Google Pixel 8a vs Samsung Galaxy S23 FE preview

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Intro

Samsung’s latest high-tier mid-range phone, the Galaxy S23 FE, is probably the closest you can get to a flagship’s level of performance without paying a premium price. That said, we are still talking about a pretty expensive phone that starts at $629. Soon to arrive, however, is the Pixel 8a, which will most likely go for the more affordable price of $499.

More specifically, we expect Google to announce the Pixel 8a on May 14, which is when the company will be holding its annual Google I/O developer conference. It will be the company’s latest generation of its more affordable Pixel “a” series, which tends to offer users the core Pixel experience for a lower price, much like Samsung’s Galaxy S23 FE.

Even though the Pixel 8a isn’t out yet, we do have some information about it in the form of leaks and rumors, so we can already start to make out how these two mid-rangers will be different and similar to each other. From the design and hardware choice to the software and performance, let’s take look of how the Pixel 8a will compare to the Galaxy S23 FE.

Pixel 8a vs Galaxy S23 FE differences:

Table of Contents:

Read more:

  • Pixel 8a preview
  • Galaxy S23 FE review

Design and Size

Bold vs understated

Google’s Pixel phones have been well-known for their bold design thanks to that iconic camera bar on the back, which contrasts well with Samsung’s more minimalist and simple approach that drops the camera island altogether.

Besides the cameras, though, the two phones will also have a very different feel to them, as the Galaxy S23 FE embraces the current trend of a more blocky design with flat sides, whereas there have been some leaked Pixel 8a renders showcasing a more oval shape with curved sides.

At the very least, in terms of durability and materials used, the Pixel 8a will be fairly similar to the S23 FE, with an aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass Victus protection for the display.

The only slight difference we expect to see is in the IP water and dust resistance rating, with the Pixel getting the same IP67 rating as its predecessor vs the IP68 of the Galaxy. The difference between these two ratings is quite insignificant, though, so we can’t point it as something noteworthy.

Colors-wize, the S23 FE comes in:

Versus the Pixel 8a colors we expect to see, which are rumored to be:

  • bay (light blue)
  • mint (light green)
  • obsidian (black)
  • porcelain (beige)

The unboxing experiences for both the Pixel 8a and the Galaxy S23 FE will probably be very similar, which is to say with little else other than the phones themselves and a charging cable inside. Of course, you also have the SIM tool and some documentation.

Display Differences

Things have changed, and even more affordable phones now come with high display refresh rates and good brightness levels. We expect the Pixel 8a to come with a 120Hz display (upgraded from 90Hz on the Pixel 7a) capable of 1400 nits peak brightness. These specs would match what the S23 FE offers.

So, in other words, unless Google increases the dimensions of the Pixel 8a, the only difference in the display technology between these two phones would remain their size.

Performance and Software

Tensor vs Snapdragon
The Tensor G3 chipset that we expect Google to include with the Pixel 8a is almost two years newer than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 silicon that powers the Galaxy S23 FE. Despite the big generational gap, the Tensor G3 is only somewhat more capable and more power-efficient in comparison, which leads us to think there won’t be any noticeable differences in the user experience that would be too noticeable. Both phones come with 8GB of RAM too.

On the software side of things, the Galaxy S23 FE comes with Samsung’s One UI 6 Android skin, which includes some extra features added from Samsung, whereas the Pixel 8a will come with the vanilla Android experience. 

Now, artificial intelligence (AI) has obviously become a major part of the modern phone’s tool set, and although the S23 FE did not launch with any, the One UI 6.1 update has brought introduced AI-powered features such as Circle to Search, Live Translate, Generative Edit, Chat Assist, and more.

On that note, we expect the Pixel 8a to come with most of the AI features that the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro debuted with late last year, which includes automatic proofreading (Fix It), generating wallpapers, or the updated Call Screen feature that genuinely sounds like a real human being now.

One thing the Pixel 8a will most likely have over the Galaxy S23 FE is the longer software support, which we expect to be 7 years—the same as on Google’s flagship models—compared to the 4 years of Android updates and 5 years of security patches that Samsung offers with its high-tier mid-ranger.

Camera

Similar image quality, but the S23 FE is more versatile

One of the glaring differences between the Pixel 8a and the Galaxy S23 FE will be that the latter comes with a dedicated telephoto camera, which offers optical zoom quality. Now, even though the Pixel 8a is said to have a high-resolution 64MP main camera, that didn’t seem to help with the Pixel 7a last year, so we are not sure whether it will have good enough sensor crop to offer high-quality 3X or even 2X zoom.

As for the main camera performance, we expect the 50MP snapper on the S23 FE to be close in terms of image quality to the 64MP one on the 8a. And the same goes for the 12MP (Galaxy) vs 13MP (Pixel) ultra-wide cameras.

One difference we might see between these two phone’s cameras is with video recording, and more specifically the video stabilization. The S23 FE has really stable footage, which is something we think the Pixel 8a might have trouble matching.

Audio Quality and Haptics

The audio quality from Samsung’s and Google’s premium mid-rangers is usually enjoyable, although noticeably not as good as what you would find on a flagship. The S23 FE has an overall good audio quality from the dual-firing speakers, and we expect a similar experience from the Pixel 8a.

The situation is similar with haptics too, not the best, but pretty good with enough precision and strength.

Battery Life and Charging

Galaxy S23 FE offers more with wireless charging

Rumor has it that the Pixel 8a will come with a 4,500 mAh battery capacity, which is exactly what the S23 FE has. So, battery life will boil down to the power efficiency of the chipsets, displays, and other hardware. We will know for sure once we get to put the Pixel 8a through our battery life tests.

Now, there are some charging differences usually with Samsung and Google phones, and this will also be the case with the Pixel 8a and S23 FE. For starters, the S23 FE comes with 25W wired, 15W wireless and reverse wireless charging, whereas the Pixel 8a is expected to have 27W wired, 7.5W wireless, and no reverse wireless.

Specs Comparison

Even the Pixel 8a vs Galaxy S23 FE specs sheet can give us some immediate idea of how these two high-end mid-ranger phones will be different from one another.

You have the telephoto camera on the Samsung, a larger display, and faster wireless charging. With the Pixel, you get a slightly more powerful processor, a significantly lower price tag, and a higher-resolution main camera.

Summary

So, in essence, for an extra $129 you get a third, telephoto camera, reverse wireless charging and a larger display if you decide to go with the Galaxy S23 FE. Unless Google surprises us with something that has not been leaked or reported on, the Pixel 8a will offer buyers longer software support and a slightly more capable and power-efficient chip.

The conclusion here is that you would probably find the Galaxy S23 FE more worth your money if you really need a more capable camera setup. On the other hand, the Pixel 8a will offer a more future-proof user experience thanks to its newer chipset and longer support, all of which for a significantly lower price than the Galaxy.

Don’t forget that this is all just mere speculation at this point, as we won’t be able to do a proper comparison until we get a hold of the Pixel 8a after Google announces it next month, so take all that is written here with a pinch of salt for now.


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