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Google Pixel 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: Which one should you buy?

Does the Pixel 8 have what it takes to challenge the Galaxy S23 FE's aggressive pricing?
By

Published onMarch 7, 2024

After months of rumors and leaks, the Google Pixel 8 and Samsung Galaxy S23 FE are finally official and will soon hit store shelves. Both smartphones offer near flagship-grade specs without the usual hefty price tag to match. However, they take different approaches to reach their respective price points, making some performance and camera trade-offs along the way. So which affordable high-end Android smartphone is most deserving of your money? We’ll find out in this comparison between the Pixel 8 vs Galaxy S23 FE.

Google Pixel 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: At a glance

  • The Pixel 8 is noticeably smaller and lighter than the Galaxy S23 FE.
  • With its 3x telephoto lens, the Galaxy S23 FE can deliver better zoomed in shots than the Pixel 8.
  • The Pixel 8 is powered by Google’s Tensor G3, a newer and potentially more powerful chipset than the S23 FE’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.
  • Google will update the Pixel 8 for seven full years. Samsung only provides four years worth of OS updates and an additional year’s worth of security patches.
  • The Pixel 8 supports eSIM, Wi-Fi 7, and mmWave 5G (US carrier variants only). These premium features haven’t trickled down to the S23 FE.
  • With its $599 launch price, the Galaxy S23 FE undercuts the Pixel 8 slightly in terms of price.

Google Pixel 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: Specs

Pixel 8Galaxy S23 FE
Display
Pixel 8
6.2-inch OLED
2,400 x 1,080 resolution
428ppi
20:9 aspect ratio
120Hz refresh rate
HDR support
Gorilla Glass Victus
Galaxy S23 FE
6.4-inch Super AMOLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
19.5:9 aspect ratio
120Hz refresh rate
HDR support
Gorilla Glass 5
Processor
Pixel 8
Google Tensor G3
Galaxy S23 FE
USA: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
EU/ROW: Exynos 2200
RAM
Pixel 8
8GB
Galaxy S23 FE
8GB
Storage
Pixel 8
128 or 256GB
UFS 3.1
Galaxy S23 FE
128GB or 256GB
UFS 3.1
Power
Pixel 8
4,575mAh
27W wired charging
Qi wireless charging
Galaxy S23 FE
4,500mAh battery
25W wired charging
Qi wireless charging
Cameras
Pixel 8
Rear:
- 50MP main: ƒ/1.68 aperture, OIS

- 12MP ultrawide: ƒ/2.2 aperture, 125.8-degree FoV

Front:
- 10.5MP: ƒ/2.2 aperture
Galaxy S23 FE
Rear:
- 50MP main: ƒ/1.8 aperture, OIS

- 12MP ultrawide: ƒ/2.2 aperture, 123-degree FoV

- 8MP telephoto: ƒ/2.4 aperture, 3x optical zoom

Front:
- 10MP: ƒ/2.4 aperture
Dimensions and weight
Pixel 8
150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm
187g
Galaxy S23 FE
157.9 x 76.5 x 8.1mm
209g
Security
Pixel 8
Titan M2 security chip
Under-display fingerprint sensor
Face Unlock (Class 3, highest tier)
Galaxy S23 FE
Under-display fingerprint sensor
Face Unlock
Durability
Pixel 8
Gorilla Glass Victus (front and back)
IP68 rating
Galaxy S23 FE
Gorilla Glass 5 (front and back)
IP68 rating
Connectivity
Pixel 8
- Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be/ax/6/6e)
- MIMO
- NFC
- Bluetooth 5.3
Galaxy S23 FE
- Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e)
- MIMO
- NFC
- Bluetooth 5.3
Software
Pixel 8
Android 14
7 years of OS upgrades
7 years of security patches
7 years of feature drops
Galaxy S23 FE
Android 13 with ONE UI
4 years of OS upgrades
5 years of security patches

After a gap of nearly two years since the last Fan Edition smartphone, Samsung has finally revived the series with the Galaxy S23 FE. As you’d expect after all this time, it packs an upgraded chipset in the form of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Unfortunately, however, it’s not the newest chip and Samsung’s higher-end smartphones have long since moved on to faster and more efficient alternatives.

The Pixel 8, meanwhile, is one of Google’s two flagship smartphones for 2023. It gets a few upgrades of its own, starting with the company’s new Tensor G3 SoC. This is the first aspect where the Pixel 8 pulls ahead vs. the Galaxy S23 FE. The Tensor G3’s Arm Cortex-X3 big core and Cortex-A715 medium cores should allow it to perform better than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.

The Galaxy S23 FE reuses last year's processing hardware to keep costs down.

Apart from that, you won’t find too many discrepancies between the two phones looking at their spec sheets alone. The two phones have identical RAM and storage configurations, for example, and sport high-end AMOLED displays that refresh at a fast 120Hz. The Pixel 8’s spec sheet suggests it does reach a higher peak brightness of 2,000 nits compared to the S23 FE’s 1,450 nits. However, that could also boil down to testing differences between the two companies.

The Pixel 8 makes use of more premium materials than the Galaxy S23 FE, which may affect durability to some extent. For example, the Pixel 8 gets newer Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back while Samsung has opted for the much older Gorilla Glass 5. At least both smartphones have a matte aluminum frame and IP68 water resistance. On the connectivity front, the Pixel 8 edges ahead slightly with support for newer technologies like Wi-Fi 7 and optional mmWave 5G (select US carrier models). Likewise, you’ll only get eSIM with the Pixel 8.

Google is promising seven full years of software updates for the Pixel 8 series.

