You may not find much difference in the latest Pixel designs from last year’s Pixel 7 series, but Google props the devices up the pedestal as AI powerhouses with several magic tricks up their sleeves. That the Pixel 8 Pro gets the biggest and most significant chunks of features is a no-brainer. Top it up with the promise of seven years of security and OS updates, and we have a sophisticated longer-termer.
Google Pixel 8 Pro review
Radical design experiments consume a big chunk of time, and Google designers don’t seem keen to spend their precious time on changing the design of a successful device. They would rather spend that time finetuning what drives the device and its experiences, and this is evident in both the Pixel 8 Pro and the Pixel 8. The devices look similar to the previous models, though slightly smaller with rounded edges. The 8 Pro gets a soft touch matte back glass in place of the glossy panel in the 7 Pro, and this provides a comfortable grip in addition to better fingerprint resistance. However, the glossy polished aluminium side and camera band can attract scratches and fingerprints, yet provide a nice touch to the overall appearance. The device is available in Bay (a nice shade of blue) and Obsidian (greyish black in our eyes) finishes. The telephoto camera is not isolated anymore, and a new temperature sensor pairs nicely with the flash unit. The devices offer IP68-rated water and dust resistance.
The Pixel 8 Pro uses a new 6.7-inch Super Actua LTPO OLED display providing 2992 x 1344 resolution at 489 PPI pixel density, which is less than that of the 7 Pro. It provides 2400 nits of peak brightness and 1600 nits in HDR, and is easily one of the brightest and most responsive displays. With variable refresh rates from 1 to 120 Hz, it is power efficient, responsive, and ready for gaming. A panel of Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protects the screen.
Tech and Vitals
The heart of the Pixel 8 devices is Google’s latest Tensor G3 chip, which brings cutting-edge AI, machine learning, and imaging capabilities to the devices. The Titan M2 security coprocessor keeps your data safe from prying eyes with multiple layers of security, or so goes the Google claim. The 8 Pro comes with 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM. However, the storage is limited to 128GB (UFS 3.1), which is certainly inadequate for a pro-level device that offers high-res photography and high-definition video capability.
The device offers great gaming capability without heating up or getting stuck. Even high-intensity, high-graphics games performed well as expected of a pro device. The device houses a 5050 mAh battery and supports 30W wired charging along with Qi-standard wireless charging. Charge sharing (battery share, as Google calls it) feature is still retained. Of course, Google doesn’t provide a charging adapter in the box. For connectivity, the device supports Bluetooth 5.3 and WiFi 7, though this frequency band is not yet unlocked in India. Google extends dual SIM support with a single Nano SIM and an eSIM.
Audio output is handled by stereo speakers, while there are three microphones ready to listen to you. Spatial Audio is supported via compatible headphones including Google Pixel Buds. The speakers are not loud for you to immerse in movies, but we paired the phone with Sony WF-1000XM5 TWS, which transformed the experience for better immersion and surround.
The Pixel 8 Pro retains the 50-megapixel resolution in the main wide-angle camera, but the sensor size has increased, resulting in 21% more light sensitivity. The ultra-wide camera is now 48MP and features improved Macro capability that allows you to focus as close as 2cm from the front element. The 48MP telephoto camera completes the triad. All the cameras now gather more light, and the increased resolution provides up to 30x Super Res zoom. This may not trump the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s zoom levels, but we found the 30x zoom quite usable. The wide and tele lenses offer Optical + Electronic image stabilisation. The front camera is a 10.5MP dual PD module. Both the front and rear cameras allow up to 4K 60 FPS video recording.
The main addition is the Pro Mode in the 8 Pro camera interface, which unlocks 50MP resolution, RAW format, and manual lens selection. RAW images are stored in a separate folder so that it is less confusing for professional photographers to access and these don’t show up in the regular photo stream. The camera interface now provides control over a wide range of parameters like brightness, shadow details, white balance, focus peaking, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity. Videos get Cinematic Pan mode, which slows down the panning action for a cinematic feel. We found this too slow at times, but sadly, the camera doesn’t allow you to control the pace.
The cameras reproduced images that are quite refined and preserved detail in shadows and highlights. However, we found these over-sharpening certain elements in the photos most of the time. Close-ups were rendered with pleasing bokeh, and colours appeared vibrant. The new Photos app impressed with the wide range of editing possibilities, though some of these like the Magic Editor still need to be perfected.
Software is where Google excels, and this phone offers more features than we could test in a couple of days. Google Photos app offers extensive editing features as mentioned, and the existing features have been greatly improved. For example, the Photo Unblur feature now offers near-natural results in most photos. However, we wouldn’t call these perfect just yet.
Our favourite feature, if we need to pick one, would be the Audio Magic Eraser, which separates the audio into voice, natural sounds, wind, traffic etc and allows you to erase or control the levels of disturbance. We found this highly effective, though we couldn’t test it under all possible scenarios. Google Assistant can now perform much more useful tasks than before. Live translate feature can be a great help when you feel helpless at a place that speaks an unknown foreign language. The feature could easily translate when the microphones are closer to you but faltered when it is at a distance. Other similar features include Read Aloud, which reads what is on your screen. We should add here that many of these features require an active internet connection since the processing is done on the server.
Then there are a few new apps like the Magnifier, Thermometer, and a redesigned Fitbit app. The Magnifier lets you read tiny text such as instructions on a medicine blister. The thermometer app allows you to find the temperature of objects like cookware, coffee etc. However, you can’t use it to find if your child has a fever, how hot your neighbour is, or how frigid your wife has gone. Without a clinical use, we can’t think of a possible use case scenario. We guess Passepartout would have benefited from this while preparing his master’s shaving water.
The Google Pixel 8 Pro is easily one of the most matured AI-centric phones you can lay your hands on at the moment. The device relies on the power of computational photography and AI to deliver some unique experiences that are useful and somewhat essential. The promise of 7-years of upgrades sweetens the deal. However, the steep jump in pricing and unavailability of higher storage variants could play spoilsport.
Google has delivered on the software front, but that may not be enough to woo the Indian consumer.
|Cover glass:||Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2|
|Dimensions:||162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8 mm|
|Display:||6.7-inch LTPO OLED|
|Memory:||12 GB LPDDR5X RAM / 128 GB UFS 3.1 storage|
|Rear cameras:||50MP / 48MP / 48MP|
|Refresh rate:||1–120 Hz|
|Resolution:||1344 x 2992 pixels|
|SIM:||Single nano-SIM and eSIM|