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Google Pixel 8a review: more future for less money
6:22 pm | May 17, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Google Pixel Phones Phones | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Google Pixel 8a: Two-minute review

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing

Pixel 6a, Pixel 7a, and Pixel 8a (left to right) (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Pixel 8a is the best budget option for Android enthusiasts, and especially Google fans. It makes a case for itself against the pricier Pixel 8, and if you've been dying to try all of Google's coolest new Android and Gemini AI features, the Pixel 8a is the cheapest entry into this virtual world. You can find slightly better specs in a phone this cheap, but you can't find Google's innovative software and seven years of promised software updates.

I've been using the Pixel 8a with Gemini Advanced, Google’s premium AI and large language model, and it works just as well as my Pixel 8 Pro. I get the same cool AI wallpapers feature that I love. I even have Gemini baked into the Gmail app on this phone, so Google's AI can compose an email right in the proper text box. 

For the Pixel 8a’s price, there are Android phones to consider from Motorola and OnePlus, but Apple and Samsung don't make anything worth buying in the $500 / £500 / AU$800 range. The iPhone SE is cheaper, but I'd avoid that old phone since it's fairly out of date (home button?!).

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE in purple with books behind

For only $100 more you can have the Galaxy S23 FE with DeX (Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Samsung's Galaxy S23 FE is a bit more expensive, and it has tons of business and professional features, if you're going to be mixing work and personal life on your phone. It's also a bit overcomplicated, and it won't get the latest AI features like the Pixel 8a (probably) will. 

If history is any guide, the Pixel 8a will eventually get some compelling deals and this great price will drop even lower, but for $499 / £499 / AU$849, I think the Pixel 8a is worth what Google is charging. The Pixel 8 is only a little more expensive, which makes sense because it's only a little more great; it has better cameras, and marginally better battery life and charging, but that's it. 

The Pixel 8a performed well across the board in our tests, matching and occasionally beating the Pixel 8 on our metrics for processor speed, graphics performance, even display quality. If the Pixel 8a uses a cheaper display than the Pixel 8, I certainly couldn't tell.

Google Pixel 8 review back angled case

It's much harder to recommend the Pixel 8 these days (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

That's great news because the Pixel 8a also gets the same seven years of Android updates that Google promised for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, and all of these phones use the latest Tensor G3 chipset. The Pro model has more RAM, but the two cheaper Pixel 8 phones are identical in RAM and storage.

If you're considering the Pixel 8, you might just save money and buy the Pixel 8a, unless you need a better camera (or you really prefer the Pixel 8 colors). But that's the only reason to spend more on the Pixel 8. You'll probably be just as happy with the Pixel 8a, and even happier when you have money leftover to spend on cases and accessories.

Google Pixel 8a review: Price and availability

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing cameras

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • $499 / £499 / AU$849 for 8GB RAM, 128GB storage
  • Available in sweet Bay blue and Aloe green (also black and white-ish)

The Pixel 8a costs $499 / £499 / AU$849, which is a relief for our American readers but now Australia knows how we felt last year. In the US, that’s the same as the Pixel 7a cost a year ago, but £50 more in the UK and $100 more in Australia. Google raised the price for the Pixel 7a in the US, but kept things stable for Americans this year, and that's great because the Pixel 8a feels like a better value than ever before. 

Google is offering seven years of Android OS updates for the Pixel 8a. Let's be honest, you probably won't have this phone in seven years, but somebody might, and they'll get the latest software. Whether you pass this down to a kid or trade it for your next phone, the Pixel 8a should last longer than before, and that's a huge vote of confidence from Google.

Android phones don't hold their value as well as Apple iPhones, and while longevity isn't the biggest reason, having longer support could help Android’s reputation, which could improve value in the long run.

Google Pixel 8a in front of Pixel 7a and Pixel 6a

You can barely see the two-tone greens on the Pixel 6a (left) (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Pixel 7a and the Pixel 6a were continually offered at a discount, usually at Amazon first, and it's likely that you'll find the Pixel 8a available cheaper, eventually. 

Don't wait, the Pixel 8a is worth buying now. In the past I recommended waiting for a sale, but this feels like a phone that performs above its price range, so there's no reason to wait if you want one now. 

For the same price, you can get a OnePlus 12R. While there is much to recommend that phone, I think most people should stick with the Pixel 8a. The OnePlus 12R is faster, with a bigger, better display. It has a huge battery, and it charges much faster than almost any other smartphone you can buy, let alone the Pixel 8a.

The OnePlus 12R isn't water resistant, though, so it's less durable, and that makes a huge difference to me. It also doesn't get the same seven years of Android OS updates, and OnePlus isn't even trying to make AI features that compete with Google. In terms of software, OnePlus does a nice job, but Google still rules the Android roost.

  • Value score: 5 / 5

Google Pixel 8a review: Specs

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing lock screen always-on display

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Pixel 8a has the same Google Tensor G3 chipset as the two more expensive Pixel 8 phones. It comes with 8GB of RAM, just like the Pixel 8. In processor and graphics benchmarks, performance was effectively identical between the Pixel 8a and the Pixel 8.

The Pixel 8a also has a bright display like the Pixel 8, and in our tests both phones reached above 1,450 nits at 100% brightness. 

Where the Pixel 8 pulls ahead and earns its premium, aside from the improved cameras, are in the smaller details. The Pixel 8 uses Gorilla Glass Victus, which is stronger than the Gorilla Glass 3 on the Pixel 8a. The Pixel 8 has Wi-Fi 7, though that's only useful if you also have a new Wi-Fi 7 router.

Google Pixel 8a review: Design

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing USB-C port and speakers

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • It’s a Pixel, and every Pixel looks the same
  • Plastic back holds its own against glass

If you wanted a cuter, more curvaceous version of the Pixel 8, the Pixel 8a delivers. Sure, it looks like every other Pixel phone since the Pixel 6, but that's brand identity. I actually like the camera bar, I prefer its symmetry to the camera bump on most other phones. 

The Pixel 8a has nicely rounded corners, and some flashy color options, including the brighter-than-expected Aloe green of my review sample, a nice step into the light from the more subdued Mint green Pixel 8.

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green from side showing SIM card slot

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The back is plastic, not glass, but the matte finish and great colors make it look much more premium than the ugly plastic phones of yore. Glossy plastic is out; the Pixel 8a is in. 

Otherwise… it's a Pixel, and you know what that looks like by now. It looks like every other Pixel. I miss the two-tone options of the Pixel 6 phones (check out the green and yellow-green Pixel 6a in my photos), but it's still a pretty phone that’ll stand out just enough from the herd of Galaxy and iPhones.

  • Design score: 5 / 5

Google Pixel 8a review: Display

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing bright AI wallpaper

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Bright display matches the Pixel 8
  • You can find bigger (and brighter) on competing phones

Google's new so-called ‘Actua’ displays were a key selling point for the Pixel 8 family, so I'm pleased to report the Pixel 8a earns its spot in the lineup with a bright, colorful display that doesn't skimp on specs. It has a 120Hz refresh rate and the same 2,000-nit peak brightness potential as the Pixel 8.

The bezel is a bit thick, but you won't notice unless you hold it up next to another phone. The smaller size of the Pixel 8a, with its 6.1-inch OLED display, is one of my favorite aspects of its design; it's a nice, compact phone. 

In fact, the phone was so easy to hold and use that I decided to use the Pixel 8a to write the first draft of this review on my flights back from Google I/O 2024. I wrote a few thousand words on the Pixel 8a display, and it was comfortable thanks to the smaller size. 

I had some trouble seeing the display in the bright California sunshine in Mountain View, which made some photography hard, but this was only a problem on the clearest day with the sun overhead. Indoors, the display seemed exceptionally bright, so perhaps it just needed a better reflective coating.

Google Pixel 8a in front of OnePlus 12R both showing TechRadar home page

OnePlus 12R (6.7-inch) behind the Pixel 8a (6.1-inch) (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The OnePlus 12R does have a larger, 6.7-inch display, and OnePlus claims it can hit an eye-piercing (no, seriously) 4,500 nits of brightness, but we haven’t seen it achieve this in our tests. Still, for the same price you can get a larger display, but the compact size is part of the Pixel 8a appeal.

  • Display score: 4 / 5

Google Pixel 8a review: Software

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing Quick Settings Menu buttons

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • All of Google’s cool AI features are here, for now
  • Google’s Android is clean and easy to use

Google makes the best Android phone software, much better than Samsung’s OneUI. While OnePlus and Motorola stay close to Google’s designs, you can't beat the House of Android for simplicity and ease of use.

Maybe it's getting too easy? Android used to have many more customization options to organize your home screens and your app list. Most of these are gone now. You can't even put apps into folders in Google's app menu.

On the other hand, Google does the best job with things like notifications. If I get a notification I don't want, I just hold my finger on the message and I get a robust settings tool that lets me turn off all notices from an app, or just certain categories of interruptions. I get to pick what each app notifies me about, and I don't have to dig to find the options. They just appear with a press.

Google Pixel 8a showing AI wallpaper creation tool

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The new AI tools keep getting better. I make a new AI wallpaper every few days. Even better, I now let Google's AI answer most of my impersonal phone calls, and I can see what my caller says in a live transcript as the AI handles them. 

The Gemini AI features are good, and it isn't a perfect Google Assistant replacement, but Gemini can use Google Assistant as one of its tools, to make up the difference. 

The AI features are constantly growing. Gemini can now help compose email messages in the Gmail app, and I'd expect it will soon offer help in the mobile Docs, Sheets, and maybe Slides apps. 

