If it’s a good camera you’re looking for in your next smartphone, then you’re spoilt for choice because all of the best Android phones will take stunning shots. Of course, some stand out more than others.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has one of the very best camera systems you can buy, it’s so good that it can replace most standalone mirrorless cameras, but it comes at a price. The Google Pixel 8 Pro, on the other hand, is loaded with tonnes of AI-based camera features that set it apart from the rest and it's a little more affordable than some. Both are among the best smartphones in the world, which can make choosing between them tricky.
If you’re stuck on which one to buy, you’ve come to the right place. Here the two phones go head to head in every area, from their camera systems, software and performance, to their design, display and battery. So which wins: Google or Samsung?
Price & availability
You can buy the Google Pixel 8 Pro from the 12th of October 2023 starting from £999/$999/AU$1,699 for the model with 128GB of storage.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is available to buy now and officially costs £1,249/$1,199/AU$1,949 for the most affordable option with 256GB of storage.
However, as the Samsung is the slightly older model, its price has naturally dropped. So take a look at the real-time shopping widgets on this page to find out the best deals right now.
- Google Pixel 8 Pro: Main (50MP, f/1.7), Wide (48MP, f/2.0), 5x zoom (48MP, f/2.8)
- Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Main (200MP, f/1.7), Wide (12MP, f/2.2), 3x zoom (10MP, f2/.4), 10x zoom (10MP, f/4.9)
One thing you can be sure of, both the Google Pixel 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra have incredible camera systems, each with their own unique features to boast about. Google focuses more on the camera software both pre- and post-capture, while Samsung delivers some seriously advanced specifications.
The Google Pixel 8 Pro has a 50-megapixel wide camera (25mm) with optical stabilisation, a 48MP 5x telephoto (113mm) lens with optical stabilisation (OIS), and a 48MP ultrawide camera. There’s a single 10.5MP selfie camera too (f/2.2, 20mm).
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 200MP main camera (24mm) with OIS, a 10MP 10x zoom periscope telephoto (240mm) with OIS, a 3x zoom 10MP telephoto lens (75mm) with OIS, and a 12MP ultrawide (13mm) lens. You’ll also get a 12 MP selfie camera (f/2.2, 26mm).
Video recording on the Google Pixel 8 Pro can be done in up to 4K at 30 or 60fps, and the Samsung can record in 8K at 24 or 30fps, and in 4K at 30 or 60fps.
When it comes to software, there's plenty to play around with on both phones. The Google Pixel 8 Pro in particular has a seriously long list of handy camera tools. There are Pro controls like shutter speed and ISO to manually set up your shot. You can snap stellar nighttime photography using the Night Sight feature, or Astrophotography to shoot the night sky.
After you snap your photos, Best Take will allow you to blend your images together to create one where everyone looks their best. When you capture videos, Google uses AI to reduce distracting background noise. The Magic Editor will allow you to resize and reposition objects to create the perfect picture. It doesn’t get much better than Pixel when it comes to camera software.
Samsung might not have quite as much to say for itself on that front but the S23 Ultra still has plenty worth mentioning. You get Night Portrait to create professional-looking shots in low light, focusing on the subject while blurring the background. Astro Hyperlapse creates a cool recording of the night sky, packing minutes of footage into just a few seconds. The 200MP resolution delivers incredibly crisp photos. You can turn your pictures into works of art using layering in the multiple exposure settings. And of course, there’s the 100x zoom which can capture far more detail than the human eye can see.
Design & Display
- Pixel 8 Pro: 162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8mm / 213g
- Galaxy S23 Ultra: 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm / 234g
- Pixel 8 Pro: 6.7in OLED, 2992 x 1344 pixels, 120Hz, 2400 nits
- Galaxy S23 Ultra: 6.8in OLED, 1440 x 3088 pixels, 120Hz, 1750 nits
From the first time you lay eyes on these two phones, you’ll undoubtedly have a preference because the Google Pixel 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra look very different.
