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Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro hands-on: The w8 was worth it

Let's find out just how good the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro really are.
By

Published onOctober 4, 2023

By this point in the year, people are pretty sick of Pixel smartphones. Over the past few months, there has been a near-constant stream of leaks and rumors about the eighth-gen Pixels, to the point that we knew pretty much everything before Rick Osterloh even set foot on the Made by Google stage today. However, today is the first day we actually got to touch the Pixel 8 series, and that’s still pretty exciting.

In this article, I’m going to give you my hands-on impressions of both the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, the latest Android smartphones from Google.

Google Pixel 8: Hands-on with the vanilla model

google pixel 8 rear hazel 5
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

Google is continuing the trend it started with the Pixel 6 series by launching two Pixel 8 models. The standard model — the Google Pixel 8 — is now the latest entry-tier flagship in the Pixel world.

Design and feel

Design-wise, there’s not much difference with the Pixel 8 when compared to the Pixel 7 or even the Pixel 6. The only significant change this year is the size of the phone itself. At 150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm, this is now the smallest mainline Pixel phone since the Pixel 5.

I know that small phones have fallen out of favor over the past few years — just look at the death of the iPhone Mini series — but the Pixel 8 feels perfect in my hands. It’s not too big and not too small. Folks with small hands or those who are just sick of trying to reach their thumb across the display will be in love.

It is unfortunate, though, that Google didn’t do much else with the design. The camera bar is slightly bigger to accommodate the two new camera lenses (a new 50MP primary and an updated 12MP ultrawide), but that’s barely noticeable unless you’re holding the two phones next to each other. The display bezels are also ever-so-slightly thinner. Likewise, the unpolished aluminum rails are still here, and the glossy back glass is the same, too. The glass is even the same Gorilla Glass Victus, so you don’t even get an update to the latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2.

Still, Google likely doesn’t need to mess with its winning formula too much. The phone is smaller while still looking great, so what more can we realistically ask for?

Speaking of looking great, the new colorways for the Google Pixel 8 are all winners in my book. Obsidian (black) is the standard color for folks who like to keep things simple. Hazel is a sweet shade of gray/green that looks at once classy and arresting. And Peony is a delightful shade of pink that will make anyone say, “come on Barbie, let’s go party.”

My impressions of the Pixel 8

The Google Pixel 8 is an excellent representation of the old mantra: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Google kept everything people love about modern Pixel phones and fulfilled two requests we hear at Android Authority all the time: “We wish there were more compact phones” and “We want thinner bezels.” I will almost certainly recommend the Pixel 8 to many friends and family this holiday season simply because of its compact nature, so thanks, Google.

Google Pixel 8 Pro: Hands-on with the new powerhouse

google pixel 8 pro rear all colors
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The Pixel 8 might not have changed that much, but the Pixel 8 Pro has multiple differences this year. It also offers a wealth of upgrades that the Pixel 8 misses out on, thus widening the gap between it and non-Pro Pixels.

Design and feel

Google Pixel 8 Pro in Bay blue color held in hand
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
Pixel 8 Pro

There are two major design changes this year for the Pixel 8 Pro. The first is the introduction of a flat display. This marks the first time a Pro Pixel has had flat glass. It also means there’s no Pixel 8 series device at all with a curved panel.

To be clear, the display glass doesn’t meet flat to the sides of the frame. There is a very, very subtle curve that goes all around the display, meaning there’s a tiny bump where the glass ends and the aluminum frame begins. Still, anyone who’s struggled to use Android’s navigation gestures with the steep curves of the Pixel 7 Pro or Pixel 6 Pro will love this change.

The other big switch-up this year is the introduction of a matte glass back. Made of Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the glass is soft to the touch and virtually fingerprint-free. This stands in heavy contrast to the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro, which had slick, mirror-like glass backs that were fingerprint magnets and way too slippery. The matte back of the Pixel 8 Pro feels as close as we’ll ever get again to the incredible feel of the back of the Pixel 5.