Unfortunately, the Gemini app stopped working for me suddenly a few days before this review published. I have reached out to Google to make sure that this is an isolated issue, and I will update if I get a response.

The Pixel 8a also carries forward the best of Google's AI image editing in Google Photos. You get the classic Magic Eraser and the newer Magic Editor AI features as well.

Google Pixel 8a showing Gmail app with Gemini AI prompt

Google Gemini will offer suggestions in apps like Gmail (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The reason it can handle all these features is because the processing is done by Google in the cloud. You’ll eventually be able to load the Gemini Nano language model onto the phone to handle some generative writing locally, but it will be hidden as a developer option. I suspect that's more because of the audience and target market for this bargain phone, and not because of any performance deficit. 

Will Google really support the Pixel 8a for seven years? I had concerns, so I spoke to Google before this phone arrived at my door. Google’s Pixel reps assure me they have a roadmap for Tensor G3 phones that will last 7 years. In 2031, the Pixel 8a will retire with Android 21 on board, because Google has a plan. Android yellowcake, perhaps.

  • Software score: 4 / 5

Google Pixel 8a review: Cameras

Google Pixel 8a showing camera app focused on living room

All the photo modes from the Pixel 8 Pro are here (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Photos look very similar to shots from the Pixel 8 Pro
  • A bit grainy close up, and blurry at night

Google’s Pixel A-series phones are usually an easy pick for the best bargain camera phone because they are unfussy and produce great images that are perfect for sharing online. By that, I mean they don’t look great if you zoom in too close, but for viewing on smaller screens, the Pixel 8a makes photos that look surprisingly good. 

How good? To test the Pixel 8a camera, I compared photos against the Pixel 8 Pro, Google’s best camera phone and one of my favorites. The photos were remarkably similar. If I didn’t zoom in on a shot, I often couldn’t tell which photo was taken by the Pixel 8a and which by the Pixel 8 Pro. Google’s color and light balancing are nearly identical on both phones. Only in the darkest conditions was the Pixel 8 Pro advantage clear. 

To compare with the Google Pixel 8 Pro, here is a sample that shows more detail from the Pro camera, but both images look good. The color and lighting is very similar across both devices. 

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Google Pixel 8a camera sample photo of a tile mosaic with leaves

Google Pixel 8a photo (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera sample photo of a tile mosaic with leaves

Google Pixel 8 Pro photo (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

This low-light photo shows the clearest distinction between the Pixel 8 Pro and the Pixel 8a. The Pixel 8 Pro is clearly better in dark conditions, but when I looked at the photos on my phone screen, this was the only photo I found easy to determine which phone took the shot. 

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Google Pixel 8a camera sample showing a Diner sign Open 24 hours

Google Pixel 8a photo (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera sample showing a Diner sign Open 24 hours

Google Pixel 8 Pro photo (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

That’s a pretty remarkable feat, and good for Pixel 8a buyers because these phones both take great photos. You’ll see the difference in fine details, though. The Pixel 8 Pro has a 50MP sensor, after all. 

The Pixel 8a uses a 64MP sensor but it only outputs 16MP images. It combines four pixels into one in a process called 'pixel binning,' and there’s no way to get full-resolution, 64MP shots from the Camera app. Even RAW image files (why on a bargain A-series phone?) only have a 16MP resolution. 

The Pixel 8a offers all the same shooting modes as the Pixel 8 Pro, including Night Sight for nighttime shots around town, and long exposure, for cool shots of moving traffic and running water. 

It also has all of the same AI editing tricks in the Google Photos app. You get Magic Eraser, to remove unwanted people, and Magic Editor, to turn them into giants or move them to one side. There’s Best Shot, which replaces faces in a group photo when somebody has their eyes closed. It even has the amazing Audio Eraser for videos, to remove background noise and distractions. 

What’s especially cool, if you’re new to Pixel phones, is that you can edit photos and videos that you didn’t shoot with your Pixel phone. Anything in Google Photos is fair game. Upload all of your old iPhone photos to Google, go buy a Pixel 8a, then use Unblur to make them all as sharp as new. 

  • Camera score: 3 / 5

Google Pixel 8 Pro camera samples

Here are samples taken around New York City and at the Google I/O 2024 conference in Mountain View. 

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Google Pixel 8a review: Performance

Google Pixel 8a showing Android 14 screen with Android figurines beside

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Google’s Tensor G3 isn’t winning any contests
  • Seven years of Android support means Google trusts the chipset

Admittedly, the Pixel 8a and all of the Tensor G3 generation of Pixel phones are not top performing phones. Any phone with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 or newer Snapdragon, and any recent iPhone will outperform the Pixel 8 in benchmark tests. What does that mean in the real world? Not much. 

Unless you're playing the most-demanding games or using advanced photo or video editing tools, the Pixel 8a will be enough to keep up. It ran all of my games, including Call of Duty and Marvel Snap, with no trouble. It just didn't run games as smoothly as the Galaxy S24 can run them.

There was some delay with many of the AI features, but that's because the Pixel 8a needs to talk to Google before it gives you an answer. Even AI Wallpapers rely on Google's cloud for help, and there is a back and forth delay. My phone does not have access to Gemini Nano yet, so I'm curious to see if that speeds up any generative writing. 

I had some trouble using Bluetooth on the Pixel 8a. The phone kept finding and refinding my Pixel Buds Pro. I had to reconnect them three times in a week. It had trouble holding the connection with my car stereo, and twice it lost my Ray Ban Meta smart glasses. In a week or so of testing, I had only a small handful of issues, but it was annoying. 

  • Performance score: 3 / 5

Google Pixel 8a review: Battery

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing USB-C charging port

The USB-C charging port is 'faster' than before (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • The Pixel 8a’s biggest weakness
  • Also the Pixel 7a’s weakness, and the Pixel 6a’s weakness

Battery life is the Pixel 8a’s biggest letdown, which isn't a surprise considering the Pixel 7a and Pixel 6a suffered the same shortcoming. A compromise must be made to bring the price down, and Google apparently compromises on battery life. 

In my real-world testing, the Pixel 8a never lasted a full day of use. I used the phone at home, for work, and traveling by plane to Google I/O. It usually needed a top-up on the battery after dinner, if I was going to keep using it. 

Future Labs is still testing the Pixel 8a, but early rundown tests put battery life at just over 11 hours of use. To compare, the OnePlus 12R, our pick for best battery life, topped 19 hours of life on the same test, and it charges much faster. The phones cost the same, too. 

The Pixel 8 also charges a bit faster than the Pixel 8a, whether wired and wireless, and the Pixel 8 can charge other devices wirelessly, which the 8a can't do.

  • Battery score: 3 / 5

Should you buy the Google Pixel 8a?

Google Pixel 8a in front of Pixel 7a in white and Pixel 6a in two-tone green and yellowish green

Pixel 6a, Pixel 7a, and Pixel 8a (left to right) (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Buy it if...

You were considering the Pixel 8
The Pixel 8a gives you just about everything you get with the Pixel 8, for less. The cameras aren't as good, but if the 8a gets a good discount, it's game over for the Pixel 8.

You want to try Google’s AI stuff
The Pixel 8a is the cheapest entry into Google's new AI world, with generative AI writing tools and image editing on board. And it will keep getting better, we hope. 

You care about durability and longevity
You can find better specs at this price (hello, OnePlus 12R), but the Pixel 8a is more durable than the competition, with 7 years of Android updates – unheard of at this price. 

Don't buy it if...

You want a big, fast flagship killer
For the same price, the OnePlus 12R gives you better performance, a bigger screen, and the best battery life. Just don't get it wet.

You need amazing cameras
The Pixel 8a took solid photos that were satisfying to share. It doesn't have long zoom or the fine details of the Pixel 8 Pro, however. 

You're really going to keep a phone for 7 years
Even if Google updates this phone with a new Android every year, in seven years this phone will be astronomically underpowered. Go for a faster device if you want to finish that marathon.

Google Pixel 8a review: Also consider

Google Pixel 8
The Pixel 8 has better cameras than the Pixel 8a, and you can see the difference. There aren't many other advantages that matter, but the cameras may justify the extra cost for some folks.

OnePlus 12R
You want power and performance over software smarts. OnePlus isn't offering AI features or seven years of updates, but the OnePlus 12R gives you much faster performance and incredible battery life for the same price. It looks snazzy, too.

How I tested the Google Pixel 8a

I received the Pixel 8a from Google a few days before Google I/O 2024, so I used this phone as my only work phone for the conference, as well as the days before and after. 

I used the Pixel 8a to take product photos and news photos for our I/O live blog, to keep connected on Slack and Gmail, and to stay entertained on my flights.

I connected the Pixel 8a to a number of peripherals, including the Pixel Watch 2, Pixel Buds Pro, and Ray Ban Meta smart glasses.

I also wrote all of the copy for this review in Google Docs using the Pixel 8a and its on-screen keyboard. I don't usually bother with a stunt like that, but I had seven hours of flying ahead of me and I wanted to write on the plane, and the Pixel 8a is a great size for using in a crowded space like a middle seat.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

Google Pixel 8 Pro review: making more out of your phone
6:20 pm | October 4, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Google Pixel Phones Phones | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: October, 2023
• Google adds circle to search and Gemini to Pixel 8 Pro
• Launch price: $999 / £999 / AU$1,699
• Lowest price on Amazon: $749 / £670 / AU$1,699

Update: April 2024. We're only in the first of Google's seven years of promised updates for the Pixel 8 Pro, but the phone has already seen considerable new features. When the Samsung Galaxy S24 was launched in January, 2024,  Google added circle to search and other new AI features to the Pixel 8 Pro, and eventually the Pixel 8. Since then, we've seen Google's Gemini LLM with the Gemini Nano model, capable of producing written text using only the phone's onboard resources. Google has also launched its Find My Mobile network, and the Pixel 8 Pro has the hardware to find Google's new Nest location tags. 

