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  • pixel-8-pro-tag-pic1x1
    Google Pixel 8 Pro
    Attractive newcomer

    Google's Pixel 8 Pro looks to be its best Pixel yet thanks to an upgrade camera experience and a new design that brings a flat display to the Pro series for the first time. 

    • Well designed with fun new blue color
    • Cameras sound impressive
    • 7 years of software updates
    • Tensor G3 performance is a mystery right now
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra - square tag
    Samsung / Pocket-lint
    Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
    Reigning champ

    The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the biggest, baddest, and most expensive of the S-series flagships in 2023. With a huge 6.8-inch, 120Hz-capable display, a 5,000mAh battery, a brand new 200MP camera, and an included S Pen.

    • The display is fantastic
    • Camera is impressive in all modes
    • Fast and fluid performance
    • Some of the software changes muddy Android
The Pixel 8 Pro has now been officially confirmed, a new flagship for 2023 as Google makes a range of sweeping updates inside and out. Google is looking to elevate the Pixel Pro to the top spot in Android with a number of competitive changes. But it runs straight into the reigning champion from Samsung, the S23 Ultra . It's a little older - perhaps a little wiser? - but how do these two phones actually compare?

Price, specs & availability

Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra is widely available, either directly from Samsung or a number of retailers. It starts at $1,099 for the 256GB model, with the 512GB and 1TB models priced at $1,279 and $1,519, respectively. It comes in a wide variety of colors, including green, black, lavender, and cream and the exclusives of lime, graphite, sky blue and red.

Google's Pixel 8 Pro was announced on Oct. 4 during the Made by Google event. You can preorder it right now, with deliveries and in-store availability starting on Oct. 12. It starts at $999 for the 128GB model, with 256GB, 512GB and 1TB storage options. Pricing for those models is $1,059, $1,119 and $1219, respectively. The Pixel 8 Pro is available in three colors: bay, porcelain, and obsidian (blue, white and black).

  • Google Pixel 8 ProSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
    SoCGoogle Tensor G3Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
    Display6.7-inch, Super Actua OLED, 2992 x 1344, 489ppi, 1-120Hz, up to 2400nits6.8in, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 3088 x 1440, 1-120Hz
    Battery5050mAh, 30W fast charging, 12-18W wireless5000mAh, 45W wired, 15W wireless
    Operating SystemAndroid 14Android + One UI
    Rear camera50MP main, 48MP ultra wide, 48MP telephoto200MP f/2.2 main, 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide, 10MP f/2.4 3x optical telephoto, 10MP f/4.9 10x optical telphoto
    Dimensions162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8 mm, 213g78.1 x 163.4 x 8.9mm, 234g
    ColorsObsidian / Porcelain / BayPhantom Black, Green, Lavender, Cream, Graphite, Lime, Sky Blue and Red
    IP RatingIP68IP68
    RAM and Storage12GB, 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB8/256GB, 12/256GB, 12/512GB, 12/1TB

Design and display

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra on a table

There's no denying the Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the biggest phones you can buy right now. It has a 6.8-inch display with a total footprint of 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm. The S23 Ultra has a curved edge display, which means its vertical edges are slightly curved. The benefit of this approach is that it makes the phone feel thinner and easier to hold. The S23 Ultra weighs 234g.

On the back of the S23 Ultra is where you'll find the rear camera array that's two vertical stacks of lenses, a flash and sensors. There's a side button and the volume rocker on the right edge of the phone, with a USB-C port on the bottom, along with Samsung's S Pen stylus for writing on the S23 Ultra's display. The left side of the S23 Ultra's frame is blank. The front-facing camera for the Ultra is a hole-punch design centered horizontally near the top of the screen. The front and back glass panels on the Ultra are Gorilla Glass Victus 2, with the phone having an aluminum frame. It also carries an IP68 water and dust resistance rating.

As for the display, the S23 Ultra's 6.8-inch screen is a Dynamic AMOLED 2x display with a resolution of 1440 x 3088, 500ppi and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. It has a peak brightness of 1,750 nits, a number that's helpful for use in direct sunlight.

Previously, all of Google's Pixel Pro models had the same kind of curved display. However, with the Pixel 8 Pro, Google's gone completely flat. To be clear, Google is familiar with this design approach, as the non-Pro models and even its A-series have all had a flat design. The Pixel 8 Pro is slightly smaller than the S23 Ultra, measuring 162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8mm. The Pixel 8 Pro weighs 213g.

Google Pixel 8 Pro - hands on - 1
Jason Cipriani/ Pocket-lint

Google didn't completely drop curves from the design of the 8 Pro, with each corner of the device having a more rounded look than its predecessors and the S23 Ultra, which looks more like a perfect rectangle than the 8 Pro. You'll find the sleep/wake button and the volume up/down keys on the right side. The left side of the frame is blank. The bottom of the phone is where you'll find a USB-C port for charging and data transfer.

On the backside is the Pixel's familiar camera bar, where you'll find three rear cameras, and for the first time that I know of on a smartphone, there's a dedicated temperature sensor built into the bar. You can use the temp sensor to scan your forehead and take your temperature, and eventually, it'll integrate into the Fitbit app for automatic tracking.

