The camera champion
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While bigger and heavier than the Galaxy S22, the Pixel 7 is more affordable and focused with better main and front-facing cameras. So long as you’re not on a cell network’s fringe, the Pixel 7 is a steal.Pros
- Pixel-exclusive software features
- Fast updates
- More consistent camera
- No telephoto lens
- Only 90Hz
- Ultrawide camera not wide enough
The display king
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Samsung’s smallest S22 may not be quite as fancy as the S Pen-wielding Ultra, but it has more raw power, a more polished build quality, and more cameras for your Instagram needs.
- 120Hz display
- 3X telephoto camera
- Longer update support
- Battery life
- Less consistent camera quality
- Slower updates
In a lot of ways, the Google Pixel 7 is a more refined version of last year’s Pixel 6. Many of the bugs and connectivity issues that plagued the Pixel 6 are gone, leaving a device that is a blast to use. Like the Pixel 7, the Samsung Galaxy S22 launched in 2022 and was a powerhouse when it initially launched. Even over a year later, the Galaxy S22 is still near the top of the pack in capabilities. Both of these devices are still considered some of the best Android phones you can get and due to their age, can be purchased at a reasonable price. If you are on the hunt for yesterdays flagship, you can’t do much better than either of these devices.
Pricing, specs, and availability
Like its predecessor, the Pixel 7 launched at $600 for the 128GB model, and that’s an absolute bargain, and the deals on it are plentiful, with the phone consistently available for as low as $500. The Galaxy S22, meanwhile, started at $800 when it launched in February 2022. Thankfully, the age of the S22 means we see plenty of deals — though the S22 hasn’t seen nearly as many sales as the S22+ and S22 Ultra for some reason.
Although hardware specs don’t tell the whole story, you can see them side-by-side below:
Google Pixel 7 Samsung Galaxy S22 SoC Google Tensor G2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Display 6.3-inch FHD+ OLED, 90Hz 6.1″ 1080p AMOLED, 48 – 120Hz RAM 8GB 8GB Storage 128GB, 256GB 128 or 256GB Battery 4,355mAh 3,700mAh Operating System Android 13 Android 12 with One UI 4.1 Front camera 10.8MP, f/2.2, 92.8° FoV 10MP f/2.2 Rear cameras 50MP wide (f/1.85), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2, 114° FoV) 50MP f/1.8 primary; 10MP f/2.4 3x telephoto; 12MP f/2.2 120˚ ultra-wide Dimensions 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7mm 146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm Weight 197g 167g Charging 20W wired, up to 20W wireless 25W wired, 15W wireless IP Rating IP68 IP68 Price From $599 USD $699
Both phones trade blows in most areas, with the S22 winning in display quality, CPU performance, and camera hardware. But as we said at the start, hardware specs don’t tell the whole story. You’ll often find that the overall user experience can be better on one of these phones, even if the supporting hardware doesn’t match up.
The Pixel 7 and Galaxy S22 protect their camera lenses similarly, with a metal camera housing that’ll prevent damage when placing the phone down on a table. The S22 does this with a vertical bump that subtly wraps into the frame, while the Pixel 7 uses the now-iconic, Frozone-inspired camera bar that crosses the top of the phone and melts into the frame.
Design is subjective, so some will prefer the subdued look of the S22, and others will like the bold design Google has moved forward with. What isn’t subjective is the practicality of these designs, which the Pixel has in spades over the S22. For example, because the camera bar goes across the entire width of the Pixel, it doesn’t wobble on a table, unlike the S22. However, that arrangement can also lead to scratching the bottom edge of the Pixel 7 camera bar if you don’t grab a sturdy case with a good camera lip.
The Pixel 7 is available in Lemongrass (very pale green), Snow (white), and Obsidian (black). The Galaxy S22 comes in Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold, and Bora Purple at all retailers, with Graphite, Cream, Sky Blue, and Violet available exclusively on Samsung’s website.
