If you're a lover of all things Android, then you're probably familiar with the eternal battle of Google vs Samsung.
In one corner, there's the brand that created Android itself – heavy on the camera specs and software, and recently into making their own chips (sadly the non-potato variety.) In the other corner, we've got a brand that's so well known for its mobiles and phenomenal tech, even your nan has heard of them.
Back in October, Google unveiled their latest flagship handset, the Pixel 7, and we went wild for it. But now Samsung have announced their newest devices, and we're all of a dither. How do you choose between the biggest and best Android phones? What if you pick the wrong one?
Well, the truth is, there's no right or wrong answer. It just depends on what you use your device for, how much you want to spend, and what's most important to you. Need it to be pretty? The Pixel 7 has some truly gorgeous shades to pick from. Want the best possible processing chip (still no potatoes)? Then the S23 might be right up your street.
Either way, it's worth looking at them from every angle. So, let's get this comparison going, shall we?
Does the Galaxy S23 or Pixel 7 have a better design?
We all know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover. And by extension, choosing your device based on how it looks isn't the smartest move either. But honestly, we're all influenced by aesthetics. And whether you pick your device based on the fancy camera or how good it looks in your mirror selfies, the first thing you'll notice about a new mobile is its design.
Starting with the Google Pixel 7, there's a lot to love. By keeping the Pixel 6's distinctive camera bar, you now have a nice little rest for your finger around the back for a striking and practical feature. There's something playfully unusual about it, and we're here for that – in Obsidian, Snow or Lemongrass (a gorgeously fresh shade of pale yellow that somehow makes you think of springtime.)
The Samsung Galaxy S23 is a little less distinctive, and yet totally classic. There's no camera bump as there was in the Galaxy S22, which means everything about this device is streamlined and compact. There's also a little more colour choice here, from the fairly basic Phantom Black to the similarly spring-esque Lavender, Green and Cream options – so you can take your pick.
Both devices are mostly made of glass and aluminium, with the notable difference being the type of glass. The Pixel 7 uses Gorilla Glass Victus, which keeps it plenty safe from scratches and mishaps. But the S23 goes further and uses Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which is a little stronger and frankly, better. But it's a newer device – so that's fair game.
Similarly, both devices share an IP68 water and dust resistance rating, so offer equal protection from spills (though we wouldn't recommend running either device through the washer.) There's no expandable storage on either device, or a headphone jack – so you've got to stick to wireless headphones, but that's not a huge problem in 2023.
If size is important, the Pixel 7 is larger with a 6.3-inch display, while the S23 has a 6.1-inch screen. Both include fingerprint sensors, but the Pixel's is an optical sensor whereas the S23 has an ultrasonic sensor, so takes the lead a little. Just.
Which display is better, the Pixel 7 or the Galaxy S23?
While we're on the subject of displays, this is a close one…
The Pixel 7 is bigger, with a 6.3-inch FHD+ AMOLED screen – incidentally, the same screen as the Galaxy S23 features, except the S23's comes in at 6.1-inches. The screen-to-body ratio of the Pixel is a little bigger, but the S23 has a higher refresh rate of 120Hx versus the Pixel 7's 90Hz.
Based on those statistics alone, the S23 has a better display. However, it's worth remembering that the refresh rates are adaptable, which means that you're not going to get the smoothest, fastest refresh rate at all times. In fact, you can even change it in the settings (because it can be a battery drainer if you're not careful!)
It's kind of sad that the Pixel 7 doesn’t have a better refresh rate, given that a lot of lower-end devices have 120Hz these days – but it isn't something that spoils your viewing experience, as the FHD+ AMOLED tech on board is pretty nifty on either device. However, the Pixel 7 Pro doesgo up to 120Hz, so you don't have to look far.
How do both devices perform, side by side?
Let's start with the Galaxy S23 this time, which uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. At the time of writing, it's the fastest, newest and frankly best processor you'll get in an Android device, and the one on board the S23 has specifically been optimised for Samsung.
The Pixel 7, on the other hand, uses Google's own Google Tensor 2 chip, which prioritises different aspects of the device software, including AI – which means in testing, it falls behind the Snapdragon 8.
Because the two chips have been made with different goals in mind, it's hard to run a fair comparison on the two – but for simplicity's sake, the S23's chip is faster, though the Pixel 7's is still seriously bloomin' fast.
As for the battery, the Pixel 7 takes the lead on size with a 4355mAh power pack as opposed to the 3900mAh one on the Galaxy S23. Surprisingly, they both have around the same battery life, though – because of their different chipsets.
Basically, the Qualcomm chip in the S23 stays cool and runs everything in a very efficient way, which means you don't have to charge up as often. The Google Tensor 2 puts machine learning, image processing and so on first, so it isn't quite as efficient, but it's made up for in the larger battery size.
Either way, you're golden.
Which has the better camera, the Pixel 7 or the Galaxy S23?
Pixel devices are named pretty accurately, in our experience – they prioritise cameras, both the lenses and the software – above all. However, the actual hardware on board the Galaxy S23 is better than that on the Pixel 7, if you choose to look at it that way.
The Galaxy S23 features a 50MP main lens, a 12MP Ultra-Wide lens and a 10MP Telephoto lens. This is one more lens than the Pixel 7, which has the same setup but without the extra Telephoto cam (instead it relies on super-res zoom software, which is actually pretty impressive.)
Down to business, though – both phones take fantastic photos. The Pixel 7 utilises some particularly smart software, including Real Tone colour calibration and the aforementioned super-res zoom, while the S23 stylises your shots beautifully so that your pics are ready for socials almost as soon as you've snapped them.
Depending on how you use your camera will make a massive difference to which you prefer – but both have a genuinely professional-grade setup. It's just that the S23 has an actual zoom lens instead of software. It also features a 12MP front-facing camera, which just beats out the 10.8MP selfie cam on the Pixel 7.
While we're on the subject, it's worth comparing how the two devices work when it comes to video, too. The Pixel 7 supports 4K video at 30fps – which is the same as the Pixel 7 Pro, and honestly great for everyday use. The Galaxy S23 goes further and offers 8K video at 30fps, which is even better – but a little bit unnecessary for most people. However, it's a nice selling point if you're a keen videographer.
Like it or not, the price of a new device is often a deciding factor.
There's a lot to love about both the Galaxy S23 and the Pixel 7, and as flagship mobile, they hold up pretty well to scrutiny. While the S23 edges ahead in a few places, it's also a newer release and quite a bit more expensive than its competitor – and that can be huge, in the world of phones.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 costs £849 to buy brand new, without a contract. There are some great deals on the UK's biggest networks for more palatable, monthly payments, but there's no denying it's pricey.
The Google Pixel 7, on the other hand, is £599 to buy new, and that's quite a significant price difference. Again, all the major networks offer lower monthly costs that are easier to swallow but given the small differences between this and the S23, you get a lot of high-end specs for your money with the Pixel 7.
Does that make one phone better than the other? It's hard to say. You'll always expect to pay more for a newer release, so the Galaxy S23 price isn't that much of a surprise. But if cost is a deciding factor, that's a decision you have to make based on all the info, buddy.
And hey, maybe you just think one is prettier than the other, after all. We're not judging!