Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Big in every way
Large and powerful Samsung flagship
$975 $1200 Save $225
Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra is bigger and faster than the Pixel 7 Pro, but it does cost quite a bit more. You get an outstanding camera, gorgeous QHD+ AMOLED display, built-in S Pen, and boosted performance from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU. If it's within your budget, you won't be disappointed.
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 performance
- Potent cameras
- Gorgeous QHD+ AMOLED display and integrated S Pen
- Long update support
- More expensive than the Pixel 7 Pro
- It's huge
Google Pixel 7 Pro
A more affordable flagship
Still one of the best phones in 2023
Google's Pixel 7 Pro won't cost as much as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, yet it's still one of the best flagship Android phones you can buy. It has a gorgeous design, smooth software, and excellent cameras and supporting software. If you don't mind not having the biggest, most powerful phone out there, it should make a great alternative to Samsung's new hardware.
- More affordable than the S23 Ultra
- High-end cameras and software features
- Not quite as large as the S23 Ultra
- Smooth operating with Android 13
- Battery life could be better
- Performance won't match the Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung's Galaxy S23 phones are here, with S23, S23+, and S23 Ultra models giving Android users three flagship choices. They're shaping up to make a run at the best Android phones, which are currently dominated by Google's Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. For this comparison, we're focusing on the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Pixel 7 Pro, both huge phones with gorgeous displays, solid battery life, and snappy performance. They're both high-end, attractive phones in their own right, but they offer some different features and hardware that might make you lean one way or the other. Let's see how the two phones compare to help you make an informed decision.
Price, availability, and specs
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and its siblings were unveiled at Samsung Unpacked 2023, and they're now available to buy. The Ultra model is the most expensive of the three, with prices starting at $1,199 for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage when not on sale. At the time of writing, these models are down to about $975 at Best Buy when you activate upon purchase. You can also shop models with 12GB of RAM and either 512GB or 1TB of storage. As for outside the US, Samsung's Galaxy phones are available in dozens of countries, and that hasn't changed.
The Pixel 7 Pro is available now and starts at around $899 for a 128GB model at Amazon. You can also find it at Best Buy, where you can pick it up for $899 with immediate activation. Bumping up to 256GB of storage raises the starting price to about $975 at Amazon or $999 at Best Buy. And if you go with the 512GB model, you're looking at about $1,099 at Amazon and Best Buy.
If you shop straight from the Google Store, prices are set at $899, $999, and $1,099 for 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB models. The Pixel 7 Pro is available through the major US carriers; you can find it internationally in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, India, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and the UK.
Here's a closer look at the specs you'll find in each phone.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Google Pixel 7 Pro SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy Google Tensor G2 Display 6.8″ QHD+ curved-edge AMOLED, 1~120Hz refresh, 240Hz touch sampling 6.7 inches, 1440×3120 (QHD+), LTPO AMOLED, 120Hz, 1500 nits peak brightness, Gorilla Glass Victus RAM 8GB or 12GB 12GB Storage 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB Battery 5,000mAh 5000mAh, up to 23W fast charging, up to 23W wireless charging (Pixel Stand) Ports USB-C, S Pen silo USB-C Operating System One UI 5.1 w/ Android 13 Android 13 Front camera 12MP f/2,2 10.8MP f/2.2 (92.8° FoV, fixed focus) Rear cameras 200MP f/1.7 OIS main, 12MP f/2.2 wide (120°), 10MP f/2.4 OIS zoom (3x), 10MP f/4.9 OISzoom (10x) 50MP f/1.85 primary (82° FoV w/OIS); 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide with autofocus (125° FoV); 48MP f/3.5 5x telephoto w/OIS; LDAF, Spectral and flicker sensor; 5x optical and up to 30x Super Res Zoom Connectivity 4G, 5G, UWB, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC 5G (mmWave supported in the US), Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, Ultra-Wideband, Dual-band GNSS, Dual SIM (nanoSIM + eSIM) Dimensions 163.3 × 78 × 8.9mm 3.01 x 6.4 x 0.35 inches (76.6mm x 162.9mm x 8.9mm) Weight 234g 7.4oz (212g) Charging 45W wired (Quick Charge 2.0, Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging), 15W wireless (Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, WPC), Wireless PowerShare 23W wired with Google 30W USB-C charger, up to 23W wireless with Pixel Stand, 12W wireless with compatible Qi chargers IP Rating IP68 IP68 Price From $1,200 $899 USD Security Fingerprint (Ultrasonic, under-display), Facial Face unlock, in-display fingerprint reader
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and Google Pixel 7 Pro are both oversized phones, perfect for those who love a huge display and don't mind often using two hands when operating. The Pixel 7 Pro's display measures 6.7 inches, while the S23 Ultra edges it out slightly with a 6.8-inch size. The S23 Ultra is somewhat taller and wider, weighing 8.25oz (233.8g) compared to the Pixel 7 Pro's 7.4oz (212g) weight. Both phones share the same 0.35-inch thickness. Also, both phones come with IP68 ratings for water and dust resistance.