Google Pixel 8 Pro: Two-minute review

The Pixel 8 Pro is a sleek update to Google’s venerable Pixel lineup, and while I’ll be ready for a new look and feel this year, I’m happy to report that this is Google's best-looking Pixel yet.

This is also Google’s most ambitious Pixel yet, with some serious camera upgrades that will satisfy even pro photogs, and a Tensor G3 chipset custom built to run Google’s machine learning features. Google is so confident in this phone’s performance that it is promising an unprecedented seven years of major updates, longer than any other phone maker supports its phones, currently. 

That said, this is a very, very odd device. If Google had simply released a generic smartphone with the Pixel 8 Pro’s cameras, display and design, it would have had a simple winner, capable of making an argument against not-quite-flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus or the Apple iPhone 15 Pro. Instead, Google is pushing deep into machine learning territory with generative AI features that will offer new experiences on your phone.

Some of these, like the amazing new call-screening assistant, work wonderfully, and are set to become an enduring part of our smartphone experience. Others, like the new photo editing features, border on frightening. Most, like AI wallpaper, seem like simple distractions and additions that could have been an app you download, but instead are now part of the Android-on-Pixel experience.

Pixel 8 Pro showing call screening

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

This is a decidedly Android phone, for better but mostly, these days, for worse. It’s a confusing mess. You’re faced with setup screens that never seem to end, notifications that never seem to disappear, and Settings menus that are layered deep enough to strike magma. 

The good news is that Google has plenty of time to fix Android, and if it does, Pixel 8 Pro owners will benefit from those improvements for seven years, if Google lives up to its promise. 

This is very good news indeed. In fact, it’s some of the best news I’ve heard from the Android camp in quite some time. If Google really delivers on seven years of major OS upgrades, Pixel feature drops, and Security updates, the Pixel 8 Pro will be the first Android phone to beat Apple in terms of longevity.

Will the Pixel 8 Pro be worth owning in seven years? Decidedly not, not if you’re buying one today. But, when it comes time to sell your Pixel 8 Pro in a year or two, the person you sell it to will know they aren’t buying an unsupported lemon. They’re buying a phone that could last them, and possibly someone else after them, for years. 

If you’re firmly encamped with Google on Android territory, the Pixel 8 Pro is a great choice for your next phone. Software-wise, Google has a lot of catching up to do against iOS 17 before I’d recommend buying it over the iPhone 15 Pro, but Google’s phone is fun and unique enough that I’d consider this phone if you can’t spring for a truly fancy foldable or the mighty Galaxy S23 Ultra

Of course, the real fun begins when Google starts slashing prices, and it can be liberal with discounts, especially around the sales season. More than with any other brand, I recommend waiting for a deal when you’re considering a Pixel phone, because as good as the phone is now, it feels like an even better buy for a few hundred dollars or pounds less. 

Google Pixel 8 Pro review: Price and availability

Google Pixel 8 Pro flat on a table

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Starts at $999 / £999 / AU$1,699 for 128GB storage
  • Available with up to 1TB of storage in the US, 512GB globally
  • Costs $100 / £150 / AU$400 more than the 128GB Pixel 7 Pro

The Pixel 8 Pro costs a bit more than the Pixel 7 Pro, when I was expecting that Google would drop the price. That’s because, frankly, the Pixel 7 Pro didn’t age very well in terms of performance and value, and rumors suggested that the Pixel 8 Pro wouldn’t offer much benefit over its predecessor. However, as it turns out there’s much more value to be found in the Pixel 8 Pro, and it holds up nicely against competitors in its price range. 

The most promising way Google has added value to the Pixel 8 Pro is with its promise to support the phone for seven years of major software upgrades, security updates, and Pixel feature drops. Android phones have traditionally been lacking in terms of longevity and long-term value, and no Android phone maker has ever offered this level of long-term support. Even Apple stops supporting iPhones with new OS upgrades after about five years. 

The Pixel 8 Pro doesn’t have the best performance, so its prospects as a long-term device are questionable, but at least we know Google won’t ignore it and let it rot on the vine. 

Of course, you probably won’t keep your phone for seven years, but when it comes time to trade or sell it, it should hold its value better because of Google’s support commitment. Time will tell; and there are other reasons why this phone is worth more than last year’s model. 

The Pixel 8 Pro has a fantastic display, brighter and sharper than those on the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Galaxy S23 Plus. The phone also has the largest battery of the bunch, and battery life lived up to Google's promises during my review period. 

The cameras are better in many ways, but the specs can get a bit esoteric and hard to explain. Needless to say, they take much better photos than before, and the new AI editing tools are incredibly impressive. Scary, impressive, and I mean that sincerely.

If you have this much to spend, I’d still recommend the iPhone 15 Pro; not for the cameras or the hardware, but because iOS 17 is leaps and bounds ahead of Android 14. Apple’s software experience isn’t just simplified, it’s elegant and polished. Android has gotten unwieldy again, and it’s hard to recommend even the best Android phone over a comparable iPhone. 

That said, the Pixel 8 Pro offers great value against the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus, although if you can spend more (or get a great contract deal), both Samsung and Apple have even fancier phones with more cameras to sell you, while Google hits its ceiling with the 8 Pro.

  • Value score:  4 / 5

Google Pixel 8 Pro review: Specs

Check out the Google Pixel 8 Pro's full specs below:

Google Pixel 8 Pro review: Design

Google Pixel 8 Pro back in porcelain in front of animal print

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Yup, it still looks like the Pixel 6
  • Matte finish and nice color choices add some class
  • Is this how every Pixel is going to look in the future?

What is there to say about a phone design that has barely changed in three years? Like this year’s iPhone 15 series, the Pixel 8 Pro is a bit more curvy than last year, with new colors and a matte finish. It is decidedly nicer than the Pixel 7 Pro if you care about the fine details, which I do. 

The Pixel 8 Pro is more rounded on the corners, and more flat on the display. This makes the phone easier to hold, while also giving you a better view of your content. The finish is lovely, and the colors are more classy and inviting than unusual and modern. Most folks love the Bay blue best, but I’m into these cream-colored phones that dominated 2023, so I asked for a Porcelain sample from Google for my review. 

This is the nicest Pixel phone Google has made so far, which is good because it has largely made the same phone three times now, with two more A-series models in between. I feel like these refinements could have come last year, and this year we could be looking at something even more evolved.

Google Pixel 8 Pro camera bump

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

I don’t mind the Google Pixel camera bump. It adds a distinct touch of flair, and on my Porcelain model it has the slightest golden hue that gives it a nice glint in the sun. It’s a very pretty phone, especially if you’ve never held a Pixel before. 

If you are a Pixel owner, especially if you own an older Pixel, you’re probably eyeing this phone for an upgrade. It’s too bad that Pixel 6 owners, ready to upgrade now, have only this slightly refreshed-looking version of their older phone to buy. I’d like to see something more novel next year, especially if the Pixel remains at this higher price level, on par with the titanium iPhone 15. 

  • Design score:  4 / 5

Google Pixel 8 Pro review: Display

Google Pixel 8 Pro AI wallpaper bicycle

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • The standout feature – it’s brighter and sharper than before
  • Even brighter and sharper than the iPhone 15 Pro Max
  • Slightly thicker bezel than the iPhone

The Pixel 8 Pro display is a standout feature this year, and Google has even endowed it with its own branding: Super Actua. The Pixel 8 is plain old Actua, you see. In practical terms, it seems this refers to the display’s brightness, because it is incredibly bright. The Pixel 8 Pro can reach 2,400 nits at peak brightness, and still pumps out 1,600 nits when you aren’t in direct sunlight. 

In almost every way, the Pixel 8 Pro display beats that of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. In terms of brightness, total resolution, and sharpness (pixel density), the Pixel has the better screen. Side by side, it was much harder to see a difference, though the Pixel was definitely brighter in some cases, especially when viewing a purely white subject. 

That’s when I had the Pixel display set to the more vivid ‘Adaptive’ mode, which the iPhone lacks. When I set the Pixel display settings to the ‘Natural’ screen color mode, I got colors and brightness levels that looked much more like I’m used to seeing on an iPhone.

The bezel on the Pixel 8 Pro is just a hair thicker compared to the iPhone 15 Pro Max bezel, but the smaller punch-hole camera is much less intrusive than Apple’s Dynamic Island, no matter how much Apple makes it dance and sing. 

  • Display score:  5 / 5

Google Pixel 8 Pro review: Software

Google Pixel 8 Pro AI wallpaper settings

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Great call screening feature is useful and natural
  • Many features are missing at launch
  • Some important features are hard to find

There are a few bright spots in the Pixel 8 Pro’s software improvements, couched in the machine learning and AI direction that Google is taking. The new call screening feature works impeccably well. I tried calling my Pixel 8 Pro from another number and the voice sounded natural, if a bit too casual, but that’s a good problem. Better a casual robot screening my calls than a stilted digital voice. 

The new AI wallpaper is surprisingly interesting. It seems limited at first, since it isn’t actually a free-for-all generative AI creating images. Instead, it gives you a MadLibs-like selection of categories and prompts. You might choose an ‘Imaginary’ scene of ‘A surreal bicycle made of flowers in shades of pink and purple.’ The bicycle, flowers, and color options are all part of a multiple choice menu. Instead of a bicycle, I might have chosen a boat, a lamp, a lighthouse, or a UFO.

