Upping the ante on the already excellent
- Bespoke Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset
- More base storage than predecessor
- Functional refinements
- Faster charging would have been nice
- Looks identical to predecessor
- Seriously expensive
Google aims to take the smartphone crown
- Intuitive and easy to use
- Photo Unblur truly fixes older photos
- Snappy and responsive interface
- Lacks the deep feature set of best competition
- Battery and charging time could be better
- Macro Focus didn’t blow us away
Although the S23 Ultra looks purpose-made for the top spot on its platform as the best Android phone out there, there's one obvious competitor it sits in contention with and that's the Google Pixel 7 Pro.
As we now have a full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review under our belts, we can compare both phones, covering all their key assets – both on paper and in terms of real-world performance – so you can see how these two flagship champs stack up.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro: Price and availability
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra prices:
- Galaxy S23 Ultra: 8GB / 256GB: $1,199.99 / £1,249 / AU$1,949
- Galaxy S23 Ultra: 12GB / 512GB: $1,379.99 / £1,399 / AU$2,249
- Galaxy S23 Ultra 12GB / 1TB: $1,619.99 / £1,599 / AU$2,649
Google Pixel 7 Pro prices:
- Pixel 7 Pro 12GB / 128GB: $899 / £849 / AU$1,299
- Pixel 7 Pro 12GB / 256GB: $999 / £949 / AU$1,449
- Pixel 7 Pro 12GB / 512GB: $1,099 / AU$1,599
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at $1,199.99 / £1,249 / AU$1,949, which gets you 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, and in some regions is even more than the starting price of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
The caveat is that Samsung has also increased the base storage, from 128GB to 256GB. That's also double the base capacity you get in the Pixel 7 Pro.
If you want even more storage, then you're looking at $180 / £150 / AU$300 more for a Galaxy S23 Ultra with 512GB of storage and 12GB of RAM, or at the top end you can get 1TB of storage (also with 12GB RAM) for $240 / £200 / AU$400 more than the 512GB variant.
As for the Pixel 7 Pro, that phone has a starting price of $899 / £849 / AU$1,299. As already mentioned, that applies to the base model – with 128GB of storage, however, even at the top end, the 512GB Pixel 7 Pro is priced at $1,099 / AU$1,599, which is still less than the baseline S23 Ultra by quite some margin.
That model isn't available in the UK. There, storage top outs at 256GB, costing $999 / £949 / AU$1,449. Note also that whichever Pixel 7 Pro model you buy, you'll get 12GB of RAM.
Both phones are widely available across the world, with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra shipping on February 17, 2023, while the Pixel 7 Pro shipped on October 13, 2022.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro: Design
If you've seen the S22 Ultra then the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra will look very familiar; from the pill-shaped top-down profile to the curved-edge glass front and individually protruding rear cameras.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra also still has room for an S Pen stylus, so jotting down notes and drawing on the go remains part of the Ultra experience, while ongoing support for water resistance is present, along with upgraded Gorilla Glass Victus 2 being used in the phone's construction, for greater durability.
In terms of Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra colors, this won't be the most bombastic-looking Galaxy of all time, with some muted finishes including Cream, Lavender, Green, Phantom Black, Sky Blue and Graphite, along with slightly more lively Lime and Red shades.
The Pixel 7 Pro is equally more sedate in its colorways than previous Pixels, with Hazel being the most adventurous finish (a muted green/grey against a polished gold frame), while Snow (white with a polished silver frame) and Obsidian (black with a polished gunmetal grey frame) round out the comparatively limited choice of looks.
The Pixel line has settled into its own distinct aesthetic these last two generations, punctuated by the 'camera bar' on the rear that protrudes from the back, running the whole width of the phone. It's a design detail that, compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra, is unquestionably more divisive.
Similar to the S23 Ultra's hardware, the 7 Pro is IP68 water and dust resistant, and boasts Gorilla Glass Victus (note: not Victus 2).
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro: Display
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra packs one of the nicest displays of any smartphone currently on the market, albeit one that's very similar to its predecessor's.
Specifically, the S23 Ultra serves up a 6.8-inch 1440 x 3088 AMOLED panel, with the same variable 1Hz to 120Hz dynamic refresh rate, and a peak brightness of 1,750 nits.
In our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review we noted that "Colors and visibility – even against strong ambient light – are great, with viewing angles showing minimal brightness drop-off and a nice consistency to colors." So it's certainly got a great screen.
The Pixel 7 Pro sports a similarly sizeable 6.7-inch LTPO OLED 120Hz screen, with a 1440 x 3120 resolution and a peak brightness of 1,500 nits, so its brightness is marginally lower.
Although the refresh rate is dynamic – as the S23 Ultra's screen is – in testing it has fewer increments to move between, usually just switching between 60Hz and 120Hz, which won't deliver the same power savings as a full variable panel would.
