A new budget challenger takes on Samsung’s most affordable flagship

  • Google Pixel 7a blue render, front and back

    Source: Google

    Google Pixel 7a

    Affordable pick

    A great phone at a great price

    Google’s Pixel 7a is a budget version of the Pixel 7 with many of the same features. While it won’t match the performance or screen quality of the Galaxy S23, you will be able to pick it up for hundreds of dollars less, making it popular for anyone who wants high-end features without a high-end price.

    • More affordable than the Galaxy S23
    • High-end build quality
    • Wireless charging capabilities
    • Won’t charge as quickly
    • Three years of software updates
    • Slightly larger and heavier
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 in Lavender

    Source: Samsung

    Samsung Galaxy S23

    Upgrade pick

    High-end performance comes at a high cost

    The Galaxy S23 is the most compact and affordable of Samsung’s triple-threat flagship offerings, though it still costs considerably more than the Google Pixel 7a. If you have the money to spend and want a truly capable camera setup and screen mixed with sizzling performance, you won’t be disappointed.

    • Sizzling Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset
    • Faster charging abilities
    • Up to a 120Hz refresh rate for smoother operation
    • More expensive than the Pixel 7a
    • Not a huge upgrade over the S22
    • Smaller battery capacity


The Google Pixel 7a is gearing up to take over for the mighty Pixel 6a, one of the best budget Android phones on the market today. Why is the 6a so good? Google managed to make an affordable phone with a premium design, high-end cameras, and strong performance. The Pixel 7a is expected to be the next generation of affordable phone greatness, influenced by the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro released last year.

On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S23 is an outstanding flagship that makes the list of the best Android phones available today. It costs more than the Pixel 7a, but is it worth the money? Let’s explore the similarities and differences between the Pixel 7a and the Galaxy S23 to help you make the right decision.

Price, availability, and specs

The Google Pixel 7a is expected to launch on May 10 with a starting price of $499. It’s expected to be available in 17 countries across North America, EMEA, and APAC regions. Aside from Google’s storefront offering the phone, third-party retailers like Amazon and Best Buy are also expected to have a listing for the Pixel 7a when it launches.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 was announced on February 1, 2023, with an official launch a couple of weeks later. It’s still readily available today, with prices starting at about $800 for a model with 128GB of storage space. If you’re interested in bumping that up to 256GB, you’re looking at a price closer to $860.

We have seen some deal pricing on these phones. For example, I recently saw the S23 with 128GB storage down to about $700 at Amazon, which is still quite a bit more expensive than the budget-minded Pixel 7a. You can also find the Galaxy S23 at Samsung’s official store, third-party retailers like Best Buy, and specific carriers.

Here’s a look at the specs that make up each phone:

  • Google Pixel 7a Samsung Galaxy S23
    SoC Google Tensor G2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy
    Display 6.1″ FHD, OLED, 60Hz/90Hz refresh rate, HDR support 6.1″ FHD+ AMOLED, 48~120Hz refresh, 240Hz touch sampling
    Storage 128GB 128GB or 256GB
    Battery 4,385mAh 3,900mAh
    Front camera 13MP, 4K30, f/2.2 aperture, 95° FOV, face unlock 12MP f/2.2
    Rear cameras Main: 64MP, 4K60, f/1.89 aperturn, 82° FOV; UW: 13MP, 4K30, f/2.2 aperture, 120° FOV 50MP f/1.8 OIS main, 12MP f/2.2 wide (120°), 10MP f/2.4 OIS telephoto (3x)
    Connectivity 5G sub6 / mmWave, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC
    Dimensions 152.4 x 72.9 x 9mm 146.3 × 70.9 × 7.6mm
    Weight 193g 168g
    Charging 18W fast, 5W wireless 25W wired (Quick Charge 2, Samsung AFC), 15W wireless (Samsung Fast Wireless Charging 2.0/WPC), Wireless PowerShare
    IP Rating IP67 IP68
    Price $499 / $549 (mmW) From $800
    Security Titan M2, face unlock, fingerprint reader Fingerprint (Ultrasonic, under-display), Facial

Familiar designs for both phones


Google Pixel 7a

As with previous a-series Google phones, the Pixel 7a is expected to draw heavily from its flagship Pixel 7 counterpart. For example, the back of the phone has a camera bar with a matte aluminum cover to offset the otherwise glossy finish, and the screen has fairly chunky bezels. This translates into larger overall dimensions compared to the Galaxy S23.

