The Google Pixel 6a has ruined my excitement for Galaxy S23

Google Pixel 6a
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Galaxy S23 is right around the corner with an expected February launch. Samsung will set the stage for what to expect from Android phones in 2023. It's an exciting time if you're a fan of the Galaxy devices. But I have far less excitement this time around, and it's because of a little budget phone we got this summer.

The Pixel 6a has quickly become one of my favorite phones thanks to its value proposition. For $449, you get flagship camera performance, the very intelligent Tensor G1 chipset (the one from the the Pixel 6 series), and a pocketable form factor. Sure, it lacks a high refresh rate display and above-average battery life, but all told, the Pixel 6a is one of the best phones out there.

It's so good, in fact, that it has even made my other two favorite phones, the Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro, less exciting in comparison. They are without a doubt better phones by any other metric, but the Pixel 6a lords its insanely affordable price over them.

The only phone that comes even a little bit close is the $429 iPhone SE (2022). However, despite its stronger A15 Bionic processor, the cheap iPhone lags behind the Pixel 6a in many other key areas. It has half the storage, a single camera, no night mode, a smaller LCD display and a dated design.

We all know the Galaxy S23 — the Galaxy S23 Ultra especially — is going to be a great phone. You can bet that it will have one of the best displays you can get, plus the most powerful chip available for Android phones and cameras that might even outmatch the Pixel 7 Pro's. But at what cost?

Google Pixel 6a on bench

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I doubt Samsung will deviate from its earlier price structure. That would mean $799 for the Galaxy S23, $999 for the Galaxy S23 Plus, and $1,199 for the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Those are all hefty asking prices, even on the low end.

The Pixel 6a can do everything I want a phone to do for nearly half of what I expect the Galaxy S23 to cost.

The Pixel 6a can do everything I want a phone to do for nearly half of what I expect the Galaxy S23 to cost. It takes outstanding photos, even at night, and it's got the smarts to outwit many of the best Android phones. This little phone has stolen my heart.

So no, I'm not all that excited for the Galaxy S23 because I've seen a device that is plenty for most people. Few need kitchen sink phones like the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro Max offer, especially at their given price points. It's a similar argument I made for the Nothing Phone (1) and topics I've discussed with the Pixel 5.

Phone companies want to convince you that you need the latest and highest end device, but odds are, you really don't. The Pixel 6a is practically the ideal phone at $449. It's newer cousin, the Pixel 7, at $599 is also a great buy. The Galaxy S23 better have a lot going on to justify such a price difference between it and Google's budget handset.

I will, of course, watch Samsung's announcement with interest and approach the Galaxy S23 series with an open mind for the purposes of my review. But the Pixel 6a has spoiled any excitement I have for the Galaxy flagship in the best way possible. 

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.