The glass covering the front and back of the 8 Pro is the same Gorilla Glass Victus 2 used on the 23 Ultra. The 8 Pro has an aluminum frame, as well as an IP68 dust and water resistance rating.

The Pixel 8 Pro's 6.7-inch display is slightly smaller than the S23 Ultra. Google is calling it a Super Actua display, with a resolution of 1344 x 2992, for 489ppi, and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. Its peak brightness is 2,400 nits - giving it a big advantage over the S23 Ultra in outdoor environments.

Both phones are nearly the same size but have a very distinct approach to their overall design. The addition of the S Pen to the S23 Ultra is a boost for those who want the ability to write and draw within apps on their phone, but Google's Pixel design is unique thanks to the camera bar and even that new blue color this year. It looks fantastic in photos. We'll have to see how it translates in real-world use since I've admittedly not held the Pixel 8 Pro yet.


Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra camera

Camera performance is arguably going to be close between the two phones and, to some extent, a totally subjective choice. Samsung's smartphones have traditionally captured fantastic photos that are slightly oversaturated. Some people like that, others don't. Pixel's cameras have stayed closer to true-to-life, often having slightly more detail than Samsung's. Again, to some, the Pixel's approach is the more appealing one.

The S23 Ultra has four rear cameras, which are very impressive when looking at the spec sheet. The main camera is 200 megapixels, followed by a 12-megapixel ultra-wide and two 10-megapixel telephoto lenses. Those telephone lenses offer 3x optical zoom on one and 10x optical zoom on the other. The S23 Ultra also has a 100x digital zoom feature to let you get really close to far-away subjects. The S23 Ultra front-facing camera is 12-megapixels. Don't expect, however, to get full 200-megapixel photos out of the main camera. Instead, you're going to get 12-megapixel photos that are a combination of all of the available pixels to give your photos more detail.

Google Pixel 8 Pro - hands on - 5
Jason Cipriani/ Pocket-lint

The Pixel 8 Pro has three rear cameras. There's a 50-megapixel main camera, a 48-megapixel ultrawide camera and a 48-megapixel telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom and up to 30x digital zoom. The front-facing camera is 10.5MP.

On paper, all of these cameras sound amazing. But until we've had a chance to use them and their new software features, such as the ability to swap faces between multiple pictures to ensure you get a group shot where everyone is looking at the camera, I can't really pass judgment on it quite yet. Going to Google's history with its Pixel cameras, though, this setup should definitely compete with the S23 Ultra.

Hardware and performance

The S23 Ultra uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor. The "for Galaxy" part of that equation means it's a slightly overclocked version of the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which helps with high-performance and resource-intensive tasks like gaming. It has 12GB of RAM and comes with 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of memory. All of that's powered by a 5,000mAh battery that's big enough to power through a full day of use in our testing. Also, Samsung states it's officially rated for 26 hours of video playback.

Google Pixel 8 Pro - hands on - 7
Jason Cipriani/ Pocket-lint

The Pixel 8 Pro uses Google's latest Tensor G3 processor. It has 12GB of RAM and will come in storage allotments going from 128GB, doubling all the way up to 1TB in the US, while the rest of the world will forgo the 1TB option. The battery inside the 8 Pro is 5,050mAh, just slightly larger than the S23 Ultra. I haven't been able to test the battery life of the 8 Pro yet, but Google is once again touting it as more than enough for 24-hour battery life.


The S23 Ultra currently runs Android 13 along with Samsung's One UI proprietary skin. Samsung is currently testing Android 14 with a new version of One UI on the S23 Ultra, which should be officially released in the next couple of months.

The Pixel 8 Pro is the first phone to launch with Android 14 and will include all of the Pixel-specific features that previous Pixels have had access to, including quarterly Pixel feature drops and call screening.

Google Pixel 8 Pro - hands on - 2
Jason Cipriani/ Pocket-lint

But when it comes to software, I think the key aspect we're going to hear the most about is the fact that Google is now offering 7 years of software updates, including major OS updates, Pixel Feature Drops and security updates. For the S23 Ultra, Samsung committed to four years of OS updates and five years of security updates. Google's announcement is a big deal and goes a long way in reassuring Pixel owners their phones will be supported for years to come.

Which is right for you?

It's hard to declare one of those flagship Android phones as the king simply because we haven't used the Pixel 8 Pro. That said, the S23 Ultra is currently the king of Android phones, and I'd have zero issues recommending it to someone who needs or wants a phone right now and doesn't want to wait for the Pixel 8 Pro to launch or for reviews to come out.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra - main image
Samsung/ Pocket-lint
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
The King... for now

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the biggest, baddest, and most expensive of the S-series flagships in 2023. With a huge 6.8-inch, 120Hz-capable display, a 5,000mAh battery, a brand new 200MP camera, and an included S Pen, the S23 Ultra isn't a massive upgrade over its S22 Ultra predecessor, but the improved efficiency of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC will give it a significant battery boost - perfect for gaming or working on the go.

But if you're willing to have a little patience or want to test the Pixel waters yourself, I'm sure the Pixel 8 Pro is going to be a fine choice.​​​​​​

Google/ Pocket-lint
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Worth the wait