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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

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 next 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 so 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 7 Pro costs a bit more than last year’s model, 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 last year’s model, 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 this year, 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

Image 2 of 2

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.