Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22 —which Android phone wins?

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22 showdown pits two of the best Android phones against one another to find out which flagship is the better buy. And like many face-offs between the best phones, it's a battle that hinges largely on how the cameras perform, as well as what kind of performance you're looking for in a smartphone.

The Pixel 7 is the newcomer, packing Google's new Tensor G2 silicon and its machine learning-based prowes. The design of Google's entry-level flagship retains the unique look of the Pixel 6 with some refinements. Google is banking that the new Tensor chip, combined with the phone maker's usual flair for mobile photography will carry the day.

But the Pixel 7 has its work cut out for it going up against the Galaxy S22. The Galaxy S22 boasts some photo features of its own along with a dedicated telephoto lens that the Pixel 7 doesn't offer. A Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 system-on-chip provides the kind of performance you'd expect from a leading Android smartphone.

In other words, these are two evenly matched phones that should be on the shortlist for any Android user looking for a new premium device for less than $800. Here's how our Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22 face-off breaks down.

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22: Specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Google Pixel 7Samsung Galaxy S22
Starting price$599$799
Screen size6.3-inch OLED (2400 x 1080)6.1-inch AMOLED (2340 x 1080)
Refresh rate90Hz48Hz -120Hz
CPUTensor G2Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM8GB8GB
Storage128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB
Rear cameras50MP (f/1.85) main; 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide50MP wide (f/1.8); 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2); 10MP telephoto (f/2.4) with 3x optical zoom
Front camera10.8MP (f/2.2)10MP (f/2.2)
Battery size4,355 mAh3,700 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)7:217:51
Charging speed30W25W
Size6.1 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches5.7 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches
Weight6.9 ounces5.9 ounces
ColorsObsidian, Snow, LemongrassPhantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold, Bora Purple

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22: Price and availability

One of the Pixel 7's big selling points is that it delivers flagship features at a lower price than competing devices. And that's certainly the case when compared to the Galaxy S22.

The Pixel 7 starts at $599/£599/AU$999 for a 128GB model; bumping the storage to 256GB raises the price to $699. That's still less than what Samsung charges for the Galaxy S22 — the 128GB version of that phone starts at $799/£769/AU$1,249. You can upgrade to a 256GB S22 for an extra $50.

Of course, the best Google Pixel 7 deals and best Samsung Galaxy S22 deals can bring those prices down further.

All the major wireless carriers offer both phones, and you'll find them at many discount carriers and retailers, too. That includes Google Fi, Google's in-house wireless carrier. It offers the Pixel 7, as you might expect, but Google Fi also carries a version the Galaxy S22 that's optimized to run on its network. In other words, anywhere you can find one device, you'll probably find the other.

Winner: Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22: Design

Regardless of which phone you wind up getting, you'll end up with a device that has a premium look and feel. Both Google and Samsung have occasionally skimped on materials used in their entry-level flagships, but that's certainly not the case with the Pixel 7 or Galaxy S22.

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For the Pixel 7, Google stuck with the distinctive look it intoduced with the Pixel 6, with a horizontal camera bar spanning the width of the device. The camera bar looks a little more stylish this time around, though, as its made out of aluminum with a matte finish.

The two-tone look of the Pixel 6 is gone, as the Pixel 7 uses a solid color — either black, white or a subtle lime green marketed as Lemongrass.

Google Pixel 7 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In contrast, Samsung stacks the rear cameras vertically in the upper left corner on the back of the S22. The camera array sticks out, but blends seamlessly into the sides of the phone. You get a few more color options from Samsung — in addition to black and white, the phone is available in green, pink gold and purple.

Samsung Galaxy S22 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Because the Pixel 7 features a larger 6.3-inch display than the 6.1-inch Galaxy S22, Google's phone is taller and wider. The rear camera bar also makes it stick out a little more, though when you set each phone on its back, the Pixel 7 is less likely to wobble.

