I use Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Here’s why you should care about them

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Google has announced the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro — its two newest Android phones. And did you know? I actually feel quite hopeful about them. Maybe even a little excited.

Given my history with Google smartphones last year, this caught me off guard. Why? I have terrifying experience with Google Pixel 7 Pro. It was the phone that did it So Lots So very good, and I really want to like it. However, a never-ending series of performance issues, software bugs, and other problems make using this difficult — even impossible — at times.

Now, fast forward to the Pixel 8 series. Google isn’t reinventing the formula for its latest Pixels. But he has made some surprising and unexpected improvements. I got to use the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro for a while before they were released, and I’m feeling optimistic. In fact, I can’t wait to stop writing this article so I can get back to using it more often.

The Pixel 8 Pro is the best Pixel ever

Google Pixel 8 Pro held with the screen on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Let’s talk about the main event first: the Google Pixel 8 Pro. It’s the more powerful of the two, and ready to compete directly with such phones iPhone 15 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. And I think they can hold their own against them.

Something Google really nailed this year was the design. The Pixel 8 Pro is covered in glass on the front and back, but its rear glass panel has a beautiful matte finish. It almost feels like satin when you touch it, and it’s one of my favorite changes to the phone this year. It’s soft, comfortable, and (at least during the brief time I used the phone) it seems to barely retain fingerprints. Even though the screen is 6.7 inches, it doesn’t feel too big or cumbersome to hold. Google refined and refined almost every aspect of the design compared to the Google Pixel 7 Pro, and the end result is impressive.

Talking about the display, it has all the necessary specifications to be one of the best of the year. Refresh rates now vary from 120Hz to 1Hz, outdoor brightness reaches 2,400 nits, and Google’s new “Super Actua Display” should display more accurate and true-to-life colors. I’ll need more time with the phone to judge exactly how good the overall package really is, but at least the first time I used it, it made a great first impression.

A close-up of the camera on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Finally, in typical Google fashion, there is a Lots to get excited about the camera experience. There’s a new 50MP main camera with a larger f/1.68 aperture, the ultrawide camera has been upgraded from a 12MP sensor to 48MP, and the 48MP telephoto camera — while still limited to 5x optical zoom — offers a narrower field of view and a larger aperture for ( theoretically) improves low-light photography.

It’s a very impressive package on paper, and even though the price has increased from $899 to $999 this year, I think Google still has a decent value proposition. It’s cheaper than both the most powerful iPhones and Samsung’s high-end flagship phones, and it can compete with both in almost every way.

Also, can we take a moment to admire the Bay’s new blue? This is phenomenal. I’m obsessed with it. Google! Another phone company! More colors like this please.

But the smaller Pixel 8 looks better

Google Pixel 8 lying face down on a table.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8 Pro is arguably the more exciting of the two new Pixels. But if you ask me, it’s the smaller Pixel 8 that I’m really looking forward to. For one thing, Google has done something that most other phone companies don’t seem interested in: It’s made its newest phone. smaller. What a concept!

That The Google Pixel 7 and its 6.3-inch screen never felt heavy, but the Pixel 8 shrinks things down to a 6.2-inch screen. While 1/10th of an inch doesn’t seem like a big change, when you combine it with the phone’s rounder body, the Pixel 8 feels great to hold. It sounds cheesy, but it almost gives the impression of soft, weathered gravel. It’s easy to hold, comfortable to hold, and feels like a phone I could use for hours without discomfort. In a world where phones from most other companies seem to be getting bigger and bigger, it’s a very welcome change to see Google moving in the opposite direction.

Google Pixel 8 is gray and black.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

My only design qualm? Google is using a glossy glass back for the regular Pixel 8. Apparently not bad, but it also doesn’t have the unique feel of the matte glass on the Pixel 8 Pro. It’s an understandable change to keep some distance between the two phones, but I’m still going to complain about it.

Additionally, the regular Pixel 8 maintains much of the same experience you find on the Pixel 8 Pro. You now have a 120Hz display (up from 90Hz on the Pixel 7), the same new 50MP main camera, and similar features like an IP68 rating, face unlock (which works for the lock screen And apps), reverse wireless charging, and more. You don’t have a dedicated telephoto camera, and the ultrawide camera is downgraded to a 12MP sensor, but there’s no reason to believe that the Pixel 8 won’t still be capable of taking great photos, even with its inferior hardware.

Google Pixel 8 with screen on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The best part of all this? Price. The Google Pixel 8 starts at $699, and while that’s also an increase from last year’s $599 price, it still looks like a great value. This puts it up against phones like the OnePlus 11 and Samsung Galaxy S23, and if Google delivers on its promises (which is a big thing), it could make it one of the best value smartphones of the year. Hands down.

Yes, the Google Pixel 8 Pro has more specs and is flashier overall. But a phone with (mostly) flagship specs, a compact body, an impressive design, and a price just under $700? This is a very tempting package and I think it could be a huge success for Google.

The only big caveat for the Pixel 8 series

Google Pixel 8 is white and pink.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Now, we come to the part of the article where I have to be pessimistic. Yes, I’m looking forward to these new Pixels, but I’m always aware of how easily this could all fall apart. And it all depends on Tensor G3.

Similar to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 series, the Pixel 8 lineup is powered by a custom chipset designed by Google. This is the company’s third attempt at creating its own smartphone chip, and they’re making a lot of big – and very vague – promises about it. We know that the CPU is a new ARM V9 cluster and there has been a “GPU upgrade.” Google says that “every major subsystem has been improved” for the new Tensor G3.” And that’s all… basically all we know!

Official product render of Google's Tensor G3 chip.
Google

I’m confident the Tensor G3 will be able to run all my apps and handle my favorite games — either way Marvel Snap or Call of Duty: Mobile. But what I’m worried about isn’t raw horsepower. What I want to know is how everything about the chip works. Will the Tensor G3 still make the Pixel 8 very hot after a few minutes of use, as we saw with the Tensor and Tensor G2 phones? Will the power efficiency get better, or will it still not last for a day of use? Is it able to run Android 14 smoothly or can it? full of bugs and random glitches like we saw from Google’s last two attempts?

That’s not a question I’ll answer until I spend more time with the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, and based on my previous experience with Google phones, that’s what worries me. Tensor chips have been proven Extraordinary inconsistent over the last two years. Some people have had excellent experiences with Tensor, while others – like me – can’t seem to escape Tensor’s problems, no matter how hard we try.

I really hope Tensor G3 can solve this problem. No matter how good the rest of the Pixel 8’s package looks, none of it will matter if you can’t rely on the silicon that makes it work.

Is the 8th time the charm for Google?

Google Pixel 8 is blue and white.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

So, is this the year Google finally succeeds with the Pixel? I hope so. I loved basically everything I saw with the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, and using the phones – even if only briefly – only increased that excitement. Are those feelings normal, or am I doomed to another year of sickness and headaches? I sure hope it’s the former.

Google made a lot of smart decisions with the Pixel 8 series. They look great, feel great, and have a spec sheet that more than warrants their new price. Now, it’s time to start reviewing these phones to see if they can really live up to the high expectations Google has set for them. If they can, we’ll have something special. If not, well… You already know what to expect from me if I’m blown away by the Pixel series again.

The Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are both available for preorder now and will go on sale on October 12.


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