Google Pixel 8 Pro Long-Term Review: Does AI Make the Difference

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is an excellent device, but not excellent value. At the price Google is selling it in India, you can get other devices which can compete with the Pixel 8 Pro.

Highlights

  • The Google Pixel 8 series was launched back in October 2023.
  • The Pixel 8 Pro when launched stood alongside the ultra-flagships of 2o23 - iPhone 15 Pro and the Galaxy S23 Ultra (Now also against the Galaxy S24 Ultra).
  • Here's my take on the device, and before we go ahead, let me tell you, that I wouldn't recommend this device on the sole basis of AI.

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The Google Pixel 8 series was launched back in October 2023. I didn't start using the device until a few months before, but now that I have used it, I can tell you whether it is worth it or not. To be precise, I have not been using the Pixel 8 series, but only the Pixel 8 Pro. There's also a vanilla Pixel 8 at a lower price point. The Pixel 8 Pro when launched stood alongside the ultra-flagships of 2o23 - iPhone 15 Pro and the Galaxy S23 Ultra (Now also against the Galaxy S24 Ultra). Google highlighted the arrival of AI (artificial intelligence) features on the Pixel 8 Pro and marketed the entire device on those few features. However, here's my take on the device, and before we go ahead, let me tell you, that I wouldn't recommend this device on the sole basis of AI. It is a complimentary feature, it is not what the device is about. Let's start with the design of the smartphone.




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Google Pixel 8 Pro Review: Design

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If I had to name some of the most beautiful smartphones in the global market today, I would keep the Pixel 8 Pro at the top (also the Pixel 8). Along with a unique design, the Pixel 8 series also comes in beautiful colourways. I have a Blue one, which I think is the most beautiful blue I have seen on a smartphone. It is not just the colour that's beautiful, but the finish and the overall design of the device.

The sides of the device have a chrome finish and the corners are rounded, which is how I prefer it over square devices. Google has won my heart in the design department. The Pixel 8 Pro feels super premium and easy to hold, and interact using only one hand. The back is made of matte glass. It was used by Google a few years back with the Pixel 4.

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The power button on the device is on the right, and the volume rockers, just below that. This is something that I don't quite understand. Whether this was done to make way for antennas in the upper body to improve connectivity or for some other reason, I think Google should revisit their idea of placing the volume rockers just below the power button.

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Hey, it could be just me! But from my experience of the device, the number of times that I have clicked on the volume rockers instead of the power button, I can't put on a paper. There's a Type-C port at the bottom, along with stereo speakers. On the left of the body, there's a SIM-card slot. I have always admired the camera bump that Google Pixel devices have had. They have always been aesthetically beautiful, never felt out of place.

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In the design department, Google is the Apple of Android ecosystem. The subtle 'G' branding on the back, is classy and powerful. Because of the matte glass finish, you will not have to worry about fingerprints or smudges ruining the look or feel.

Rating - 9/10

Google Pixel 8 Pro Review: Display

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The Google Pixel 8 Pro has a decent display. There's a 6.7-inch LTPO OLED panel with support for 1344 x 2992 pixels. Google calls it Super Actua display. I have had no issues with the display, it is bright enough on all ocassions and is pretty smooth and responsive. There's Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on top, and it supports Always-on-Display (AoD). The typical brightness support of this device is 1600nits while the peak brightness support is 2400nits.

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I love the AoD of Pixel. I think Google does it the best when it comes to AoD. The customisation options are pretty awesome for the lock screen, but for the AoD, things are kept pretty simple and limited. You will only see the clock and the date widget when AoD is active along with the fingerprint logo (to signal where to put your finger for fingerprint authentication) and a small battery percentage indicator at the bottom.

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You will certainly enjoy watching OTT (over-the-top) content on this device. I mostly used YouTube and Apple TV Plus on the browser, but the experience was still great. The bezels all around are symmetrical and that feels very satisfying to look at whenever I am interacting with the display and my attention goes towards it. At the same time, the bezels are pretty thin.

Rating - 9/10

Google Pixel 8 Pro Review: Performance, Battery and AI

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The Google Pixel 8 Pro is a fairly smooth device, but not what I expected it to be. Firstly, Google is using the Tensor G3 chip on the Pixel 8 Pro. Compared to the other flagships such as the OnePlus 12 5G and Galaxy S24 Ultra which are using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, this chip from Google is not even close to fighting a good battle. Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is much ahead in multi-core scores (more than 50%) and single-core scores (more than 30%) than the Tensor G3 chip. But this is not about Snapdragon vs Tensor. This is about how well the Tensor G3 compliments the Pixel 8 Pro.

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In my experience, as I said above, it is fairly smooth, but it still needs improvement in many areas. Firstly, the processing of images has to be done faster than the current speed. It feels like a mid-range phone at best when I see the processing happening right in front of me for all the images, even in basic and good lighting conditions. What I mean from processing happening right in front of me is whenever I take a photo and check it out on the Photos app, I can see that it isn't processed completely. That has to change.