I appreciate how the Pixel 7 offers a unique look at a time when it's becoming harder to tell phones apart. But as someone who prefers smaller phones to phablets, I appreciate the S22's compact form factor — you still get a 6.1-inch screen but in a device that's lighter and easier to fit in a pocket.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22: Display

Google said one of its big goals with the Pixel 7 update was to improve the brightness of the phone's screen. It certainly delivered on that front, as the Pixel 7 registered 926 nits of peak brightness when we measured it with a light meter. That's bright enough to view outside, though you may have to scale up the display brightness on the Pixel 7 to improve visibility.

As bright as the Pixel 7 is, though, the Galaxy S22 still outshines it. Our light meter recorded 1,152 nits when we turned HDR on for the S22's 6.1-inch OLED panel. 

The Pixel 7 does have the size advantage though, clocking in at 6.3 inches versus 6.1 inches for the Galaxy S22. So with Google's phone the viewing experience is a bit more immersive. 

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Google Pixel 7Samsung Galaxy S22
Screen size6.3-inch OLED6.1-inch OLED
Peak brightness (nits)9261,152
sRGB %109.3%110%
DCI-P3 %77.4%77.9%
Delta-E rating0.280.22

Otherwise, the displays are evenly matched capturing nearly equal percentages of the sRGB and DCI-P3 color spectrums. The Galaxy S22 reproduces those colors more accurately, with a Delta-E rating of 0.22 in natural mode, compared to 0.28 for the Pixel 7. (Numbers closer to zero are more accurate.)

Still, watching the Creed III trailer via YouTube on either phone produced similar viewing experiences, with the light and shadows dancing around Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors as they sparred inside and outside the ring.

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

One key difference between the two phones comes down to refresh rate. While the Pixel 7 is capable of adjusting its refresh rate up to 90Hz, the Galaxy S22 does it one better by scaling up to 120Hz when activity on the screen would benefit from smoother scrolling or more immersive graphics.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22: Cameras

Samsung made the more radical changes to the cameras on its phone, while Google pretty much stuck with the Pixel 6's setup for the Pixel 7. That means the new Google phone features a 50MP main camera and a 12MP ultrawide lens, with the phone's new Tensor silicon handling the photo processing capabilities.

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The main camera on the Galaxy S22 now matches the 50MP sensor on Google's phone. Samsung also uses a larger sensor than it did on the Galaxy S21, so the main camera can let in more light. A 12MP ultrawide camera and a 10MP telephoto lens complete the rear camera setup, with that latter camera capable of a 3x optical zoom. The Pixel 7, of course, has to rely on features like Super Res Zoom to keep its optical zoom ins free of extraneous noise.

Let's start with those zoom shots, by getting a 2x zoom in on the Oakland skyline from across the San Leandro Channel. That's well within the optical zoom capabilities of the Galaxy S22, but the Pixel 7 has to use its 50MP main camera, cropping the shot down to 12.5MP when I zoom in. The Pixel 7's shot is clear enough, though the color is a little bit off compared to the Galaxy S22's crisp zoom. Some of those boats have a little fuzziness to them, too, in the Pixel 7 photo.

Bumping up the zoom to 5x, things get a little bit fuzzier in the Pixel 7's shot, though it's still a passable image of the city skyline. The Tribue Tower stands out sharply against the sky in the Pixel 7 photo, though the Galaxy S22 features a brighter shade of green on the pyramid at the top of the building. The palm trees look better in the Galaxy S22's shot as well.

Switching to a comparison of the main camera, the Pixel 7's shot of a spinach frittata is overly cool, though the colors remain balanced throughout the shot. The Pixel also handled glare from an overhead light reflecting off the plate with aplomb, as there's more of a flare in the S22 shot. 

The biggest problem to the S22's approach is that the colors are too pumped up, to the point where they look unnatural. Perhaps some people will find the frittata in the S22 photo to look more appetizing, but to me, that egg yellow looks far too bright.

