Google Pixel 8 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Flagship square-off

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Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S23 Ultra

Intro


Pixel fans, rejoice! The new Pixel 8 Pro is now available on a shelf near you, where it is displayed alongside another exciting Android smartphone, a prime predator––the Galaxy S23 Ultra

Google's new flagship features multiple exciting enhancements and improvements, but the general formula behind the top Pixel flagship phone remains unchanged: friendly design language, sensible AI-driven features, a very capable camera, and regular feature drops. New this year is the ultra-long software support of seven years, which is humbling in comparison with all the other flagships out there.  

However, we should never forget that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the best smartphones money can buy, with the most features and arguably the best value among most super-premium and high-end phones on the market right now. 

With a super-capable camera system, powerful hardware and setup, as well as a larger-than-life AMOLED display, and a built-in S Pen stylus, this Galaxy is easily the ultimate Android device. How does the Pixel 8 Pro compare?

Get Google Pixel 8 Pro at Amazon and save $249

Google's 2023 Pixel 8 Pro flagship is available at Amazon. At the moment, the 128GB model is available at $249 off, meaning you can save 25% on the most innovative Google Pixel flagship phone to date.

Get Google Pixel 8 for8% off on Amazon

The Google Pixel 8 is available at Amazon right now. The smartphone sells for 8% off, which equates to $53. Only the model in Obsidian arrives at that discount right now.

Galaxy S23 Ultra (256GB) is 12% off at Amazon

The 256GB Galaxy S23 Ultra in Lavender sells for 12% off its MSRP. The deal is live on Amazon and there are very limited quantities left. Don't miss out.

Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S23 Ultra differences:
  • 6.7" LTPO OLED w/ 120Hz refresh rate vs 6.8" LTPO OLED w/120Hz refresh rate
  • 2,400 nits maximum brightness vs 1,750 nits of maximum brightness
  • Google Tensor G3 vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
  • 50MP vs 200MP main camera
  • 5.0X optical telephoto vs 10.0X periscope camera
  • 30W vs 45W fast charging
  • 7 years of software updates vs 4 years of software updates/5 years of security updates
  • Stock Android 14 vs One UI 6 (Android 13)

Table of Contents:

Design and Size

No surprises


Google hasn't introduced any significant design changes to the Pixel 8 Pro's exterior aesthetics. While the Pixel 8 Pro looks pretty similar to the Pixel 7 Pro, it has its own twist on the Pixel design, with a more prominent rear camera strip, more curved corners as well as a slightly curved display. 

The overall look and feel, however, remain extremely friendly, easy-going, and welcoming. In terms of colors, the Pixel 8 Pro is available in Bay, Porcelain, and Obsidian, which in a typical Google fashion aren't half-bad!

Size-wise, the Pixel 8 Pro hasn't grown at all and retains mostly the same size as its predecessor. At 163.3 x 78 x 8.9 mm, the Pixel 8 Pro also weighs just 213gr thanks to its aluminum and glass build.


Speaking of unique hardware features like the S Pen, the Pixel 8 Pro brings something new and exciting to the mix––an on-board thermometer that lets you take the temperature of whatever object you want, including your forehead. Neat, for sure! Something you'd use more than once? Not at all!

At the same time, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is definitely the slightly larger and heavier phone as it comes along with a larger 6.8-inch AMOLED display and also has an S Pen built inside. The Samsung flagship stands at 6.43 x 3.07 x 0.35 inches (163.3 x 78 x 8.9 mm), which is superb considering how much is fitted on the inside. The Galaxy S23 Ultra comes along in Lavender, Cream, Phantom Black, and Green.

Both devices are IP68-rated, so don't worry if you get either moderately wet. 

Display Differences

Super Actua vs Dynamic AMOLED 2X


As we mentioned, the Pixel 8 Pro has retained the 6.7-inch display of its predecessor, but with lots of new stuff. First things first, it has a new name, called Super Actua. Second of all, it's by far the brightest display on a Pixel phone so far, capable of hitting around 2,400 nits of peak brightness. The OLED display is also an LTPO one, which dynamically switches between 1 and 120Hz refresh rates for the best scrolling and rewarding experience. 

In our tests, the Pixel 8 Pro surely achieves very high brightness, easily one of the highest we've recorded on a phone, and this could only spell good things about its legibility under bright daylight. 

