The smartphone market is a competitive place, and to stand out you need to have an angle. Google Pixel phones set themselves apart by combining efficient performance with deep AI tools, resulting in some of the smartest handsets available.
Step forward the Google Pixel 8: one of the most intelligent phones we’ve seen yet. In this review we cover every element of the Pixel 8, including its design, AI features, performance, and more.
If the Google Pixel 8 is the phone for you, order from a choice of three colours and up to 256GB of storage space.
Release date and price
The Google Pixel 8 releases on October 12th 2023.
• Google Pixel 8 128GB - £699
• Google Pixel 8 256GB - £759
Many of the Pixel 8’s design updates might seem minor on paper, but in reality they make a significant difference to how the Pixel looks and feels.
At 150.5mm in height, the Pixel 8 is 5mm smaller than the Pixel 7, and 3mm less in width. This change in dimensions helps the Pixel 8 fit easier into a pocket, granting it a greater level of portability when on the move. The front screen is 0.1” smaller as a result, but the difference is almost impossible to see. The edges and bezels of the Pixel 8 have also been trimmed, making the handset far easier to hold for long periods of time.
IP68 water and dust resistance is maintained on the Pixel 8, shielding it from damaging particles and allowing submersion below 1 metre for over 30 minutes. Other protection features include scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass Victus on the front screen and an aluminium frame, cocooning the Pixel 8 from bumps and knocks.
As we mentioned earlier, these changes might seem small at first glance, but they contribute towards a greater whole. The Pixel 8 is sleek, comfortable to use, and an ideal traveling companion, whether you’re on the train to work or out in nature taking photos.
It’s in the display department that things get really exciting on the Pixel 8. It possesses a 1080p OLED screen much like the Pixel 7, but the biggest difference is in how bright this display is. Colours are exquisitely vibrant and pop with detail, whether you’re playing a game or marvelling at a photo you’ve taken. If you regularly use your smartphone in difficult viewing conditions, such as outdoors in direct sunlight, the Pixel 8 is a must-have.
The improved brightness levels are delivered by the Pixel 8’s Actua display, which can push the peak screen brightness up to 2000 nits; a 600 nits increase over the Pixel 7’s peak. Brightness when viewing anything in HDR mode is also higher on the Pixel 8, rising to 1400 nits.
These updates to brightness do a lot of the heavy lifting, improving clarity pixel-by-pixel without needing to invest in an entirely new screen. The results are impressive, and when combined with the far smoother 120HZ refresh rate, you end up with one of the best viewing experiences on any smartphone.
At the start of this review, we touched on how intelligent the Pixel 8 is, and this is largely down to the performance improvements included in the Google Tensor G3 chip. This isn’t just general updates to speed either; Google state that the machine learning model on the Pixel 8 is 10x more complex than the Pixel 6, enabling it to process detailed tasks faster and more efficiently.
The surge in AI intelligence on the Pixel 8 means apps like Google Assistant and Recorder have additional features in their arsenal, such as being able to read a webpage aloud and summarise conversations. The keyboard when typing is also smarter; it will proofread your text instead of always auto-correcting, cutting down on those annoying misunderstandings.
One of the apps that benefits most from this improved machine learning is Call Screening, and best exemplifies what the Pixel 8 is all about. Call Screening leverages AI to produce a natural-sounding voice, which you can use to automate responses to a caller. Let’s say someone arrives to deliver a parcel; you can tap Leave Parcel at Door, and Call Screening will use the AI voice to let the delivery-person know. The processing power of the Tensor G3 chip means apps like Call Screening can work far more intelligently.
The Pixel 8 comes pre-installed with Android 14 out of the box, giving you immediate access to updated features. Android 14 is all about making your phone more ‘you’, and this is achieved via deeper personalisation options to shape your Android device your way.
One of Android 14’s most impressive features uses AI, further establishing this as a defining trait of the Pixel 8. You can use the AI tool to create a unique wallpaper with just a single prompt; if you have an idea in mind, Android 14 will generate it for you. Photography techniques can also be added to the prompt to transform the outcome, such as ‘golden flower with depth of field’.
If you’ve ever wanted to give your Android phone a black and white makeover, Android 14 makes this easy with the Monochrome theme. Add it to your icons, widgets and background to create a sleek style that blends effortlessly throughout the Pixel 8’s menus.
Another update in Android 14, one that will excite photographers in particular, is Ultra HDR support. This is an enhanced version of standard HDR that provides even darker shadows and crisp, vibrant colours, ultimately resulting in photos that are stunningly true-to-life.
With 7 years of OS and security updates from Google, picking up the Pixel 8 means you’re getting a smartphone that is secure for years to come
The Google Pixel range has some of the most powerful cameras in the industry, so the Pixel 8 has a strong legacy to live up to. This time around, Google have prioritised improvements to the Pixel 8’s software suite, opting to maintain the same cameras from the Pixel 7.
In terms of camera hardware, you’re getting a 50MP main lens and 12MP ultra-wide camera on the rear, and a 10.5MP selfie camera up front. A tweak to the main camera means it has a wider aperture, resulting in brighter images as the camera takes in more light. The ultra-wide lens has a slightly larger 125° field-of-view compared to the Pixel 7, enabling you to take bigger, panoramic shots. Finally, the field-of-view on the front selfie camera has also been widened, offering an extra 3° with which to capture more detail.
Similarly to the design updates on the Pixel 8, these small adjustments make a big difference to the quality of photo you can take. It’s on the software side, however, where we see the Pixel 8’s photography suite shine. An exciting addition is Magic Editor, which you can use to transform a photo in a variety of ways, such as changing the time of day and resizing a subject.
Best Take is another inclusion on the Pixel 8, and is also another example of how this handset uses AI to make day-to-day use easier. When taking a group photo, you can sometimes end up with someone blinking or looking away from the camera. With Best Take, this isn’t an issue; by rapidly taking a range of shots for each subject and combining them, the AI creates an optimised group photo where everyone is facing the camera and revelling in the moment.
Video editing also gets an upgrade on the Pixel 8 with Audio Magic Eraser. If you film a video and hear noises in the background, you can use this tool to filter out those distracting sounds, so you’re left with a crisp and clear recording.
With all of these AI-powered tools at your disposal, you need an equally powerful battery to fuel them. The Pixel 8 is more than up for the job, thanks to its 4575 mAh battery; over 200 mAh more than the Pixel 7’s capacity. It’s possible to get a full 24 hours of usage out of the Pixel 8 when streaming or browsing online, which is ideal if you’re travelling regularly.
Downtime on the Pixel 8 is low, too, with support for 27W wired charging and fast wireless recharging.
The Google Pixel 8 is very much the sum of its parts. There are multiple features, small and large, that come together to create a hugely versatile smartphone. Google’s legacy of producing superb camera phones is preserved, while pushing that same legacy forward with artificial intelligence at its core.
If the Pixel 8 sounds like the right phone for your needs, see how you can easily move your data from one Android device to another.