The flat back of the Pixel 7 Pro is divided by a polished aluminum camera bar. This raised bar sets the Pixel 7 Pro apart from the S23 Ultra, which continues the trend of a fairly plain back with a cluster of cameras in the top-left corner. On the front, the phone's displays have curved edges for a more premium look. The Pixel 7 Pro looks a bit more stylish, but not everyone likes the raised bar.
Samsung's phones are always near the top of the list when it comes to build quality, and that hasn't changed for this generation. The Pixel 7 Pro is no slouch, but the S23 Ultra's lines, seams, and overall solid feel build give it a more premium feel.
Samsung's attempt to revive the spirit of the Note brand (starting again with the S22 Ultra) has led to the inclusion of an embedded S Pen. This is great news for those who love to jot down notes and make quick sketches on their phone, and it's a feature unique to Samsung. As for ports, both phones use the standard USB-C, and neither has a headphone jack.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra's 6.8-inch display is just a bit taller than the Pixel 7 Pro's 6.7-inch screen, but both have a sharp QHD+ resolution and adaptive refresh rate that can hit up to a 120Hz refresh rate. Both screens also have a small hole punched out near the top for the selfie camera, which helps keep the bezel as thin as possible.
Samsung's AMOLED 2X panel is built to deliver outstanding color, contrast, and brightness, and you will be able to hit about 1,750 nits of brightness when enjoying HDR content. The Pixel 7 Pro also has an AMOLED display, though its peak brightness tops out at about 1,500 nits. Nevertheless, you should be able to see your phone clearly, even on sunny days. In our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review, Phones Editor Will Sattelberg remarked, “It's a bright and gorgeous 6.8″ 1440p 120Hz panel capable of hitting a peak brightness of 1,750 nits. Last year, we called it the best display that we had ever seen on a smartphone, and frankly, that still holds true.”
The Pixel 7 Pro uses Gorilla Glass Victus, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra has jumped to Gorilla Glass Victus 2 with improved drop protection. This should prove more durable against severe damage, though it's always a good idea to add a great Pixel 7 Pro screen protector to protect against scratches.
Software and performance
The Pixel 7 Pro and the Galaxy S22 Ultra were closely matched in terms of performance, with Google's custom Tensor G2 processor and the Galaxy's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip handling pretty much anything you threw their way. While the Pixel 7 Pro still uses the same Tensor G2 CPU, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has been upgraded to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Its cores have been redistributed to offer more on the performance side, and all cores have a boosted clock speed. Performance across the board for single- and multi-core tasks has been improved. If you're a gamer, you can expect about 25% improved performance and much better efficiency from the Snapdragon's new Adreno GPU compared to the Gen 1 chip.
This should give a noticeable performance edge to the Galaxy S23 Ultra, though the Pixel 7 Pro is still a very fast phone that should keep up with basics, multitasking, and gaming. Google only offers 12GB for its Pixel 7 Pro, but it can be combined with 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage space. On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has an 8GB memory model with 256GB of storage or 12GB memory models with 512GB or 1TB of storage.