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes forth with a 6.8-inch 1-120Hz Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen with high maximum and low minimum brightness. Generally speaking, the Galaxy S23 Ultra looks spectacular, as most Samsung displays usually do, with excellent brightness, exceptional contrast, and overall superb color rendition.

Display Measurements:



When it comes to biometrics, the Galaxy S23 Ultra features a fast and reliable ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, and the same applies to the Pixel 8 Pro as well. Of course, picture-based face unlock is found on both the Pixel 8 Pro and the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The difference here is that the Pixel 8 Pro's face unlock is now rated as so secure that it can be used to authenticate fintech and other sensitive apps on your phone. Cool beans! 

Performance and Software

The Snapdragon's unlikely to be overtaken, but the Tensor G3 gains ground


Ever since the inception of the Google Pixel 6 Pro, Google has employed the services of its own custom line of Tensor chips. Unlike most smartphone chipsets, these don't really put the emphasis on raw performance but are tailor-made to serve the Pixel's artificial intelligence and machine-learning needs as best as possible. As such, the Tensor chip is sufficient for most people's everyday needs and allows the Pixel phones to be as smart as they are, though they don't really shine in synthetic benchmark tests.

The Tensor G3 is the new chipset of choice on the Pixel 8 Pro and ushers in major improvements to boost its performance. First things first, it's a 64 bit-only chip, and it's also not a regular octa-core silicon, but actually uses nine cores. There's a prime Cortex-X3 core running at 3GHz, aided by quad mid-range Cortex-A715 cores as well as quad Cortex-A510 efficiency cores. A faster new GPU promises more impressive gaming performance, while a faster new TPU core will be taking care of all the AI and ML needs of the new Pixel 8 Pro.


Meanwhile, Samsung is putting all of its eggs in the raw performance basket, and this year, the name on the basket reads "Qualcomm" and lacks the often-dreaded by Samsung fans "Exynos" name. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset powering the phone in all regions is a slightly tuned version of the regular Qualcomm flagship and was exclusive to Samsung flagships. 

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is an absolute unit that delivers excellent performance, especially in graphics-intensive tasks. The Tensor G3 beating the custom Snapdragon in terms of overall performance sounds like a pretty far-fetched idea. Then again, it will still be more than sufficient for all of your regular needs. Surely, we will get it through the paces of our benchmark test to see how it compares.

Performance Benchmarks:


Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Google Pixel 8 Pro1720
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra1971
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Google Pixel 8 Pro4268
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra5115
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Google Pixel 8 Pro2382
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra3828
3DMark
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Google Pixel 8 Pro1622
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra1951

Both the Pixel 8 Pro and the Galaxy S23 Ultra come with LPDDR5X RAM on board. The Pixel comes with up to 1TB of storage, and so does the Galaxy S23 Ultra, plenty of space for all of your photos, videos, and other files.

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What's impressive here, however, is Google's promise for not four, not five, not even six years of software updates, but a whole lot of seven years of support, which is mind-boggling! 

Mind you, we are not talking about security patches only, but full-fledged Android updates by this decade's end! No other phone manufacturer offers such a long software update windows, definitely an industry-toppling decision. This means that Android 14 is the first of seven software updates the Pixel 8 Pro will see. 


Camera



The Galaxy S23 Ultra, as well as most of its direct predecessors, can easily be considered "the phone" when it comes to overall camera versatility. This is unlikely to change once the Pixel 8 Pro arrives, as Samsung's top flagship will still have more features and be the more versatile camera phone. However, Google has seemingly improved many aspects of the Pixel camera package that make it an exciting prospect. 

The Galaxy S23 Ultra relies on a 200MP main camera that bundles up 16 sensor pixels into one, resulting in very detailed 12MP images. There's also a 12MP ultra-wide camera, joined in forces by a 3.0X optical zoom camera, and finally, a 10MP long periscope camera with 10X optical zoom. Up front, there's a 12MP camera.

In comparison with its predecessors, the Galaxy S23 Ultra delivers more detailed images, with more natural-looking pictures that lack that undesirable over-processed and overly dramatic look. Quality has improved both in broad daylight and low light on the Galaxy S23 Ultra

Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 Pro comes with a 50MP main camera with a much wider aperture than before, as well as boasting Dual Exposure and faster low-light autofocus. New here is the 48MP ultra-wide which is capable of focusing from a much closer distance. There's also the 48MP 5.0X optical zoom telephoto that we saw on the Pixel 7 Pro, which now also soaks more light in, which spells only great things for the low-light capabilities of the Pixel 8 Pro's cameras. A 10.5MP selfie with autofocus is found at the front.

