fingerprint Sensor (under-display)
Titan M2 security chip
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Face Unlock
Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor (under-display)

Software
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Android 14
Pixel UI
7 years of OS upgrades
7 years of security updates
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Android 13
One UI 5.1
4 years of software OS upgrades
5 years of security updates
Dimensions and weight
Google Pixel 8 Pro
162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8mm
213g
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm
233g

You won’t have to look at either phone’s spec sheet for long to realize that they pack some of the highest-end specifications in the smartphone market. The Pixel 8 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra both include OLED displays, the latest in processing hardware, large batteries, and capable camera setups. However, the devil’s in the details, and you’ll find plenty of differences if you peel back the layers.

Take the Tensor G3 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, for example. Google’s Tensor chips have never prioritized raw performance, an the same is true about the latest chip. However, it’s also built on Samsung Foundry’s 4nm process node, which doesn’t have the best track record for efficiency. The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC, meanwhile, is one of the fastest and most efficient chips we’ve seen in a while. So it ekes out a win for its cooler operation and better-sustained performance in demanding workloads — like gaming. However, the Tensor G3 is custom-built for AI-related tasks and features, so it’s aiming for smarts over peak performance.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra has the performance and efficiency advantage on paper.

While Samsung and Google have thrown in several marketing buzzwords to describe their displays, they’re actually quite similar. They both have LTPO technology to dynamically adjust refresh rates, a Quad HD resolution, and chart-topping brightness for great outdoor visibility. That said, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has curved sides as opposed to the Pixel 8 Pro’s completely flat display. Some users actually prefer the latter as it’s more durable and makes screen protectors easier to apply.

On the subject of durability, both smartphones rely on the latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and offer IP68 water resistance. Samsung goes one step further with its Armor Aluminum branding that supposedly offers better protection against scratches and drops.

The Pixel 8 Pro ships with 128GB of storage in its base configuration. The Galaxy S23 Ultra, meanwhile, starts at 256GB and goes up to a staggering 1TB. You’ll pay extra for that privilege, of course, as we’ll discuss in the section on pricing later. The S23 Ultra also includes newer and faster storage thanks to UFS 4.0. This translates to faster app loading times in the real world, although not by much.

Google will deliver OS updates to the Pixel 8 Pro until 2030!

It’s also worth talking about software update policies. While Samsung’s four-year support window had an edge over Google in previous years, that’s no longer the case. With the Pixel 8 series, Google has promised to deliver seven full years of OS updates, which includes seven years of Feature Drops. Google’s phone also shipped with the latest Android 14, but the Galaxy S23 series now has the latest OS, too. And in that vein, Galaxy S23 Ultra owners will have to wait longer for each Android update.

Samsung’s S Pen marks the final major spec difference between the two smartphones. The S Pen is an active stylus housed entirely within the S23 Ultra. It’s useful for everything from note-taking to annotations. Its inclusion is a real achievement, considering that the two smartphones have similar dimensions and even battery sizes. The Pixel 8 Pro’s party trick is a temperature sensor. You can use it to check the surface temperature of objects, including drinks, and now body temperature, but I’m not sure it’s quite as versatile as Samsung’s note-taking tool.

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Size comparison

The Galaxy S23 Ultra and Pixel 8 Pro are among the largest Android phones on the market, but the Samsung flagship is a bit larger in all three dimensions. It’s not a difference you’ll notice in the hand, but the Pixel 8 Pro’s curved corners should make it feel more comfortable in the hand. Some users complain that the S23 Ultra’s boxy design tends to dig into their palms. However, this approach does maximize screen real estate and lends Samsung a unique silhouette.

As for weight, the Pixel 8 Pro takes the win. It’s slightly smaller and doesn’t have to fit a stylus, allowing Google to land at the 213g mark. The S23 Ultra, meanwhile, is 10% heavier at 234g.

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Camera

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

Samsung and Google take very different approaches to maximizing camera quality, and that’s true in this generation as well. The Galaxy S23 Ultra houses Samsung’s first-ever 200MP sensor, which unsurprisingly delivers crisp, detailed shots. The Pixel 8 Pro, meanwhile, sticks to a 50MP primary sensor, albeit with better light sensitivity this year. As we’ve come to expect from Google, though, the Pixel 8 Pro will narrow its gap in software using computational photography.

