Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Which Android is best for Aussies?

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As the two best Android phones currently available in Australia, a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro face-off is absolutely necessary for Aussies trying to decide which handset deserves their hard-earned dollarydoos.

While there's no denying that Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra is the most advanced smartphone in terms of specs and features, Google's Pixel 7 Pro has its own list of appealing selling points, and manages to come in far, far cheaper.

Like many of Google's phones before it, the Pixel 7 Pro is expectedly being sold on the prowess of its AI-enhanced mobile photography. However, Samsung has lifted its game significantly with the S23 Ultra, delivering a class-leading 200MP main sensor array that's earned it the title of best camera phone.

Don't get us wrong — Google's Pixel 7 Pro still has an amazing camera, with Tensor G2-exclusive features that Samsung has yet to catch up on, but has it done enough to to hold off Samsung's flagship? Let's find out once and for all.

In this in-depth Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Pixel 7 Pro grudge match, we’ll run through both the biggest similarities and differences between each device in a series of categories. After which, we will crown a definitive winner.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Price and availability

A large gap exists between the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Pixel 7 Pro when it comes to price. At a starting price of AU$1,299, the Pixel is a full AU$650 cheaper than the Ultra. The Galaxy S23 Ultra costs AU$1,949, but that gets you 256GB of storage versus the Pixel’s 128GB.

Even with double the capacity, that’s a very large difference in price, though some of that can be attributed to the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s larger feature set, extra cameras, and better specs. It does enjoy the advantage of wider availability thanks to Samsung’s popularity. The Pixel 7 Pro is available in more places than past Pixels, so it’s not exactly difficult to get your hands on.

That said, there's no denying that with a AU$300 delta between them, the Pixel 7 Pro wins for pricing.

Winner: Pixel 7 Pro

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Design

Design preferences largely depend on which phone you think looks better. The Galaxy S23 Ultra looks a lot like the Galaxy Notes of old, for good reason. It sports a blocky aesthetic with a curved display and a P-shaped camera layout. Overall, Samsung has delivered a well-built and sturdy handset with a solid heft, though it is overwhelmingly familiar to previous models.

Pixel 7 Pro back

Pixel 7 Pro (Image credit: Future)

The Pixel 7 Pro is an evolution of the design introduced with the Pixel 6 Pro. Google is all in on its camera bar look, which has proven to be polarizing. The latest Pixel presents a more striking appearance than its predecessor with metal accents and more prominent camera lenses. 

Both phones are IP68-certified, meaning they can survive underwater up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.

However, we’ve seen reports that some Pixel 7 Pro units have started to suffer from broken glass on the camera bar and parts of the phone falling apart, like the volume and power buttons. We cannot confirm any of this for ourselves, but we wanted to note it.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in front of bush showing cameras

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

Calling a winner here appears difficult since both phones look and feel nice, so we’ll say it’s a draw.

Winner: Draw

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Specs

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Samsung Galaxy S23 UltraGoogle Pixel 7 Pro
Starting priceAU$1,949AU$1,299
Android versionAndroid 13 (One UI 5.1)Android 13
Display6.8-inch Super AMOLED (3088 x 1440)6.7-inch OLED (3120 x 1440)
Refresh rate1-120Hz10-120Hz
CPUSnapdragon 8 Gen 2 for GalaxyTensor G2
RAM8GB, 12GB12GB
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Rear cameras200MP (f/1.7) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto, 10MP (f/4.9) 10x telephoto50MP (f/1.9) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 48MP (f/3.5) 5x telephoto
Front camera12MP (f/2.2)10.8MP (f/2.2)
Battery size5,000 mAh5,000 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)12:22 (Adaptive) / 13:09 (60Hz)8:04 (Adaptive) / 7:55 (60Hz)
Wired charging speed45W33W
Size163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm162.9 x 76.6 x 8.9mm
Weight234g212g
ColorsPhantom Black, Cream, Lavender, GreenObsidian, Snow, Hazel

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Display

It’s much easier picking the better display. The Galaxy S23 Ultra runs laps around the Pixel 7 Pro in this regard. That’s not to say the Pixel has a bad screen, it’s just that the Galaxy’s is that good.

For example, Samsung has the better colour reproduction in both the sRGB and DCI-P3 colour gamuts. In the Natural colour settings, the Galaxy S23 Ultra managed 111% and 79%, respectively. The Pixel 7 Pro, also in its Natural setting, reproduced 105% and 74%. That’s not a huge gap, but Samsung’s Vivid mode is even more telling.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Where the Pixel 7 Pro earns a point or two is in its Delta-E colour accuracy score. Here, 0 is perfect and the Pixel received a 0.28 compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 0.3. 

