November 28, 2022

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Pixel 7 Pro vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: can we expect a shakeup in the smartphone world?

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Intro

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has been out since early 2022 and is already kicking dust all over the smartphone world. With its premium build, super-powered Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, S Pen, and the prettiest screen on a smartphone, it is a force to be reckoned with.

Well, come Fall of 2022, we will see Google’s own warrior get a refresh — the Google Pixel 7 Pro has been confirmed by the company and will come back to show us how mobile photography is done, with its custom Tensor chip that has been developed specifically for photo processing and AI functions.

So, these two devices will represent the best from Samsung and the best from Google. But there’s a very important difference — it’s very probable that Google’s Pixel 7 Pro will cost considerably less than the Galaxy (starting at $900 vs $1,200). Will these phones have a $300-worth of difference between them? Or will the Pixel 7 Pro straight up win in some areas? We shall ponder this until we have the device in hand, so we can test it!
Pixel 7 Pro vs Galaxy S22 Ultra in a nutshell:

  • Google Android vs Samsung OneUI
  • CPU: Tensor 2 vs Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (or Exynos internationally)
  • 6.7″ 120 Hz OLED vs 6.8″ 120 Hz AMOLED
  • Triple camera with 20x zoom vs quad camera with 100x zoom
  • $900 vs $1200

Table of Contents:

Design and Display Quality

We are OLED to see you
In terms of screens, we expect to see two quality OLED panels duking it out. Samsung has been on top of its display game for years now and the Dynamic AMOLED of the Galaxy S22 Ultra looks just fantastic. It also helps that there are a couple of calibrations to pick from, so you can really fine-tune your experience, whether you want punchy colors or subdued and realistic hues. The Pixels’ OLED screens are also pretty good, so it’s going to be a close call here. Plus, both phones will have 120 Hz refresh rate and QHD resolution, so it’s a tough one.

OK, the Pixel 7 Pro will have a slightly smaller 6.7″ diagonal vs the 6.8″ on the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

In terms of looks, we have distinct designs on both phones. Curved screens on the front, yes, but wildly different back sides. The Pixel 7 Pro will repeat the RoboCop visor look for its camera module, Samsung is doing its corner camera glued to the frame of the device. Both designs have proponents and haters. We at the office are also divided, so it’s safe to say that this one is strictly up to taste.

What’s the same is the fact that both phones have matte glass backs — fantastic for keeping fingerprints away, not so great for being slippery against dry hands. Though, the Pixel’s camera bar has proven itself helpful on the Pixel 6 series by allowing us to comfortably rest our fingers against it and grip the device better.

Needless to say, both phones are water- and dust-resistant. The Galaxy S22 Ultra has an IP68 rating, and the Pixel 7 Pro will probably have the same. Perks like stereo speakers, wireless charging, and the complete lack of a headphone jack are also present. But the Galaxy S22 Ultra does have the coveted S Pen for anyone who prefers annotating or drawing on their phone. There’s a good reason why the S Pen has stuck around for a decade — it is useful and it feels awesome.

When it comes to colors, you do have a wider choice if you go for the S22 Ultra, but only if you buy from Samsung.com. Retailers get black, white, burgundy, and green, while Samsung’s web shop offers sky blue, red, and graphite. The Pixel 7 Pro colors are a bit more basic, but still have a stylish gleam to them. They are black, white, and a gray with a gold frame (a.k.a. Obsidian, Snow, and Hazel).

In terms of security, we have an under-screen fingerprint scanner on both phones. Samsung uses its ultrasonic fingerprint scanners, which the company says are more accurate and harder to fool. However, they are sometimes slow to react and plenty of users online are reporting minor annoyances with them. The Pixels use optical scanners, which should be faster than Samsung’s tech, but the Pixel 6 line didn’t really get it right. Plenty of mis-reads or slow reaction times were reported here as well. We will see how the Pixel 7 Pro does.

Performance and Software

Wait, so are Exynos and Tensor brothers?

Google uses a custom Tensor chip for its Pixel phones since 2021. In the Pixel 7 line, we expect to see a new-and-improved Tensor 2. Fun fact — the chip may be built to Google’s spec, but it’s made by Samsung.

