Google Pixel 8 Pro, a smarter phone for 2023
Google’s Pixel line of handsets are interesting in that they represent how Android ‘should’ be done without superfluous branding and bloatware. If vanilla operating systems aren’t a concern for you, then an excellent camera and a price point comfortably behind Apple and Samsung’s comparable smartphone will grab your attention.
It’s a formula that’s achieving modest success. Since 2016 Google has sold 40 million Pixels, 10 million of which in the past year alone. Sales are creeping up with each iteration but Google won’t be troubling the top of the market for some time yet.
This year’s Pixel 8 Pro includes a greater emphasis on sustainability and the introduction of generative AI in Android 14.
Top of the list of notables for is the dropping of CDMA and EVDO network connectivity. If you haven’t already forgotten about Edge, well Google has gone and done it for you. It’s all 4G and 5G from here.
Next we get to sustainability. The Pixel 8 Pro is 18% recycled materials. That may not be so impressive over the long term but the software lifecycle is: a full seven years of software and security updates. Parting with €1,089 now will get you a handset that, if all works out, will take you to 2030 at what amounts to about €155 per year.
Looking at the hardware there’s not much different over last year’s 7 Pro. It’s slightly slimmer and heavier and trades up from Gorila Glass Victus to Victus 2 on front and back. Underneath the screen we have a fingerprint sensor.
Screen size remains a generous 6.7″ but the 8 Pro surges ahead of its predecessor with a bright 2400 nit, 1344×2992 pixel display in a 20:9 aspect ratio.
We also get a bump in performance courtesy of an Tensor G3 chipset, the gubbins of the generative AI functions we’ll get to later. RAM and storage top out at 12GB and 1TB respectively.
But let’s get to that other selling point, the camera. Again we have the raised module on the back with a 50MP wide angle lens, 48MP telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom, and a 48MP ultrawide lens. This year sees the addition of phase detection autofocus (PDAF), for capturing images at speed. The front facing camera is 10.5MP, a slight dip in quality but probably offset again by PDAF functionality.
Now on to the new generative AI features. Beginning with the camera we have some nice editing tools. The ‘magic eraser’ will remove large distracting elements in a picture with a few taps. A related feature is the background generator which allows you to select everything you don’t want and put the subject in a completely new setting. Basically, the days of photobombing are numbered.
A feature I really liked was how Google Assistant is becoming a pretty good call screener. Left messages are now transcribed without having to call your message minder. Even better, as someone is leaving their message you can jump in and take the call. There’s more happening with GenAI but rest assured the applications you’ll be using out of the box will not be the same ones you’ll be obsessed with in a year’s time when Google figures out what’s resonating the most with users.
The Pixel 8 Pro might seem like an incremental improvement on the 7 Pro but its GenAI features make it a worthy competitor for Apple and Samsung.