Further, the heating! Oh man, sometimes it is unbearable. No 'Pro' phone from any company should heat this much. I would request Google to send a fan separately with the Pixel 9 Pro if it is going to be the same thing. The device heats a lot when I am engaged in a high-intensity activity, or when I am using the camera app. What was surprising is that even with just 5 to 10 minutes of camera app use, the device heats up like hell!

But in other scenarios, where the environment is cool, and the phone is used for basic activities, it is decent. The battery life has been good. It can give me a runway of about 8 hours easily on a single charge. I mean to say 8 hours of use if I am not using the camera app a lot or playing games on it heavily.

Let's talk about AI now.

Oh wait, before that, Android 14. With a Pixel, you get the best experience of using an Android - that's what people say. I believe, we get the best experience of what a Pixel could be, but not what the best Android OS experience is. I would say that OxygenOS from OnePlus is the best Android OS experience for me, because there are more things to play around with. With Google Pixel 8 series, you will get 7 years of software support. Now that's something cool. It means that if you just keep replacing the battery of your device, you can use it for seven years easily.

The fingerprint scanner can improve. It doesn't always register the fingerprint correctly. I don't face this issue with any other Android device. Now let's talk about AI.

AI was what Google highlighted with the Pixel 8 series. Now that is what we will talk about. Was it a marketing gimmick? No. But is it useful to an extent where it can become a contributing factor for your decision to buy a new phone? Also, no.

Here's everything you get in the AI department with the Pixel 8 Pro.

Firstly, Google is using Gemini Nano to power on-device AI features on the Pixel 8 Pro. There's a Summarise feature that users will get with the Recorder app on the device. It will allow you to get a summary of your recorded conversations, interviews, and more. You can also access the entire transcript of the conversation. Further, Google allows you to keep all the data offline.

Then there's a Smart Reply on Gboard. Not a feature I would use much, especially when conversing in hinglish, but it can be useful for many as it allows users to save time. In the camera department, there's many things. Firstly, there's 'Best Take'. It offers you different options of a photo and allows you to choose the best one you like. Then, Tensor G3 also enables Video Boost feature, which actually takes your video on to the cloud, and enhances it. It will help you in getting better results when you are recording in a complex scenario. However, you have to toggle Video Boost setting on from the settings video settings menu.

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There's also Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur features. Magic Eraser still has a long way to go to become exceptionally well. It will reach there someday, but that day, is not today. One feature that many would like is Magic Audio Eraser, as it allows users to remove unwanted audio or sounds from their videos.

Rating - 8/10 (I would have rated it a 6.5 or 7, but the device scored additional points becauses of AI. However in the peformance and heating department, Google has much work to do!).

Google Pixel 8 Pro Review: Camera

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Google has been very impressive in the camera department with the Pixel devices. It isn't the best hardware, but the best software that makes all the difference in smartphone camera. The camera app of Pixel 8 Pro is easy to use, and the different photo modes is amazing. I love the Action Pan mode, even though I will likely use it twice a year. There's a Portrait mode, night sight mode, panorama mode, and a long-exposure mode as well.

I love the results of the camera with the Pixel 8 Pro. Especially the Macro shots. The telephoto photo sensor comes with up to 5x optical zoom and 30x digital zoom. The camera system of the Pixel 8 Pro supports both OIS and EIS.

There's a triple-camera system at the rear, with a 50MP Octa PD wide-camera, 48MP Quad PD ultrawide camera with auto-focus, and a 48MP Quad PD Telephoto camera. For selfies, there's a 10.5MP dual PD selfie camera.

You can check the camera samples below. I just have to mention this here - I love the night shots with the Pixel 8 Pro.

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Rating - 8.5/10

Google Pixel 8 Pro Review: Price and Conclusion

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is an excellent device, but not excellent value. At the price Google is selling it in India, you can get other devices which can compete with the Pixel 8 Pro. The AI features are going to come to every flagship premium device, and most of them are going to be powered by Google only. So AI is not the sole differentiator for Google. In the performance department, Google needs to do a lot of work, and ensure that the device stops overheating. Especially for a market like India, where temperatures are quite high in summers. If I am taking the Pixel on a run in an Indian summer, I would rather stay inside.

Regardless, there is a lot of good as well. Especially in the camera, even though it also has areas to improve upon. I like the fact that it brings out correct skin tones in the pictures, something Chinese brands don't do.

The Pixel 8 Pro launched for Rs 1,06,000 for the 12GB+128GB variant. But now it also available in 12GB+256GB variant for Rs 1,13,999. The price of both variants have been cut to Rs 98,999 and Rs 1,05,999. You can get it from Flipkart or through an offline retail channel. The Pixel 8 Pro is stylish and cool, and by far the most beautiful smartphone in the market right now. Don't go for it if you are looking for the most powerful phone, because it is not, but it is definitely one of the coolest devices (I wish it was also literally the coolest device, because it heats up quite severly!).

Okay, I am going to stop here for now. If you own a Pixel 8 Pro or any other Pixel device, let us know in the comments or our social media channels what you think about it!

google pixel 8 pro long term review

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Tanay is someone with whom you can chill and talk about technology and life. A fitness enthusiast and cricketer, he loves to read and write.

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