Outside of these two significant changes, the others are more subtle. The camera bar is a different design that incorporates all the lenses into one “pill” container instead of the “pill + circle” system of the Pixel 7 Pro. Sizing is almost the same, although the Pixel 8 Pro is slightly bigger than the Pixel 7 Pro by fractions of a millimeter.

The colors on offer for the Google Pixel 8 Pro are slightly different than what we have for the Pixel 8. The Obsidian colorway appears here, but a Porcelain (off-white) model is in place of the Pixel 8’s Peony. Likewise, the Pixel 8 Pro comes in a beautiful Bay (blue) color that will likely be the most popular choice for people who wish their phone was more fun-looking.

My impressions of the Pixel 8 Pro

I’ve used the Google Pixel 7 Pro as my daily driver since it launched in October 2022. As such, I’m very used to the phone’s feel in my hands. I can say, without a doubt, that the Pixel 8 Pro is a better-designed phone. The matte glass is fantastic, the flat display makes using the phone so much more pleasant, and the size is immediately comfortable and familiar. Of course, it’s still a big phone and quite heavy. But if that’s a deal-breaker for you, the Pixel 8 is the clear alternative.

The biggest upgrade is something you can’t touch

Made by Google Logo at Made By Google Event 2023
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

I’m going to get into the specs of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, but the most significant upgrade this year isn’t a hardware spec or something you can touch. Google made history today by announcing that the Pixel 8 series will get a whopping seven years of software support. That means seven Android versions, 84 monthly security patches, and 28 quarterly Pixel Feature Drops. In other words, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will have Google’s support until 2030, which is just nuts.

The new seven-year upgrade commitment from Google might be reason enough to buy the Pixel 8 or 8 Pro.

This now puts Google head and shoulders above all its direct competitors regarding software support. Apple doesn’t explicitly state how long it supports iPhones, but it’s usually five or six years — rarely seven. Samsung offers five years of support and only four Android upgrades. Fairphone isn’t a significant competitor with Google, but even its much-lauded ten-year promise only includes five Android upgrades.

Unfortunately, Google did not mention if this policy would trickle down to other Pixel phones. The $1,800 Google Pixel Fold, for example, deserves the same level of support, considering how much people spend on it. However, for now, only the Pixel 8 series has this seven-year commitment. Hopefully, things will change later on.

Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro specs

Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 held in hand
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

We didn’t have enough time during this Google Pixel 8 hands-on to do complete testing of the phones. That will need to wait until our full reviews. However, we can tell you about what Google has upgraded. The specs table below also gives you a quick glance at what to expect.

Both phones get the latest Google-made silicon in the Google Tensor G3. Every aspect of this chipset has been upgraded compared to the Tensor G2, making it more capable from a raw power standpoint and better at performing on-device AI and machine learning tasks. We’ve summarized all the cool Pixel 8 AI features, but some highlights include Best Take (splice together multiple group photos so everyone’s best face is included), Magic Editor (like Magic Eraser on steroids), and various Google Assistant updates.

Both phones also get better displays, which Google calls Actua displays now. The Pixel 8’s Actua display is capable of a peak brightness of 2,000 nits, on par with the iPhone 15 Pro series. Meanwhile, the Super Actua display of the Pixel 8 Pro bumps that up to a whopping 2,400 nits, which is insane. We can’t wait to push the brightness limits on these new screens. During my time with them, they looked lovely, but without proper testing, I can’t pinpoint how much better they actually are, objectively.

You can see all the other spec updates for each model in the table below.