There's little separating these dueling shots of a Halloween wreath hanging from my door. Both the Pixel 7 and Galaxy S22 recreated accurate colors, and neither camera phone was thrown off the light reflecting off the glass window in the door behind the wreath. If you zoom in on both shots, you'll notice the raven on the left looks a little more focused in the Galaxy S22's shot, but either camera can be trusted to create a decent photo here.

You can really see how Samsung's emphasis on night photography pays off in the Galaxy S22's photo of some Halloween decorations. Without much lighting to go by, the S22's night mode still manages to produce a composed, balanced shot in which various details — the table decorations, the flowers on the bougainvillea and the posed skeletons — all emerge from the shadows.

The Pixel 7 shot is also quite good in this regard, but Google's phone adds a blue cast to the white skeletons. The light streaming out from the windows looks pinkish in goth shots — one of the few flaws in an otherwise appealing Halloween scene.

To test out the portrait capabilities of each phone, I turned to their front cameras. On the Galaxy S22, that's a 10MP shooter, while the Pixel 7 features an updated 10.8MP sensor with a smaller aperture but a wider field of view than what the Pixel 6 had to offer.

Neither phone does a particularly good job at accurately capturing my face. The Galaxy S22 comes closer than the overly dark, overly ruddy look of the Pixel 7, even with a yellowish cast to the photo. My reddish-brown hair is not as dark at the Pixel 7 seems to think it is, though my shirt isn't as black as it appears in the S22 shot.

The Pixel 7 does have a more stylized background blur, though that really helps me stand out from the orange tree I'm standing in front of. The effect is a lot more subtle in the Galaxy S22 photo, if that's to your taste.

The Pixel 7's front camera boasts a 92.8-degree field of view, compared to 80 degrees for the Galaxy S22. To see what difference that makes, I had my daughter join me for a selfie, this time with the portrait mode turned off on both cameras.

I could slide in quite comfortably next to my daughter in the Pixel 7 shot, while we had to snuggle up close to fit inside the Galaxy S22's lens. But perhaps the dim lighting flummoxed the Pixel 7 because my face looks unnaturally red in that photo; the Galaxy S22 produces a more natural shot, as cramped as we are.

However, the Pixel 7's group selfie does a better job rendering my daughter's face. You make out her freckles better, for example, and there's more detail in her eyes.

On the video front, the Pixel 7 and Galaxy S22 offer dueling stabilization features — Active Stabilization for the Pixel 7 and Video Digital Image Stabilization. Both promise steadier shots when you move the camera around or follow a moving subject.

The Pixel 7's Cinematic Blur adds a shallow field of focus to provide a background blur on video shots, while Auto Framing on the Galaxy S22 and detect and follow up to 10 people, shifting the focus as you shoot.

Winner: Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22: Performance

Comparing Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22 performance comes down to what you're looking for in a phone. While the Pixel 7 is no performance slouch, Google wasn't looking for a speed demon when it designed the Tensor G2 chipset. As before, the emphasis here is with the Tensor Processing Unit that powers the machine learning-enabled capabilities that are unique to the Pixel — we'll discuss those in the software section below.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 powering the Galaxy S22 takes a different approach, with the CPU and GPU both receiving their share of attention. It shouldn't be surprising, then, that the Galaxy S22 comes out on to top in benchmark comparisons. The Galaxy S22 posts better single- and multicore scores than the Pixel 7 in Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance. The S22's 60 frames per second result in the 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited test for graphics performance also blew away the Pixel 7's 40 fps average.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Google Pixel 7Galaxy S22
CPUTensor G2Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Geekbench, single-core1,0541,204
Geekbench, multicore3,0213,348
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (fps)4060
Adobe Premiere Rush video encode (mins:secs)0:480:47

The Pixel 7 fared better in our real-world video editing test, where we use Adobe Premiere Rush to transcode a video clip, timing the results. It took the Pixel 7 48 seconds to complete the task, which is only a second slower than the S22's time. Put another way, the Galaxy S22 can out-muscle the Pixel 7, particularly in graphically intense games. But most of the time, the difference is not going to be that noticeable.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22: Battery life and charging

Both Samsung and Google went with smaller batteries for the Galaxy S22 and Pixel 7 compared to their respective predecessors. The Galaxy S22 runs on a 3,700 mAh power pack, while the Pixel 7 opts for a 4,355 mAh cell. Neither phone wound up challenging for a spot on our best phone battery life list.