Yet, the Galaxy S23 Ultra leaps ahead of the Pixel 7 Pro in brightness. We measured it at a whopping 1,444 nits at the 40% HDR space. The Pixel 7 Pro topped out at 927 nits. While that’s plenty bright, the Galaxy is significantly and noticeably brighter. That makes a huge difference when outdoors in sunlight.

Side by side, you can easily see the differences between the two phones, with the most obvious difference being the brightness. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is incredibly ibrant in its Vivid mode versus the Pixel 7 Pro’s Adaptive colour setting. 

The Galaxy S23 Ultra clearly wins. The Pixel 7 Pro’s display is more than adequate, but Samsung produced something that’s leagues better.

Winner: Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While the Galaxy S23 Ultra holds the advantage in the other areas in this face-off, the most important arena features the phones’ cameras. Here, the two flagships square off with Google as the incumbent and Samsung doing its best to unseat the Pixel 7 Pro.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra certainly brings its full might to the table with an impressive 200MP main sensor, a 12MP ultrawide camera, and two 10MP telephoto shooters, one with 3x optical zoom and the other with 10x optical zoom. It uses a new 12MP sensor for selfies.

The Pixel 7 Pro, meanwhile, seems a tad bit more modest in comparison. On the back, it sports a 50MP main camera along with 12MP ultrawide and 48MP telephoto (5x optical zoom) cameras. Around front is a 10.8MP selfie cam.

Each device has a lot of software magic to keep in mind, whether it’s Samsung’s Space Zoom capability or Google’s Magic Eraser, Photo Unblur, and Super Res Zoom features. We’ve collected a few camera samples to see which phone is ultimately better.

Starting off with this picture of some bumper cars at an ice skating rink, we think the Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra line up almost perfectly. The S23’s shot is a bit brighter, but the yellows look a tad too bright. Both shots are incredibly good, however, so we’ll call this one a draw.

This photo of a fountain shows some more differences between the two phones. The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s image is certainly brighter, but with noticeably more saturation. The fountain took on a richer bronze hue that doesn’t look quite natural. 

Exposure-wise, we think that Samsung beats out the Pixel 7 Pro, which definitely has a dimmer shot. You can see this difference in exposure times in the way the water looks. Other than some of the characteristic Samsung over-saturation, the Galaxy S23 Ultra wins with a brighter and more inviting photo.

For the ultrawide comparison, this scene once again shows some key differences. The Pixel 7 Pro’s picture looks dead and lifeless, which may in fact reflect the reality of the scene and environment itself. However, based on this comparison, the Galaxy S23 Ultra wins with something that looks like it has true life in it, especially given the fact that it’s winter. The S23’s sky is a truer blue and Samsung seems to have compensated for the overcast weather better than Google.

As for nighttime performance, this comparison proved more interesting. In this scene of some liquor bottles, we noticed that the Galaxy S23 Ultra had too much of a warm, yellowish tinge in its final image. You can see this in the colouration of some of the tequila, the green shelf or the decorative piece between them. 

The Pixel 7 Pro produced a cooler image that we think reflects reality better, but it suffers from soft focus. So neither image is terribly good, so we’ll call this one a draw.

We once again see some strong differences in approach between the two handsets in these portraits. The subject is much clearer and in stronger focus in the Pixel 7 Pro’s picture, which also sports a much more artistic bokeh effect. The sun on Mark’s face in the Pixel shot highlights the lines of his face better while he looks too smooth in the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s portrait. We think the Pixel wins this one.

Wrapping up with selfies, we opted for a nighttime comparison since we know that both the Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra can take good self-portraits. In the end, the Galaxy S23 Ultra holds the advantage in this regard. Its selfie is brighter with sharper focus and better contrast, while the Pixel 7 Pro’s looks too dim with soft, blurry focus and poor dynamic range. Google’s phone did not do a good job accounting for all of the harsh artificial light in combination with the evening. So the Galaxy S23 Ultra wins this selfie face-off.

In what we think is a total shake-up, the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes out on top in this camera comparison. It won in the pictures of the fountain, ultrawide scene, and nighttime selfie. The Pixel 7 Pro had the better portrait, and both phones faced a draw in the bumper cars and night photo.

Winner: Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Performance

Although the camera comparison proved a close call, our performance face-off does not. The Pixel 7 Pro lags behind the Galaxy S23 Ultra in all benchmarks, thanks in part to the latter’s powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset.

The Pixel 7 Pro’s Tensor G2 silicon does not hold up in raw numbers, but, to be fair, Google never intended Tensor to compete with the likes of Qualcomm and Apple Silicon.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra playing racing game

(Image credit: Future)

In Geekbench 5, which measures overall CPU performance, the Galaxy S23 Ultra scored 1,578 in single-core and 5,081 in multicore performance. The Pixel 7 Pro, meanwhile, managed 1,060 and 3,046, respectively.