Google Pixel 8Google Pixel 8 Pro
Display
Google Pixel 8
6.2-inch OLED
2,400 x 1,080 resolution
428ppi
20:9 aspect ratio
60-120Hz refresh rate
1,400 nits brightness (HDR)
2,000 nits brightness (peak)
HDR support
Gorilla Glass Victus
Google Pixel 8 Pro
6.7-inch LTPO OLED
2,992 x 1,344 resolution
489ppi
20:9 aspect ratio
1-120Hz refresh rate
1,600 nits brightness (HDR)
2,400 nits brightness (peak)
HDR support
Gorilla Glass Victus 2
Processor
Google Pixel 8
Google Tensor G3
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Google Tensor G3
RAM
Google Pixel 8
8GB LPDDR5X
Google Pixel 8 Pro
12GB LPDDR5X
Storage
Google Pixel 8
128 or 256GB
UFS 3.1
Google Pixel 8 Pro
US:
- 128, 256, or 512GB, or 1TB
- UFS 3.1

Outside US:
- 128, 256, or 512GB
- UFS 3.1
Power
Google Pixel 8
4,575mAh (typical)
27W wired charging (USB-PD 3.0 PPS)
Qi wireless charging
Google Pixel 8 Pro
5,050mAh (typical)
30W wired charging (USB-PD 3.0 PPS)
Qi wireless charging
Cameras
Google Pixel 8
Rear:
- 50MP wide (1.2μm pixel width, ƒ/1.68 aperture, 82-degree FoV, 1/1.31-inch sensor, AF, OIS, EIS)
- 12MP ultrawide (1.25μm pixel width, ƒ/2.2 aperture, 125.8-degree FoV, AF)
- Single-zone laser-detect auto-focus (LDAF) sensor

Front:
- 10.5MP (1.22μm pixel width, ƒ/2.2 aperture, 95-degree FoV, FF)

Camera app does not have pro controls
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Rear:
- 50MP wide (1.2μm pixel width, ƒ/1.68 aperture, 82-degree FoV, 1/1.31-inch sensor, AF, OIS, EIS)
- 48MP ultrawide (0.8μm pixel width, ƒ/1.95 aperture, 125.5-degree FoV, AF)
- 48MP telephoto (0.7μm pixel width, ƒ/2.8 aperture, 21.8-degree FoV, 5x optical zoom, OIS, EIS)
- Multi-zone laser-detect auto-focus (LDAF) sensor

Front:
- 10.5MP (1.22μm pixel width, ƒ/2.2 aperture, 95-degree FoV, AF)

Camera app has pro controls
Dimensions and weight
Google Pixel 8
150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm
187g
Google Pixel 8 Pro
162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8mm
213g
Hardware extras
Google Pixel 8
N/A
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Temperature sensor
Video
Google Pixel 8
Rear:
4K (24, 30, or 60fps)
1080p (24, 30, or 60fps)

Front:
4K (24, 30, or 60fps)

Supports: Macro Focus Video, 10-bit HDR, Cinematic Blur/Pan, Slo-Mo up to 240fps, 4K timelapse, Astrophotography timelapse, OIS, digital zoom up to 7x, HEVC (H.265), AVC (H.264)
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Rear:
4K (24, 30, or 60fps)
1080p (24, 30, or 60fps)

Front:
4K (24, 30, or 60fps)

Supports: Video Boost, Night Sight Video, Macro Focus Video, 10-bit HDR, Cinematic Blur/Pan, Slo-Mo up to 240fps, 4K timelapse, Astrophotography timelapse, OIS, digital zoom up to 20x, HEVC (H.265), AVC (H.264)
Audio
Google Pixel 8
Stereo speakers
Triple-microphone
Spatial audio support
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Stereo speakers
Triple-microphone
Spatial audio support
Ports
Google Pixel 8
USB-C 3.2
Dual-SIM (1x nano SIM and 1x eSIM)
Google Pixel 8 Pro
USB-C 3.2
Dual-SIM (1x nano SIM and 1x eSIM)
Security
Google Pixel 8
Titan M2 security chip
Under-display fingerprint sensor
Face Unlock (Class 3, highest tier)
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Titan M2 security chip
Under-display fingerprint sensor
Face Unlock (Class 3, highest tier)
Durability
Google Pixel 8
Gorilla Glass Victus (front and back)
IP68 rating
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Gorilla Glass Victus 2 (front and back)
IP68 rating
Connectivity
Google Pixel 8
US (PR), CA, UK, EU, AU:
- Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) with 2.4GHz, 5GHz, 6GHz
- 2x2+2x2 MIMO
- NFC
- Bluetooth 5.3

