An image of the Google Pixel 8 Pro in the Bay Blue color variant.

Google Pixel 8 Pro Review: Pros and Cons

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is a flagship device launched on 4 October 2023. It is part of the eighth generation of the Pixel line of Android smartphones from Google and was introduced alongside the Google Pixel 8 and the Pixel Watch 2. Hence, at its price point and as a top-tier smartphone. It competes with other flagship smartphones from 2023 such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 line and the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. This article reviews the advantages and disadvantages or the pros and cons of the Google Pixel 8 Pro.

Introduction: Specifications of the Google Pixel 8 Pro

At the heart of this smartphone is the Google Tensor G3 system-on-a-chip. This 64-bit chip has a nine-core CPU and a seven-core integrated GPU that are based on the 4nm process of Samsung and the licensed architecture from ARM. The device also comes in four storage variations. These include the base 128 GB variant, the 256 GB and 512 GB variants, and the 1 TB universal flash storage 3.1. All four variants come with 12 GB of LPDDR5X RAM.

The 6.7-inch OLED screen is an Always On display with a resolution of 1344×2992 pixels and a pixel density of 489 PPI. It is also based on LTPO backplane technology and has an adaptive refresh rate that spans from as low as 1 Hz to as high as 120 Hz. This display has a maximum brightness of 1200 nits that peaks at 2400 nits. A Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protects the screen from scratches and shattering due to accidental drops and bumps.

Located on the back is a three-camera system composed of a main 50-megapixel wide camera, a 48-megapixel ultrawide camera, and a 48-megapixel telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom and 30x digital zoom. The system also has a laser detect autofocus sensor and a spectral and flicker sensor. The main and telephoto cameras have optical and electronic image stabilization. Located on the front is a 10.5-megapixel camera with a 95-degree ultrawide field of view.

Furthermore, with regard to connectivity, this device is equipped with Wi-Fi 7 for connecting to 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz bands with support for 2×2 MIMO, cellular network radios for connecting to mmWave 5G, sub-6 GHz 5G, and LTE networks, Bluetooth 5.3 with dual antennas, and an ultra-wideband chip for ranging and spatial orientation. The charging and data port is based on USB Type-C 3.2 and is backward compatible with older versions.

A metallic frame made of recycled aluminum encloses the Google Pixel 8 Pro. It has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance and a special coating for fingerprint resistance. This device is available in black, porcelain white, and bay blue variants. It also comes with a 4950 to 5050 mAh lithium-ion battery and supports 30 watts wired fast charging using a USB-PD 3.0 cable and wireless fast charging using the Qi power transfer interface standard.

Pros of the Google Pixel 8 Pro: Notable Selling Points

1. Bright and Vibrant Display

The OLED screen of this device is flagship-level. It supports HDR content and has a full 24-bit depth for producing 16 million colors. The peak brightness of up to 2400 nits also makes it one of the brightness screen displays in a smartphone. This makes the device usable outdoors and under bright sunlight. The adaptive refresh rate that goes as low as 1 Hz for static images and as high as 120 Hz for certain content enables smooth scrolling and gaming experience.

2. Respectable Camera Performance

Another advantage of the Google Pixel 8 Pro is its camera performance which is comparable to the camera system of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The rear camera system takes sharp and vibrant images. Low-light images also appear decent compared to other mid-rangers and even flagships. The rear and front camera systems support up to 4K video recording at 24 FPS, 30 FPS, and 60 FPS, and with video stabilization. The main camera records dual-exposed video.

3. Mobile Photography Features

The camera app and the exclusive photo app boast notable features for improving mobile photography and videography. These include the Magic Editor for post-processing of images, Astrophotography, Portrait Mode, Super Res Zoom that automatically processes images taken using the digital zoom, Dual Exposure, Live HDR, Magic Eraser for removing image elements, Cinematic Blur and Cinematic Pan, Video Boost, and Macro Focus Video.

4. Generative Artificial Intelligence

Note that the generative AI features of the Google Pixel 8 Pro are part of its selling point. The same capabilities are behind the features of its camera app and photo app. The Google Assistant virtual assistant also comes with the Google Gemini chatbot. The cloud-based foundation AI models of Google that include large language models also run directly on the Google Tensor G3 chip and the device is capable of various natural language processing capabilities.

5. Decent Battery Performance

The battery capacity of this device is no different than the battery used in the previous Google Pixel 7 Pro. However, because the Google Tensor G3 chip prioritizes efficiency over raw performance, and because the chip is based on the 4nm process node, it is less power-intensive. This smartphone will leave its user with a 3 percent lass charge after an hour of streaming YouTube video at maximum brightness. This is decent for a flagship phone.

Cons of the Google Pixel 8 Pro: Issues and Drawbacks

1. Average Processing Capabilities

One of the biggest disadvantages or cons of the Google Pixel 8 Pro is the underwhelming performance of its Google Tensor G3 chip. It is supposed to be a flagship-level hardware but it falls short when compared to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and the Apple A17 Pro. It is still a capable processor handling above-average tasks but it is not ideal for extensive graphics-demanding mobile gaming at maximum settings or high-quality and extensive video editing.

2. Image Processing Concerns

This device takes good images. However, because the entire camera system uses artificial intelligence for processing images, photos tend to look less accurate and somewhat artificial when compared to the Galaxy S23 and the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max. The Magic Editor is an impressive software with powerful generative AI capabilities but the outputs can be too excessive and unrealistic because image elements are artificially generated.

3. Unconvincing Temperate Sensor

Located on the back of the phone and placed specifically underneath the camera flash is a dedicated temperature sensor. It lets a user measure the temperature of whatever item he or she is holding. The main purpose of this sensor is to take body temperatures. This feature is still up for debate because it requires approval from relevant health agencies. Hence, outside its use for taking body temperature, there is no practical use for this hardware component.

4. Generative Capabilities Limitations

The various generative AI capabilities of this device are impressive. However, while apps and features that demonstrate these capabilities have practical and convenient applications, it is important to highlight the fact that most artificial intelligence models are not native to the Google Pixel 8 Pro. The device still needs an internet connection to connect to the Google cloud servers to access the relevant AI models and run them on the Google Tensor G3 chip.

Review Verdict: Pros and Cons of the Google Pixel 8 Pro

It is true that the Google Pixel 8 Pro is marketed as a flagship-level and top-tier smartphone. However, because of the above-average processing capabilities of its Google Tensor G3 chip, this device remains a higher-end mid-ranger or a lower-end top-tier smartphone at best.

The performance of the chip is somewhat similar to the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 Plus and the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. It is still capable but the processing capabilities do not match the almost-a-thousand-of-dollars price tag of the device.

Nevertheless, considering its camera system and the inclusion of notable features for taking photos, recording videos, and post-processing images, it remains one of the best camera phones for 2023 and it will probably continue to do so for the next two years.