I’ve tested the Google Pixel 8 for a few days, and now I want to compare it with another Android powerhouse, the Samsung Galaxy S23. I’m writing this Pixel 8 vs S23 comparison because smaller phones don’t get much coverage; it’s usually about the Pros, Ultras, or Maxes. These are among the best Android phones, but how do they stack up against each other? Which one has the superior camera, better software, and, crucially, offers better value for money?
Design and Weight
The design is super important because it’s what you look at every day and more or less reminds you of whether the phone you decided to get is the right choice.
Google Pixel 8
I have the rose-colored Pixel 8 (review), considering it the best among the available options, with black being a close second. I appreciate the Pixel 8’s diverse color range for smartphones. When it comes to the Pixel 8 Pro, I prefer its glass back, which maintains the glossy look from the Pixel 7 (review), as opposed to the matte or satin finish on the 8 Pro. It seems Google is exploring various ways to distinguish the regular Pixel from the Pro models. Overall, the transition from the Pixel 7 feels familiar and comfortable.
The Pixel 8 sides maintain their aluminum construction, featuring USB-C ports at the bottom and stereo speakers. In 2023, it seems Google has improved the speakers on the Pixel 8; they’re loud, with good bass that doesn’t distort at higher volumes. I’m pleased with my experience so far.
The Pixel 8’s camera placement resembles the Pixel 7, but upon closer inspection, the camera size is slightly larger. This is because the Pixel 8 has new camera sensors.
Samsung Galaxy S23
The Samsung Galaxy S23 stands out as one of the most attractive phones in 2023 with its clean appearance, featuring vertically aligned and symmetrical camera sensors. The back has an MC finish that effectively conceals fingerprint marks. Comfort is crucial for a smartphone, and the Galaxy S23 excels in this aspect. In terms of weight, it is 19 grams lighter than the Pixel 8, which can be a subjective preference. Like enjoying spicy food, the ideal phone weight is a balance not too heavy or too light for the best user experience.
At the bottom, you’ll find the USB-C port and stereo speakers, which are comparable to those on the Pixel 8. They improved these aspects from the Galaxy S22 to the Galaxy S23 (review), resulting in excellent volume and bass.
Design is subjective, varying from person to person, Each design, including those of the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S23, is impressive. Personally, I’ve always admired the look of the Pixel 8, especially in the appealing rose gold color, making it a joy to see every day.
Display and picture Quality
As for the display the display, and there are big changes on the Pixel 8, Google is calling the display on the Pixel 8 an actual display, from my research and findings, it is essentially an OLED panel with a variable refresh rate that can switch from 60 Hz to 120 Hz. For some weird reason, the Pixel 8 only ships with the 60 Hz on, and it is very noticeable immediately when you turn on the phone. So, you need to head over to your display settings and turn it on to 120 Hz.
A huge upgrade is the display can go up to 1,400 nits when watching HDR content and 2,000 nits of peak brightness. The Pixel 7 only got up to 1,400 nits, so trust me when I tell you this is great for the average consumer. In contrast, the Galaxy S23 offers 1,750 nits of peak brightnes, The Pixel 8 is indeed brighter, but under direct sunlight, both of these phones offer a great viewing experience.
Where the Pixel wins in brightness, the Galaxy S23 wins when it comes to durability. The Galaxy S23 is protected with Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which is in all their latest flagships. Google, on the other hand, reserves that for the Pixel 8 Pro (review). What really differentiates them is how you unlock the phones, and even that is a split decision.
The fingerprint scanner on the Pixel 8 is not perfect: it is very wonky until you turn off the haptics, and it becomes much more responsive. Now, I’m not even joking, the fingerprint sensor is so much better when it’s turned off. And I’m not saying it is better than the Galaxy S23 because that is an ultrasonic fingerprint reader. What I believe Google put emphasis on is Face Unlock, and is it fast.
The majority of my time with the Pixel 8, Face Unlock has been my primary way of unlocking my phone. It almost reminds me of how fast it was on the Pixel 4 XL. I’m glad because it’s a faster way to just get into your phone than the optical fingerprint reader. I’m finding it hard to categorically say which display is better because they both excel and fail in different places. It comes down to what is really important to you.
The Google Pixel 8 battery life is now slightly bigger than last year, The long answer is it is definitely better than the Pixel 7. It is still early days because this was more or less the same experience I had with the Pixel 7. It was great at first, but over time, battery life kept reducing from charging it once a day when going to bed to twice a day before I even get home. I mean, this time might be different; Adaptive Battery hasn’t really kicked in, and you know, battery life is still positive.
