The Google Pixel 8 Pro offers everything you want in a smartphone and packs it into an attractive package, but it’s not without flaws.
Last year, the Dutch already got a taste of the Google Pixel, and now it’s the Belgians’ turn with the launch of the Pixel 8 phones. That’s why the Pixel was first reviewed on ITdaily, the phone that comes straight from the Android source.
Does this direct umbilical cord have an advantage over other competitors? How different are Pixel phones? We answer these questions with our Google Pixel 8 Pro review (starting at €1,099 including VAT).
In addition to the Google Pixel 8 Pro, we also worked on the smaller Pixel 8. You can read the review later this week on ITdaily.
Beautiful design, matte, slippery
By expanding the camera element at the back, Google has created a unique look since the Pixel 6 that today has become synonymous with the Pixel series. Love it or hate it, we love it. The metal layer surrounding the camera is particularly vulnerable to scratches. If you want to keep your phone new, it’s best to buy a case. The large amount of dust that accumulates at the top and bottom of the camera strap is suddenly resolved.
The site below is not a fan of covers and uses every phone “bare” to this day, but for the first time we have our doubts about the Google Pixel 8 Pro. The frosted glass back looks elegant, but is incredibly slippery.
The nice thing is that the aluminum body and camera bar change with the color of the phone. We received the porcelain color as a tester, and it is a beautiful color. Black is black, but the special blue color particularly interests us. Very nice color that doesn’t stand out too much but is different from all other phones.
The Google Pixel 8 Pro isn’t cheap, but thankfully the device doesn’t radiate that either. Everything seems high quality and the buttons feel nice. Personally, we’d prefer to see the power button below the volume rocker rather than above it on such a large device. I got used to it, but after a couple of weeks we still mess up every now and then.
Beautiful and big screen
We’ve said it already, but the Pixel 8 Pro is a big device with its 6.7-inch screen. Google does its best to keep the screen bezels minimal, but you simply can’t hide such a large screen.
The screen quality is particularly good with beautiful, deep colors and, above all, a very high peak brightness. Google claims that the Pixel 8 Pro can reach 2,400 nits briefly in situations with a lot of (sun) light. We measure a peak of 1100 lumens in our test chamber, but we may not be able to simulate the correct factors that lead to such a peak. However, the screen was always bright enough in all conditions during our testing period.
What makes us less happy is the slow fingerprint sensor located under the display. It’s not exactly fast, which is a known issue with Pixel phones that has been around for years. Instead of using an ultrasonic sensor like the Samsung S23 series, there is an optical sensor on the Google Pixel 8 Pro. It’s slower and more sensitive to things like water droplets or dirt. Don’t get us wrong, the sensor works well, but at this price range we expect more. Fortunately, unlocking using your face works quickly enough as an alternative.
Google has been manufacturing its own chip inside Pixel phones for three years, and it contains the Tensor G3 chip. In terms of raw performance, you can’t compare it to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that you find in most other devices.
Google is giving up the speed race when it comes to both the CPU and GPU, but that’s not an issue for us. The phone is fast enough to do any task we throw at it. Those who want to get the most out of 3D-focused games should look elsewhere. All other users are fine with the Tensor G3 chip.
According to Google, the chip’s AI functionality is a more important part of it being the best all around in terms of raw performance. Compared to the first generation Tensor chips, the Tensor G3 can process twice as many machine learning models on the same device. It helps the phone with generative artificial intelligence, image processing, speech recognition or translations, among other things.
Finally, there’s the Titan M2 security chip in the Tensor G3 that securely registers your face as well as your fingerprint. According to Google, it follows the most stringent biometric standards approved for logging into compatible banking apps using your face.
Who says Pixel says smartphone camera. This has been Google’s main focus for years and the Pixel 8 Pro is no different. Before we talk about the many functions of AI, let’s first take a look at “standard images”. Tastes vary, but we personally find the Pixel 8 Pro’s photo display to be the most natural among all other manufacturers in daylight. In particular, consistency across the three lenses and across many situations is an important asset.
The main camera (50MP, f/1.68) has excellent dynamic range that puts plenty of detail into a standard 12MP photo. The photos never disappoint in daylight, whether indoors or outdoors. The wide-angle camera (48MP, f/1.95) is the best because it provides excellent results that are very close to those of a standard camera. This is where Google leaves the competition far behind.
The Pixel 8 Pro is also the sweet spot for macro photography. The results are very powerful.
The 5x optical zoom (48MP, f/2.8) delivers what you expect. In good lighting conditions, this is a useful addition that is often underestimated and produces very clear images. The jump to 5x can be significant sometimes. There’s no intermediate step, like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 3x to 10x optical zoom.