There are 12 options for objects; 30 different material choices, including flowers, fleece, and rhodochrosite (a crystalline mineral); and seven different color combinations. The AI offered me three different fleece lighthouses in coral and tan. By my math, that means the Imaginary category alone can create around 7,500 wallpapers. There are 12 categories, including Imaginary, X-ray, and Volcanic. 

Is it a gimmick? No, but it feels like something a really good third-party app could pull off just as well, maybe with even more options. It is generative AI, after all, so the sky's the limit, and then whatever the computer decides comes after sky. The bottom line is that the wallpapers were pretty, and cool, and unique, and fun to play with. So that’s a win.

Pixel 8 Pro settings control panel

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

On the Pixel 8 Pro web page, Google says you can “personalize your experience with AI wallpaper,” and that is the heart of the problem that I have with much of Google’s software on the Pixel 8 Pro. I’ve used AI to create a wallpaper, but is it personalized? I chose some options, and swiped through the results. Who is this person? 

Google describes its machine language features as if they are created by a real human being disturbingly often. When the machine does the creation, there is no person involved, and there is no experience for a human. When I use Google’s software to write a whole email, or create a group photo that never existed, am I personalizing that email? Have I personalized that photo?

No, I’m using a machine as a tool to help me create or complete a task. And that’s great! That’s useful! But that is not how Google is positioning the Pixel 8 Pro and all of its new AI features. Google is not saying ‘you can create an image,’; it’s saying you can ‘combine’ photos, or ‘reimagine’ photos. There is something missing in that explanation, and it feels like what’s missing is honesty.

The photo-faking tools aren’t the only AI issues I have. Google is pushing the Pixel 8 Pro’s ability to read and summarize web pages for you. That feature will soon come to its Recorder app, so its AI will summarize your past conversations, or lectures you couldn’t attend, perhaps.

Google Pixel 8 Pro Google Assistant failing to summarize

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

I tried the summarization feature on a story I wrote about taking a family photo at home. Google’s summary got very basic facts wrong. It said that my family visited a photo studio, even though I never mentioned a photo studio, and in fact I explicitly say that my dad hired a professional photographer to come to our house. If I can’t trust a summarization feature the first time I use it, I will never trust it again. 

Many of the other new features are simply hard to find. Google’s new call screening feature is great, but it’s hidden under a submenu that you can only find if you open the Phone app; it’s nowhere to be found under the Settings menu.

Even worse, Google has had a Safety Check In feature on its Pixel phones for years, similar to the new Check In feature that I love on iOS 17. Google’s own site gives instructions for the ‘Personal Safety’ app, but my phone doesn’t have an app called Personal Safety. It’s just called Safety, which sounds like it could be a software security suite, or a health and readiness app. It could be an app for the Boy Scouts, for all it stands out. 

I’ll stop complaining, because I’ve run out of features to complain about. See, Google is launching the Pixel 8 Pro without a number of key features ready to go. The camera will get Zoom Enhance, Video Boost, and Night Sight video features, after images have been uploaded to Google’s cloud services for Google to work its magic off-device. Recorder summaries are also coming, as well as the smart reply feature, though I’m skeptical of those AI features, as I’ve made clear. 

  • Software score:  3 / 5

Google Pixel 8 Pro review: Cameras

Google Pixel 8 Pro camera module up close

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Great photos with improved macro quality
  • Upgrades on every camera, especially telephoto
  • Not as good at night shots as the iPhone 15 Pro

The main camera on the Pixel 8 Pro is considerably better than the camera on the Pixel 7 Pro, but the improvements can be hard to explain.

The lens on the camera has a f/1.65 aperture, which is wider than the f/1.9 aperture in last year’s lens, and while the number is lower, a wider aperture is better because it lets in more light, and the improvement is exponential and not linear.

The f/1.65 lens on the Pixel 8 Pro is an amazIng feat, while the f/1.9 aperture on last year’s Pixel 7 Pro was a thoroughly unimpressive spec. See, the numbers are confusing, and it’s just not an easy spec to boast about. The iPhone 15 Pro uses an f/1.8 lens on its main camera, which won’t let as much light through, but of course there are plenty of other factors to consider. 

Compared to my iPhone 15 Pro Max, some photos looked better when shot with the Pixel 8 Pro, but others, especially night pics and low-light images, looked better taken with the iPhone. That’s surprising, but there are still some reasons for Google to brag. 

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Macro photo taken with Google Pixel 8 Pro showing close up fine details

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Macro photo taken with Google Pixel 8 Pro showing close up fine details

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Macro photo taken with Google Pixel 8 Pro showing close up fine details

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Macro photography is better on the Pixel 8 Pro than on the iPhone, and even if you aren’t going for a macro look you can still get closer to your subject with the Pixel. The Pixel 8 Pro also handled food photos much better than the iPhone. That natural look the iPhone tends towards can make dishes look unappetizing in bad lighting. It’s better to have a camera that can do some enhancements. 

Speaking of enhancements, not all of the enhancements coming to the Pixel 8 Pro are ready yet. The Night Sight video enhancement will eventually upload and improve your night-time videos, but it’s not here yet. Neither is the zoom enhancement for the telephoto and main cameras. Those features will presumably come in a feature drop, hopefully before the end of the year. 

Once you’ve taken your photos, it’s off to Google Photos to edit them, and Google Photos on the Pixel 8 family is a special app. It has features you won’t find on other Pixel phones, Android phones, iPhones, or even on the desktop.

Google Pixel 8 Pro magic editor

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

We’ve seen Magic Eraser before, but Google is taking this functionality to a new level with Magic Editor. When you launch Magic Editor by tapping the enticing, colorful button, Google opens a new suite of generative AI tools to help you fake your shots like a pro. You can still erase, and here Google does a much better job of creating a background to replace what’s now missing. 

You can also easily manipulate objects in your photo. You can move things around, make things larger or smaller, and generally make the image look completely different. If you stop talking to somebody, you can cut them out of the group photo. If you want to say you caught a bigger fish, you can just grab the fish in the photo and spread your fingers to make it grow. Reality doesn’t matter, as long as you have the right tools. 

While the results can be somewhat creepy and uncanny, they aren’t flawless. I erased tourists from a shot of the Statue of Liberty, as an example, and it’s clear where the guardrails were drawn incorrectly to compensate. I erased a shadow from my photo of some ice cream at night and a portion of a sign went missing, replaced with a blank, white wall. 

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Google Pixel 8 Pro image edited by Magic Editor

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Gee, I wish this guy would move his head

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Google Pixel 8 Pro image edited by Magic Editor

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

With Magic Editor, the problem is solved

There’s reason to be cautious and reason to be disturbed by the ease and capriciousness with which Google launches these powerful machine learning features, but for now the quality doesn’t quite justify the fear. It’s possible that some day my phone will be able to make a believable fake that could stand up to scrutiny. For now, though, I’d say Google is just focused on trying to get its promised features out the door.  

Google Pixel 8 Pro camera samples

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Google Pixel 8 Pro sample images taken with the various cameras

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Google Pixel 8 Pro sample images taken with the various cameras

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Google Pixel 8 Pro sample images taken with the various cameras

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Google Pixel 8 Pro sample images taken with the various cameras

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Google Pixel 8 Pro sample images taken with the various cameras

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Google Pixel 8 Pro sample images taken with the various cameras

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Google Pixel 8 Pro sample images taken with the various cameras

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Google Pixel 8 Pro sample images taken with the various cameras

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Selfies taken in portrait mode with the Google Pixel 8 Pro

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Selfies taken in portrait mode with the Google Pixel 8 Pro

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Camera score:  4 / 5

Google Pixel 8 Pro review: Performance

Google Pixel 8 Pro camera bar from rear

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • No problem running my favorite apps and games
  • Still lags behind older competitor phones
  • Machine learning features run slowly with delays

Performance is tough to measure on a Pixel phone. In terms of raw performance, pushing games and graphics to new heights, the Pixel 8 Pro does just fine, but it won’t win any competitions. It handled all of my favorite games and ran high-resolution videos smoothly, but everything looked better on phones like the iPhone 15 Pro or even older Android phones like the Galaxy S23 Ultra (which can be found for around the same price as the Pixel 8 Pro, now that it’s eight months old). 

On the other hand, the Pixel 8 Pro is an all-around solid device, especially compared to other phones in this price range. Battery life is excellent, thanks to a larger battery and better power management, courtesy of Google’s Tensor G3 chipset. The display is snappy and smooth, and it makes Google’s interface design pop when you want, or mimic the subdued and natural iPhone tones if you prefer. 

There is a temperature sensor on the Pixel 8 Pro, and I cannot figure out why. It is only accurate up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (around 150 Celsius), so it isn't actually useful for checking the temperature of pans while cooking, as Google suggests. I need my frying oil to be around 350 degrees, and I want to check my oven up to 500 degrees or more. Try again, Google. 

Google Pixel 8 Pro review camera angled BLTR

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

When the Pixel 8 Pro is running Google’s special machine learning features, it stumbles quite a bit. When you edit photos with the new Magic Editor it takes a while to open the app, then longer to create the edits, and it frequently crashes while saving a copy. The AI wallpaper feature is cool, but it took several seconds to create a single set of wallpapers. 

I hope to see these features improve over the next seven years as Google upgrades this phone with software improvements, which begs the question: this phone won't possibly be capable of handling Android 21. Will this phone really be a viable phone in seven years? Google has promised this will be a seven-year phone, the first ever. How will the Google Tensor G3 stack up in seven years, compared to every phone that comes after it?