The gap continues to widen in the 3DMark Wild Life graphics benchmarks. In the Unlimited test, the Galaxy S23 Ultra produced an average frame rate of 88 frames per second. The Pixel 7 Pro came in at less than half that with a 40 fps average.

Google Pixel 7 Pro display view

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Not only is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 a much more powerful chip, the special overclocked version for the Galaxy S23 series jumps even further ahead of Tensor G2. But Tensor isn’t a high-performance processor, since Google primarily focuses on AI and machine learning for the Pixel line now, the results of which we’ll get to in a moment.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra, however, just crushes the Pixel 7 Pro in raw performance and so wins this category.

Winner: Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Battery life and charging

Both the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Pixel 7 Pro have 5,000 mAh batteries, but the longevity of each creates yet another divide — one where Samsung comes out on top. The Pixel 7 Pro isn’t even close.

To test a phone’s battery life, we task the fully charged device to endlessly reload web pages over a cellular connection until it runs out of power. We typically see a 10-hour average on most smartphones nowadays, with the handsets on our best phone battery life list well exceeding that.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Suffice to say, the Pixel 7 Pro did not manage to come close to that 10-hour mark. With its adaptive refresh rate turned on, the Pixel 7 Pro turned in a paltry 8 hours and 4 minutes. That’s pretty bad, especially when you compare it to the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s far more impressive 12 hours and 22 minutes. (Samsung’s phone lasts longer than 13 hours when you lock the refresh rate at 60Hz.)

The Galaxy S23 Ultra also wins with its 45W charging, compared to the Pixel 7 Pro’s 33W speeds. In our recharge test, the S23 Ultra regained 57% of its battery in 30 minutes. We can’t draw direct comparisons here because we only had a 20W charger at hand for the Pixel 7 Pro. Regardless, the Galaxy S23 Ultra wins the overall battery section hands-down. 

Winner: Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Software

Both the Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra ship with Android 13, the latter with the One UI 5.1 software on top. Compared to Android 12 in 2021, Android 13 is a rather modest update focused primarily on security and privacy.

One UI 5.1 builds on top of One UI 5, offering some more customization options and, perhaps most interestingly, Bixby Text Call. This is where you can have Bixby, Samsung’s virtual assistant, answer your phone calls and read out your text responses. It’s pretty neat.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In comparison to what the Pixel 7 Pro can do, however, it’s child’s play. Google’s Call Assist suite delivers all kinds of calling features. Some of these include Call Screen, where Assistant will answer your call and you can see a live transcript of the call in real-time; Hold For Me, where Assistant will stay on the line and alert you when the other person picks up; Clear Calling, which uses Tensor G2’s power to enhance phone calls by reducing background noise; and Direct My Call, which displays automated call menus so that you don’t have to sit through the voice reading out the options.

Then again, the Galaxy S23 Ultra brings the full power of the S Pen to bear against the Pixel 7 Pro. This souped-up stylus can do a whole host of things, from document markup to photo editing and art. We think it’s a neat gimmick, and it has its ardent fans.

This section would be difficult to judge if not for one final thing: update policies. Samsung, surprisingly enough, beats Google here. The Korean phone maker offers four years of Android updates for the Galaxy S23 Ultra with five years of security patches. The Pixel 7 Pro will also enjoy five years of patches, but Google has only promised three years of platform updates.

So Samsung wins here by a hair.

Winner: Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Verdict

While most flagship comparisons are much closer, the Galaxy S23 Ultra proved far better than the Pixel 7 Pro in our opinion. Google lost major points in the battery life category with its simply unacceptable result in our testing. It fell behind the S23 Ultra in display and performance, too.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 UltraGoogle Pixel 7 Pro
Price (10 points)69
Design (10 points)99
Display (15 points)1513
Cameras (20 points)2019
Performance (15 points)1412
Battery life (15 points)138
Software (15 points)1514
Total score (100)9284

Of course, there’s a AU$650 gap between the two phones, which we should not forget, but the camera face-off surprised us with Samsung coming out ahead. That 200MP main sensor can put out some great pictures. Even though we saw traces of Samsung’s old unwanted over-saturation, the final pictures in general came out brighter with stronger colors than the Pixel.

Stephen Lambrechts

Stephen Lambrechts is the Managing Editor of Tom's Guide AU and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming for the last 15 years. Before Tom's Guide, he spent several years as a Senior Journalist at TechRadar, had a brief stint as Editor in Chief at Official Xbox Magazine Australia, and has written for such publications as APC, TechLife Australia, T3, FilmInk, AskMen, Daily Telegraph and IGN. He's an expert when it comes to smartphones, TVs, gaming and streaming. In his spare time, he enjoys watching obscure horror movies on physical media, keeping an eye on the latest retro sneaker releases and listening to vinyl. Occasionally, he also indulges in other non-hipster stuff, like hiking.