It too also features an in-display fingerprint sensor, although the Pixel's sensor is optical, compared to Samsung's penchant for ultrasonic sensors in its high-end phones that are supposedly less secure (and need to shine brightly when in use, while an optical sensor doesn't).
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro: Camera
Galaxy S Ultras have consistently found their way into our best camera phones roundup year after year, thanks to their combination of great image quality, extensive functionality, and incredible versatility. All of that is made possible by the four-sensor setup that you'll find on the likes of the S22 Ultra, which includes two optical telephoto lenses at different magnifications (3x and 10x).
This format has graced the S23 Ultra too, but with one notable upgrade: a new 200MP primary sensor (up from 108MP on the last few Ultras). Although the secondary 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x telephoto, and 10MP 10x periscope telephoto are much the same as last year, the S23 Ultra does offer an improved 'Nightography' experience for low light shots.
Functionality-wise, the S23 Ultra also has some new features, like the ability to output RAW photos in 50MP rather than 12MP.
The cameras on Pixel phones, meanwhile, are legendary, with computational photography being the name of the game. The 7 Pro is the second device to sport a 50MP primary sensor, which means Google has had a whole year of being able to squeeze better images out of the sensor that we first met on the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
The broad camera bar on the phone's back also plays host to a 12MP ultrawide (with secondary macro functionality) and a periscopic 48MP sensor, that tops out at 5x optical zoom and supports a 30x maximum zoom range, which is some way short of the S23 Ultra's 100x digital zoom.
Both phones have excellent cameras then, and we praised both in our reviews, but in our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review we noted that it "offers a surprisingly (for Samsung) natural-looking final image, with impressive detail and what often came across as pleasing, more natural skin tones than the Pixel."
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro: Performance & features
'2' seems to be the magic number associated with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, being one of the first phones to sport Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the first flagship Galaxy to step up to a 200MP main camera and – on the performance side – the first – along with its siblings – to adopt Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset.
Samsung usually delivered different markets different versions of its Galaxy S flagships; some running on Qualcomm silicon, and some running on its own equivalent (but lesser) Exynos SoCs. This year, that's changed, which benefits all those in markets (including the UK and Europe) that usually get encumbered with the Exynos variant.
Not only that, but Samsung has also worked with Qualcomm to secure an exclusive enhanced version of the 8 Gen 2, that provides even better performance; meaning similarly-spec'd devices from rival phone makers might not be able to reach the same performance ceiling.
Beyond its chip, the S23 Ultra has a baseline of 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, while the 512GB and 1TB storage models come equipped with 12GB of RAM.
The Pixel 7 Pro runs on Google's own Tensor G2 chip, which, in testing, serves up great everyday performance, even if it doesn't impress in conventional artificial benchmarking apps the way high-end Snapdragon silicon tends to.
The G2 is tailored to excel at AI and machine learning-based tasks, making it ideal for the Pixel's computational photography talents and natural language processing with voice-based search and control.
The S23 Ultra has the edge in terms of raw performance and gaming, but neither phone should feel sluggish in day-to-day use and both should last a fair few years without noticeable performance degradation.
As for their batteries, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 5,000mAh one with support for 45W wired fast charging and 15W wireless charging, while the Pixel 7 Pro has a 5,000mAh one with 23W charging whether wired or wireless.
In our reviews we found that the S23 Ultra can last up to a day and a half, while the Pixel 7 Pro will last a day.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Google Pixel 7 Pro: Software
Of course, software support plays a huge part in a phone's longevity, with the latest Android 13 arriving on both phones out of the box. Samsung's version though comes dressed in its distinct One UI skin, which includes unique functionality to best utilize exclusive features like the phone's S Pen stylus.
Where the Ultra has a surprising edge is with update longevity, as despite Google being responsible for developing each major release of Android, its own phones – including the Pixel 7 Pro – come with three years of OS updates and five years of security updates, while Samsung pairs its key devices with four years of OS upgrades.
Which one should you buy?
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra offers familiar-looking hardware with notable improvements over its predecessor in key areas; some easier to spot than others.
The move to a 200MP main camera sensor is a big talking point, while the use of a tuned Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and a hardier screen is a little more expected but nonetheless welcome, and enough to make it one of the best Samsung phones out there.
As for its standing against the Google Pixel 7 Pro, Samsung's phone has the edge in terms of raw power and versatility, thanks to that additional rear camera lens and unique S Pen functionality. The Pixel though will still likely find more favor with some users thanks to a cleaner flagship Android experience, a great camera, and – most importantly – a significantly lower asking price.
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Alex joined as TechRadar's Senior Phones Editor in June 2022, but brings over a decade's worth of experience to the role, with an expertise in smartphones, tablets and wearables. He's covered keynotes hosted by the biggest brands and attended the launches for some of the most influential mobile products of the last few years. His experience was amassed at some of the most reputable consumer technology publications out there, including GSMArena, TechAdvisor and Trusted Reviews.