As we shift to more challenging conditions in the evening, night, or some indoor settings, results become less consistent. Sometimes we are surprised by one result, and then upset by another.
The pixel also suffers a lot from spots of light that reflect off the lens and appear as dots in the air. Strangely enough, despite all the AI functionality, it is not removed automatically, as is the case with some other brands.
What sets Google apart from other Android phones is night photography with the wide-angle lens. Traditionally, you’re not allowed to use it in such situations, but that’s no problem with the Pixel 8 Pro. The result is often very close to the result of the main camera.
In dark situations a zoom lens is never a good option due to limited light gathering on the sensor. It can help you sometimes, but don’t rely on it too much.
Eye-catching: The specific Pro camera mode is only present in the Pro version of the Pixel 8 series. If you want the smaller model, you’ll have to give up some camera functions as well as the 5x optical zoom.
AI camera features
AI should be embedded in everything, including photos on a smartphone. Google has been working on this for some time, but it’s speeding up the pace with the Pixel 8 Pro. In order not to be there Video enhancement Which automatically adjusts colours, brightness, stillness and grain in videos. You can easily adjust the video sound by blocking out background noise or removing other annoying sounds.
Is there a person in your photo that you would rather leave out? the Magic eraser Take that person away. Would you rather be photographed elsewhere? Drag yourself somewhere and watch how the phone solves the problem. Not everything works flawlessly, sometimes you can clearly see that the image does not contain enough information for the AI to solve it, but it shows that photography today is much more than just pressing a button.
This way you can easily “adjust” group photos by choosing the best head for everyone when taking several photos in a row until you get the perfect photo. People blink away or not everyone is laughing at the same time.
As far as we’re concerned, it’s all just play, but in some cases you’re glad this function exists. We’ll be excited to see how far Google dares to go down this path in the future.
The Google Pixel 8 Pro’s battery life is good. We easily reach the end of the day, even with heavy use of GPS and video calls. If used in moderation, up to two days are possible. The screen has a dynamic refresh rate that can choose between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on the content on the screen.
Thanks to LTPO technology, the display can go down to 1 Hz, for example when always-on display is enabled. This helps achieve good battery life.
What we’re not too happy about is the ridiculously slow loading speed. The Pixel 8 Pro supports a maximum 30W PD 3.0 USB-C charger. If you have a faster charger at home, this device will still charge slowly. In times when the best devices increasingly charge at 125W or faster, we don’t really understand Google’s choice.
Charging the battery for half an hour at 50 percent is a long time, especially when you suddenly notice that your phone is almost dead and you have to put it away. It takes over an hour to fully charge this phone. When a smartphone is at this price, we can no longer justify it.
Seven-year Android update policy
We’ve saved the best news for last: seven years of security updates and seven years of software updates, guaranteed by Google. That’s a big statement that only Fairphone can match with its eight years of updates.
Google is Android, and vice versa. You’re at the source and you’ll notice it when software updates are rolled out. Monthly updates are almost always on time, and you’ll get the annual major OS update immediately after it’s available. With other Android smartphone manufacturers, the process takes much longer.
Every Pixel phone comes equipped with “stock” Android, which is the base version on which each manufacturer builds its own shell. Google also does this through a number of neat little additions like automatically recognizing songs in the background and instantly translating text when a foreign language appears on screen.
Perhaps the most important thing is the lack of Bloatware. You can get everything from Google, but nothing more. With other manufacturers, you get everything from Google, plus additional (advertising) apps from the manufacturer itself.
Overall, you can’t help but conclude that the Pixel 8 Pro (starting at €1,099 including VAT) is an impressive phone that allows Google to play in the absolute premium segment. Anyone who thinks the price is too high or the phone is too big should look at the Pixel 8 (from €799 including VAT). This is the most price-conscious option, even if you miss out on some of the “pro” camera features reserved for the larger Pixel 8 Pro.
Is this the best Android phone right now? Yes, with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Are you a Samsung fan? You will be well served there. Want to try something different? Then the Google Pixel 8 Pro is an excellent candidate to expand your horizons.
- Strong modernization policy
- The triple camera achieves excellent results in daylight
- Excellent finish and feel
- Decent battery life
- “Camera Magic” is useful in some situations
- Very good screen
- Charging still takes a long time
- Night photos don’t always impress
- The fingerprint sensor is slow
- Reflection of points of light on the lens (and thus on the image)
Warranty Policy: You are entitled to a 2-year warranty. The seven-year update policy will begin when Pixel 8 phones first become available on October 12, 2023 with Android 14.
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