Google’s updated flagship phones bring a lot of AI and refined design to the premium smartphone space. Here’s my early impressions of the Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8.
It’s absolutely part of the marketing playbook for any smartphone these days that details will “leak” around their features and look before their formal staged reveal.
Few companies take it to the extent that Google has done with the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, however. Ahead of its launch — and if you’re reading this, we’re past that time — there wasn’t much that didn’t get “leaked” one way or the other.
Still, ahead of their formal reveal, I got some time to test out the new Pixel phones. I can’t provide a full review just yet… but I have been able to set them up and get some first impressions. Here’s my early thoughts on what they do right — and what they don’t.
Google Pixel 8/Pro: Early Upsides
Seven years of updates is insanely good OK, this is one detail that (I think) didn’t leak ahead of time. Google’s offering up seven years of both OS and security updates for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, which is genuinely unprecedented.
Prior Pixel generations offered three years, more recently Samsung started offering four… and now Google’s taken it to the next level if you’re the type who buys a phone for the long haul. Can I test this as part of my review? No. Does it matter? Yes.
Flat design I’ve been a phone reviewer long enough to see curved screen designs come and go a couple of times now. Personally, I’m not someone who’s terribly offended by curved screens, but I do know that they’re divisive.
If you didn’t like the Pixel 7 Pro because of its curved screen, rejoice, because both the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro offer up completely flat displays.
Good colour choices Google never offers a huge range of colours (if that matters to you, perhaps consider the Galaxy S23 FE, but what they’ve chosen across the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro both looks good and feels good in the hand.
OK, yes, I’m a sucker for blue phones, and the Bay one is very nice indeed…
Google cares about mmWave down under Opt for the Pixel 8 and you’re in sub-6Ghz 5G territory same as (checks notes) every single other phone maker selling phones in Australia.
But, like the Pixel 7 Pro, the Pixel 8 Pro supports full mmWave in Australia, and at a price point that (while premium) undercuts its competition as it goes. Are you paying attention, Apple and Samsung? I hope so.
Google Pixel 8/Pro: Early Downsides
No 1TB for Australia Checking over the Pixel 8 Pro’s official spec sheet reveals the existence of a 1TB model… for the US only.
Yes, Google, I get that you want me to put all my data into a Google-shaped cloud. Still, it’d be nice to have the option to buy a 1TB model, given that it exists and all that.
More expensive I’ve been a tech journalist for too long a long time now, and I can keenly recall the old Google Nexus phones that combined features with value, creating a compelling phone proposition.
Google’s Pixel phones have always been more pricey than the old Nexus ones were (save for the excellent Pixel 7a) but there’s no getting past the fact that the Pixel 8 ($1,199 and up) and Pixel 8 Pro ($1,699 and up) are more expensive propositions.
Now, there’s still an embargo in play here so I can’t go forth with a full review just yet — but, rather obviously, that’s coming. Stay tuned…