We're excited about the Galaxy S23 vs. Pixel 7 showdown that's coming next month when Samsung should launch its latest flagship series. But even before that Galaxy S23 release date, we've heard enough rumors and leaks to get a general idea of what to expect from this face-off.
Samsung and Google are both gunning to have the best Android phone and to earn your hard-earned cash, though the latter might have the upper hand in terms of pricing if Samsung stays true to its pattern from the last couple of years.
The Galaxy S23 will kick off Android flagships for 2023, while the Pixel 7 will be one of the de facto Android handsets to consider until its successor arrives later this fall. Here's what to expect from the Galaxy S23 vs. Pixel 7 face-off.
Galaxy S23 vs. Google Pixel 7: Price and availability
Obviously, we don't know about the Galaxy S23's pricing, nor the Galaxy S23 Plus' for that matter. But we have historical data to go off of, leaving us with the impression that Samsung will keep the same prices as last year. That would mean the Galaxy S23 could start at $799 and Galaxy S23 Plus at $999.
If true, the Pixel 7 would undercut Samsung's latest since it clocks in at a mere $599. For that price, you get the versatile Tensor G2 processor, a powerful dual camera system, and a 90Hz 1080p display. It's one the best deals in smartphones.
Samsung is holding a Galaxy Unpacked event on February 1, and while it hasn't confirmed what it's announcing at that event, it's a safe bet the Galaxy S23 will be on the agenda. At that point, we'll know for certain what the Galaxy S23 costs and how that compares to the Pixel 7.
Galaxy S23 vs. Google Pixel 7: Design and display
The Galaxy S23, at least based on some leaked renders, appears to have a slight design change in the works. From what we've seen so far, Samsung looks to intend to bring the whole Galaxy S23 lineup together in terms of design language.
Meanwhile, the Pixel 7 refined the design direction that Google introduced with the Pixel 6 in 2021. The distinctive camera bar remains, spanning the width of the phone. It's metal this time around, adding a pop of sophistication.
We're sad to see the Pixel 6's three tone design go, which we thought added some personality to the Pixel lineup. Still, we love the Pixel 7's overall look. There's no other smartphone like it.
As for displays, we expect the Galaxy S23 to remain at 6.1 inches with a FHD+ resolution. The Galaxy S22 could ramp up its refresh rate to 120Hz, but clock down to just 48MHz. Other competing phones go down to 10Hz, or even 1Hz (like the OnePlus 10 Pro or Galaxy S22 Ultra).
The Galaxy S22 had a super bright display, measuring 1,152 nits in our testing. You should anticipate the Galaxy S23 to at least match that, if not exceed it.
The Pixel 7 sports a great 6.3-inch OLED display with a FHD+ resolution and 90Hz adaptive refresh rate. While lacking the punchy colors and insane brightness of the Galaxy S22, it is more than visible in daylight with a max brightness of 926 nits in our testing.
We won't be surprised if the Galaxy S23's display mops the floor with the Pixel 7, but that's because Samsung has the best panels in the Android market.
Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Google Pixel 7: Cameras
The true victor in this showdown will earn its victory in the camera department. Google holds the title for the best Android camera phones. Despite Samsung making some major progress in recent years, the Galaxy S22 still struggles to keep up with the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. The Galaxy S23 Ultra might overtake Google, though.
Samsung will likely keep the triple camera setup that's it had for a while now. The rumors say we'll see a 12MP main sensor along with a 12MP ultrawide shooter and a 10MP telephoto lens (another rumor says 11MP). As for zoom, the Galaxy S22 had a 3x optical capacity, so it's likely the Galaxy S23 will keep that.
The latest rumors also say the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 will get a new 12MP front-facing camera, which would be an upgrade over the previous 10MP sensors.
The Pixel 7 uses its 50MP main and 12MP ultrawide sensors to incredible effect. This phone takes amazing pictures in most scenarios, giving the iPhone 14 a major run for its money. Google reserved the telephoto lens for the Pixel 7 Pro, but the Pixel 7 enjoys all of the other computational photography tricks of its bigger brother.
Those things include features like Magic Eraser, which can intelligently remove objects and people from your pictures; Photo Unblur which can repair a lot of blurry photos; and Active Stabilization, which acts as video stabilization on steroids.
The Pixel 7 has set a high bar for the Galaxy S23 to clear. We're excited to see if Samsung can do it.
Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Google Pixel 7: Performance and battery life
When it comes to performance, we expect the Galaxy S23 to come equipped with more horsepower than the Pixel 7. That's because the Pixel's Tensor G2 chipset falls behind the Galaxy S22 and its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in synthetic benchmarks. With the Galaxy S23 all but guaranteed to get the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, Google is likely to fall further behind in performance.
For instance, in Geekbench 5, the Pixel 7 turned in 1,054 / 3,021 in single-core and multicore, respectively. The Galaxy S22 scored 1,204 and 3,248. Not a huge gap, but it's likely to widen with the new Qualcomm chip.
But raw numbers don't tell the whole story, since the Pixel 7's smarts far exceed what the Galaxy S22 can do. It's possible that Samsung will catch up with the Galaxy S23, but we're skeptical.
The Pixel 7 did not wow us with its battery life. In our custom test, where we task a phone to endlessly reload web pages over a cellular connection, it returned a result of 7 hours and 17 minutes in its adaptive refresh rate mode.
Not that the Galaxy S22 was much better at 7 hours and 51 minutes. We like to see at least ten hours in this test, so Samsung has a lot of room for improvement with the Galaxy S23.
Rumors suggest the battery might get a boost to 3,885 mAh for the regular Galaxy S23 and 4,700 mAh for the Galaxy S23 Plus. If true, that ought to improve longevity.
Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Google Pixel 7: Software
Another large differentiator between the Galaxy S23 and Pixel 7 will be software. Samsung's One UI is a feature-packed rendition of Android and the phone maker has vastly improved its software design and update schedule in recent years. One UI 5, based on Android 13, is solid, which is what the Galaxy S23 will run out of the box.
The Pixel 7 runs Google's vision of Android 13, complete with the Material You theming engine. It's relatively stripped back compared to One UI, but don't let that fool you. Google has packed in a lot of useful things like the whole Call Suite (including the ever-useful Call Screen, which screens your calls), the photography stuff we mentioned earlier, and the Now Playing music identifier.
The Pixel 7 also enjoys day one access to the latest updates and security patches from Google. There are also the quarterly Feature Drops, where Google introduces smaller feature sets outside of the annual Android release schedule.
We won't say one is better than the other since it's a personal preference, but where Samsung currently leads Google comes down to how many updates it promises. It has committed to four years of platform updates and five years of security patches, which is the best you can get on an Android phone.
That means the Galaxy S23 will receive Android 17 and security patches into 2028. Google, meanwhile, also promises five years of security updates, but only three years of Android upgrades. So Samsung has the advantage right out of the gate.
Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Google Pixel 7: Outlook
The Galaxy S23 vs. Pixel 7 face-off will be an interesting one. And with not much time remaining before Samsung's February 1 Unpacked event, it shouldn't be long before we can officially compare the Galaxy S23 with Google's $599 flagship.
The victory will ultimately depend on how each phone does in our camera and battery life tests. Google has quite a lead heading into this showdown, but Samsung could have a few tricks up its sleeve.
For now, we will have to rely on rumors and leaks to get a better idea about the Galaxy S23, so be sure to check our Galaxy S23 hub for all of the latest news. And if you want to learn everything about Google's phone, head over to our Pixel 7 review.