Moving on, the Pixel 8 Pro has 48MP ultrawide and 5x telephoto shooters. Samsung loses the megapixel race here but packs an additional sensor. The Galaxy S23 Ultra offers a 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x telephoto, and another 10MP 10x telephoto lens. That last one offers the longest-range zoom of any camera phone, although you’ll seldom need anything beyond Google’s 30x digital zoom.

For more, you can see our full review of the Pixel 8 Pro, where we tested all of its sensors. For now, here’s how the Galaxy S23 Ultra holds up in a variety of shooting conditions.

In the video department, Google has once again turned to AI to enhance quality beyond the phone’s raw hardware potential. Video Boost and Night Sight Video will use Google’s data centers for better low-light processing. Likewise, Magic Editor is a step beyond even the S23 Ultra’s powerful editing capabilities.

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Battery life and charging

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra USB C plugged in
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Pixel 8 Pro and S23 Ultra have nearly identical battery capacities at 5,000mAh, but don’t expect matching endurance. The chipset difference plays a major role in determining which smartphone comes on top. Spoilers, but Tensor didn’t quite meet up to the excellent results we recorded from the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

In our review of the Pixel 8 Pro, we were able to go about a day and a half between charges, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra delivered two full days of mixed use with six to eight hours of screen time.

The S23 Ultra should comfortably take the endurance and charging speed crown.

Samsung also takes the charging crown, supporting 45W of maximum power and completing a full charge within an hour. Google has improved year-over-year, with the Pixel 8 Pro now pulling 30W from the wall. For context, that’s a mild improvement over the Pixel 7 Pro’s 23W maximum and 104-minute charging time. You’ll still need a USB PD PPS charger for the Pixel 8 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra to get the fastest recharge speeds.

Both smartphones support Qi wireless charging and reverse wireless charging. You can wirelessly charge the Pixel 8 Pro at 23W, but only via Google’s second-gen Pixel Stand. Otherwise, you can use any Qi wireless charger to deliver 12W power to the Pixel 8 Pro and 15W to the S23 Ultra.

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Price and availability

  • Pixel 8 Pro: Starts at $999
  • Galaxy S23 Ultra: Starts at $1,199

While the Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at a $200 higher price point than the Pixel 8 Pro, it includes double the storage for that extra amount. The 256GB variant of the Pixel, meanwhile, brings up the total to $1,059. That said, even the base model Pixel 8 Pro includes 12GB of RAM, whereas the S23 Ultra’s base tier offers just 8GB. However, the Galaxy S23 Ultra launched several months earlier in 2023, meaning you can likely find a deep discount on it.

See price at Amazon
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Excellent cameras
Fun, exclusive Android 14 customizations
Industry-leading update promise
See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
New 200MP main camera
Beautiful display
S Pen functionality

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Which one should you buy?

google pixel 8 pro vs samsung galaxy s23 ultra display hero
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

With over a thousand dollars on the line, the choice between Google and Samsung’s flagship smartphones may seem daunting. Luckily, there’s a lot to like on both smartphones, and neither skimps out on essential features for even the heaviest of users.

As for the differences, the Pixel 8 Pro offers a less polarizing design, leaner software, much longer update commitment, and many exclusive AI extras like Google’s Call Screening and Night Sight Video. On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 Ultra delivers the most powerful chip, likely with longer battery life and faster charging, an S Pen for note-taking, and a more versatile camera setup.

If you’re after the most stable Android experience, the S23 Ultra will glide through everything you throw at it. The included S Pen pairs perfectly with Samsung’s ecosystem of tablets and laptops, too. But if the prospect of new Feature Drops and AI-driven assistance sounds more appealing to you, the Pixel 8 Pro should be on your radar. It’s also less expensive, and Google’s generous pre-order bonus makes it an even sweeter deal.

Which would you rather buy, the Pixel 8 Pro or Galaxy S23 Ultra?

810 votes

FAQs

No, Google has ditched the curved screen on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Yes, both the Pixel 8 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra are IP68 water resistant.

No, the Pixel 8 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra both lack a microSD card slot.

Yes, you’ll get dual-SIM support on the Pixel 8 Pro and in most regions on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. eSIM support exists on both phones too, except for S23 Ultra units sold in China.

No, both Google and Samsung have long since abandoned the headphone jack on their flagship smartphones.