Samsung’s phone weighs about 168g and measures 146.3mm x 70.9mm x 7.6mm. The Pixel 7a weighs more at 193g, and its dimensions measure 152.4mm x 72.9mm x 9mm. You won’t get as compact of a phone if you stick with the Pixel 7a, though everyday use won’t be that much different between the two phones. The Samsung Galaxy S23 didn’t change much from the S22, albeit with a straight column of cameras on the back. Overall, it’s quite practical with a premium look.

Samsung Galaxy S23 with a castle in the background

Samsung Galaxy S23

The Pixel 7a will come in Charcoal, Sea, Snow, and Coral colors (exclusive to the Google Store), with the Jade color allegedly getting nixed. The Galaxy S23 is available everywhere in Phantom Black, Cream, Green, and Lavender, with Samsung store exclusives including Lime and Graphite.

An IP67 rating is tagged onto the Pixel 7a to prove that it can withstand dust, dirt particles, and water. The IP67 rating covers up to a meter of water for 30 minutes, while the Galaxy S23’s IP68 rating adds another half meter to the 30 minutes of submersion protection. Both phones offer quick face unlocks, as well as fingerprint readers embedded under the display.

Same size display

Reddit on the Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 has a flat display (with no curved edges) that measures 6.1 inches with a 2340 x 1080 resolution. Its AMOLED panel can hit up to 1,200 nits brightness in standard mode — or up to 1,750 nits with max auto-brightness, allowing you to use the phone even on the sunniest days. It also has a variable refresh rate that moves between 40Hz and 120Hz as required. And with its beautiful color and contrast, you won’t be disappointed by what you see.

The Pixel 7a has the same 6.1-inch size as the Galaxy S23, and its FHD+ resolution should reach about 2400 x 1080. The OLED panel makes for deep contrast and color, and it’ll be able to switch between a 60Hz and 90Hz refresh rate. It’s still unclear what the maximum brightness will be, but it’s unlikely to match the S23’s 1,750 nits. So although the Pixel 7a has a great screen, the Galaxy S23 should come out on top.

Impressive cameras on both phones


Samsung Galaxy S23

The Pixel 7a’s front camera is set at 13MP with a 95° FOV, f/2.2 aperture, and 4K video at 30 FPS. In comparison, the Galaxy S23’s front camera is set at 12MP with an 80° FOV, f/2.2 aperture, and capabilities for 4K video at 60 FPS.

The rear camera array on the Pixel 7a comprises two cameras. The main shooter is set at 64MP with an 80° FOV and f/1.89 aperture, capable of 4K video at 60 FPS. The ultrawide lens manages 13MP with a wide 120° FOV, capable of 4K video at 30 FPS. When it comes to the Galaxy S23, there are three main cameras on the back. The primary is set at 50MP, the telephoto cam uses 10MP, and the ultrawide has 12MP to work with. These rear cameras can also handle 4K video at 60 FPS; the primary can jump up to 8K video at 30 FPS if required.

Looking at the raw specs, the Galaxy S23’s hardware is capable of better video across its cameras, but the Pixel 7a has a main camera with a higher MP count. The Pixel 7a, however, lacks a telephoto camera. Nevertheless, Google has generally been recognized as handling its cameras and software with finesse, and casual photographers should love what the Pixel 7a can do if it’s anything like its predecessors.

Both run Android 13 with some update disparity


Google Pixel 7a

Both the Google Pixel 7a and the Samsung Galaxy S23 run Android 13. Google’s delivery is always clean and lightweight, without the bloatware and extras that you often find in other phones. Samsung runs its own One UI 5.1 software skin over Android, and you’ll probably either love it or hate it. Our Samsung Galaxy S23 review noted that “One UI is so feature-filled at this point that it almost feels bloated when you try to go digging for a setting or function that you don’t already know the location of.” But, in the end, it’s a very stable skin with many features.

