The Google Pixel Pro range has slowly but surely established itself as the Android phone to go for, thanks to the software that powers the thing.
First up, is Android: you get the purest experience of this OS on a Pixel phone. Then there’s the camera smarts: marrying fantastic lenses with cutting-edge AI, the pictures you can take are stunning (and if they’re not then you can significantly change them, as you will read).
Add to this hardware that has improved with every new launch and what you have is not just a flagship of Google’s phone range, but a phone series that showcases the best of Android. Does the new Pixel Pro 8 continue this quality tradition?
ShortList has spent a week or so with the Google Pixel 8 Pro - here are 5 things to know…
1. The screen is super bright
The Pixel Pro 8 has the brightest screen yet on a Pixel handset - and it shows. The screen is some 42% brighter than the Pixel 7.
The screen is using tech that Google is calling Super Actua display. The main USP for the screen being brighter is pretty obvious: that when you are looking at the thing in sunshine - and it’s been a lot harsher sun of late, given we have hit Autumn in the UK - then you can actually see what you want to see.
The phone does use adaptive brightness, so I didn’t always get this brightness. But I never found myself reaching for the brightness slider to up it.
2. The design is sharper, still Pixel perfect
I have always loved the design of the Pixel phones, more so since Google added in the cool-looking camera bar on the back.
This time, Google has opted for a sharper frame. Gone are the smoother, more rounded edges of the 7 Pro and now there’s a flat surface. This is a very good thing. Just because you can bend OLED, doesn’t really mean you should and I prefer the flat screen - 6.7-inch, 120 Hz - for Netflix watching as it makes use of the full screen.
It also makes the phone feel better in the hand. And when I say that, I mean I didn’t feel like I was going to drop the thing. The back of the device is now matte, too, which seems to add to this grip,
As for the rest of the design, the camera bar is back and packed with imaging smarts.
3. Cameras have been upgraded but it’s the software that surprises
There Pixel Pro 8 has three cameras on the rear: 50MP Main; 48MP Wide Angle; 48MP 4x Telephoto. Both the camera sensor and lenses have been updated and they make for better, more light-filled shots.
Google has always been a master when it comes to photography on its phones but this time it really feels like the hardware matches up with the ingenious software smarts.
In my tests, the macro photography has improved and a new Pro mode allows for manual adjustments to focus, shutter speed and ISO.
Google has also adjusted its software, making more use of AI. One of the new standout features is something called Best Take. This is where it will look at a series of images you have shot and sort of mash ‘em together to create the best picture. When it comes to taking pictures of people, this may mean slicing a smiley face out of one shot and replacing a sad face in another. It’s certainly not perfect, but this cut-and-paste technique to find the perfect shot is certainly ambitious.
Add to this Unblur, Magic Editor (which is in Beta but allows you to literally move people in pictures to a better position) and Magic Eraser and what you have is a sophisticated suite of editing tools all in the phone.
4. Battery is better, more optimised
There is a new chipset in the Pixel 8 Pro and while we thought that would affect battery life, given its a powerful processor it really doesn’t. If anything, the battery life on the Pixel 8 Pro is better than its predecessor, lasting a whole day and then some.
You get faster charging, too. Well, slightly faster. Wireless charging is the same - up to 23W, but you will need the fancy new Pixel stand to get that speed. Wired charging is now a battery 30W.
5. You’ll be getting updates for years
One of the best features of the Pixel 8 Pro is nothing to do with the phone now, but where it will be in seven years’ time. For those who really aren’t fussed about changing your handset every year, the Pixel 8 Pro is guaranteed to have seven years’ worth of updates. This includes OS upgrades, security updates and regular Feature Drops.
This is a great incentive by Google to buy into its ecosystem and one that no other phone company seems to be doing right now.
Google Pixel 8 Pro: Final Verdict
The Google Pixel 8 Pro is well deserving of its flagship status. With upgraded cameras and AI software flourishes that impress, it is a powerful, impressive smartphone.
Couple this with a redesigned chassis that does away with the curved screen and some fancy new colours that go beyond the rather boring black and white (the Bay Blue looks fantastic) and what you have is another great Google handset.
Quite why Google decided to add a temperature sensor into the mix with the phone’s features is anyone’s guess - but that’s the only real heat we can give this Pixel phone.