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I love the Pixel 7 Pro, but I left it for Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra

Sometimes you just need a little more...
By

Published onMay 6, 2023

ditch pixel 7 pro for galaxy s23 ultra 1
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Google Pixel 7 Pro was my favorite phone of 2022. Any time I wasn’t working on another review, my personal SIM went right back to Google’s premium flagship. It was my go-to camera thanks to the Tensor G2’s processing smarts, and everyday features like Now Playing became indispensable — I never want to ask what song is playing again. However, issues have started to creep up as the months have passed, and they’ve drawn my eye elsewhere. I’ve given up the Pixel 7 Pro in favor of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and here’s why.

Smart but quirky

pixel 6 now playing
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

As mentioned above, I love Google’s quirky software features. I use Now Playing several times per day, and Live Caption has been a lifesaver for videos and briefings when I can’t find a quiet enough environment. The Pixel 7 Pro’s clever wrinkles don’t stop there, either, with Call Screen almost eliminating spam calls from my life and plenty of Material You customizations to make the Pixel feel a little bit more unique.

Yet, despite all of Google’s convenience, I’ve decided to take my SIM to the relative safety of One UI. No, Samsung might not have the little quality-of-life quirks, and its spam detection might not be quite as good as Google’s, but I don’t find myself aggravated by bugs on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, either. One UI simply works, offering customization and fine-tuning, whereas Google would rather you just let your Pixel do the thinking. I’ll still opt for Google’s versions of apps over the Samsung Internet browser or Messages app, but I’ve started to choose stable rather than smart.

Google might be my quirky best friend, but I need Samsung's reliability in a travel partner.

The problem I’ve run into is that Google doesn’t always seem to be on top of its train of thought. I’ll regularly unlock my Pixel 7 Pro, only for the display to remain fuzzy as if it got halfway through the unlock animation and just gave up. Other times, apps will simply freeze, losing all responsiveness until I either shut the display off and turn it back on or the Pixel force quits out of the app. It’s not the end of the world — often only a loss of a few seconds — but it’s alarming how quickly those seconds add up day after day. Google does roll out frequent software updates and feature drops, though sometimes it feels like they introduce just as many wrinkles as they iron out.

Despite Samsung’s superior stability, One UI isn’t perfect. It comes with a bit of bloatware, including the LinkedIn app and Microsoft’s OneDrive, as well as multiple app stores. However, you can ditch most of the bloat, and the Galaxy Store isn’t really of much use unless you’re updating first-party apps. All told, I’d rather have Samsung’s software, where I can ignore the features I don’t like, than Google’s, where I have to jump each hurdle over and over again.

Close-ups from the cheap seats

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro in hand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

I won’t question Google’s image-processing prowess. The Tensor G2 continues to wow me with its nearly endless shooting and editing capabilities. The Pixel 7 Pro performs brilliantly in almost any scenario, as we saw during our initial testing of the camera and then once again through a series of concerts. However, my summer plans include a few events likely to call for more than the Pixel’s 30x zoom, further justifying my switch to the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Unlike my colleague Rita, who carried her Pixel 7 Pro to intimate indoor shows, my concert plans involve larger outdoor pavilions. That means reaching beyond 30x zoom and likely having to take some manual control to account for a bright foreground and darker subject. I have no doubt that the Tensor G2’s image processing could handle the latter, but my love for cheap seats demands a little extra range offered by the 10x optical zoom on Samsung’s flagship. Oh, and there’s always the fact that the Pixel 7 Pro doesn’t offer a manual mode of any kind.

I won't question the Tensor G2's processing chops, but its 30x zoom doesn't always cut it from the cheap seats.

Editing is a must from the nosebleeds, and Samsung’s Expert RAW app offers a bit of extra punch. Yes, you can capture RAW+JPEG files on the Pixel 7 Pro, but then you’re filling up your storage even faster. Instead, I’d rather have Samsung’s option to export exclusively in RAW, saving a little storage space and not making me compare my editing chops to those of the Tensor.

In the end, zoom and RAW images will probably make life a little easier during my summer plans, but camera preference is probably at the bottom of my reasons for ditching the Pixel 7 Pro. I trust it to capture the right image in most scenarios, and Google’s in-app tools for lining up your shot are second to none. It’s a funny thing to say that not even a 200MP primary sensor with ample cropping ability can swing me for good, but such is the power of Magic Eraser and Long Exposure.

Gotta go the distance

Best Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra chargers
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Pixel 7 Pro’s final — and most pressing — struggle was its battery life. Although it easily breezed through a day and a half of usage at launch, the returns haven’t been as generous over time. I’ve seen my Pixel’s average lifespan dwindle to about a day of use, though I can still stretch it a little further with careful use of the Battery Saver mode. In truth, it’s okay for a casual day around my apartment and hometown, but I find it an unwanted stress on long travel days when I’m not sure how readily available a charger will be.

On the other hand, Samsung’s flagship still breezes through a day and a half or even two days before I’m scrambling for a charger. My day-to-day use across both devices is essentially the same: Bluetooth streaming, GPS navigation (sometimes via Uber or Lyft), and social media streaming. However, some credit must also go to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. Despite Google’s best efforts, the Tensor G2 continues to run hot and the Pixel’s battery drains quickly as soon as you put it under stress. Qualcomm’s latest chipset, on the other hand, learned key lessons in ditching Samsung’s foundry for TSMC’s and staying cool under pressure.

Circling back to charging, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has an edge when filling its 5,000mAh battery back up. It tops out at 45W wired speeds to the Pixel 7 Pro’s 23W wired rate. Google’s flagship has a better wireless clip, matching its 23W wired charging and outpacing Samsung’s 15W rate. However, I prefer wired charging, which means the Galaxy S23 Ultra gives me the best experience. I don’t have to charge as frequently or for as long, provided I have a compatible USB Power Delivery PPS charger handy.

Superior battery life and faster charging make the Galaxy S23 Ultra a more dependable workhorse.

Google does deserve some credit for one thing — Battery Saver mode. Or at least knowing when to turn it off. The Pixel 7 Pro automatically swaps back to its performance mode once the battery reaches a certain percentage, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra requires you to open the quick settings and manually switch the feature off. It’s a tiny complaint in the grand scheme of things, but I’d much rather my phone automatically know it’s ready for full-strength performance.

At the end of the day, I still love the Google Pixel 7 Pro. It’s still a great phone and easily the best Pixel flagship to date. However, its growing list of quirks has made me think twice about trusting it for a summer of travel and long-range photography needs. I’m still excited about the rumored Pixel 7a and Pixel Fold, but the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has my heart for now. It puts the right price on reliability and is an excellent phone from top to bottom.

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What do you think? Would you ditch your favorite phone for a flagship from another brand? Let us know in the poll below.

Would you ditch your favorite phone if a different phone was more reliable?

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