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Should you wait for the Google Pixel 8 or buy the Samsung Galaxy S23?
If you’re in the market for a compact Android phone, you’ve probably come to the realization that your options are fairly limited. You can opt for something like the Asus Zenfone 9, or go for the newly launched Samsung Galaxy S23. Google also has a “small” flagship in the form of the Pixel 7 — but it’s not exactly a compact phone. But what about the upcoming Pixel 8? Will the next Pixel phone be something you should hold out for or should you go ahead and buy the Galaxy S23 right away? We explore this question and more in this article.
Editor’s note: Google has yet to announce the Pixel 8 series, and any information about it is based on rumors or speculation. As renders and images are not available for the Pixel 8, the Pixel 7 is used as a reference. Keep that in mind as we move forward with this article.
Will the Pixel 8 be as compact as the Galaxy S23?
Let’s start with the design and dimensions to understand better how the Pixel 8 will size up to the Galaxy S23. The Galaxy S23 is a compact smartphone through and through. If you want a phone that is easy to use with one hand, your search likely ends with the Galaxy S23, thanks to its compact dimensions of 70.8 x 146.3 x 7.62mm.
Other than the Zenfone 9, there really isn’t a whole lot of competition in this space unless you want to start seriously compromising on the spec sheet. Even the Pixel 7 is a big smartphone compared to the Galaxy S23. The screen size on the S23 is a good 6.1-inch with minimal bezels all around, so there’s nothing to complain about here.
The Pixel 8, on the other hand, is expected to be smaller than the Pixel 7 both in terms of the display diagonal as well as the overall size, according to our sources. This will make it land somewhere in the middle of the size chart, between a compact flagship and a Pro-level flagship. That’s good news for people looking to get a good balance of size and screen real estate.
We don’t know the exact dimensions that will come on offer on the Pixel 8, but we’re fairly optimistic about its smaller footprint. For reference, the Pixel 7 has a 6.3-inch 1,080 x 2,400 display and an overall size of 73.2 x 155.6 x x 8.7 mm, so expect dimensions to go smaller than this. Leaks point out that the Pixel 8 could have a display resolution of 1,080 x 2,268 display, which would bring it very close to the Galaxy S23’s display resolution of 1,080 x 2,340 pixels.
Design and build quality
The Galaxy S23 is a departure from its predecessor when it comes to design. However, it still manages to capture the overall identity of Samsung’s S-flagship lineup as it shares design elements with the Galaxy S22 Ultra and S23 Ultra. As part of the identity, you get a solid aluminum frame with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the front and back.
The 168g of weight on the device, coupled with this smaller footprint and relatively flatter side-frame design, gives the S23 a dense and confident in-hand feel.
We don’t have details about the Pixel 8’s design and build quality as of yet. If we had to take a guess, it would make sense for Google to build up on the unique design language that it has carefully created with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 series. The wide camera visor on the back of these devices gives them an identity that stands out in the sea of similar-looking Android devices, and we would love to see the same built up on the Pixel 8. We further do not know if the visor will be made of glass or aluminum, so we will have to wait to learn more through leaks or otherwise.
It’s an easier guess to make for the overall back material. Nothing is confirmed just yet, but considering the fact that the Pixel 8 will be a Google flagship, it is safe to presume that it will come with a glass back, with possibly some level of Gorilla Glass protection on top. Consequently, it should look and feel just as premium as the Galaxy S23 in the hand. Looks are subjective, and we still have to wait for confirmation, so we’ll stay away from declaring a proper winner for the design just yet.
The Galaxy S23 series comes with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in a special “for Galaxy” avatar. This collaboration between Samsung and Qualcomm gives us a chip that has a higher clock speed on the prime core as well as a marginally higher clock speed on the GPU compared to the vanilla version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
The vanilla Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 was no slouch to begin with, with blazing fast performance thanks to the 1+(2+2)+3 core setup and overall improved thermal efficiency year-on-year. There’s also 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 128GB UFS 3.1 or 256GB UFS 4.0 storage on board the Galaxy S23. No matter how you cut it, the Galaxy S23 performs excellently across all scenarios, marking it as one of the best Android flagships released in 2023.