As mentioned in our Galaxy S23 vs. Pixel 6a comparison, Google phones are often the first place you’ll find new Android OS features before they’re sent out to other phone manufacturers. This is great in the sense that your Pixel can get updates before other phones, but it also means you might run into a bug here or there before it’s worked out. Of course, this is not as common now that Google is working with its own Tensor chipset, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Looking at the Pixel 6a released in July 2022, Google guarantees Android updates until July 2025, with guaranteed security updates extending to July 2027. Putting the Pixel 7a into the same position with three and five years of coverage, we can expect Android updates until 2026 and security updates until 2028. On Samsung’s side, the Galaxy S23 is expected to receive four generations of Android updates with five years of security updates ending in 2028.

Tensor against Snapdragon performance

The Google Pixel 7a, just like its flagship Pixel 7 sibling, uses the Google Tensor G2 custom chipset, paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It’s a minor upgrade over the first-gen Tensor chip, with higher clock speeds and the same core count: two super-big ARM Cortex-X1, two big A78, and four small Cortex-A55. While the Tensor G2 is only moderately faster, it also comes with improved efficiency. As with the standard Pixel 7, the Pixel 7a’s performance won’t match that of the Galaxy S23’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which is a monster of a chip.

The Galaxy S23’s upgraded chipset seems to have solved the thermal throttling issues we saw with the first-gen Snapdragon 8. It’s a powerful phone that can also deliver on battery life. Senior Editor Ara Wagoner discovered in her Samsung Galaxy S23 review that the phone’s 3,900mAh battery is capable of “7-8 hours of screen time on average” when out and about, with “hours more Merge Dragons game time on a single charge” compared to the Pixel 7.

We will have better battery metrics once we go hands-on with the Pixel 7a, but for now, we can look at the older phone. In our Google Pixel 7 review, Editor Manual Vonau was able to squeeze in about five hours of screen time from the 4,335mAh battery. The Pixel 7a has a 4,385mAh battery and a smaller display, and battery life should be about the same. As for charging capabilities, the Pixel 7a is capped at 18W for wired fast charging and 7.5W for wireless charging. That’s quite a way behind the Galaxy S23’s 25W wired quick charge and 15W wireless charging capabilities.

Which phone is right for you?

Google Pixel 7a

Google Pixel 7a

As mentioned in our Galaxy S23 vs. Pixel 7 comparison, the former phone is “for the uncompromising individual who wants the best device possible,” and that’s even more apparent when compared to the more budget-friendly Pixel 7a. The Galaxy S23 and Pixel 7a are some of the best 5G phones out there, but the significant price difference will play a big role in your final decision.

Google’s phone is a more budget-friendly option with a starting price of around $500, and it will deliver an outstanding experience despite the cheaper price. It’s built to a high standard, its cameras can shoot great photos, and it even now has wireless charging abilities. The Tensor G2 chipset is quick (though it won’t match the speed of the S23’s Snapdragon 8), and the screen is the same size but doesn’t have as high of a refresh rate. If you’re not particularly concerned about how long updates run or how quickly your phone charges, the Pixel 7a will save you a big chunk of money while still providing you with many killer features.

Google Pixel 7a blue render, front and back

Source: Google

Google Pixel 7a

Affordable pick

Google’s Pixel 7a is significantly more affordable than the Samsung Galaxy S23, and it will deliver an outstanding experience in its own right. If you aren’t interested in shelling out big for a Samsung flagship, this is the way to go.

Have more money to spend and want to make fewer compromises with your next phone? The Samsung Galaxy S23 will not disappoint. Its Snapdragon 8 (Gen 2) processor is faster, battery life is super with quicker charging, and the screen (with up to a 120Hz refresh rate and 1,750 nits brightness) is a knockout. Even better, camera bar haters won’t have to deal with the raised portion on the back of the phone.

If the Samsung phone is more your speed, but you’d like to go even more premium, be sure to look at our Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S23+ comparison.

Samsung Galaxy S23 in Lavender

Source: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S23

Premium pick

Want to make fewer compromises in regard to screen, battery, and overall performance? Have more money to spend on a phone? The Galaxy S23 won’t disappoint.

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