It is as easy as ever to be smartphone agnostic these days.  Smartphones across the spectrum, once you get past the marketing hype, are basically same same.  I used an iPhone 14 last year for a month and aside from a few niggles here and there enjoyed my time with it.

All that aside, there is a special time of the year for us die-hard Android fans, the Made By Google event.  This is the holy grail for Android users such as Dan and I so when we get to see and get hands on with a Pixel we go all gooey inside.

Even with this sometimes we are Google’s biggest critics when it comes to their devices.  We want the best so when things fall short we are happy to call them out on it.  This year we have picked up a Pixel 8 and a Pixel 8 Pro to test out with the Pixel 8 my job with a few thoughts from Dan and vice versa on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Read on to hear our thoughts on the 2023 flagships from Google.


The design of the Pixel 8 is once again stunning.  As a general rule it is the same as last year although this year the display and overall size of the phone is smaller and the corners of the phone have a much greater curve.  

I can’t say I hate these changes.  The display is only slightly smaller than last year but the smaller size of the phone is significant thanks to the big decrease in bezel size.  The world needs more great small phones, they are a dying breed, and this is still a great phone, even with its shortcomings.

Even with a case, the Pixel 8 sits comfortably in the hand, and just as importantly fits comfortably in the pocket.  Love this, especially considering I take my phone in and out of my pocket so many times a day while also having to bend over and pick things up a lot – this is why my day-to-day phone is normally a RAZR 40 Ultra flip phone.  

Many folks will love this – I know my wife prefers the smaller size to fit into her smaller handbags.  

The rear of the phone has the camera bar now synonymous with Pixel phones with a slightly wider camera window to house the cameras but from a quick glance it looks the same as on the Pixel 7.  

Google sent us the Hazel colour of the Pixel 8 and this hazel is a good looking colour. Understated and stylish. There is of course Obsidian for those who prefer black and a Rose for a different touch.


The differences between the larger Pixel and its smaller sibling have never been more evident.  Not only are there significant hardware changes but because of these hardware changes there are significant software differences. 

The processor running the Pixel 8 is the same but that is about it.  The Pixel 8 has:

  • Less RAM
  • A smaller, lower resolution display which, although has a refresh rate as high as the Pixel 8 Pro,  
  • Isn’t a true LTPO display so cannot drop its refresh rate to below 60Hz as the Pro can, 
  • The rear camera setup may have the same main camera as the Pro but once again it has a lower resolution ultrawide camera and lacks the third camera (telephoto lens)
  • Smaller, slower-charging battery
  • The older Corning Gorilla Glass Victus instead of the newer Victus 2
  • No temperature sensor in the Pixel 8 – a gimmick at this stage but one day surely it may be useful?
  • Doesn’t come in the Bay colour (not really an issue but boy is that Bay on the Pro stunning)

Pixel 8Pixel 8 Pro
SoCGoogle Tensor G3 with Titan M2 security coprocessorGoogle Tensor G3 with Titan M2 security coprocessor
128GB/256GB UFS 3.1 storage
Up to 1TB in US and 512GB rest of the world, UFS 3.1
Display6.2-inch FHD+ OLED display with 60Hz-120Hz refresh rate. Up to 2,000 nits peak brightness6.7-inch LTPO OLED display with 1Hz-120Hz refresh rate.
Up to 2,400 nits peak brightness
Camera50MP Octa PD wide camera
12MP ultrawide camera with autofocus
OIS and EIS on wide
10.5MP Dual PD front camera
50MP Octa PD wide camera
48MP Quad PD ultrawide camera with autofocus
48MP Quad PD telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom and Super Res Zoom up to 30xOIS and EIS on wide and telephoto
10.5MP Dual PD front camera
ConnectivityWi-Fi 7
Bluetooth v
Wi-Fi 7
Bluetooth v
SecurityUnder-display fingerprint sensor, Face UnlockUnder-display fingerprint sensor, Face Unlock
Battery4,575mAh with up to 27W fast charging
Qi-certified wireless charging up to 18W
5,050mAh with up to 30W fast charging
Qi-certified wireless charging up to 23W
OSAndroid 14
7 years of OS and security updates
Android 14
7 years of OS and security updates
MaterialCorning Gorilla Glass Victus cover and back
IP68 rating
Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 cover and matte back
IP68 rating

Less RAM?  Can’t say I’ve noticed much of an issue with the phone keeping apps in memory.  It still switches quickly from one app to another, smoothly as only a Pixel can do.

Lower specced display?  This is significant.  Not in the refresh rate although an LTPO display would help the battery last longer but the resolution.  The smaller resolution is noticeable and it is disappointing to once again have a FHD+ on one of the Pixel flagships – assuming we can still call the lesser Pixel a flagship.  

