Samsung Galaxy S23 vs Google Pixel 7: compact flagships compared

The back of a Samsung Galaxy S23 next to the back view of a Google Pixel 7
Samsung Galaxy S23 (left), Google Pixel 7 (right) (Image credit: Future | Samsung | Google)

The Samsung Galaxy S23 and the Google Pixel 7 aren’t the best phones that either company makes, but they’re close. They’re both high-end handsets that undercut their Pro and Ultra siblings, and have relatively small screens.

As such, they’re also naturally competing with one another, as if you’re after a high-but-not-top-end Android phone then there’s a good chance you’ll be considering both of them.

But while these two handsets have a lot in common, they also have plenty of differences, so read on to see exactly how they compare.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs Google Pixel 7: price and availability

Samsung Galaxy S23 prices:

  • 8GB / 128GB: $799.99 / £849 / AU$1,349
  • 8GB / 256GB: $859.99 / £899 / AU$1,449

Google Pixel 7 prices:

  • 8GB / 128GB: $599 / £599 / AU$999
  • 8GB / 256GB: $699 / £699 / AU$1,129

Comparing the prices of the Google Pixel 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S23 is straightforward, because they come in exactly the same storage and RAM configurations.

Both phones always and only come with 8GB of RAM, so the only choice that affects the price is how much storage you want, whether it's 128GB or 256GB.

In either case, you’ll be paying more for the Samsung Galaxy S23, as you can see above. That phone starts at $200 / £250 / AU$350 more than the equivalent 128GB Pixel 7, and if you want a 256GB model then you’ll be paying around $160 / £200 / AU$320 more for a Galaxy S23 than a Pixel 7.

Google Pixel 7 review angled

The Google Pixel 7 has a bigger screen but a lower refresh rate (Image credit: Future / Alex Walker-Todd)

Those are the standard prices anyway, but the Pixel 7 – which launched in October 2022 – is old enough now that it’s often reduced, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S23 – which landed in February 2023 – still tends to be full price or close to. So in reality the difference in pricing is often even greater.

Both phones are widely available across the world though, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding either.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs Google Pixel 7: design

The Google Pixel 7 is certainly the more distinctive looking of these two phones, with a large metal camera visor running the width of the rear, while the Samsung Galaxy S23 has a trio of lens in the top left corner, with no significant housing around them.

Which look you prefer is subjective, and while that’s the most obvious design difference, it’s not the only one. The colors differ for one, with the Pixel 7 coming in Obsidian, Lemongrass (a pale green), or Snow, while the Samsung Galaxy S23 colors include Cream, Phantom Black, Green, Lavender, Graphite, and Lime.

The weight and dimensions of these phones also differ, with the Google Pixel 7 coming in at 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7mm and 197g, while the Samsung Galaxy S23 is 146.3 x 70.9 x 7.6mm and 168g. So Google’s phone is bigger, thicker, and heavier.

Samsung Galaxy S23 back

The Galaxy S23 is more durable but less distinct (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

However, both phones have a flat screen, a punch-hole camera in the top center of the display, an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance, an aluminum frame, and a glass back.

The only difference there is that the Samsung Galaxy S23 uses tough Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the screen and back, while the Google Pixel 7 uses slightly older and slightly worse original Victus.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs Google Pixel 7: display

With the Samsung Galaxy S23 you get a 6.1-inch 1080 x 2340 AMOLED display, with 425 pixels per inch, a 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ support, and a peak brightness of 1,750 nits.

The Google Pixel 7 meanwhile has a 6.3-inch 1080 x 2400 AMOLED screen with 416 pixels per inch, a 90Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ support, and a peak brightness of 1,400 nits.

So the Galaxy S23’s screen is smaller and marginally lower resolution, but with a slightly higher pixel density, a higher refresh rate, and a higher peak brightness.

Google Pixel 7 review OS

The Google Pixel 7 is substantially cheaper (Image credit: Future / Alex Walker-Todd)

On paper Samsung’s screen has the edge, unless you really want the extra 0.2 inches of the Pixel 7’s, and indeed that’s reflected in the experience of our reviewers, who rated the Galaxy S23’s screen a 4.5/5, and the Pixel 7’s a 3.5/5 – with the refresh rate being the main issue they had with the latter.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs Google Pixel 7: cameras

Both Samsung and Google are known for making some of the best camera phones, and while neither of these are their top options, they still perform well.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 has a 50MP f/1.8 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, and a 10MP f/2.4 telephoto, offering 3x optical zoom. It also has a 12MP f/2.2 front-facing camera, and both the main and telephoto snappers sport optical image stabilization (OIS).