Around the front, the two phones feature slim bezels, a flat 1080p display, and a small hole punch camera centered at the top. That’s where the similarities end. The S22 has perfectly symmetrical bezels, while the Pixel 7 has a slightly larger chin, though you likely won’t notice it in everyday use unless you’re hyper-detail-oriented. Samsung brought a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz to the Galaxy S22, while Google limited 120Hz to the 7 Pro, leaving the Pixel 7 at 90Hz. Although part of this may have been to keep down costs on the $600 Pixel 7, it still means that the S22 will look smoother to most folks. Regarding smoothness, the Pixel 7 seems to be experiencing some scrolling issues.
The S22’s 6.1-inch screen is noticeably smaller than the 6.3-inch Pixel 7, with the Galaxy S22 slimmer and lighter in every dimension. (If you’re after a 6.1-inch Pixel, that would be the Google Pixel 6a.) Underneath that screen, the Pixel 7 has an improved optical fingerprint scanner that is faster and more reliable than what we saw in the Pixel 6. However, it still pales in comparison to the ultrasonic scanner in the Galaxy S22.
The S22 can dynamically lower the display’s refresh rate to 48Hz, but only when watching videos or when the display is idle. When actively using the display, it’ll crank up to 120Hz. The Pixel 7 has a 90Hz display and is the perfect middle-ground on small-ish flagships, giving users a smooth experience while retaining some efficiency.
Both phones have Face Unlock via the front camera, though the Pixel’s version is a pale imitation of what we had with Soli on the Pixel 4. One thing to note is that while the ultrasonic scanner on the S22 is usually faster, that isn’t always the case when a screen protector is used. It will still scan your finger but loses a lot of speed.
The Pixel 7 and Galaxy S22 both run Android 13. The Pixel 7 shipped with this Android version, and the Galaxy S22 has been updated from Android 12.
Like all Pixels, the Pixel 7 has incredible AI features, like Call Screening and Hold For Me. These features let you screen potential spam calls by having Google Assistant deal with them. And in the U.S., Google Assistant can do this automatically in the background, plus the Assistant can wait on hold for you rather than wait in a queue yourself. This AI prowess makes itself apparent in all aspects of the experience. For example, the Pixel 7 can tell you what song is playing while you’re shopping — without an internet connection — and it can unblur old photos. These are just some examples of what the Tensor G2 enables on the Pixel 7, making it what some would call the smartest smartphone.
Samsung’s software is no slouch, either, though. It might lack the same focused AI smarts, but it has plenty of thoughtful and helpful features that some come to depend on. One UI has an option for everything. Multitasking is only a gesture away, with a two-fingered swipe from the navigation bar opening split-screen and a diagonal swipe from the top corner opening pop-up windows. Samsung’s suite of Good Lock apps allows you to tinker with the software experience even further to build your own system themes, customize the lock screen UI, and more.
There are so many features to explore in One UI that it can seem overwhelming to new users, but the added value really can make or break the experience. The superior software experience will come down to what features you value the most, so it’s a good idea to play with both phones in a store before deciding.
Software updates are a pretty even match between the two devices. Pixels will get Android upgrades before Galaxy phones, but that gap has narrowed to only a few months, and usually, by the time Samsung has the update ready, all the bugs have been squashed.
You’ll get more updates on the S22 than on the Pixel 7. Google has promised three years of Android upgrades and five years of security patches for the new Pixels, while Samsung offers four years of Android upgrades with a fifth year of security patches.
The Pixel 7 uses Google’s new Samsung-made Tensor G2 chip. While it’s not as powerful on paper as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1/Exynos 2200 on the Galaxy S22, in practice, both phones are quite capable, and you won’t notice a difference in performance unless you open a demanding game and crank the settings up. Both devices ship with 8GB of RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB of onboard storage.
The Pixel 7’s cellular reception can be a bit weaker than the Galaxy S22 because it’s not using a Qualcomm modem. We’ve seen some improvements over last year’s Pixel 6 connectivity woes, but if you live in a more rural area where the signal is often spotty or weak, you’ll be much better off with the Galaxy S22. After all, what good is a phone if you can’t get enough signal to use it?