It's far too early to say, but I have serious reservations about Google’s promise. First of all, the Tensor chipset already feels like it’s behind the curve compared to Qualcomm’s best Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chips, and no phone maker using Qualcomm is offering more than five years of major software updates. And the Tensor doesn’t even begin to compare to Apple’s A17 Pro chipset, which actually feels like it could last seven years, though Apple has never made that explicit promise.

Google Pixel 8 Pro review USB-C

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Second, Google has a terrible track record when it comes to supporting its own products and keeping promises. Google offered a Pixel Pass upgrade program with the Pixel 6, promising an upgrade after 24 months if you subscribed to the program. It killed the program within two years, and nobody got an upgrade. The Pixel 8 should have been the phone subscribers received. 

Maybe Google will support this phone for seven years, for real, giving it every software upgrade and every new feature that it invents between now and 2030. Or maybe this phone will only get a portion of those upgrades, and new features every now and then. Or maybe Google will invent an entirely new class of Android for old phones like this one; some disappointing, stripped-down version that will work with the oldest devices. 

We just don’t know – and Google hasn’t established a record of trust when it comes to longevity and long-term support. 

  • Performance score:  3 / 5

Google Pixel 8 Pro review: Battery life

Google Pixel 8 Pro bottom showing USB C port

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Improved battery life lasts all day, no sweat
  • Aggressive power management and adaptive display
  • Faster charging would have been nice

Battery life on Pixel phones gets better every year (as long as you avoid the A-series), and I’m happy to report that the Pixel 8 Pro had no trouble lasting through a full day of use. That should come as no surprise, since it has a larger battery than either the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus or the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max. Google really packed in the biggest cell it could fit, and you’ll need to buy a gaming phone to find bigger. 

The power management can be quite aggressive. That screen is bright, but Google keeps it dialed down to a healthy brightness that won’t strain your eyes or drain the battery too much. There are plenty of baked-in power management features, as well. 

You can choose the Standard battery saver or the Extreme battery saver, which limits more apps and background processes. There’s also an enigmatic adaptive battery feature that’s turned on by default. All the better, because that battery really lasts. 

The Pixel 8 Pro charges at a respectable 30W, which meant I had a full battery within an hour, and 50% in 30 minutes. Still, there’s some room for improvement, especially if the battery is going to keep getting bigger. 

Google includes a USB-C cable in the box and, oddly, a USB-A to USB-C adapter, but no wall charger. You need to buy a compatible Power Delivery charger or wireless stand. I used an Anker Nano charger, which can handle the fastest charging the Pixel can accept. 

  • Battery score:  4 / 5

Should you buy the Google Pixel 8 Pro?

Buy it if...

You’ve taken a lot of bad photos and videos
The Pixel 8 Pro can fix whatever photos you have in your Google Photos library, even if you took them with a different phone in the past.

You’re a die-hard Android fan forever and ever
Good news, Android fan, this phone will last longer than any other Android. If you want an Android that will get updates in 2030, this is the first.

You want a receptionist to answer your calls
The call screening feature really works (if you can find it), and it gives you a quick, written transcript of what your caller wants before you decide to answer.

Don't buy it if...

Your friends all have iPhones
With iOS 17, Apple is making a compelling argument for sticking with the same phone everybody around you is buying.

You want the absolute best cameras
While the Pixel 8 Pro is impressive, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a serious upgrade, nothing beats the Galaxy S23 Ultra for camera capabilities and quality.

You are a journalist or reporter
The camera editing tools on the Google Pixel 8 Pro may create questions about credibility from the shots it makes, and the summary tool is factually inaccurate.

Google Pixel 8 Pro review: Also consider

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is a fun and unique phone offering features only Google can give you, but that doesn't mean it's the best phone for everyone. Here are the best alternatives in the same price range. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus
Samsung's Mama Bear of the Galaxy S23 family is just as big as the Pixel 8 Pro, and faster, with a lot more features packed into One UI. Plus, you can find great deals that give you more storage and deep discounts on this older phone. 

Apple iPhone 15 Pro
The iPhone 15 Pro gives you blazing performance and the great new titanium design. The cameras may not match the Pixel 8 Pro, but the software is better by miles. This phone is smaller, but you may appreciate the better grip. 

How I tested the Google Pixel 8 Pro

I took the Pixel 8 Pro to homecoming, but my kid wouldn’t let me use any of the photos I took for my international website. I used the Pixel 8 Pro for a week leading up to this review, using the phone as my only device with an active SIM card during this time. I used it for all of my personal and professional needs. 

I used the Pixel 8 Pro to take photos, to navigate with maps, and to play games. I used it for phone calls and messaging of all sorts, including RCS messages and various messaging services, including Slack and WhatsApp. I also used Google Assistant to send messages using voice commands, especially while I was driving and using Android Auto. 

I played games extensively with the Pixel 8 Pro, and I tested it with a number of streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and Max. 

Normally, I would benchmark a phone using benchmark apps, but these apps are not whitelisted for download on the Pixel 8 Pro before launch. It should be noted that Google makes the final decision about whitelisting apps on the Play Store, so Google is keeping pre-launch reviewers from benchmarking this phone. 

I tested the Pixel 8 Pro with various accessories, including the new Pixel Watch 2 and the Fitbit Charge 6. I also used it with Pixel Buds Pro, my MX Master 2 mouse, and an SD card reader. For battery testing, I recorded my usage during the day and noted the times the phone died. I timed the phone during the charging process to verify charging claims.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed October 2023

Google Pixel 8 review – smaller, cheaper, a little less camera power
6:18 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Google Pixel Phones Phones | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Google Pixel 8 preview: Two-minute review

The Google Pixel 8 is less like a smaller version of the larger and more expensive Pixel 8 Pro than a true subset, with lesser camera capabilities, less RAM, and a somewhat less impressive screen. It's still attractive, and a lot more affordable, and it should appeal to those who want the Pixel aesthetic, but at a more pocketable size and price.

Like the larger Pixel 8 Pro, the 6.2-inch Pixel 8 got a subtle body redesign and new new Tensor G3 chip (plus, all the on-board AI that comes with it). Unlike that larger flagship, though, the Pixel 8 has just two rear cameras that appear virtually unchanged from those on the Pixel 7. A 50MP main camera and 12MP ultrawide is nothing to sneeze at, but the Pixel 8 Pro has more lenses and more pixels across the board.

At least you don't lose much on the display side. It's still a high-resolution screen that's capable of impressive brightness, although lacks the Pixel 8 Pro's LPTO capabilities, which means its variable refresh rate can bounce between 60Hz and 120Hz, but never really goes low enough for an always-on display.

The new Tensor G3 chipset, and both local and cloud-based Tensor processing units (TPUs), should, though put the Pixel 8 on equal footing with the 8 Pro when it comes to some impressive AI photo, text, and automation prowess.

And there's something to owning a much lighter and more pocketable Android phone that still manages to pack in an impressively large battery and virtually match the larger phone's promised battery life.

Overall, if you don't prize a telephoto lens, and can live with fewer ultra-wide pixels, you won't sacrifice too much if you choose the Pixel 8 over the Pixel 8 Pro. Is this an serious rival to Apple's pricier iPhone 15? It's soon to tell.

Want more thoughts on the latest Pixel products? Check out our hands-on Google Pixel 8 Pro review and hands-on Google Pixel Watch 2 review too.

Google Pixel 8 preview: Price and availability

  • Priced from $699 / £699 / AU$1,199
  • Pre-orders live now
  • On sale from October 12

Google unveiled the 6.2-inch Pixel 8 and 6.7-inch Pixel 8 Pro at its October 4 Made by Google event, at which it also launched the new Google Pixel Watch 2

The Pixel 8 starts at $699 / £699 / $1,199 for the 128GB model. While there's also a 256GB option that costs $759 / £759 / $1,299, you can't buy the Google Pixel 8 in the 512GB or 1TB variants that are options if you get the Pixel 8 Pro and in Australia, you can only buy the larger capacity 256GB model in Obsidian, while the 128GB version can be had in all three colorways.

Preorders started October 4, and the phone ships on October 12.

Of course, if you've heard enough and are ready to snag yourself a new Google Pixel 8, you can check out our Google Pixel 8 preorders page, which we're constantly updating with the best offers available.

Google Pixel 8 preview: Specs

Google Pixel 8 preview: Design

  • Softer, familiar look and feel
  • Relatively lightweight

Google Pixel 8

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

There's now more of a size difference between the Google Pixel 8 and its bigger sibling, the Pixel 8 Pro, and it's also noticeably different to the Google Pixel 7

While the Pixel 7 has a 6.3-inch display, is 155.6mm tall, 73.2mm wide and 8.7mm thick, and weighs in at 197g oz, the Pixel 8 has a 6.2-inch display, is 150.5mm tall,  70.8mm wide and 8.9mm thick, and weighs 187g.

It feels great in the hand, even if it did get just a tiny bit thicker. Compare this phone to the ample specs of the Pixel 8 Pro, which is 162.6mm tall, 76.5mm wide and 8.8mm thick, and weighs 213g. 

Aside from the dimensions, and a slight softening of the curves (and some nice color choices), the Pixel 8 does still look a lot like the Pixel 7. The body is again IP68-rated, which means it should handle a dunk in the pool and some dust.

It has a polished metal frame (the Pixel 8 Pro is specified as aluminum), and Gorilla Glass Victus covering the screen. The buttons and ports (USB-C for charging, SIM slot) are unchanged from the Pixel 7.

On that now-iconic metal band (some love it, some not so much) is the dual camera array and flash. Unlike on the 8 Pro, there's no thermometer on this model.

