Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Which should you buy?

Google offers one of the most affordable and excellent flagship phones in the Android space, the Pixel 7 Pro. For comparison, Samsung reserves many of its best tools for the pricier Ultra lineup; so the Galaxy S23 Plus, which costs $100 more than the Pixel 7 Pro, ends up with several downgrades that put Google on top. 

Despite this, there are a couple of key reasons why the newer, second-tier Galaxy S23+ is actually an upgrade over the Pixel 7 Pro, our current pick for the best Android phone. Let's dive into the Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro to see how they compare. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Design and display

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The Samsung Galaxy S23+ display

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

With the Galaxy S23 series, Samsung barely changed the design compared to last year. Like the Galaxy S22 Plus, the S23+ has a flat glass back and wide, angular edges, with the buttons blending into whichever aluminum color you choose. At 6.6 inches, even someone with large hands will find it a little tricky to use one-handed because of the thick edges, but it's still more compact and easier to grip than many curved phones.

Speaking of curved phones, the 6.7-inch Pixel 7 Pro is slightly wider than the S23+ but also has a bit of slope to its edges to make it more grippable. Our reviewer generally found it a bit "awkward" to use, and it's fairly heavier than the S23+, but it's a price some people will pay for the larger display.

Each phone makes its design mark with a distinctive camera layout. The Galaxy S23 Plus sports a vertical strip of naked camera sensors, mirroring the look of the Galaxy S22 Ultra; it's certainly striking, but without a case, you may deal with dirt and grime getting caught between the sensors. As for the Pixel 7 Pro, it has a metal camera bar spanning the width of the phone with cutouts for its camera sensors. We find it quite elegant, but it does admittedly add to the phone's weight and thickness when sticking the Pro in your pocket.

Google Pixel 7 Pro back view with camera bar highlighted on green background

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The Pixel 7 Pro's components have their flaws: some parts like the volume rocker can sometimes come loose over time, and the glossy finish is a fingerprint magnet. It also has the older Gorilla Glass Victus protection versus the new Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the Galaxy S23 series. Both phones do have IP68 dust and water resistance.

As for the Galaxy S23+, its biggest flaw thus far is its somewhat boring design, but beyond our Galaxy S23 hands-on that gave us a positive impression of the S23+, we haven't had enough time with it to spot any more serious concerns. 

The Pixel 7 Pro makes a curved fashion statement while the Galaxy S23+ takes a basic, flat approach.

As for both phones' respective displays, the quality edge goes to Google here, with one minor exception. The Galaxy S23+ has a perfectly respectable FHD+ display with 393 pixels per inch, a 120Hz refresh rate, and up to 1,750 nits of peak brightness in direct sunlight (or 1,200 for HDR content).

Compared to the dim Pixel 6 Pro, the Pixel 7 Pro can hit 1,500 at peak levels or 1,000 for HDR content, which is perfectly respectable even if it falls short of Samsung. Otherwise, though, its QHD display gives you an extra 119ppi, and the LTPO technology means its 120Hz display can dip as low as 10Hz for apps or functions that don't need high refresh rates, saving you a ton on battery life; for contrast, the S23+ only dips to 48Hz.

If we have one complaint, it's that Google gave the Pixel 7 Pro's display ultra-thin bezels that, combined with the curved display, gave our reviewer frequent accidental touches. With the flat-sided S23+, you won't have that problem.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Performance and battery life

Google Pixel 7 Pro battery stats page on gold background

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

When you buy a flagship phone, you expect fast performance. With both of these phones, you can certainly expect fast browsing for day-to-day use, but you'll also have to accept some compromises whichever you choose. 

Google built the Tensor G2 chip using the same cores and 5nm node as the Pixel 6 series, while Samsung has the benefit of the 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 with the latest cutting-edge cores. 

Our Pixel 7 Pro reviewer benchmarked the phone and found that it did decently well compared to other 2022 phones for productivity, and had consistent gaming performance marked by "smooth framerates without any lag." But it was by no means cutting-edge last year, and won't keep up with 2023 flagships because of the 2021 hardware.

We can't officially speak to S23+ performance until we can review it fully, but we did test the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 on other phones like the OnePlus 11 and found the performance incredibly fast and reliable for gaming. The only problem is that most of these phones have 12GB or 16GB of RAM, whereas the Galaxy S23+ has just 8GB. That could limit the benefits of this new hardware compared to the Pixel 7 Pro, which does benefit from 12GB of RAM even if its Tensor G2 benchmarks aren't especially fast.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is a faster chip than the Google Tensor G2, but we're not certain whether the 8GB Galaxy S23+ will take full advantage of it.

On the other hand, the Pixel 7 Pro remains stuck with UFS 3.1 storage, whereas the Galaxy S23+ has UFS 4.0 storage. For those who don't know the difference, the latest standard essentially doubles your read/write speed when sending data to and from your storage, while also sending it nearly half as efficiently. That means gaming download and load times will be significantly shorter, while also using less battery and keeping the phone running cooler. 