JP:
- Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) with 2.4GHz, 5GHz, 6GHz
- 2x2+2x2 MIMO
- NFC
- Bluetooth 5.3

TW, SG, IN:
- Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2.4GHz, 5GHz
- HE160 MIMO
- NFC
- Bluetooth 5.3
Google Pixel 8 Pro
US (PR), CA, UK, EU, AU:
- Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) with 2.4GHz, 5GHz, 6GHz
- 2x2+2x2 MIMO
- NFC
- Bluetooth 5.3
- UWB

JP:
- Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) with 2.4GHz, 5GHz, 6GHz
- 2x2+2x2 MIMO
- NFC
- Bluetooth 5.3
- UWB

TW, SG, IN:
- Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2.4GHz, 5GHz
- HE160 MIMO
- NFC
- Bluetooth 5.3
- UWB
Network
Google Pixel 8
Model G9BQD (US and CA)
- GSM/EDGE: Quad-band (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz)
- UMTS/HSPA+/HSDPA: Bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 19
- LTE: Bands B1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5/ 7 / 8 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 25 / 26 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 46 / 48 / 66 / 71
- 5G Sub-6: Bands n1 / 2 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 20 / 25 / 26 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 48 / 66 / 70 / 71 / 77 / 78

Model GKWS622 (US and CA):
- GSM/EDGE: Quad-band (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz)
- UMTS/HSPA+/HSDPA: Bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 19
- LTE: Bands B1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 25 / 26 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 46 / 48 / 66 / 71
- 5G Sub-6: Bands n1 / 2 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 20 / 25 / 26 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 48 / 66 / 70 / 71 / 77 / 78
- 5G mmWave: Bands n258 / 260 / 261

Model GZPFO (JP):
- GSM/EDGE: Quad-band (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz)
- UMTS/HSPA+/HSDPA: Bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 19
- LTE: Bands B1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21 / 25 / 26 / 28 / 30 / 32 / 38 / 39 / 40 / 41 / 42 / 46 / 48 / 66 / 71
- 5G Sub-6: Bands n1 / 2 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 20 / 25 / 28 / 30 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 66 / 71 / 75 / 76 / 77 / 78 / 79
- FeliCa

Model GPJ41 (All other countries):
- GSM/EDGE: Quad-band (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz)
- UMTS/HSPA+/HSDPA: Bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 19
- LTE: Bands B1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 25 / 26 / 28 / 30 / 32 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 42 / 46 / 48 / 66 / 71
- 5G Sub-6: Bands n1 / 2 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 20 / 25 / 26 / 28 / 30 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 66 / 71 / 75 / 76 / 77 / 78
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Model GC3VE (All countries except JP):
- GSM/EDGE: Quad-band (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz)
- UMTS/HSPA+/HSDPA: Bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 19
- LTE: Bands B1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 25 / 26 / 28 / 30 / 32 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 42 / 46 / 48 / 66 / 71
- 5G Sub-6: Bands n1 / 2 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 20 / 25 / 28 / 30 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 66 / 71 / 75 / 76 / 77 / 78

Model G1MNW (All countries except JP):
- GSM/EDGE: Quad-band (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz)
- UMTS/HSPA+/HSDPA: Bands 1,2,4,5,6,8,19
- LTE: Bands B1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 25 / 26 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 38 / 39 / 40 / 41 / 46 / 48 / 66 / 71
- 5G Sub-6: Bands n1 / 2 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 20 / 25 / 26 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 48 / 66 / 70 / 71 / 77 / 78
- 5G mmWave: Bands n257 / 258 / 260 / 261