If you care about performance, the Galaxy S23 should be your choice, thanks to Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
On the other hand, we don’t know a lot about what will power the Pixel 8. Early leaks suggest that the phone will come with the new Tensor G3 processor, but that is about all that we know. We don’t know the performance and efficiency capabilities of this processor, so all observations are through its predecessor, the Tensor G2. We know that the Tensor G2 performs well as a flagship SoC for regular usage but falls behind Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8-series offerings in GPU and sustained performance.
No one can estimate how the Tensor G3 will fare when it launches. But if you foresee gaming as part of your use, you’d be making a sane decision going with the Galaxy S23 right away. It only makes sense to wait for the Tensor G3 if you are not a gamer. Further, Tensor’s AI-related performance is also a strong point, and people who frequently make use of Google Assistant and other AI-oriented functions will get a lot of mileage from the next Tensor. We also expect the Google Pixel 8 to come with 8GB of RAM in one of its variants.
What about the cameras?
The Samsung Galaxy S23 continues its great performance with the cameras as well. While the S23 may be no Ultra, it still retains a very good triple camera setup, especially when you consider the size of the phone. The primary camera is a 50MP ISOCELL GN3 sensor with a 1/1.56-inch sensor and f/1.8 aperture. There’s also a 12MP Sony IMX564 sensor for the ultrawide shooter, with a 1/2.55-inch sensor, f/2.2 aperture, and 120-degree FoV. Telephoto zoom duties are handled by the 10MP ISOCELL S5K3K1 sensor that can do 3x optical zoom and has an f/2.4 aperture. The front camera is a 12MP ISOCELL S5K3LU that is also seen on the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Technical details aside, the Galaxy S23 camera setup performs very well across the majority of average consumer use cases. The overall setup sees only a few changes year-on-year, but the Galaxy S22 also set a high bar last year. The primary camera gives a great performance, both during the day and the night. Even the ultrawide, telephoto, and front selfie cameras perform admirably, and you would be hard-pressed to find faults in the results. The only minor complaint present would be the noticeable shutter lag, which is an issue if your subject is very fidgety, like children or pets.
A simple spec sheet does not do justice to the Pixel's camera.
We don’t know what the Pixel 8 camera setup will be exactly. Early leaks suggest that Google could be upgrading from the 50MP ISOCELL GN1 sensor to the GN2 sensor, bringing along support for features like staggered HDR. If this turns out to be the case, then you can expect to see quicker HDR shots with better details and richer colors. The vanilla Pixel also historically retains two rear cameras: a primary shooter and an ultrawide, and there’s nothing to suggest so far that Google will shift from this strategy.
Hardware aside, Google sets a really high bar with the Pixel cameras. The company leans heavily into computational photography, letting Pixel cameras punch way above their proverbial weight. Whenever a Pixel phone enters into a camera comparison, looking at just the spec sheet alone becomes a moot exercise. It’s even hard to recall when a Pixel’s camera was bad, ever. So we remain very optimistic about what Google can do with the Pixel 8.
Seeing how Samsung didn’t particularly make any drastic improvements on the Galaxy S23’s camera, Google has a chance to widen its lead in 2023. If you care about the camera, it is worth waiting for the Pixel 8, even though the Galaxy S23 camera is pretty good.
Battery life and charging
The Samsung Galaxy S23 has surprised many with its battery life. The physical battery capacity has increased from 3,700 mAh on the S22 to 3,900 mAh on the S23. That 200 mAh may not seem much, but coupled with the overall performance efficiency of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, the end result is that the S23 finally manages to achieve a full day’s worth of battery life with moderate usage. That’s certainly better than the S22, which couldn’t last a full day’s use.
For the Pixel 8, once again, leaks have not pointed to its battery spec yet. We’re hoping to see the device retain its 4,300 mAh battery from the Pixel 7, although the reduction in the physical dimensions of the phone means this could change. Needless to say, we’d settle for nothing less than a full day’s worth of battery life.
When it comes to charging speeds, both Samsung and Google are far behind the pack. Samsung offers only 25W charging on the S23, and you can expect to take more than an hour for a full charge.