The Pixel 7 Pro includes a Google-customized version of Android 13, complete with handy features like call screening by Google Assistant, excellent voice-to-text capabilities, photo unblur, and more. Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra ships with Android 13 as well, with its own One UI 5.1 layer running on top. This allows for a ton of customization to make your phone as familiar as possible.
As for patches, the Pixel 7 Pro is set up to receive security updates for five years, wrapping up in 2027, and three Android updates ending in 2025. If Samsung does its usual scheduling of updates, you should expect five years of security updates and four Android version updates for the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
In our Google Pixel 7 Pro review, Phones Editor Will Sattelberg came to the conclusion that the 5,000mAh battery was “just good enough to get through a day,” though users who enjoy more daily screen time would likely want to carry around an extra battery pack or charger. And now that we've tested the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the phone has been lasting about a day and a half on a charge. That translates to about nine or ten hours of screen time. That's quite impressive, and any battery masters out there will likely want to stick with Samsung.
The Pixel 7 Pro's charging capabilities also fall behind those of the S23 Ultra. Google's phone can handle up to 23W of wired power or via the Pixel Stand, while Qi chargers top out at 12W. Samsung boosted the maximum wired charging rate up to 45W in the S22 Ultra, and that has carried forward to the S23 Ultra. This does require a better phone charger with PPS capabilities, but you should see faster charge speeds with the right hardware.
Debating about phone cameras often comes down to personal preference, and both of these phones have some perks and drawbacks when it comes to shooting pictures. The Galaxy S23 Ultra's main array on the back of the phone includes a wide-angle 200MP camera with Laser Auto Focus and f/1.7 aperture, an ultra-wide 12MP camera with f/2.2 aperture, and dual 10MP telephoto lenses with f2.4 or f/4.9 aperture. You also get a 3x or 10x optical zoom and a 100x space zoom.
The Pixel 7 Pro has a 50MP primary camera with f/1.85 aperture, a 12MP ultra-wide camera with f/2.2 aperture, and a 48MP telephoto camera with f/3.5 aperture and 5x zoom. It also hits 30x with its Super Res Zoom. The Galaxy S23 Ultra's selfie camera hits 12MP with an f/2.2 aperture and autofocus, while the Pixel 7 Pro's selfie camera hits 10.8MP with an f/2.2 aperture and fixed focus. Our Pixel 7 Pro review has an in-depth breakdown of the phone's cameras, highlighting features like Night Sight, Super Res Zoom, Google's Photo Unblur, and 4K video quality.
Which phone is right for you?
Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra and Google's Pixel 7 Pro have a lot in common. They are both outstanding 5G phones, they're both quite large, and they both have gorgeous QHD+ AMOLED displays. You'll ultimately be happy with either flagship phone, but there are certainly some differences that might sway you one way or the other.
Google's phone has superb cameras and supporting software, and the Android experience is overall very smooth. However, it's not as powerful as the Galaxy S23 Ultra's new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, it doesn't have as much optional storage capacity, and the battery life won't last quite as long (though still reliably through a day). The big upshot is that the Pixel 7 Pro costs less than the Galaxy S23 Ultra. If you're shopping for a high-end phone but don't want to crack the $1,000 mark, the Pixel 7 Pro delivers a lot for the asking price.
On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 Ultra goes all-out with all features. The screen is slightly larger and can get brighter, the processor is more powerful, and battery life can keep you looking at your phone longer between charges. In addition, the cameras have been boosted this time around, and the phone launched with Android 13 and Samsung's One UI 5.1. The inclusion of an embedded S Pen is also a huge selling point, and fans of the Note series will undoubtedly be tempted by the feature. You are, however, going to pay dearly for this phone, and for many people, the extra hundreds of dollars won't be worth the upgrade.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
$975 $1200 Save $225
Want a phone that basically goes all-out with every feature? The Galaxy S23 Ultra costs a lot, but it has an edge in screen size, performance, and versatility thanks to the built-in S Pen.
Google Pixel 7 Pro
Google's Pixel 7 Pro costs significantly less than the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and still delivers one of the best overall Android experiences. The screen, cameras, and performance should be a great fit if you don't want to pay big money for Samsung.