Google Pixel 8

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Google Pixel 8 preview: Display

  • Brighter
  • Faster

Google shrunk the screen just a tiny bit compared to the Pixel 7, but maintained the resolution while updating the peak brightness to 2,000 nits and increasing the max refresh rate to 120Hz (the minimum is 60Hz).

While I didn't spend a lot of time with the phone, the Pixel 8's 6.2-inch OLED display did look bright and sharp. As before, it accommodates an under-screen fingerprint reader and a single drill-through hole for the 10.5MP selfie camera.

Google Pixel 8 preview: Cameras

Google Pixel 8

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The pair of rear cameras and the front-facing camera on the Google Pixel 8 are largely unchanged from the Pixel 7. They are:

  • Main: 50MP f/1.68
  • Ultrawide: 12MP f/1.95
  • Front-facing: 10MP f/2.2

I didn't get to take any pictures with the phone, but you can expect image quality that at least matches what you got from the Pixel 7 – and with the backing of a new Tensor G3 CPU and updated AI capabilities, your photos, and your options for editing and enhancing them will likely be better. Google has also redesigned the Camera app, with a new layout and access to more pro-level tools.

Want a telephoto camera as well? You'll have to upgrade to the Google Pixel 8 Pro for that.

As you would expect from Google, AI features throughout the phone, and it's employed to impressive effect in photos.

The new Magic Editor is an evolution of Google's Magic Eraser tool. It lets you tap and drag on subject in a photo to move it, with the AI processing intelligently filling in the space where the subject was.

I watched as a Google exec opened a photo of his son shooting a basketball, tapped his son, and moved him to within inches of the basket to make it look like he was executing a dunk. The exec told me that while the child’s shadow now looked out of place, he could use Magic Editor to move that too.

In a similar fashion, Best Take can take a collection of photos shot in succession and, with your guidance, find the best expression for each person across all the photos, and then create one photo in which everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. I saw it, and thought it was wild – and maybe a little disturbing.

Video, which you can shoot at up to 4K 60fps, gets an upgrade as well, with Google processing every frame of video through its HDR pipeline for better low-light performance. There’s even a new Audio Eraser to help you remove distracting noises from your videos.

I'll know more about the quality of these cameras when I put them through their paces for my full review.

Google Pixel 8 preview: Performance and specs

  • Tensor G3
  • A dedicated Titan M2 security coprocessor
  • Maximum of 256GB storage

While I'm excited to see what kind of performance Google has squeezed out of its new Tensor G3 GPU, on the Pixel 8 this is backed by only 8GB of RAM, as opposed to the 12GB you get with the Pixel 8 Pro.

It's probably safe to assume that the more affordable Pixel 8 will perform some tasks a little more slowly, but again, it's hard to know without conducting more thorough testing.

The Pixel 8 has similar AI capabilities to the Pixel 8 Pro, but I only saw some of these demoed, and only on the Pixel 8 Pro, which means I can't say for sure that the Pixel 8 will perform similarly.

Those capabilities, some which are available out of the box and some of which are coming post-launch, include onboard large language model (LLM) capabilities in Google Assistant. It’ll be able to summarize web pages (like a recipe), or read aloud from a variety of text sources, even translating to another language on the fly.

Google’s Call Screening also gets an update, with a much more natural-sounding voice. In a demonstration, a Google rep, acting as a delivery person, called a Pixel 8 Pro that was set to screen calls. The Pixel 8 Pro answered, and we explained that we had a package to deliver. On the Pixel 8 Pro, we were able to type a note telling the delivery person they could leave the package by the door, and the Pixel 8 Pro relayed that message in its normal-sounding voice. If the voice hadn’t identified itself as a personal assistant, I would never have known it was an AI.

Google Pixel 8 preview: Software

  • Android 14
  • On-board AI
  • 7 years of OS and security updates

If the looks and specs don't tempt you, perhaps Google can turn your head with its impressive new support promises, which now include seven years of security and OS updates.

Not only will the Pixel 8 Pro come running Android 14 out of the box, it will have a lengthy lifespan thanks to more than half a decade of operating system updates. Seven years of updates beats the likes of Apple, Samsung, and OnePlus.

Google Pixel 8 preview: Battery

  • A big battery for its size
  • Fast wireless charging

The Google Pixel 8's 4485mAh battery is fairly large considering the phone's diminutive size. It's rated for 24 hours of life, although we won't know what kind of battery life performance it offers until we're able to do more testing.

The Pixel 8 (and Pixel 8 Pro) supports Qi-based fast wireless charging and Battery Share.

Google Pixel 8 preview: Early verdict

If you want the essence of Google's new Pixel phone experience in a small package and for an affordable price, and if you can live without the Google 8 Pro's telephoto camera, and don't mind having less storage and less memory compared to the 8 Pro, the Google Pixel 8 might be a promising choice.

We'll know a whole lot more when we're able to spend more time Pixel 8 and put it through our full review process – watch this space.

Google Pixel Fold review: Google nails the foldable experience in all the best ways
2:15 am | May 11, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Google Pixel Phones Phones | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: June, 2023
• Pixel Fold has been surprisingly left behind
• Launch price: $1,799 / £1,749
• Lowest price on Amazon (US only): $1,399

Update: April 2024. Google has made many updates to the Pixel phones since the Pixel Fold was launched, but, shockingly, some of the most important new Google features have not come to Google's foldable, even though it's more powerful than other phones that have been updated. Google's new Circle to Search feature, as well as new Gemini AI features, have not been added to the Google Pixel Fold, and Google has given us no timeline when or even if the Pixel Fold will get these updates. Truly a disappointing development in the short life of this pricey phone. 

Two-minute preview

The Google Pixel Fold arrives a little late to the foldable party but, based on my time with the device, it's a smartphone/tablet combo that mostly delights, and which is sure to earn a place among our ranking of the best Foldable Phones.

From its construction, including its precision hinge, to its high-resolution screens, the Pixel Fold is a well-thought-out Android phone that's equally at home as a small-screen, but thick, 5.8-inch phone or, unfolded, as a 7.6-inch mini tablet. 

The large bezel around the main screen might give pause to some, but it quickly fades into the background, thanks to a responsive, colorful, and multitasking-friendly screen. Even the unavoidable crease down the middle is somewhat less prominent than those on competing foldable phones. And when you fold the Pixel Fold, the two sides meet with nary any visible space between them.

The collection of cameras on board do not disappoint. They can capture lovely landscapes, portraits, macro-like photos (there isn't a dedicated macro mode), astrophotography, and striking long exposures that use image segmentation to blur motion while keeping other aspects of the scene in focus.

I'm particularly pleased that Google put a 5x optical zoom on this phone. Sure, that's half of what you get on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, but it does beat its closest foldable rival, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Google Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold in my hand, opened to the 7.6-inch display (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Google has equipped the Pixel Fold with its Tensor G2 chip (the same one that's in its Pixel 7 line), a slightly aging piece of silicon that doesn't beat the competition, but which proved more than powerful enough for every task I threw at it. The Pixel Fold is as at home with web browsing as it is with high-intensity gaming. Plus, the screens' variable refresh rates keep everything looking smooth. A small nitpick might be, well, the lack of nits. The Pixel Fold's main screen is noticeably less bright than the Galaxy Z Fold 4's (the latter boasts more nits), and while I didn't have any issues on cloudy days, it might struggle a bit in direct sunlight.

Naturally, Android 13 (with five years of promised security updates) is perfectly at home on the Pixel Fold, but so are all the Google apps that Google has optimized for the new platform. Mail, Photos, and more work like a charm on the big screen, and there's real joy in being able to drag and drop a photo from another app into an email.

Google arguably stumbles a bit when it comes to the pricing. $1,799 / £1,749 is a lot to pay for a single device, especially as other newcomers, like the smaller but quite impressive Motorola Razr Plus, come in at under $1,000 (Google hasn't announced any plans to release the phone in Australia, but we'll let you know if and when we get official confirmation either way). My take, though is that you're essentially getting two premium devices in one here, and Google is asking you to pay for that.

Overall, I truly enjoyed my time with Google's first folding device. It's not a tentative or compromised first attempt at the form factor: the Google Pixel Fold makes a clean and emphatic landing in the foldable space.

Google Pixel Fold price and availability

  • 12GB RAM / 256GB: $1,799 / £1,749 
  • 12GB RAM / 512GB: $1,919 / £1,869  (Obsidian, only)

Google unveiled the Pixel Fold during its May 10 Google I/0 2023 developer conference keynote, at which it also unveiled its mid-range Google Pixel 7a phone, the Google Pixel Tablet and charging speaker dock, and a ton of new AI technology.

You can preorder the Google Pixel Fold now, with shipping set to commence on June 27, although exactly when you'll be able to get your hands on the phone depends on where you are. The Fold comes in two colors: Porcelain (off-white) and Obsidian (black). My review unit is Obsidian, and I think I prefer it over the white.

Google Pixel Fold

The Pixel Fold in my hand, folded to show the 5.8-inch external display (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

If you haven't already, you should disabuse yourself of the notion that when you buy a foldable you're buying one device, and so should pay for one device. The Google Pixel Fold is, like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, two full-blown devices in one and, as such, it's very nearly worth the $1,799 / £1,749 price tag.

How do I figure this? There are two screens on Google's first foldable, one 5.8 inches and the other 7.6 inches, and each one is large enough to operate as a standalone communication, information, gaming, and entertainment platform.

There are more cameras on the Pixel Fold than on the average handset: three on the back, another one on the external screen, and then one more right above the main display.