Finally, let’s talk about software support. Google has flipped the script this generation. The company is promising an impressive seven years of OS updates and security patches for both Pixel 8 models. That’s more than double its previous commitment and three years longer than Samsung guarantees for the S23 FE. So if you’re looking to keep your phone up-to-date for as long as possible, the Pixel 8 is far and away the better choice.

Google Pixel 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: Size comparison

Even though Samsung’s last-gen Galaxy S21 FE had the same 6.4-inch display size as Google’s then-latest Pixel 6, the two manufacturers have now diverged greatly over the past two years.

The Galaxy S23 FE maintains its large 6.4-inch stance from years past. Meanwhile, Google has slimmed down the Pixel 8 to a smaller 6.2-inches. That may not sound like much, but it means the Pixel 8 is significantly narrower and shorter than Samsung’s Fan Edition smartphone. If you’re after a compact Android smartphone, the Pixel 8 is one of the best contenders for your money.

The Pixel 8 is significantly smaller and lighter than the Galaxy S23 FE.

It’s not just about size either. The Pixel 8 weighs 187g, which is 22g lighter than the Galaxy S23 FE. Once again, you will immediately notice this 10% difference when holding both phones in your hand. Samsung’s decision to use older Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back of its smartphone is likely to blame for the weight disparity.

Google Pixel 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: Camera

google pixel 8 rear hazel 4
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Google’s smartphones tend to enjoy the limelight when it comes to imaging capabilities and AI smarts. However, all of the software in the world can’t make up for the Pixel 8’s lack of a telephoto lens. In comparison, you at least get a 3x shooter on the Galaxy S23 FE for some amount of optical zoom. Samsung has also upgraded the main camera to a 50MP shooter on the Galaxy S23 FE.

Both phones have picked up new main sensors, but the Pixel lacks a zoom lens.

Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 gets a new 50MP sensor with 21% more light sensitivity than the Pixel 7. It also enjoys a refreshed ultrawide shooter with macro autofocus for close-up shots, a feature we first saw on the Pixel 7 Pro. Google typically offers many AI-assisted camera features on its Pixel series and this time is no different. The Pixel 8 packs a few extras like Magic Editor and Best Take.

Hardware differences aside, both smartphones deliver great-looking shots. It’s mostly the different approaches to software processing that sets these two phones apart. Samsung has historically struggled with fast-moving subjects even in its most premium smartphones, while Google’s smartphone doesn’t suffer from the same problem.

Nevertheless, here are some camera samples from both smartphones:

Google Pixel 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: Battery life and charging

samsung galaxy s23 fe usb c port
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

Even though the Google Pixel 8 occupies a smaller footprint, it houses a slightly larger 4,575mAh battery. The 4,500mAh battery in the S23 FE is no slouch either but it has to power a larger display. The S23 FE’s older chip may also draw more power to perform the same task, but it’s admittedly a marginal difference.

It’s more of the same in the charging department, with both smartphones calling for a USB Power Delivery PPS wall adapter. The Pixel 8 does have the on-paper advantage as it can draw 27W vs. the Galaxy S23 FE’s 25W. But at the end of the day, both smartphones will charge up to 50% in 30 minutes and take over an hour to go from zero to full.

In spite of their affordable price tags, both smartphones also pack Qi wireless charging with comparable speeds. You can pick up a second-gen Pixel Stand for slightly faster 18W wireless power, but it’s once again only a minor difference compared to the S23 FE’s 15W maximum.

Google Pixel 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: Price and availability

Google Pixel 8 Pro in Bay blue color held in hand
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
Pixel 8 Pro
  • Galaxy S23 FE: Starts at $599
  • Google Pixel 8: Starts at $699

With the Pixel 8 series, Google has hiked the prices of its flagship smartphones by $100. Samsung, meanwhile, has gone in the opposite direction and dropped its Fan Edition smartphone’s price by an equal amount. Compared to prior generations then, the two companies have traded places in terms of affordability.

The Pixel 8 starts at $699 and you can double the storage from 128GB to 256GB for an extra $60. Samsung, meanwhile, will sell you the S23 FE for $599 or $629 if you buy direct from Samsung. That said, we’ve seen both smartphones drop to $549 on sale and that’s really where they deliver the best value.

See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

Google Pixel 8 vs Samsung Galaxy S23 FE: Which one should you buy?

samsung galaxy s23 fe standing
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

At $599, the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE delivers exceptional bank for your buck but cuts some corners and misses out on Google’s longer update commitment. The older processing hardware is also unfortunate as it can have big performance and battery life ramifications. That said, the S23 FE does offer a 3x telephoto zoom lens if you care more about camera versatility than those aspects.

The Pixel 8 delivers a lot of value despite its $100 higher asking price.

The Pixel 8, meanwhile, seems like a more well-rounded package with specifications that seem more appropriate for a 2023 smartphone. You do pay an extra $100 for that privilege but the higher-quality build, longer support window, and Google’s AI smarts go a long way to ease that sting. Not to mention, the Pixel 8’s generous pre-order bonus makes it very competitive vs. the Galaxy S23 FE from an overall value standpoint.

At the end of the day, it depends on what you value more: Samsung’s lower price tag and telephoto lens or Google’s myriad of Pixel-exclusive features and compact design. I’d personally pick the Pixel 8 but I can equally see why some would prefer the Galaxy S23 FE for its larger canvas and cheaper price tag.

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

1001 votes

FAQs

Yes, both the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S23 FE have IP68 water resistance ratings.

Yes, you can wirelessly charge the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S23 FE with any Qi charging pad.

The Pixel 8 supports both dual SIM and eSIM but the Galaxy S23 FE lacks eSIM support.

No, neither the Pixel 8 nor the Galaxy S23 FE have a microSD card slot.

No, you won’t find a headphone jack on the Pixel 8 or Galaxy S23 FE.

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