Battery life on the Pixel 7 isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s better than the Galaxy S22’s. The S22 has a smaller battery due to its smaller overall size, but it also has a more power-hungry display and chip.
Tensor G2 also helps here, with many of the phone’s functions relying on more efficient AI cores rather than the main cores of the processor. So if you want to be sure you’ll make it through an entire day, the Pixel 7 is your best bet.
For charging, things are comparable. The S22 can charge at 25W with a wire and 15W wirelessly, while the Pixel 7 can charge at 20W for both — but the only Pixel 7 wireless charger to charge it at that full speed is the $80 Pixel Stand (2nd Gen).
On paper, the Galaxy S22’s cameras should destroy the Pixel 7, and in hardware versatility, it does. The Pixel 7 has a 50MP primary sensor and 12MP 114° ultrawide. The Galaxy S22 has a similar 50MP main shooter, but it’s backed up by a 10MP 3X telephoto and 12MP 120° ultrawide.
Photos from the primary cameras look better on the Pixel. That shouldn’t be a surprise, given how long Google was able to reuse the sensor from the Pixel 2 while continuing to take the best photos possible thanks to machine learning. Now that computational prowess has been applied to a modern sensor, the results are impressive. That’s not to say the S22 takes bad photos — it takes great pictures, but they’re just let down by less consistency and over-sharpening.
Zoom is closer than you’d think, even though the Pixel 7 doesn’t have a dedicated telephoto lens. The software smarts mean it can zoom up to 8X with usable quality. The S22 benefits from a dedicated 3X lens, which is especially useful for taking portraits thanks to the natural bokeh this focal length provides. The digital zoom is pretty good, too, with usable photos all the way up to 30X.
The biggest win for Samsung is the ultrawide sensor, which is disappointing on the Pixel 7, which has the same sensor as the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. It just doesn’t get wide enough, while the Galaxy S22 can suck in the world around it with that 120° field of view.
Another small win for the Pixel 7 is the selfie camera: the Galaxy S22 has autofocus while the Pixel 7 is fixed focus, but the Pixel 7’s 92.8-degree field of view is much wider than the S22’s 80-degree FOV. Wider selfies mean more people can get in the shot, and you have more wiggle room trying to squeeze the entire Millennium Falcon into the shot behind you while visiting Galaxy’s Edge. That, combined with Google’s algorithmic processing, helps the Pixel achieve better selfie photos. Both front cameras are capable of 4K 60fps and 4K 30fps video recording if you’re hoping to start or continue your quest for TikTok stardom.
Which should you buy?
Given how similar in size and performance these two phones are, it can end up coming down to the details. The Galaxy S22 has a brighter, smoother, and more uniform screen and a smaller profile, but the battery life suffers while costing a bit more. The Pixel 7 feels a bit smoother in normal use, and its exclusive features are hard to give up once you try them. But the more AI-focused Tensor G2 can’t quite keep up in demanding games, and the modem is still not as good as the Qualcomm modem inside the S22. The photos are better on the Pixel 7 overall, but the ultrawide camera is disappointing.
$450 $600 Save $150
While bigger and heavier than the Galaxy S22, the Pixel 7 is more affordable, more focused, and has better main and front-facing cameras. So long as you’re not on a cell network’s fringe, the Pixel 7 is a steal.
If you’re a Samsung fan, the Galaxy S22 will still probably win you over, but the Pixel 7’s $599 price point is a sweet spot most buyers are willing to forgive a few small quibbles for. That said, if 4G/5G connectivity is crucial to your sparse-signal life, the Galaxy S22 is the one to consider.
$550 $700 Save $150
Samsung’s smallest S22 may not be quite as fancy as the S Pen-wielding Ultra, but she’s got more raw power, a more polished build quality, and more cameras for your Instagram needs.