If you purchased, say, an iPhone 14 Pro ($999 / £1,099 / AU$1,749) and an iPad mini ($499 / £479 / $749), that would cost you about $1,500, or the UK and Australian equivalents. And naturally, you're paying a premium for more cameras, and that exquisite flexible and hard-to-manufacturer foldable display.

My point is, before you dismiss the Pixel Fold for its hefty price tag, I suggest you consider what you're actually getting for your money, and what this impressive Android 13 smartphone and tablet can do.

Still, at this price, the Pixel Fold is more than a considered purchase, and I fully understand that – especially if you're thinking about the 512GB and nearly $2,000 ($1,919 / £1,869) model – the cost will be a considerable issue.

The good news is that there are already Google Pixel Fold trade-in deals that essentially cut the price of the phone in half. Basically, there should be almost no reason to pay full list price for what is a very impressive device.

  • Value score: 4/5

Google Pixel Fold design

  • The right form factor for a phone-to-mini-tablet foldable
  • Feels solid, if a bit heavy
  • Folds completely flat
  • Whisper-quiet operation
  • Big bezel will distress some

Google's decision to wait out Samsung through four iterations of its foldable devices (and almost five, with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 set to be announced in the next few weeks at the time of writing) turns out to have been a smart move. The Pixel Fold is in many ways what I want all foldables to be.

When folded, its 139.7mm tall by 79.5mm wide by 12.1mm thick frame is like a very thick 5.8-inch smartphone. Unlike the tall and narrow Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, the dimensions of which, when folded, stretch the definition of a traditional smartphone display, the Pixel Fold and its front screen could almost pass for a standard smartphone; that is as long as you overlook the flat hinge side, which does not match the curved corners on the opposite side.

Plus, if you don't count the rather prominent camera bump (really a band that runs almost the width of the back of the phone), the Pixel Fold is, at 5.8mm unfolded, slightly thinner than the 6.3mm Galaxy Z Fold.

Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold stainless steel hinge (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Even by foldable standards, though, the Pixel Fold is a bit heavy. It weighs 283 grams – that's 20 grams more than the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and, unsurprisingly, 40 grams heavier than Apple's current biggest phone, the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Again, if you don't appreciate that multi-purpose devices like this are naturally going to be bigger and heavier than standard smartphones, you're barking up the wrong, er, device tree.

This is a premium phone, with high-end materials like a polished aluminum frame, and Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on both the front screen and the back. The hinge is stainless steel and the entire body is IPX8-rated, which means it's ready to survive everything from a storm to an accidental drop in the bath (I didn't submerge the phone but did run it under some water – it survived).

Google Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold's stainless steel hinge and flat-folding operation (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The hinge operation, by the way, is excellent. It's smooth, whisper-quiet (quieter even than the Z Fold 4, which makes a little crinkling sound when you open and close it), and can open to a full 180 degrees or virtually anywhere in between (to support tabletop and Tent operation).

I opened and closed the phone a lot during my testing time, and came away with the distinct impression of long-term durability.

Aside from the rather wide and tall camera bump, there aren't many distinctive features on the outside of the Pixel Fold. On the back, below that bump, is a polished version of Google's distinctive 'G'. The hinge has no markings at all. Opposite the hinge, on the right edge of the phone when it's unfolded, are the phone's two buttons. The power/sleep fingerprint reader (which is effective) is towards the top, and below it is the volume rocker. This is the opposite configuration to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and, it took some getting used to – I kept pressing the power button when I meant to adjust the volume, although I'm sure that if I spend enough time with the Pixel Fold, hitting the right button will become second nature.

There are microphone and speaker grilles along the top and bottom edges of the phone. Along the bottom is the USB-C charging port (the foldable ships with a cable and even a USB-3-USB-C adapter, but no charging adapter – it feels like something that should be included at this price). There's also a physical SIM slot, though the Pixel Fold does support dual SIM and eSIM, too.

Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold back showing cover screen and the main camera array. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

A few things stand out when I unfold the Google Pixel Fold. One is that, unless you give it an extra press down on each side, the phone does not automatically unfold completely flat, although this isn't a big deal, as it's very easy to nudge it to an essentially flat plain. I remain somewhat surprised by the size of the bezel surrounding the Fold's flexible main screen. In contrast to the bezel on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 it's huge; however, once you start using this display, it quickly fades into the background.

There is a reason for the big bezel: it houses the main screen's 9MP camera. On the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Samsung chose to put a punch hole in the screen, and maybe that was the right call for a slightly large folding screen – I'm not sure.

As I mentioned earlier, the power button doubles as an effective fingerprint reader, and there's another biometric security option: you can register your face and unlock it with the Cover screen's camera. Oddly, though, you can't unfold the Pixel Fold and use that screen's camera to unlock with your face; it's a small but annoying omission on Google's part.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold displays

  • 5.8-inch external screen with a normal aspect ratio
  • Lovely, large flexible display that's a good fit for all activities
  • A slightly diminished crease
  • 120Hz variable refresh rate on both screens

Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold external 5.8-inch cover display (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

One of the best things about Pixel Fold's two screens is that there is zero trade-off between using just the outer cover screen or the expansive main display.

I love that Google went with a full-width 5.8-inch cover display. That's considerably shorter than the Galaxy Z Fold 4's 6.2-inch external display, but it's also almost a half-inch wider – and I can say without reservation that I prefer the Pixel Fold's wider external screen. Not only is it easier to navigate, but apps like Instagram and TikTok look a lot better on it. The difference in size is better illustrated when you look at the resolutions – where the Galaxy Z Fold 4's cover display is 2316 x 904 pixels, the Pixel Fold's OLED is 2092 x 1080.

It's a pleasingly bright screen both indoors and out, with a promised 1,200 nits of brightness in typical use (the peak brightness is 1,550 nits), and smooth in operation thanks to an adaptive refresh rate (60Hz to 120Hz). I also like that there's an always-on display option (you have to dig into the settings to find it as it's not set up by default).

Overall, the cover screen is the display you'll most often use when on the go. It's the perfect viewfinder for the main camera array on the back, and the size is, depending on your hand, basically palm-friendly.

Google Pixel Fold

The Pixel Fold's Main Screen being used as the main camera viewfinder (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Of course, there's a reason you're carrying around all that weight and girth: the large main screen. Unfolded, this is a 7.6-inch tablet-like display covered in ultra-thin flexible glass and a layer of protective plastic. At 2208 x 1840 it's got just a touch more pixels/resolution than the Galaxy Z Fold 4's main screen.

I grew to love this screen. Apps like Google Maps, Netflix, and YouTube, and games like Asphalt 9: Legends, and Call of Duty Mobile look fantastic on it. If you happen to start playing Call of Duty on the big screen, then close the Pixel Fold and try to continue on the cover screen, you may notice that the image is distorted. I was able to fix this by closing the game and restarting on the cover screen – it seems like a a bug that Google could fix with a software update.

In a side-by-side comparison, I did find that the Galaxy Z Fold 4's main screen is a little brighter. It's worth noting that the Pixel Fold's main display does not even match the brightness of the cover display; it's 1,000 nits as standard, with a peak brightness of 1,450 nits. Still, this is something you'd only notice if you had the two phones and screens side-by-side (as I did).

Like the cover display, the main screen supports an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. It has the same 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, supports 16 million colors, and offers HDR support (though not HDR10+). it also supports the always-on display.

This being a foldable display, there is a crease that you can both see and feel, but it disappears when you're using apps, playing games, and watching videos. I did notice that this crease is ever so slightly less prominent than the seam on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4's main screen.

Google Pixel Fold

The Pixel Fold's main screen in tabletop mode (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Google makes good use of the cover display, and of the device's folding capabilities. If I fold the phone to roughly 45 degrees and set it up like a tent, I can watch Netflix as a full-screen experience on the cover display. If I unfold the Pixel Fold, the show or movie is automatically switched to the main screen. 

I did notice that YouTube is not entirely optimized for the Pixel Fold – when I tried to play a YouTube video in Tent mode, it insisted on playing upside down.

Google Pixel Fold

Tent mode is a nice way to watch a Netflix movie. YouTube, for now, only plays upside down. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The main screen also has a couple of nifty mid-fold tricks up its sleeve. I can bend it 90 degrees and set the Pixel Fold up in Tabletop mode. With it, I can watch movies, take a selfie, capture perfectly still time-lapse videos, or, as I did on more than one occasion, conduct hands-free Google Meet video meetings. Try doing that with your regular phone and no tripod.

You can also bend the phone a bit further so the main cameras are pointed and the sky and collect tripod-free night photography.

A big screen also means that I have space for not just one, but two apps. The Pixel Fold is a good multitasker that makes running two apps easy. All I have to do is open one app, like Chrome, then sweep up from the bottom to access the app dock, hold down on a second app like the Camera, and then drag it to the left or right side of the screen. You can resize the split of the two screens but, unfortunately, cannot run a third app. Still, it is useful to be able to have a map open at the same time as your camera viewfinder, especially if you're hiking and want to capture great shots while not getting lost.

Google Pixel Fold

Watching Netflix on the Google Pixel Fold. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Display score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold cameras

  • Overall excellent cameras
  • Backed by powerful Google tools
  • Long exposure mode is a delight

Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold main camera array (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Google has been widely praised for the cameras on its Pixel phones, and I think the Pixel Fold also earns those accolades.

Its cameras not only take excellent photos across a wide range of styles, they're complemented by some of the most powerful on-board image-processing magic in the business. I haven't had this much fun using a smartphone's cameras in quite a while. 