That's why we're confident the Galaxy S23 Ultra will be the best gaming phone of the year; we have to wait and see whether the CPU and storage boost on the S23+ will be enough to overcome its limited memory compared to the Pixel 7 Pro.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
SpecGalaxy S23 PlusGoogle Pixel 7 Pro
ChipsetSnapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy DevicesGoogle Tensor G2
DisplayFlat 6.6-inch AMOLED (Up to 1,750 nits)Curved 6.7-inch AMOLED, up to 1500 nits
Resolution2340 x 1080 (393ppi)3140 x 1440 (512ppi)
Refresh rate120Hz (48-120); 240Hz touch sampling120Hz (10-120); 240Hz touch sampling
Memory8GB12GB
Storage256GB/512GB UFS 4.0128GB/256GB/512GB UFS 3.1
Main rear camera50MP (OIS), f1.850MP ƒ/1.9
Telephoto camera10MP (OIS), f2.4, 3x optical zoom50MP, ƒ/3.5, 5x optical zoom
Ultra-wide angle camera12MP, ƒ/2.212MP, ƒ/2.2
Front Camera12MP, ƒ/2.210.8MP, ƒ/2.2
Battery4,800mAh, 45W Fast Charging, 15W Wireless Charging, 5W reverse wireless charging5000mAh, 30W wired charging, 20W wireless charging, 5W reverse wireless charging
UpdatesUp to Android 17, Security through 2028Up to Android 16, Security through 2027
SecurityUltrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensorOptical in-screen fingerprint sensor
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6E, sub-6 and mmWave 5G, UWB, NFC, Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6E, sub-6 and mmWave 5G, UWB, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2
microSD card slot🚫🚫
3.5mm headphone jack🚫🚫
Dimensions157.8 x 76.2 x 7.6 mm162.9 x 76.6 x 8.9mm
Weight196 g212 g
ColorsPhantom Black, Cream, Violet, GreenHazel, Obsidian, Snow
Protection IP68, Gorilla Glass Victus 2 IP68, Gorilla Glass Victus

Processor and RAM aside, these two phones share many hardware similarities: in-screen fingerprint sensor, Ultra Wideband, a wide range of 5G bands, and Wi-Fi 6E support. Their cameras are also quite similar, though we'll discuss those more below. Samsung does come ahead with the latest Bluetooth 5.3 standard, which wasn't as common last year.

Google gave the Pixel 7 Pro a slightly larger battery capacity than the S23 Plus at 5,000mAh vs. 4,800mAh. With a month of extensive testing, the Pixel 7 Pro will reliably last you all day after 5 hours of screen time with about 20% battery remaining; generally speaking, you'll have no "battery anxiety" with this phone unless you're gaming all day. 

We can't compare the Galaxy S23+ with no real-world testing yet, but the Galaxy S22+ actually showed similarly reliable battery life despite the notoriously battery-guzzling Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, so we're hopeful that the Galaxy S23+ will be an all-day phone as well with the more-efficient Gen 2 chip.

As for charging, the Google Pixel 7 Pro will take about 90 minutes to recharge with 30W capacity. The Galaxy S23+ wins in this category with 45W charging, though Samsung doesn't always take full advantage of the speed in order to preserve battery life, so the difference between them isn't huge even if Samsung wins here. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Cameras

Close-up of the Samsung Galaxy S23+ camera sensors

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Samsung and Google have comparable wide and ultra-wide camera lenses, but the Pixel 7 Pro has a higher megapixel count and better zoom on its telephoto lens, while Samsung's selfie camera has a slight MP edge.

The Galaxy S23+ uses the same camera hardware as the Galaxy S22+, except for a new 12MP selfie camera that's the same as the one found in the Galaxy S23 Ultra. In our S23 Ultra camera review, we found the selfie quality to be "the best in the business" with "superb dynamic range" and the benefit of AI detection to better contrast the shooter with their background. So we're hopeful this will also apply to the Galaxy S23+ in terms of camera quality.

Otherwise, we can't say for certain how the Galaxy S23+ cameras will perform, since Snapdragon and AI upgrades will almost certainly make the quality better than on the Galaxy S22+, which had "perfectly respectable photos" but nothing especially groundbreaking. Samsung has also had trouble with shutter lag for fast-moving photos, and since the Galaxy S23 Ultra isn't much better for fast-moving objects, the Galaxy S23+ undoubtedly will bring back the same issue for action shots. 

Samsung phones have great cameras compared to most brands, but Google remains the photography king.

By contrast, Google's biggest strength is in its photography, both in terms of quality and cool features like Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur to retroactively improve photos with awkward distractions or blurry composition. Google's Real Tone gives much better skin tone quality, something Samsung still doesn't pay particular attention to, and Pixels remain the best in the business for action photos.

In terms of overall quality, our reviewer explained how it does a "phenomenal job" capturing details and color range in daytime photos, but does even better with its Night Sight photos for "maintaining highlights while preserving finer details."

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Google Pixel 7 Pro: Which should you buy?

Google Pixel 7 Pro home screen full view against green background

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

It's difficult to give a definitive "this phone is better" ruling, both because we haven't properly vetted the Galaxy S23+ and because both phones have their own strengths and weaknesses. 

Google's Pixel 7 Pro is honestly close to a Pixel 6.5 Pro, refining the 2021 phone's design and fixing its mistakes but keeping much of the same hardware. So if you want a phone you'll use for years, the Tensor G2 and UFS 3.1 storage won't have the same longevity as the Galaxy S23 Plus' 2023 tech. 

Then you have the Galaxy S23+, which is held back instead by Samsung's insistence of reserving features like upgraded cameras, a QHD display, and extra RAM for its Ultra lineup. Even with better performance and extra storage, you have to accept a downgrade compared to the Pixel 7 Pro in certain areas. 

In the end, Google's phone is still a fantastic option today, while the Galaxy S23+ should be one of the best phones of the year if the Ultra costs too much for you. So your choice will come down to what you prioritize in a phone and whether you prefer stock Android or One UI for your software. 

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.