The Pixel 7 has fewer cameras, with just a 50MP f/1.9 main snapper and a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide on the rear, along with a 10.8MP f/2.2 camera on the front. You also only get OIS on the main camera, and Google’s ultra-wide has a slightly narrower field of view than Samsung’s, at 114-degrees to 120-degrees.

On the other hand, the Pixel 7 unusually has an ultra-wide selfie camera, with a 92.8-degree field of view, while Samsung’s provides a narrower view.

Samsung Galaxy S23 camera array

The Samsung Galaxy S23 gives you more cameras (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

However, in practice both phones take impressive pictures, helped by strong image processing and – particularly in the case of the Pixel 7 – useful tools and features, like Photo Unblur to sharpen up shots and Magic Eraser to remove unwanted objects or people in a scene.

We awarded both camera setups 4/5 in our reviews, but we’d be inclined to say that the Samsung Galaxy S23 is the better choice if you care about zoom shots, while the Pixel 7 might just have the edge if you don’t.

Samsung also has the edge for video resolution though, shooting in up to 8K quality, while the Google Pixel 7 tops out at 4K.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs Google Pixel 7: performance & features

We mentioned above that both the Samsung Galaxy S23 and the Google Pixel 7 have 8GB of RAM, so that aspect of performance is similar, but when it comes to the chipset there’s a clear winner when looking at raw power.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 has a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, which is basically an overclocked version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 – a chipset found in many of 2023’s top Android phones, including the OnePlus 11 and the Xiaomi 13 Pro. That’s the best chipset available to Android phones at the time of writing, and the Samsung Galaxy S23 has the best version of it.

The Google Pixel 7 on the other hand doesn’t have any version of it. Instead, this uses a Tensor G2, which is exclusive to Pixel phones and prioritizes AI processes and machine learning over raw performance. As such, it doesn’t do anywhere near as well in most benchmarks, and is also unlikely to give you quite as many frames per second in the most demanding games as the Samsung Galaxy S23.

Google Pixel 7 review display

The Pixel 7 is less powerful but better for AI (Image credit: Future / Alex Walker-Todd)

But in most real-world use cases you’re unlikely to notice much difference, and its AI and machine learning skills help with things like image processing and speech-to-text.

As for other specs and features, both phones come with a choice of 128GB or 256GB of storage, but one place where they differ is their batteries. The Samsung Galaxy S23 has a 3,900mAh cell with 25W wired charging or 15W wireless charging.

The Google Pixel 7 has a larger 4,355mAh battery with 20W charging whether wired or wireless – though you need to use a Pixel Stand to get that wireless charging power, otherwise it tops out at 12W.

Actual longevity seems broadly similar, though the Samsung Galaxy S23 appears to have a slight edge, as in our reviews we found that the Galaxy S23 could get through a full day and halfway through the following morning before it would die, while the Pixel 7 could last a heavy day but likely wouldn’t survive into a second.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs Google Pixel 7: software

Both of these phones ship with Android 13, and in the case of the Samsung Galaxy S23, you’re getting quite heavy customization in the form of One UI. It’s a matter of personal preference as to which of these phones is better on the interface front, but there are two other things to bear in mind.

The first is update speed, and on that front the Pixel 7 wins – this being a Google phone, it will get new versions of Android on day one, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S23 will likely have to wait a little while longer. The exact wait varies but for reference it took a little over two months for the Samsung Galaxy S22 to get updated to Android 13.

However, you should also consider how long a phone will be supported for. This is arguably more important, and on that front the Samsung Galaxy S23 has the lead. Samsung has promised it will deliver at least four years of operating system updates, while Google has only promised three years – though both phones will get at least five years of security patches, which should ensure they remain safe to use for the duration.

Samsung Galaxy S23 screen held at an angle

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is promised more software updates (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Which one should you buy?

With the Samsung Galaxy S23 you’re getting a higher refresh rate than the Pixel 7 offers, along with a brighter screen, a more durable build that’s also slimmer and lighter, an extra camera lens allowing for telephoto shots, support for 8K video recording, a more powerful chipset, slightly faster wired charging, likely slightly better battery life, and the promise of more Android updates.

The Google Pixel 7 on the other hand can boast a much lower price, a slightly larger screen, arguably better camera software, a chipset that excels at AI and machine learning, a bigger battery (even if that doesn’t translate into better life), and faster Android updates.

In most other ways these phones are comparable, from their storage amounts to their RAM and resolution.

So which should you choose? Well, we gave both phones four stars, so you can’t really go wrong with either. But if cost is a big factor or you want clever camera features and clean software, go for the Pixel 7. If you want something that feels a bit more like a flagship and particularly if you care about telephoto shots, then the Samsung Galaxy S23 is a safer bet.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.