It's not just the camera app, or the editing I can do post-shot; the entire suite of camera hardware is strong. And while the Pixel Fold doesn't beat the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 in every aspect, I don't think anyone will feel cheated by any single lens.

Here’s the full list of cameras:

  • 48MP f/1.7 wide (rear)
  • 10.8MP ultra-wide f/2.2, 121-degree field of view (rear)
  • 10.8MP telephoto 5x optical f/3.05 (rear)
  • 9.5MP f/2.2 (cover)
  • 8MP f/2.0 (above main screen)

Google Pixel Fold

The Pixel Fold camera app (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

By and large, this array matches up pretty well with what's on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. The biggest difference is probably the Pixel Fold's main display camera, which has double the megapixels of the Z Fold 4's.

What I really appreciate though is the 5x optical zoom (you get just 3x on the Z Fold 4). I love a good optical zoom. Yes, both devices offer their own form of digitally- and AI-enhanced zoom. The Pixel Fold's Super Res Zoom (up to 20x) is sort of impressive, but as with most of these digital implementations, the images kind of fall apart if you look too closely. Still, I love having an optical image stabilized (OIS) and electronic image stabilized (EIS) 5x zoom in my pocket.

As you can see from my photo gallery further down the page, the Pixel Fold not only takes sharp and bright images, it also maintains excellent color fidelity. These images all look impressively like the real-world subject; nothing is oversaturated beyond nature's creation. The cameras let you capture subjects from a distance, and also allow you to get up close and personal, courtesy of the Fold's approximation of macro photography. To be clear, I can't really get closer than, say six or seven inches, but the effect is like macro, with a blurred background and a tight, sharp focus on the nearby object (see my yellow flowers).

There are a number of cool onboard tricks that can improve your not-so-awesome photos. Photo Unblur can sharpen photos blurred by your wobbly hands (although the camera is fast enough that I had to work to make a blurry photo for my tests). Magic Eraser is here, and it let me easily select and remove a bunch of commuters from one of my photos, as you can see below. The process of selection and removal is not instantaneous – it's like the Pixel Fold wants to show you how hard it's working.

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Google Pixel Fold

Magic Eraser on the Google Pixel Fold automatically selects subjects to remove. (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold

It does not get rid of every trace, though (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

My other favorite feature in the Camera app is Long Exposure. This is not night photography. Instead, it's a much shorter-term exposure that captures some movement while leaving the rest of the photo sharp. When I took a photo of a flowing brook using this setting (the on-screen instructions ask you to hold still for a second), it kept the surrounding rocks in focus while blurring the flowing water. It did the same thing with my fountain shot: the water is blurred, but the fountain and surrounding detail are sharp. I tried it in the train station, and it turned rushing commuters into streaks while, in the background, a man who stood still was clear as day. Again, the process of creating these effects takes a moment, and I wonder if a newer Tensor chip (the G2 is almost a year old, after all), might make quicker work of these operations.

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

Google Pixel Fold Long Exposure in the train station (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

Google Pixel Fold Long Exposure on the street (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

Google Pixel Fold Long Exposure on the street (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

Google Pixel Fold Long Exposure with a flowing brook (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

Google Pixel Fold Long Exposure at a fountain (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

You can shoot a selfie, even in portrait mode, with the 9MP inside camera or the 8MP one on the cover screen, but Google also makes it possible to shoot selfies with the Pixel Fold's best camera.

First, you unfold the device and then open the Camera app. Below the 'switch camera' icon is an option that lets you switch camera display screens. Once you do that, the cover screen becomes the camera viewfinder and, because the Pixel Fold is open, you're staring at the rear camera array. It's not the smoothest process, and it's basically impossible to hold the device this way with just one hand and take the shot, unless you add one more step and set up the gesture-activated timer mode.

To do so, I had to set the timer for three seconds, and then hold up one hand until a yellow box appeared on screen around it, which initiated the timer. I could then lower my hand, and the Pixel Fold would take a perfect selfie.

Complicated? Sure. Useful? Absolutely.

Virtually all flagship phones offer some form of astrophotography, and the Pixel Fold is no different; however the double act of Nightscape photography and Tabletop mode is something special. I was able to set up the phone with the screen folded but not fully closed, so the main camera was pointed at the night sky, and then fiddle with the on-screen settings to get a perfectly still starscape, without the need to hold the phone and try to stand still for six seconds, or use a tripod.

The shot below was taken with the 5x optical zoom and a six-second exposure.

Google Pixel Fold (2023) night sky photo

Zoom into this photo if you can to see what seems like a million stars (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
  • Camera score: 4.5/5

Camera samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

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Google Pixel Fold (2023) photo samples

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Google Pixel Fold performance and specs

  • Packs Google's aging Tensor G2 chip
  • Perhaps a step behind the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon
  • 12GB of RAM, starts at 256GB of storage 

Inside the Google Pixel Fold is the zippy Google Tensor G2, the same chip that powers the Google Pixel 7. This is a capable and powerful mobile CPU, although with a Tensor G3 expected in a few months (maybe in the Pixel 8) we have to wonder why Google's first foldable didn't get what's set be Google's most cutting-edge silicon.

In general, though, there's almost no evidence that the chip is slowing anything down. Every game, app, and web operation I performed was smooth and instantaneous. Photo-editing operations and tricks like Long Exposure took a beat to render, though. Perhaps that's down to the G2, or maybe that's how long the likes of Magic Eraser and Long Exposure would take on any mobile platform.

Google Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold has no trouble running action games (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Google pairs the Tensor G2 with a healthy 12GB RAM and its Titan M2 security coprocessor.

Benchmark scores put the Pixel Fold slightly behind the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and its Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, while gaming benchmarks, specifically the ones that look at frames per second, put it somewhat behind Qualcomm's latest chips. However, in my gameplay experience across Asphalt 9: Legends and Call of Duty Mobile, I didn't notice a difference. There was no stuttering or tearing, and everything looked great and was highly responsive, so much so that I was MVP during my first round of Call of Duty.

This is also a 5G phone, though without a test SIM I wasn't able to test its cellular operations. It also supports WiFi 6e, which means I had fast and reliable connections at home and in the office.

As for audio performance, there are stereo speakers that can go pretty loud – and immersive, thanks to spatial audio support – without any distortion. The three microphones, meanwhile, are so sensitive that when I barely whispered "Hey, Google…" the phone heard me and awaited my instructions.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold software

  • Android 13
  • Google knows how to fold
  • Seamless multitasking
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Google Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold can multitask, with apps interacting (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold

Running the camera alongside another app is no problem (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
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Google Pixel Fold

Tabletop mode made video conferencing easy (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

What matters here, though, is not the speeds and feeds of this phone but, for me at least, how Google's first foldable uses Android 13, and the Fold's small outside and big inside screens, to maximum effect.

Many of Google's core apps, like Maps, Gmail, Photos, Home, and Drive, have been redesigned for the folding-screen environment (as have some third-party ones like Netflix). Mail, for instance, converts from a single-column experience on the cover screen to a dual column on the main screen that puts your mail list on the left and opens each email in a pane on the right. It's all smart and, honestly, what you would expect.

Multitasking is a strong suit here. As I mentioned, it's easy to drag and drop one app to open alongside another on the main screen, although I do wish I could add a third app on top of those two.

When you have two apps open side-by-side you can drag and drop between them. I opened Gmail and Google Photos, and to add a photo to an email I was composing I simply tapped and held my finger on the image until a little thumbnail appeared, then dragged it over to the compose screen on the left. Nothing could be easier.

The best way to describe my overall experience with the Google Pixel Fold software environment is that it was pleasant surprise. Everything looks so good, and works so well together.

  • Software score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold battery life

  • 4,727mAh 
  • Laster 15 hours
  • Supply your own charging adapter

Google Pixel Fold

Extreme Battery Saver mode can extend the life a charge, but you do lose the use of some apps and notifications (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

I did what I could to stress-test the Pixel Fold's ample 4,727mAh battery, pushing screen brightness to max, not letting the screen sleep before 30 minutes had elapsed, and playing action games, watching videos, browsing the web and holding multiple, lengthy video conference calls (colleagues said I sounded good, but looked a little less sharp than I normally do through my MacBook Air (M2) FaceTime camera).

After wirelessly charging the Pixel Fold on my Qi charging base, I grabbed the phone at 7am and used it almost continuously until 10pm when it ran out of juice. I did not, when it prompted me at 10% battery life, let it switch to Extreme Battery Saver mode because that would have paused my apps.

  • Battery score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold score card

Should I buy the Google Pixel Fold?

Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel Fold (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Google Pixel Fold review: also consider

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a do-everything device that presents few compromises, and it's great for photography, multitasking, and watching Netflix. However, the high price might put off some potential buyers.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review

Motorola Razr Plus 
The Motorola Razr Plus / Razr 40 Ultra is a major evolutionary step for smartphones, going beyond what any previous flip or foldable phone has offered.

Read our full Motorola Razr Plus

How I tested the Google Pixel Fold

I embarked on an entertaining walking tour through New York's Central Park with a test device, during which I took lots of photos, and carried out an additional five days of testing with my Google-provided Pixel Fold test unit. 

I carried the Fold with me every day, and used it as often as possible, including on the train, where I tethered it to my iPhone 14 Pro. I shot photos in a variety of environments and situations, and edited the photos with available tools on the device.

While I spent a lot of time using productivity and information apps on the Pixel Fold, I have to admit that I spent an almost equal amount of time playing games and watching videos. It's just such a fun device to use – there's nothing like having a tablet hidden in your pocket.

We ran GeekBench 6 and other benchmarks on the phone at Future Labs, and I combined that information with my anecdotal performance results.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed June 2023