Previous Pixels have not sported blazing fast charging either, with the Pixel 7 supporting only 21W fast charging and taking well over an hour and 30 minutes for a full charge. We do not have information about the Pixel 8, but we’re desperately hoping to see Google make some improvements here.
How long do I have to wait for the Google Pixel 8?
If you were planning to buy a phone right away and were leaning towards the Google Pixel 8, we have some bad news: you’re way too early. The Google Pixel 7 series is barely a few months old, and we’re still a good eight to nine months away from the release of the next one. In fact, it would take a few more months to even hear anything officially from Google about the Pixel 8 series.
The Pixel 8 launch is months away, while the Galaxy S23 can be picked up right now.
The earliest you can expect any word from Google is during Google I/O held annually in May, where Google may choose to tease some details about the product. As for the launch, brace for it to happen around October, as that is when previous devices have launched historically.
On the other hand, the time is ripe to pick up the Galaxy S23. The phone has just launched, so you can get some good trade-in deals and discounts from Samsung. The product is early in its post-release product cycle, so you can expect to get a lot of steam out of your purchase.
Will there be a price difference?
While we don’t know the price of the Pixel 8 series and likely won’t know it until the phone actually launches, we do know the general trend. Google has been fairly competitive with the pricing on the vanilla Pixel, with a Pixel 7 launching at $599 for the 8GB/128GB variant but getting a discount of $100 in 2023 to sell for $499 regularly. The Pixel 8 could follow a similar strategy, but it’s too early to conclude, unfortunately.
With the Samsung Galaxy S23 series, Samsung is maintaining its premium price tag, as the S23 starts at $799 for the 8GB/128GB variant. This is substantially more expensive than the Pixel 7. By the time the Pixel 8 launches, you can expect to see some more discounts and offers on the S23. But we’re inclined to suggest that the Galaxy S23 will usually retail for a higher price tag than the Pixel.
Should I buy the Galaxy S23 or wait for the Pixel 8?
If you’re in the market for a phone right now, your prime question would likely be: should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S23 right away or delay your purchase and wait for the Google Pixel 8? The answer to this question rests heavily on how urgently you need a new phone.
Because let’s face it: the Pixel 8 will not arrive before October 2023. If your phone is broken or malfunctioning right now, it makes little sense to hold out these many months before making a purchase. You’d get more utility out of a Galaxy S23 purchase today than you would get from a Pixel 8 purchase in October 2023.
There’s a lot that is still in the air for the Pixel 8, and that comes in the way of it becoming a showstopper this early in 2023. The only time it would make sense to wait this long for the Pixel 8 to release is if you are an absolute fan of what Google is doing with computational photography on the Pixel series. We have high hopes, and it just about makes sense to see what Google will do with the camera before committing to a phone purchase, especially if you plan to use your phone for many years (which we recommend you should do anyway).
If you want a phone right now, go for the Galaxy S23 or even the Pixel 7. It doesn't make sense to wait for the Pixel 8.
If you are a Google fan and want a phone right away, we’ll take this opportunity to suggest the Pixel 7 instead. The phone is barely a few months old and can be purchased for $499 right away. That makes the Galaxy S23’s $799 price tag look obscene. The Pixel 7 makes a lot of sense for average users who aren’t into gaming, as perhaps its weakest point is the sustained performance and gaming performance of the Tensor G2 chip.
If you are not a Google fan in particular and you need a phone that has a great camera, great display, great build, great performance, good battery life, a compact size, and most importantly, you want to make a purchase within the coming days, then the Galaxy S23 is the phone for you. It has all of this and more, giving you a solid and rounded experience. The compact form factor does grow on you as well. With the battery lasting through the day, you won’t really have reason to fault it either.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 was released on February 9, 2023.
Google has not released any official teasers or date. But looking at historical data, we expect the Pixel 8 series to launch in October 2023.
We do not know what price the Pixel 8 will launch at. The Samsung Galaxy S23 launched at $799. The Pixel 7 launched at $599, so you can generally expect the Pixel 8 to hover around similar levels.
Yes, Pixel 8 will get updates directly from Google on day one. However, Samsung has been doing an excellent job with security updates, with its flagships often receiving security updates before Google can deliver them to Pixels. Both devices will have excellent software support.