The Google Pixel 8 Pro has soft curves and a metallic strip across the back to hold the camera lenses with a matte glass back and an aluminium frame, whereas the Samsung is a more rectangular shape with sharp corners and individually framed lenses with a matte back and an aluminium frame.
You can buy the Google Pixel 8 Pro in Obsidian (black), Porcelain (off-white) and Bay (blue). The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra comes in Phantom Black, Cream, Green and Lavender.
Both devices are IP68 rated meaning they are water resistant to a depth of 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes, and they are also protected from dust and dirt.
One major design difference is that the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra comes with an S Pen stylus in the box that can be housed inside the phone itself. Those who spend a lot of time working on the go will appreciate that little extra!
The Google Pixel 8 Pro may not have a stylus but it does have a temperature sensor on the back, allowing you to record the temperature of any object using a quick scan. Not compatible to a stylus, sure, but a distinct feature nonetheless!
In terms of the display, the Google Pixel 8 Pro has a 6.7-inch LTPO OLED screen with a speedy 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, and 2400 nits peak brightness. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen with 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ and 1750 nits peak brightness.
The Google Pixel 8 Pro launched with Android 14, while the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra will soon be updated to it as well. Pixel devices run a pure version of the operating system, while Samsung’s smartphone uses their One UI 5.1 skin over the top - so navigating the OS looks a little different and it comes with different apps and software built in too.
Unsurprisingly Google comes out on top in the software discussion because it has a whole wealth of handy AI-based tools to make your life easier - there are tonnes of features to explore so I’ll just mention a few.
Super fast Live Translate interprets face-to-face conversations in 49 different languages. Call Screen filters and block spam calls before they get to you. There’s a built-in VPN to protect your online data across your browser and apps. Summarise will sum up a webpage with key points, and you can have it read and translated aloud as well.
It’s pretty hard to compete with Pixel - but Samsung gives it a good go with features like its Smart Widgets, which can stack up to seven on top of each other to swipe through. There’s in-app real-time collaboration through Google Notes so you can edit on multiple devices at once. Plus the compact mode in Air Command gives you a discreet toolbar on the side of the screen to use with the S Pen stylus. That's really the point of distinction though: that the S23 Ultra has a stylus included, which the Pixel does not.
Hardware & battery
- Pixel 8 Pro: Tensor G3, 12GB RAM
- Galaxy S23 Ultra: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 8GB/12GB RAM
- Pixel 8 Pro: 5050mAh battery, 30W charging
- Galaxy S23 Ultra: 5000mAh battery, 45W charging
Performance is a major reason to buy a flagship device, and both of these will certainly deliver in that aspect.
The Google Pixel 8 Pro has a Google Tensor G3 chipset under the hood with 12GB of RAM and storage options including 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. The processor was made by Google to support its AI features, and the third iteration further improves performance and runs more efficiently than previous versions.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU inside with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and a choice of 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage. You’ll get serious speeds with this phone making it an excellent choice for heavy workloads, photo editing and mobile gaming.
Battery life will undoubtedly play a part in your decision too. The Pixel 8 Pro packs a 5,050mAh cell, which Google claims will give you more than 24 hours of battery, with 30W charging and fast wireless charging. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is loaded with a 5,000mAh cell that Samsung says will give you up to 26 hours of battery life, with 45W charging and fast wireless charging.
Both the Google Pixel 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra are impressive bits of kit, with amazing cameras to capture everything and anything at any time. Which one you go for is more likely to come down to the devices’ other specs, features and design - in particular the stylus included with the Galaxy device.
Those who often do work on their phone should buy the S23 Ultra because it’s about as fast as phones get, it comes with the S Pen stylus and it arguably looks a little more sophisticated too. But anyone who values a cool design, even cooler features, and who doesn't want stylus operation, should buy the Pixel 8 Pro (although you may also want to consider the earlier Pixel 7 Pro too).