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Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Big screen, big budget showdown

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  • Angled Google Pixel Fold in Porcelain colorway

    Source: Google
    Google Pixel Fold
    The portable tablet

    The Pixel Fold is Google’s first foray into this emerging form factor, and it looks to be a successful one. The hardware makes fewer compromises than many other foldables, and the guarantee of fast and regular software updates makes it more attractive.

    Pros

    • Big screen to consume media
    • Excellent Pixel cameras
    • Easy multitasking
    Cons

    • No stylus support
    • Reliability concerns
    • App compatibility
  • Samsung“” data-modal-id=”single-image-modal” data-modal-container-id=”single-image-modal-container” data-img-caption=””””>

    Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

    Source: Samsung
    Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
    The reliable workhorse

    The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the best Android phones ever made. What looked to be an iterative upgrade on paper turned out to be a significant improvement in the real world. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 finally gave international users the performance they deserved, and the improvements in display, battery, and cameras were all welcome too.

    Pros

    • S Pen
    • Longer software support
    • Reliability
    Cons

    • One UI is too heavy for some
    • Curved display
    • Boxy design can be uncomfortable to hold

The Pixel Fold is one of the most anticipated devices since the start of the Pixel line, and now it's finally with us. At $1,800, this phone will need to prove itself and justify why people should spend that kind of money on it over other capable Android phones.

One such device is the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It might not be a foldable, but it is one of the best phones ever made. So, if you're looking at the high end of the Android world, which should you buy? The latest foldable to hit store shelves or the jack-of-all-trades flagship? Let's start by comparing the tech specs

  • Google Pixel FoldSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
    BrandGoogleSamsung
    SoCGoogle Tensor G2Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy
    Display7.6″ 2208×1840 120Hz OLED primary display, 5.8″ 2092×1080 120Hz OLED cover display6.8″ QHD+ curved-edge AMOLED, 1~120Hz refresh, 240Hz touch sampling
    RAM12GB8GB or 12GB
    Storage256GB, 512GB256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
    Battery4821mAh5,000mAh
    PortsUSB-CUSB-C, S Pen silo
    Operating SystemAndroid 13One UI 5.1 w/ Android 13
    Front camera8MP f/2.0 (84° FOV, 1.12 μm pixels) inner selfie camera, 9.5MP f/2.2 (84° FOV, 1.22 μm pixels) outer selfie camera12MP f/2,2
    Rear cameras48MP f/1.7 (0.8 μm pixel size) main sensor, 10.8MP f/2.2 (1.25 0.8 μm pixels) 5x optical camera, 10.8MP f/3.05 (1.25 μm pixels) 121.1° FOV ultrawide200MP f/1.7 OIS main, 12MP f/2.2 wide (120°), 10MP f/2.4 OIS zoom (3x), 10MP f/4.9 OISzoom (10x)
    Connectivity5G (inc mmWave), Bluetooth 5.2, WI-Fi 6E, NFC, ultra-wideband4G, 5G, UWB, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC
    Dimensions139.7 x 79.5 x 0.5 mm folded, 139.7 x 158.7 x 5.8 mm unfolded163.3 × 78 × 8.9mm
    ColorsObsidian (black), Porcelain (white)Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender + Samsung.com Exclusive Lime, Graphite, Sky Blue, Red
    Weight283g234g
    Charging20W wirelsss, 30W wired45W wired (Quick Charge 2.0, Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging), 15W wireless (Fast Wireless Charging 2.0, WPC), Wireless PowerShare
    IP RatingIPX8IP68

Pricing, specs, and availability

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is available unlocked or from most major carriers worldwide. On the other hand, the Pixel Fold is available unlocked from the Google Store in the US, Japan, the UK, and Germany. Orders should arrive on June 27th.

The S23 Ultra launched at $1,200 for the 256GB/8GB RAM variant, although in classic Samsung fashion, the phone will see offers and deals soon enough. The Pixel Fold is launching for $1,800, and as it's so new, it'll be some time before we see any deals.

Design and hardware

The cameras on a Galaxy S23 Ultra phone

The Pixel Fold shares much of its design with the Pixel 7 Pro, including the iconic camera bar running across the back. The differentiating factor is the fact this one happens to unfold. The Pixel uses Gorilla Glass Victus on the cover display and back panels with a polished aluminum frame.

The S23 Ultra looks almost identical to the S22 Ultra that came before it. The camera bump is gone in favor of individual lenses, and the phone is squared off in the corners like the Note of old. The biggest visual difference since last year is the display, which has a more subtle curve at the edges. The S23 Ultra uses Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and armored aluminum.

