Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro smartphone review – the total Android experience

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  • VERDICT

The Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Pro are solid updates over the previous models with improvements in performance and camera and display quality with AI features like Magic Eraser and Magic Editor that will appeal to loyal Android users.

The Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Pro are pure Google smartphones. They are taking Google’s hardware and the latest Tensor processor and running Google’s latest Android 14 operating system.

You couldn’t find a more thoroughly Google experience.

In doing this, Google has taken a move from the Apple playbook where, since 2007, the company has been offering an end-to-end experience with their own hardware and software.

Google has raised the bar even further with the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro with intelligent improvements to the camera and a boost in performance.

On the design side, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro have had a subtle update with more rounded edges.

There’s still the visor bar on the back that houses the camera system which gives the device a unique and unmistakable look.

The devices are powered by Google’s very own Tensor G3 chip which improves the overall performance as well as bringing AI into play so the phones can run features like Magic Eraser and Magic Editor on your pictures along with Call Screen which can answer unknown numbers through Google Assistant, for example.

The displays are stunning (6.2-inch on the Pixel 8 and 6.7-inch on the Pixel 8 Pro) and now both include 120Hz variable refresh rates – last year it was only the Pro model that included this.

Pixel 8 Pro

The result is smooth scrolling and smoother viewing of content.

On the security side we have the in screen fingerprint reader, but face recognition has been significantly bolstered to the point where it unlocks the phone in an instant and now at a standard to be used for wider and higher level security like banking apps and other accounts.

Pixel 8 Pro

By far the most attractive feature of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro is the camera.

The Pixel 8 Pro has a triple camera system – 50-megapixel wide-camera, a 48-megapixel ultrawide camera with auto focus and 48-megapixel telephoto camera while the Pixel 8 has two cameras – a 50-megapixel wide camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide.

Pixel 8

Quality is superb on both imagine and video – we knew that going in.

But the features Google is hanging its hat on are the image editing features – an improved Magic Eraser, a new Magic Editor and Best Take.

Pixel 8

Best Take works well to ensure everyone in a group shot is smiling. It uses a series of photos taken as you are capturing your images and blends the images to give you the option of choosing everyone’s best expression.

Magic Eraser is an excellent tool to remove unwanted objects in your images. And it’s even better this time out with the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

We put it to the test in a few different ways including removing a pole that ran through the centre of an image taken at Maroubra Beach.

We circled the pole and not was the pole removed but everything else that was supposed to be there was filled in precisely. This is the one of the best examples of the onboard AI.

Now you see it….
…. now you don’t

Magic Editor takes things a step further and lets you define and move objects around to improve the composition.

You circle the object and press and hold and then you can move it to a more favourable location.

There’s also a Magic Audio Eraser which lets users single out and remove background sounds from your videos.

These features are a great gimmick – and they work well but they play to the users who want to perfect their images for share on social media.

Don’t let the pole ruin the view…
Magic Eraser to the rescue

The quality of the changes is remarkable – our complaint was it took a little while for the phone to process the changes.

Photography purists – like the enthusiasts who buy an iPhone would be rolling their eyes at these features – that’s just their opinion and probably why they opted for an iPhone over a Pixel.

Google approach to photography is a lot different to Apple.

People in the way…
…. not anymore

Apple has always been loyal to the principals of photography and the camera on the iPhone as more like a regular camera than those found on most other smartphones.

Google has included some impressive hardware to produce quality images and videos with the Pixel smartphones, but they do provide an option for you to correct your mistakes – or alter the truth.

Oh no – you can see the Dyson
…. no you can’t.

One big bonus for customers who buy the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro is the decision by Google to provide seven years of OS and security updates.

This is a big deal especially for those users who might be doing it a bit tough and who want to hang on to their device for a few years.

Apple has had this type of support for the iPhone with six year old iPhones able to run the latest updates.

This gives the iPhone even greater longevity which is exactly what Google is trying to tap into and create this sort of loyalty.

The Google Pixel 8 ($1,199) and Google Pixel 8 Pro ($1,699) are available now.

VERDICT

The Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Pro are solid updates over the previous models with improvements in performance and camera and display quality with AI features like Magic Eraser and Magic Editor that will appeal to loyal Android users.

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