The Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro designs haven’t changed drastically since last year, but with each year since this new design was introduced 2-3 years ago, there’s been consistent improvements that been working towards these new, more refined designs.
Both phones now have uniform bezels and the camera visor is now more integrated with less separation between lenses. The Pixel 8 is now smaller and lighter thanks to smaller bezels making it easier to hold, retaining its same glossy glass back, whilst the Google Pixel 8 Pro gets a soft touch matte back glass, which I really love. It gives a premium look and feels a lot nicer to hold in the hands.
As far as the screens go, these are some of the nicest on any smart phones. The Pixel 8 now has a 6.2-inch high refresh display capable of 60-120hz. Google has dubbed it the Actua display with its peak brightness of 2,000 nits. The Google Pixel 8 Pro takes things even further though with its 6.7-inch Super Actua display capable of a 1-120hz refresh rate. The brightness though is absolutely phenomenal reaching 2,400 nits of peak brightness. Putting it next to my iPhone, it absolutely blew it away in terms of brightness and made looking at it outside in the sun a non-issue.
The cameras on Pixel devices have always been some of the best, and it’s gone up a notch here thanks to both hardware and software (which we’ll get into in a bit). The Pixel 8 has a 50MP wide camera, a 12MP ultrawide camera that is capable of Macro focus. The Pixel 8 Pro has that same 50MP Wide camera, a 48MP telephoto camera and a 48MP ultrawide camera.
Photos are crisp, vibrant and easy to take, so regardless of whether you’re picking up either the 8 or 8 Pro you won’t be disappointed. There’s also new Pro controls only available the Pixel 8 which lets you control things such as shutter speed, manual focus and ISO. These raw specs are just the beginning with both phones though, as Google has upped it software game this year.
Whilst we saw the likes of Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur make their debut several years ago on the Pixel 6, this was only the beginning of altering photos, as whilst these photos maybe got rid of something in the background or made your photos a little less blurry, Google’s new AI photo advancements are really about changing reality, for better of for worse.
Best Take is a feature that identifies when you’ve taken a series of photos with another person or a group of people, which is often the case when you’re taking photos, and essentially lets you change out the face of a person in one photo and replace it with their face from another photo. It’s super useful if someone has their eyes closed, or maybe you’ve got a kid in the photo not cooperating. It works seamlessly as you go through person by person, flicking through the options available. I think it’s super useful, but it did get me thinking, at what point is a photo no longer the memory or photo that you actually captured, and does that even matter?
This is taken a step further in Magic Editor, which is launching later this year on the Pixel 8/8 Pro but I was able to use on my device. This essentially uses AI (think Photoshop AI Generative Fill) to allow you to scale certain objects in a photo, or replace them all together. For instance, I took a photo of my sausage dog in my front yard, and was able to make him larger, but then I was able to go a step further and replace all my greenery and fence line with another backdrop that looked almost nothing like my yard.
I was really impressed with how well it was able to use Google AI to figure out what should be in place of the object you’re moving. Whilst not perfect, the example of this photo below where it knew to put a put there based on literally only a tiny bit being visible, as well as completely rebuild a deck check and give the subject shoes was impressive and will no doubt get better with time.
It works extremely well and gives you a number of options that vary in style and the amount of change made, and for the most part, Google’s AI did a really great job at replacing what would have been there if the object was not. It can also make suggestions such as changing the sky to golden hour, or just adjusting the actual vibrancy of the photo, which I found more useful, and I am eager to see where Google take this feature.
A more practical use of software enhancement is on the video side with Audio Magic Eraser. This uses Google AI to identify and split out sounds form your video including voice, nature, music or other background noise and lets you adjust them all individually to remove unwanted background noises. It worked fairly well and most importantly was really simple to use.
There’s other little fun uses of AI like building an AI wallpaper based on your mood, or certain interests, and that spat out some interesting results. I’m all for these advancements in technology, and it’s cool that anyone can pickup a mobile phone and start being creative in ways they didn’t have the skillset to do on their own or didn’t even realise they had the passion for.
The Google Pixel 8 Pro also has an object temperature sensor which is a little bit random, but definitely works. It’s in the visor near the cameras and has you opening an app before selecting your material for the most accurate reading. Google is very clear in the fact that it isn’t supposed to be used on people, but rather maybe checking the temperature of a bottle or other bespoke situations where you quickly might need a rough temperature reading.
Both devices have the new Google Tensor G3 chip and it does feel a lot more refined and powerful this year. Throughout my time with the phone, getting around was super zippy and felt just as fast as the iPhone 15 Pro that I’d come from testing, and things such as dictating felt a lot faster than in the Google Pixel 7 Pro.
The big one that everyone wants out of their phone is battery life and I know some were let down in this area with the 7 Pro, but during my time testing, I absolutely noticed an improvement and would go as far as saying that you can comfortably get a day out of this phone if you’re not sitting on it refreshing your socials. It’s also worth mentioning that the Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro will receive 7 years of software updates, which is pretty significant if Google sticks by this. It means you’ll get the latest features (from a software point of view) for the better part of a decade.
The Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro both saw price jumps this year. The Google Pixel 8 is $200 more at $1,199 whilst the Google Pixel 8 Pro saw a $400 jump to $1,699 AUD. These prices are still marginally cheaper than the iPhone 15 and Samsung Galaxy 23, but I do think it makes the 8 a more enticing proposition over the 8 Pro, especially due to the fact that it now has that 120hz display which is still super bright, the same Tensor G3 chip and that same 50 MP main camera, but you absolutely won’t be disappointed with either phone.
The Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro take advantage of years of refinements to provide what is one of the best Android smart phone experiences to ever exist. With improved cameras, super bright displays and incredible AI smarts, not even a price increase can stop these phones from being a must-have for those wanting the latest in smart phone technology.
Beautiful Big, Bright Displays
The 8 Pro's New Matte Back Is A Winner
AI Smarts Beyond Our Imagination
Improved Battery Life And Performance
8 Pro Price Hike Might Be Hard To Stomach For Some