Google’s unveiling of the Pixel 8 Pro brings a host of anticipated features and some unexpected surprises to the table. While the tech world has been privy to numerous leaks about this flagship phone, one standout revelation has caught many off guard: a whopping seven years of OS upgrades. This substantial leap from Google, extending far beyond the previous promise of three years of OS upgrades, aligns closely with Apple’s renowned longevity in supporting its iPhones. The prospect of extended device lifespan certainly sweetens the deal, provided Google follows through on this ambitious commitment.
Design-wise, the Pixel 8 Pro maintains a familiar aesthetic, refining last year’s design with a single elongated camera cutout, softened corners, and an overall recognizable look. While the exterior exudes familiarity, the internals embrace a deep infusion of AI technology.
At the heart of the Pixel 8 Pro lies Google’s third-generation custom chipset, Tensor G3. This chipset powers an array of new AI features, although Google refrains from making claims about enhanced battery efficiency or heat management. On the exterior, the Pixel 8 Pro departs from its sibling, the standard Pixel 8, by embracing a matte finish on its rear glass panel, offered in obsidian black, porcelain, and a serene light blue shade known as “bay.”
Both Pixel models receive a display upgrade, with the Pixel 8 Pro boasting an LTPO (branded as “Super Actua”) display featuring variable refresh rates ranging from 1Hz to an impressive 120Hz. The flat-screen design ditches the curved edges seen in previous iterations. Additionally, the Pixel 8 Pro boasts a peak brightness of 2,400 nits, making it exceptionally luminous, albeit reserved for intense sunlight conditions.
Amidst the expected yearly enhancements, Google throws a curveball by introducing a temperature sensor. This feature enables users to measure the temperature of objects and surfaces, with plans to seek FDA approval for body temperature sensing. Although not a feature that users have clamoured for, it hints at a touch of innovation.
Furthermore, Google has upgraded the facial recognition technology on both the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, enabling its use for payments, a convenient addition that enhances device security.
The camera setup on the Pixel 8 Pro boasts a 50-megapixel main sensor with a brighter f/1.7 lens, a 5x telephoto module with an enhanced 48-megapixel camera featuring faster autofocus, and a high-resolution 48-megapixel sensor for the ultrawide camera. The latter can focus as close as 2cm in macro mode. The 10.5-megapixel front-facing camera now includes autofocus, and the Pro model introduces pro camera controls. Users can manage focus, shutter speed, lens selection, and access 50-megapixel JPEG or RAW shooting directly from the native camera app.
Google has also introduced several software features, all housed within Google Photos. A notable addition is the ability to select the best faces from a series of group photos and consolidate them into one final frame. Audio Magic Eraser aims to identify and minimize distracting sounds in videos, ensuring a clearer audio experience.
While some features are not immediately available, they are on the horizon. The forthcoming Magic Editor, a generative AI image editing tool previewed at I/O, promises creative enhancements. Additionally, Video Boost offloads some processing to the cloud, enabling Night Sight Video. Zoom Enhance, exclusive to the Pixel 8 Pro, allows for detailed post-capture zooming.
Google’s Assistant receives AI updates, including improved speech recognition, better comprehension of pauses and filler words, and webpage translations with audio playback. Even the keyboard benefits from AI with a one-touch option for rectifying typos and grammatical errors.
In-person impressions of the Pixel 8 Pro reveal a subtle yet appealing matte effect on the rear glass. The standard Pixel 8, with its slightly smaller screen, is ergonomically friendly without sacrificing screen real estate. The adoption of flat screens is a welcome change, preserving the distinctive Pixel character.
Initial experiences with the new AI image editing features are promising. Video Magic Eraser adeptly isolates audio and minimizes background noise. Magic Editor, available in beta on demo units, offers focused and guided AI-powered editing.
While the Pixel 8 Pro offers a taste of Google’s evolving generative AI technology, some of the more advanced AI photo editing features will not be available at launch. Nevertheless, the Pixel 8 Pro is available for preorder, starting at $999 with 128GB of storage, inviting tech enthusiasts to embark on a journey of innovation and enduring performance.