Model GE9DP (JP):
- GSM/EDGE: Quad-band (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz)
- UMTS/HSPA+/HSDPA: Bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 19
- LTE: Bands B1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21 / 25 / 26 / 28 / 30 / 38 / 39 / 40 / 41 / 42 / 48 / 66 / 71
- 5G Sub-6: Bands n1 / 2 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 12 / 20 / 25 / 28 / 30 / 38 / 40 / 41 / 66 / 71 / 77 / 78 / 79
- 5G mmWave: Bands n257
- FeliCa
Software
Google Pixel 8
Android 14
7 years of OS upgrades
7 years of security patches
7 years of feature drops
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Android 14
7 years of OS upgrades
7 years of security patches
7 years of feature drops
Colors
Google Pixel 8
Obsidian (black), Hazel (blue-gray), Rose (pink)
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Obsidian (black), Porcelain (white), Bay (blue)
Warranty
Google Pixel 8
US, CA, JP, TW, IN, SG:
- 1 year

EU, UK, AU:
- 2 years
Google Pixel 8 Pro
US, CA, JP, TW, IN, SG:
- 1 year

EU, UK, AU:
- 2 years
In-box contents
Google Pixel 8
Google Pixel 8
1m USB-C to USB-C cable (USB 2.0 speed)
Quick Switch adapter
SIM tool
Paperwork
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Google Pixel 8 Pro
1m USB-C to USB-C cable (USB 2.0 speed)
Quick Switch adapter
SIM tool
Paperwork

Google Pixel 8 series hands-on: Pixels are here to stay

google pixel 8 pro camera car all colors
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The one thing that kept popping into my head while watching the Made by Google keynote is how serious Google is about Pixel smartphones. A consistent design language ties all the phones to the same lineage. Google is updating the phones with features people actually care about while subtly refining the look and feel of the devices to make them as comfortable as possible. And its new seven-year update policy means Google is locked in when it comes to supporting its phones in the long term.

This is so uncharacteristic of Google. I mean, the company has an unofficial “Google Graveyard” filled with products it launched only to destroy a few years later (or sometimes less). Pixel phones, though, aren’t going anywhere, and the Pixel 8 series represents the apex of everything the company has done up until this point.

Pixel phones aren't going anywhere and these new phones are apex Pixel.

I will very likely be pre-ordering the Pixel 8 Pro and making it my new daily driver. Buying a product with their own money is about the highest praise any tech journalist can give to a product. The fact that pre-orders in the United States come with a free Pixel Watch 2 makes the deal difficult to ignore.

The Pixel 8 won’t become my daily driver because it won’t have many of the AI features I want. It also lacks a telephoto lens, which I depend on during my frequent camping trips in the mountains. However, as I said earlier, it will probably become the Android phone I recommend to everyone because of its compact size, relatively low price point, cool colors, long-term support commitment, and wealth of features.

I’m really excited about the full reviews of these two phones. As I was doing this Google Pixel 8 hands-on, I couldn’t help but think that at least one of the Pixel 8 phones might get a five-star review from us, which we dole out very rarely (the last time was in the Galaxy S23 Ultra review). I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but I came away from this launch more excited about these phones than any recent launch I can remember.

Google Pixel 8Google Pixel 8
AA Recommended
Google Pixel 8
Bright display • Upgraded face-unlock • Improved camera
MSRP: $699.00
A bright display from Google's 2023 flagship phone
The Google Pixel 8 introduces the new Actua display, a 6.2-inch panel that's 42% brighter than the Pixel 7. Backed by the fully updated Tensor G3 chipset, and a new 50MP camera, this promises to be one of the more exciting Pixel phones.
Google Pixel 8 ProGoogle Pixel 8 Pro
AA Editors Choice
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Excellent cameras • Fun, exclusive Android 14 customizations • Industry-leading update promise
MSRP: $999.99
Powerful Google phone with powerful camera features
The Google Pixel 8 Pro is packed with unique camera features and AI-assisted software that puts the smart into smartphone.

That’s a wrap for our Google Pixel 8 hands-on experience. What do you think? Are you going to pre-order or skip this round? Let us know in the comments!