If that's not enough, the Pixel 8 Pro has a bevy of software and AI-powered goodies that aim to improve the overall experience. Best Take, Night Sight Video, and improved Magic Editor are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to camera goodies for the Pixel 8 Pro.

Main Camera - Daytime Photos



Photos taken with the Pixel 8 Pro have better dynamics and better overall colors, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra delivers slightly overexposed images where dynamics are decidedly on the boosted side. There's also lots, and by lots we do mean lots, of oversharpening with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which is certainly off-putting, especially in comparison with the more natural-looking Pixel camera.

Main Camera - Low-light / Night Photos



At lower light, the most severe differences between the two flagships is the color science and overall color temperature in the different scenes. Galaxy S23 Ultra low-light photos are a bit noisier and with some artifacts in the darkest areas. Overall, both are capable at low-light. 

Zoom Quality



At 5X, the Pixel 8 Pro naturally has the upper hand when it comes to overall detail and quality, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra is much softer. Tune things up to 10X, however, and things take a 180-degree turn, with the Galaxy delivering a much cleaner photo with better detail resolve. 


At night, however, Samsung's much slower 10X periscope which has a very narrow aperture, doesn't really shine. In fact, the Pixel 8 Pro has done a better job at capturing a 10X zoom. Of course, at 5X, the Pixel 8 Pro also shines thanks to its native 5X telephoto.

Portrait Mode



The Galaxy does a better job at capturing a neat portrait that you simply want to share on your social media channels. The Pixel ones looks has tons of artifacts and uneven subject separation, it also looks extremely unnatural. 

Ultra-wide Camera



The ultra-wide camera of the Pixel 8 Pro captures more natural photos in comparison with the oversaturated and oversharpened mess that the Galaxy S23 Ultra delivers both at daylight and nighttime. 

Selfies



The Pixel has always delivered more natural and dramatic selfies, and the Pixel 8 Pro is no exception; its selfie is pretty nice, provided that you like the style. The Galaxy selfie isn't without flaws either (it's too warm), but it still is arguably the better selfie. 

Video quality


Video Thumbnail


Audio Quality and Haptics


The Pixel 8 Pro delivers excellent audio, but the Galaxy 23 Ultra has a slight edge to it, delivering more enjoyable and boomy sound. 

Battery Life and Charging

Which phone will win the endurance game?


The Pixel 8 Pro comes with a 5,050mAh battery, a smidgen larger than the Pixel 7 Pro. Despite the newer chip on deck, which should be more efficient, Google doesn't really expect much better battery life of its newer phone and cites a similar 31-hour battery life on the regular, just like the Pixel 7 Pro

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 Ultra also has a 5,000mAh battery on board and easily outlasts its predecessor by a mile. It also beats the Pixel 7 Pro in our independent web browsing and 3D gaming tests, but the Pixel 7 Pro scored a victory in the video streaming test. Remains to be seen if this will be true with the Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Pixel 8 Pro battery life battle in our custom battery tests.

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:


Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Google Pixel 8 Pro10h 32 min
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra8h 54 min
Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Google Pixel 8 Pro15h 51 min
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra18h 57 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Google Pixel 8 Pro6h 42 min
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra7h 13 min

Charging-wise, the Pixel 8 Pro comes with 30W wired charging, and up to 12W wireless charging speeds. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts 45W wired charging, which fills up the phone in a little over an hour, and 15 wireless charging, which tops up the phone in roughly one hour and fifty minutes. 

PhoneArena Charging Test Results:

15 MinsHigher is better30 Mins(%)Higher is betterFull Charge(hours)Lower is better
Google Pixel 8 Pro26%
47%
1h 31 min
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra41%
68%
1h 6 min


Specs


The Pixel 8 Pro vs Galaxy S23 Ultra specs comparison is summarized in the table below:


Summary



Overall, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is easily the most well-established flagship prodigy available on the market right now, with the most features among most of its rivals and overall delivering excellent value despite its very premium price tag.

Could the Pixel 8 Pro successfully rival that? Of course, provided that Google perfects the overall package and prices its next flagship right, it could establish itself as the phone to get if you don't vibe well with the Galaxy ecosystem. 

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