In the meantime, Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (in the USA and South Korea) or Samsung’s own Exynos 2200 chip (international markets).

What does this mean in terms of performance? Obviously, the new Tensor is not out yet, so we can’t know for sure. However, it last year’s Pixel 6 is anything to go by, know this — the Google Tensor chips are not made for raw performance. They focus on having cores dedicated for computational photography and AI functionality. In other words, Google is taking the “Work smart, not hard” approach.

In benchmarks, the 2021 Tensor was lagging behind its top-tier competitors. In real life, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro were pretty solid phones. We sort of expect a repeat of the same story once the Pixel 7 Pro and the Tensor 2 come out.

Camera

King, meet the king

OK, so Samsung is pretty good with its cameras, right? The Galaxy S22 Ultra is basically a champ — it has four cameras, two of which are dedicated to optical zoom (a 3x portrait camera and a 10x zoom camera), and tons of software post-processing that allows for 100x digital zooming that looks much better than it should, really. The main sensor is a massive 108 MP one, the ultra-wide camera has a 12 MP one, and the zoom cameras are both 10 MP.

But Google’s Pixel is absolutely not to be underestimated. Last year, Google updated the sensors it uses, so the main camera now has a 50 MP sensor. And it was trading blow for blow with Samsung’s S22 Ultra, no problem. Check them out both dominating this camera comparison. We expect the Pixel 7 Pro to have a 12 MP ultra-wide and a 48 MP zoom camera next to that 50 MP main shooter. And we expect the Pixel 7 Pro to absolutely bring the camera chops of its predecessor, only refined.

Audio Quality and Haptics

In terms of haptic response — both the Pixels and the Galaxies have precise and responsive, clicky vibration motors. The Pixel’s feels awesome, the Galaxy’s is pretty good (but not as awesome).

In terms of audio, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is very good and allows further tuning via an on-board app. The Pixel 6 Pro was a bit disappointing — not bad, but not amazing. We will see how the Pixel 7 Pro presents itself.

Battery Life and Charging

A day for a day

We don’t have exact specs on the Pixel 7 Pro yet, but if we were up for a bet, we’d guess it’d have a battery at about 5,000 mAh. That’s what the Pixel 6 Pro had and it’s generally what most mainstream smartphone makers manage to cram into their devices.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra also has a 5,000 mAh battery. It’s no battery champion, but it can comfortably last you a day. We’d wager the Pixel 7 Pro will give us the same result.

As for charging, the Galaxy supports up to 45 W Fast Charge. The Pixel 6 Pro peaked at 30 W and we are unsure if Google is willing to push that particular envelope at that time. In any case, both of these phones will come without a charger in the box. If you buy the official one for the respective device, you should be able to get a top-up in less than 2 hours on both.

Wirelessly, the Galaxy S22 Ultra can get charged by 15 W pucks, whereas the Pixel 7 Pro should be able to do at least 23 W, because that’s what its predecessor was capable of.

Specs Comparison

Putting it all together and looking at raw sheet data side-by-side looks like this at the moment:

So, we have two phones that obviously are doing their own thing. The Pixel 7 Pro won’t have the amazing zoom capabilities of the S22 Ultra, most probably, but we are pretty sure it’ll be able to give its main camera a run for its money. Well… while costing less, that is. What remains to be seen is how the new Tensor will perform.

Summary and Final Verdict

The Google Pixel 6 series was a great new chapter for the Pixel line. What started as the Google Nexus — a niche phone for geeks — mutated into the OG Google Pixel, some 6 years ago. Back then, it seemed like it under-delivered on its asking price. But after years of fine-tuning and balancing things out, Google struck a balance. Its own design language, its own fantastic camera performance, and its own AI loaded on a phone that is pretty fairly priced by today’s standards.

Admittedly, the Pixel 6 phones had some issues in the first months. If the Pixel 7 Pro irons out all the kinks and sticks the landing, it may just have what it takes to pull loyalists away from the Galaxy S22 Ultra.



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