By itself though the display is colourful and bright.  Sure the brightness is not the 2400 nits that the Pro is but 2000 nits is still incredibly impressive and more than even the flagship Samsung S23 Ultra (1,750 nits).  Viewing this phone outside in the sunlight is easy to do and a pleasure.

The Pixel 8 may have last generation’s Gorilla Glass covering but it is still a great protection that hopefully you will never have to test out.  Corners need to be cut somewhere to meet the price point aimed at for the Pixel 8 and this was one.

One final mention on the hardware and it needs to be on the fingerprint sensor.  It seems to be slightly better than last year but it is the exact same hardware and the experience wasn’t great on the Pixel 7 and it’s not the fastest sensor this year either.  Don’t expect record-breaking speed with this fingerprint sensor.

That’s enough of the bad stuff.  Let’s talk about what makes the Pixel phones so special, so popular with their owners and why many users find it hard to buy anything else once they’ve tried them.  Performance, software, AI and the camera.


Performance is where the Pixel 8 excels.  Google is not about specs and continually iterates that – just as Apple has always done.  Google is about providing a great user experience thereby making the user’s life easier.

The phone flies and does so with buttery smoothness.  At this stage there are some apps which have not been updated for Android 14 and it shows in how they run but the phone in general and the apps you know have been updated run so fast.  

As for the smoothness of the Pixel phones, you have to try it to believe it.  Some folks think I’m just waxing lyrical when I talk about this.  Google’s own reality distortion field is often their thoughts – until they try it for themselves.  It is next level smoothness.  The speed and transitions from one app or screen to another is how Android could and should be.  You would hope that Google would know how to extract all they can form Android so it should be no surprise.

Software and AI

Google has once again pushed the AI barrow at the Made By Google event and with the Tensor G3 chipset designed specifically for AI tasks it is no wonder.  The Tensor G3 and Google’s AI software are a match made in heaven.

Google has packed so much AI into the Pixel 8 that it is difficult to cover all of them so I’m going to quickly list each one and give my thoughts on it after a week of use.

AI Wallpaper – this is a nice way to make yourself a funky wallpaper but in reality I’m placing this in the gimmick pile.  Dan likes the AI wallpaper but although I tried it I don’t see the point.  There are so many wallpaper sites online that the AI option just isn’t required.   Now if it was a live wallpaper that went through various AI options  then I would be convinced – eg. I chose x-ray wallpaper but it just displays one.  It would be so much better if you could set it to change to an x-ray of any other item every hour or so.

Assistance At A Glance widget – the At A Glance widget is now mirrored by an Assistant At A Glance widget and running them side by side they seemed to display the same things.  At A Glance was recently updated by Google for all Pixel phones so it is no surprise it is virtually identical.  

Face unlock is now secure –  An important new feature Google has added to the Pixel 8 phones this year is that their face unlock now meets the highest Android biometric requirements.  This means that it can be used to open apps, to make secure payments etc.  Google said that this is because the Pixel 8 has an autofocus front camera now and combined with the new algorithm that is only able to be run on the Tensor G3 chipset it is so intensive to be accurate.  There are no fancy infra-red cameras etc, just the standard selfie camera and a new fan-dangled facial recognition AI algorithm.

Assistant voice typing – As someone who spends a lot of their day in the car being able to easily use my voice to respond to messages, accurately and efficiently is invaluable.  For me, Assistant Voice Typing is the best feature about the Pixel smartphones.  No other voice recognition comes close to how good this is.

AI voice typing across languages – The best feature about the Pixel phones (IMO), Assistant Voice Typing, now works in multiple languages simultaneously (English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish).  Google Assistant now can automatically add punctuation and detect language as you speak – on the fly.  I tested this out with the about 10 words I know in Italian (it is a slow process for an old dog like me who never learned a second language) and it worked like a charm.

Double tap on the rear of the device makes an appearance again and I love it.  I’ve set it to turn on the torch with a double tap but there are many other options you can choose such as open apps, play or pause media, take a screenshot and more.

To put it bluntly, no one does smartphone software to enhance your life and your smartphone use as well as Google.  The Pixel 8 is no different and builds on what the previous years accomplished.

Camera chops

The Pixel 8 once again gets the lower specced camera setup, this time significantly so unfortunately.  Not only is the camera only a dual camera system but the second camera (ultrawide camera) isn’t anywhere near as good as the upgraded 48MP Quad PD ultrawide camera on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Hardware is not the be all and end all with Google’s camera system though thank goodness.  Their computational photography is second to none – just as well because they often lack in the hardware department compared to other flagship smartphones.  This AI software by Google make the Pixel 8 photography excel still, but it just could be so much better. 

