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Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 review: Turbocharged by AI

Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 review: Turbocharged by AI

Google Pixel 8 Pro

The Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 phones offer a hefty dose of AI-powered features, new cameras, and an unprecedented seven years of software support (feature drops, OS updates and security patches). But Google's Tensor G3 chip remains some way off the best for everyday computing and battery life. More importantly, there's a big price hike for the flagship Pixel 8 Pro (S$1,549, up from S$1,299), while the Pixel 8 is S$100 more at S$1,099. But there are some attractive pre-order deals that effectively negates this price hike. I tested both Pixel 8 phones, but mainly used the Pro model for this review.

Quick specs

  • Pixel 8 Pro: 6.7-inch OLED screen (2,992 x 1,344 pixels, 1 to 120Hz); Pixel 8: 6.2-inch OLED screen (2,400 x 1,080 pixels, 60 to 120Hz)
  • Google Tensor G3 chip with 12GB RAM and 128GB/256GB/512GB storage (Pixel 8 Pro), 8GB RAM and 128GB/256GB storage (Pixel 8)
  • Pixel 8 Pro: 50MP main camera, 48MP ultra-wide, 48MP telephoto; Pixel 8: 50MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide, no telephoto
  • Pixel 8 Pro: 5,050mAh battery; Pixel 8: 4,575mAh battery

The latest Pixel phones retain the distinctive design that Google has painstakingly refined over past iterations. But following the current trend, the Pro now has a flat screen instead of curved, while the matte glass finish at the back feels nice, and seems resistant to smudges. Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 gets upgraded to an adaptive display that switches from 60Hz to 120Hz. Both models are also significantly brighter (up to 2,000 for the Pixel 8, and up to 2,400 nits for the Pro), making them very usable under the hot sun. The haptic feedback, one of my favourite features, seems tighter and more powerful. Face Unlock is now secure enough for banking apps, but it still doesn't work in the dark. The Pro also gets an infrared temperature sensor that scans objects to measure their temperature. It's not super-accurate, not medical-grade, but you get a rough idea.

Google Pixel 8 Pro
The Pixel 8 Pro has a temperature sensor below the flash. Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

At the heart of these phones is AI. Best Take, which lets you pick the best expression from each person in a group shot, and blends them into a single photo, is a definite crowd-pleaser. Audio Magic Eraser removes unwanted background noise like wind from your videos, and works pretty well. You can also use word prompts to create custom AI-generated wallpapers (an Android 14 feature). Older AI-powered features like Magic Eraser have been improved. And there are upcoming AI features like Video Boost that I couldn't test yet. Note that these AI features require some time — the AI wallpapers took over 10 seconds. The Pixel 8 phones also get new cameras that capture more light. They are great, with excellent night shots, and take contrasty photos in Ultra HDR. Macro photography is also better. And the Pro (finally!) gets advanced camera controls to adjust ISO, shutter speed, and more.

Google Pixel 8 Pro
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

While the new Tensor G3 chip enables these cool AI-powered features, its everyday performance is less impressive. While the G3 is up to 20% faster for single-core tests — based on Geekbench 6 figures — than last year's G2 chip, it remains significantly slower, especially in multi-core performance, than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip used by flagship phones from Samsung and Xiaomi. In my week with the Pixel 8 Pro, it often ran warmer than expected, like when it's supposedly idling in my pocket. In the 3DMark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test, temperatures topped out at 43 degrees Celsius for the Pro. Performance also dipped by around 13% when things got heated, compared with just 2% for the Snapdragon-powered Xiaomi 13 Pro. Google did boost the charging speed (30W for the Pro, up from 23W).

Battery life feels the same or worse. I usually end up with 20 to 30% battery life by evening. The Pixel 8 fares better, probably due to its smaller display. In PCMark's battery test, the Pixel 8 lasted 9hr 27min while the Pro managed 7hr 38min. The Pixel 7 Pro was 7hr 26min. As for the new pricing, pixel phones were arguably underpriced in the past, but they are now in line with the competition. The new phones offer solid camera and screen upgrades, as well as new, useful AI features. But I have some doubts about the G3 chip. Would it hold up in the later years of the phones' now-extended lifespan? And while you can save a fair bit with the Pixel 8, you'll lose some AI features that are currently only on the Pro. Get the Pixel 8 phones from Google, Lazada, Shopee, and Amazon SG.

See Also
Oppo Reno10 Pro+ 5G

Note: Review units provided by Google.

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