Also, within the battery app, you can run diagnostics to see what is draining your battery quickly or maybe if your phone gets a bit too warm, it kind of pinpoints the cause of where everything is coming from. I think this is a great addition.
The Samsung Galaxy S23, on the other hand, is good but not better than the Pixel 8, at the same time we have to consider that this has been out for a couple of months. If we’re talking strictly in the first few weeks, the Pixel 8 is having a better start. Like I said, I’d love to see how this will be in the next couple of months, but for now, the Pixel 8 will take around three.
Software and Performance
The Software and Performance category sparks a lot of debates. Google Pixel 8 is powered by the new Tensor G3 chipset, responsible for many of the new AI features within the phone. More than anything, the Tensor G3 won’t outpace the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for sheer power, However in terms of everyday use, I can say there isn’t much of a difference. Adding to the equation is the fact that the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro will have a built-in VPN, something nobody else is doing.
In terms of my daily use, the Pixel 8 is buttery smooth, thanks to Google’s software that complements the Tensor G3 chip. Apps open on time, and RAM management is also pretty good. What the Pixel lacks in raw power, it gains with software and AI features. Unfortunately, the Pixel 8 will miss out on a ton of pro AI features like Best Take Video Boost and many more. Magic Editor, though, and it is basically a generative AI tool that adjusts small or large details of your pictures. You can move objects around, remove people from your picture, change the color of the sky, and many more crazy things. Personally, this has been a fun experience trying it out, and I think you will love it once you start using it.
With all these features, Google is promising 7 years of software and security updates, while Samsung only gives 5 years, if I’m correct, Seven years is the most by any OEM in the industry. It just goes to show how competition within brands is best for consumers because we are the ones that win in the end. Both phones are great within their respective ecosystems.
Although Samsung is a lot more mature, even though the Galaxy S23 has the better raw power with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, it doesn’t even come close to the software and features that Tensor is capable of. So, with that, the Pixel 8 is the winner.
Now, you already know it won’t be a Pixel or a Samsung video if we do not talk about the cameras. The Pixel 8, with its 50-megapixel sensor, now has a new sensor that collects about 21% more light and a 12-megapixel ultrawide that is similar to the Pixel 7. What is new is Micro Focus, so if you’re a full photographer, for example, you’re going to love this.
In contrast, the S23 has the same cameras from last year, which isn’t a bad thing. You’re arguably going to be getting the same picture quality. For example, the Pixel 8 has real tone, which means it will get my exact skin color. I think it nails it with each shot. With the S23, I’m orange, but I get comments like, You look good with the S23. Not sure why. Personally, I take pictures with the image processing software any day.
Daylight pictures are great on both phones. It is punchy and crispy with good dynamic range. But on the S23, Samsung’s picture profile adds a lot more saturation than usual. If you don’t like editing pictures and you just want to take and post on your social media, then the S23 might just be for you. But if you want more of a natural look that offers more detail, the Pixel 8 is the better choice.
With the lack of a telephoto lens on the Pixel 8, the S23 is much better when it comes to portrait shots and zoomed-in images. If you’re going to go above 5x on the Pixel 8, then you start seeing the difference clearly. The ultra-wide lenses are basically the same, just more color on the S23 than the Pixel 8.
Regarding video, the Pixel 8 can shoot up to 4K with 10-bit HDR, while the S23 can shoot up to 8K. Well, both are great, and of course, shooting 8K is a nice-to-have. By specs, the S23 is a better video shooter, but even though the footage from the S23 is in 8K, I can’t really tell a difference. Maybe you guys can let me know down in the comments. Now, as a camera unit, both the S23 and the Pixel 8 are phenomenal. They both have different picture profiles and cater to everyone’s needs. But it goes without saying that the Pixels just have better image-taking capabilities, while the S23 arguably has better video.
Final Thought on Pixel 8 vs Galaxy S23
So, with all that being said, which offers the better value? The Pixel 8 saw a price increase to $6.99 USD, a $100 difference from the Pixel 7, while the Galaxy S23 is currently $7.99, and that is a $100 difference. The Pixel 8 offers the brightest display between these two, a better battery, a better software experience with AI, and 7 years of software updates. However, it lacks in performance. It also has a better picture-taking camera, and it comes at a cheaper price. It does offer the better value on paper. But if you do want a Samsung phone, I don’t know; it’s hard to recommend the S23 right now, especially since the S24 is around the corner. But that is just one man’s opinion, and I’d like to hear yours. Is the Pixel 8 the better value, or is the S23 still the king of compact Android phones in 2023? Comment down below.