For those wondering what it does have, it’s specs can be seen in the table able but just quickly, it has:

  • 50MP Octa PD wide camera
  • 12MP ultrawide camera with autofocus
  • OIS and EIS on wide
  • 10.5MP Dual PD front camera

The images produced by the Pixel 8 were really good as you can see in the images below.  Google has never been one to falsely change the colours of images, making them overly vibrant like some manufacturers, instead opting to produce images that as close as possible, perfectly replicate the colours imaged by the cameras.

The specific AI software that Google has included is once again great.  They have expanded on their already impressive AI photography lineup with some nice additions.

Best take – This is amazing.  It’s basically photoshopping one face onto a face that was not ideal.  You take a few photos of the subjects at once, then if you don’t like one of the faces, for example if their eyes were closed, you tap on the Best Take option in edit and then the face you want to change.  The AI will then find similar images with that same face.  Tap on the face you prefer and the software will translate that face into the image.  It works seamlessly, even if the head was turned away, like magic.

Unfortunately you cannot swap someone’s face onto a different person’s body because I tried.  Probably a good idea given how some miscreants in society are misusing technology such as this.

Magic Editor – this looks great in Google’s marketing material but at this stage it is in beta only you so have to hunt for it. When you hit edit on a photo in Google Photos there’s an icon in the bottom left. Magic Editor works in much the same way as the Magic Eraser does. Select the item you want to erase and/or move, tap and hold and drag the highlighted subject to where you want it to end up. Easy and is another reason why Google leads the way when it comes to computational photography.

Audio Magic Eraser – This is video editing software that removes unwanted background noises such as cars, wind, and even speech.  This worked amazingly, although you need to be careful you don’t remove something you actually want to keep. I’ve included Dan’s example here as no one needs to hear my dogs rustling (or not once erased) in the background.

Magic Eraser, Photo Unblur, Super Res Zoom and Night Sight all return from last year’s Pixel 7 and once again they are effective at what they are meant to do.  We’ve all seen the ads of these on TV.  

One quick note on the Super Res Zoom.  The Pixel 8 only allows for 1x, 2x and 8x Super Res Zoom but the Pro model can perform up to 30x.  Once again Google has treated the Pixel 8 as the lesser Pixel.  I wonder if in the future there will just be two Pixel phones for the year, a Pro and an ‘a’ model.


This year, both Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro arrive with Android 14 onboard and both will receive 7 years of security and support, 7 years of OS upgrades and 7 years of feature drops.  

This is great peace of mind for those who fork out for a Pixel 8 smartphone.  To be covered for software updates which includes security, Pixel drops and full Android updates all the way to Android 21!

Battery and charging

The battery on the Pixel 8 is only slightly smaller than that on the Pixel 8 Pro and given it is a much smaller, less powerful phone that is just fine.  Battery life is once again just average for the Pixel phones.  I am a super user of all my phones, tethering the entire day but even with that the Pixel 8 did not last as long as many other phones.  Same as last year.

Charging speeds are once again different between the two Pixel phones and there should be no reason at all for this.  They both use the same charger.  27W using the Google 30W charger is far from impressive.  18 months ago OPPO was charging their flagship at 80W, and now they charge their mid-range phones at that speed.  Google can surely do better than 30W, especially when it is required due to the poor battery life.

It is good that wireless charging is present but Google’s idea of fast charging is different to mine.  OPPO and many other Chinese manufacturers are over 50W now on their wireless charging and Google is not.  It is faster than some other manufacturers I suppose so that’s good.  But Google, why does the Pro charge at 23W wirelessly but the 8 at only 18W?  Another strange decision considering the hardware is most likely identical.

One thing missing is Qi 2 charging.  Not only would that allow faster wireless charging speeds but also the ability to use accessories such as the MagSafe iPhone-related products.  It would have beena big step for Google and I dare say the Pixel 8 was too far into development by the time Qi 2 was decided upon so I will excuse them for that.  It’s just disappointing is all.

Should you buy it?

The best Pixel smartphone on the market is the Pixel 8 Pro. The best Android smartphones are Pixels. They give a pure Android experience along with an amazing user experience that needs to be seen to be believed. If you want that pure Android experience then a Pixel should be in your future. Pixel smartphones may lack some of the features other Android smartphones include but the focus of AI by Google within the software brings their smartphones to the fore.

AI in the everyday software and AI in the camera process make for a compelling package.

The kicker is that the Pixel 8 Pro is not cheap and for those wanting the Pixel Experience — yes it is a thing — but not the price tag coming with the Pro version there is the Pixel 8. The Pixel 8 includes much of the same software as its more expensive Pro sibling and although the camera seems less premium (and it is) it still produces amazing images in all lighting conditions thanks to Google’s AI.

For those who want to experience Android as Google intended it and want a good looking phone the Pixel 8 is perfect. It’s smaller than in previous years thanks to a smaller bezel, the chipset is improved and thanks to the increased computational power, so has the AI everywhere it is used.

The Google Pixel 8 is available from today in Hazel, Rose and Obsidian for $1,199.