Both devices feel good and weighty in the hand and look better in person than any photo would suggest. The Pixel looks more cohesive thanks to the camera bar that runs across the back, while the S23 Ultra benefits from a better selection of cameras.

Google Pixel Fold

Source: Google

Inside the Pixel Fold, we find the Tensor G2 SoC from the Pixel 8 series paired with 12GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of storage. Tensor G2 is a decent upgrade over the original, but it isn't perfect. It gets relatively warm even under regular use, and connection issues continue to persist for some users. Battery life should be pretty good, though, with the Pixel Fold touting a 4,821mAh battery.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra made a lot of dreams come true for international Samsung fans when it was announced that it would be using the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in all markets, finally removing Exynos from the equation. The 8 Gen 2 is paired up with 8GB/256GB, 12/512GB, or 12/1TB of storage. This chip has been a resounding success, with top-notch performance and battery life thanks to the 5,000mAh cell it's paired with.

The Pixel Fold can charge wirelessly at 20W if you use a Pixel Stand and wired at 35W, while the S23 Ultra can charge at 15W wirelessly and at 45W wired. Both phones have reverse wireless charging for compatible accessories like smartwatches or earbuds.

Although foldables have been with us for years now, this type of device still brings concerns regarding reliability and endurance. While my wife and I have had almost no issues with our Z Flip 4 and Fold 4, there are still plenty of reports of failing displays and hinges. The Pixel Fold is Google's first attempt at a foldable, and given its track record with Pixel reliability, there's a lot of potential for problems here.

Cameras

Google Pixel Fold

Source: Google

The Pixel Fold has inherited the fantastic rear cameras from the Pixel 7 Pro. The rear camera bar houses a 48MP primary sensor, 10.8MP ultrawide, and a 10.8MP 5X telephoto lens that can use Google's super resolution zoom to take usable photos at up to 20X.

The Fold has two selfie cameras, a 9.5MP sensor on the cover screen and an 8MP camera on the inner screen. Sadly, both of these are fixed focus.

The S23 Ultra has a jack-of-all-trades camera system. The rear houses a 200MP primary sensor, two 10MP telephoto cameras at 3X and 10X, and a 12MP ultrawide. On the front, we have a 12MP selfie camera that benefits from autofocus.

Which camera system is best comes down to personal preference. Google has superior software processing, while the S23 Ultra does things with hardware that the Pixel can't match, like 8K video recording and 4K 60fps recording at 10X.

Some enjoy the DLSR-like shooting method of the S23, where you have to carefully arrange your shots and decide which lens or mode to use, while others are happier with the fire and forget consistency of the Pixel.

Software

A hand holding a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Both phones are running Android 13, with One UI 5.1 layered over the top in the case of the S23. The Pixel is guaranteed three Android upgrades with two more years of security patches, so the last major update will be Android 16. The S23 Ultra does better here. It's guaranteed four Android updates and a fifth year of patches, meaning the S23 will be supported until Android 17.

The Pixel Fold runs the streamlined version of Android people have come to expect from Google phones, with some extras thrown on top to make use of the unique form factor.

The S23 Ultra is running One UI 5.1, the latest version of Samsung's software skin. Samsung's software has been divisive for a long time, unable to shake the poor reputation it earned back in the TouchWiz days. In truth, Samsung's software is better than ever. It runs beautifully on the S23 Ultra, is packed with useful features, and is supported by fast and regular updates.

Which should you buy?

Unless you're fully committed to using a foldable, the Galaxy S23 Ultra presents the best value. It's less likely to break thanks to the lack of moving parts or flexible display, and if anything goes wrong, it'll be easier and cheaper to repair than a foldable.

The S23 Ultra boasts stellar performance, battery life, and a camera system that ranks among the best. If you want a reliable device that will last for years, this is the phone to pick.

Samsung“” data-modal-id=”single-image-modal” data-modal-container-id=”single-image-modal-container” data-img-caption=””””>

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Source: Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
The reliable workhorse

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the best Android phones ever made. What looked to be an iterative upgrade on paper turned out to be a significant improvement in the real world. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 finally gave international users the performance they deserved, and the improvements in display, battery, and cameras were all welcome too.

If you don't mind taking a risk on foldables, then the Pixel Fold is a good choice. Despite being Google's first try, it seems it has made a lot of smart decisions, and this could be one of the best foldables we've seen, not held back by poor software or inferior cameras.

Angled Google Pixel Fold in Porcelain colorway

Source: Google
Google Pixel Fold
The portable tablet

The Pixel Fold is Google’s first foray into this emerging form factor, and it looks to be a successful one. The hardware makes fewer compromises than many other foldables, and the guarantee of fast and regular software updates makes it more attractive.

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