At least the S22 managed to squeeze more life out of its battery in our custom test, where we have phone surf the web over cellular until it runs out of power.

Samsung Galaxy S22 review

Galaxy S22 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In that test, the Galaxy S22 held out for 7 hours and 51 minutes — roughly 2 hours behind the result of the average smartphone. Still, that was half-an-hour better than the Pixel 7's 7 hour and 21 minute result.

Google Pixel 7 review

Pixel 7 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Neither phone comes with a charger, but the Pixel 7 can support a faster slightly wired charging speed of 30W with a compatible charger. The Galaxy S22 is capped at 25W, as it misses out on the faster 45W charging speeds enjoyed by other Galaxy S22 models. Still, when we tested the S22, it got to a 60% charge in 30 minutes. We had a hard time getting the Pixel 7 to 50% in that time, though we didn't have a 30W charger on hand to test with.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22: Software and special features

Pixel 7 users experience Android 13 the moment they fire up the phone, as Google's devices ship with the latest version of Android and can get software updates right away.

As of this writing, the Galaxy S22 is still running Android 12, though Samsung's new One UI 5 interface based on Android 13 is in beta now and rolling out to existing phones this fall. When it arrives, expect greater personalization features, enhanced widgets and the ability to use text to answer phone calls via a new Bixby Text Call feature.

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Still, that pales in comparison to the Tensor-powered capabilities Google introduced with the Pixel 7. My favorite feature is the Photo Unblur editing tool that allows you to take any photo stored on the Pixel 7 and remove the blurriness, even on shots captured by another phone.

Other Tensor-powered smarts include an updated version of Direct My Call where phone menus now appear on your Pixel screen faster, enhancements to voice typing that included suggested emojis and a feature that transcribes audio recordings in the Messages app.

Tensor also powers a new face unlocking feature, matching something offered by the Galaxy S22. The under-display fingerprint reader on the Pixel 7 is also more responsive than the Pixel 6's version, though I'd still give the S22's fingerprint reader the edge.

Speaking of edges, Samsung continues to enjoy one on the software support front. While both Google and Samsung promises five years of security updates for their respective phones, the Galaxy S22 is guaranteed four years of Android updates; Google only commits to three years for the Pixel 7.

Winner: Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22: Verdict

By the narrowest of margins, the Galaxy S22 edges out the Pixel 7 in our Google Pixel 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22 face-off. Despite big advantages in price and Tensor-powered software features for the Pixel 7, the Galaxy S22's superior design, display and performance win the day.

As with previous Pixels, the cameras on the Pixel 7 are outstanding, but the Galaxy S22's camera performance keeps things close enough to push Samsung's phone to an overall victory.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Google Pixel 7aSamsung Galaxy S22
Price and availability (10 points)97
Design (10 points)89
Display (15 points)1213
Cameras (20 points)1817
Performance and 5G (20 points)1518
Battery life and charging (15 points)910
Software and special features (10 points)108
Overall (100 points)8182

The Pixel 7 remains a great option for Android fans, particularly those who value top camera phones but don't want to overspend on their next handset. The Tensor features alone would be worth the price of admission for many shoppers.

But the Galaxy S22 is a more complete phone at this point, and that extra year of software support goes a long way toward helping you squeeze more value out of Samsung's device. Throw in a dedicated telephoto lens and a brighter display, and it's hard to overlook the Galaxy S22 when deciding which phone to buy.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.