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Google Pixel 8 back in hand red background
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8 review: Is it really built to last seven years?

Can Google justify a more expensive entry point to its flagship series with the revamped Pixel 8?
By

Published onMarch 28, 2024

Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8

The Pixel 8 is a great little smartphone with enough new features and hardware improvements to justify the extra $100 this year. The seven year update promise is a headline grabber, however, we have reservations that Google's hardware choices will feel dated long before then. Buy the phone with a four/five year upgrade in mind, not seven.

What we like

Solid cameras
Faster wired charging
Industry-leading update promise
Unique AI features
Compact size

What we don't like

Tensor G3 lags behind in benchmarks
Missing features reserved for the Pixel 8 Pro
No telephoto camera
Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8

The Pixel 8 is a great little smartphone with enough new features and hardware improvements to justify the extra $100 this year. The seven year update promise is a headline grabber, however, we have reservations that Google's hardware choices will feel dated long before then. Buy the phone with a four/five year upgrade in mind, not seven.

Google Pixel 8 review: At a glance

  • What is it? The Google Pixel 8 is a more affordable alternative to Google's powerhouse Pixel 8 Pro. It freshens up last year's Pixel 7 with a few new hardware and software features but does come with a steeper cost to entry.
  • What is the price? $699 is the new, slightly higher price tag of this year's Pixel 8. It costs $100 more than its predecessor.
  • Where can you buy it? The Pixel 8 is available directly from the Google Store, Amazon, major electronics retailers, and US carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
  • How did we test it? I tested the Google Pixel 8 for one week. The review unit was purchased by Android Authority.
  • Is it worth it? The Google Pixel 8 continues to be an excellent entry point to Google's ecosystem. Powerful AI features you won't find elsewhere, bundled into a hardware package that's tough to complain about, and seven years of OS updates seems like a slam dunk. However, the higher price tag, mid-tier performance, and missing features reserved for the more expensive Pro model take the sheen off the value proposition and allow the competition to nudge into view.

Update, March 2024: Updated to confirm future Gemini Nano support.

Should you buy the Google Pixel 8?

Google Pixel 8 homescreen in hand

As we’ve come to expect from Google, the Pixel 8 is an undeniably solid smartphone, so let’s cut to the chase. If you’ve seen the Pixel 7 and 6, you’ll know exactly what to expect regarding user experience and target features, and Google has built on this formula just enough to freshen it up. AI-led bespoke software with exclusive Pixel features (see the useful Audio Magic Eraser and Best Take), an even nicer build, and great cameras for the price continue to make the Pixel 8 a compelling flagship purchase with a more affordable price tag than its Pro sibling. If you’re a Pixel fan and that’s what you’re after, this phone won’t disappoint.

However, Google has given us a value headscratcher. On the one hand, at $699 the Pixel 8 is $100 more than its predecessor, positioning it somewhat awkwardly above rival mid-rangers but with hardware that’s not always as robust as entry-level flagships. On the other, Google says it will support the phone with full Android OS upgrades for seven years, taking us right out to 2030. That sounds brilliant, but will the phone’s hardware last that long, or will you be pining for an upgrade before the end of the decade?

Let’s start with the good. Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back (first-gen, not second like the Pixel 8 Pro) and an IP68 rating provide solid resistance to life’s accidents. You’ll definitely want a case to protect the phone long-term, but the handset offers robust protection out of the box that will help keep the phone in good shape for a while. Likewise, Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 7, and 5G networking (with mmWave available in the US) ensure blazing-fast connectivity today and in the future.

The Google Pixel 8 further refines a formula that already does so much right.

The Pixel 8 fixes a few previous-gen pain points, too. Google shaves 20-25 minutes off the phone’s full-charge time, provided you have a suitably-spec’d charger on hand. Roughly 77 minutes to full is still sluggish but makes short top-ups more palatable, and Adaptive Charging helps prolong battery health for overnight power-ups. Even so, you’ll still need a battery replacement or two if you’re planning to keep the phone over a seven-year period. In addition, the move to a higher 120Hz variable refresh rate closes the gap with the best displays in the business and ensures scrolling feels even more responsive, though it can’t drop below 60Hz to conserve power as the best flagship phones can.

Google has gone some way to make the Pixel 8 camera as good as can be at this price, too. The improved 50MP primary camera (now with a wider ƒ/1.68 aperture) remains the star of the show. Robust HDR, low light snaps, and a refined color palette continue to make this one of the most consistent camera packages on the market, if not the most creative. Unfortunately, Google has unnecessarily gated its new Pro shooting controls and Video Boost to its more expensive model — which hardly convinces me that Google plans to treat the regular 8 on an equal footing going forward. Still, the addition of Magic Editor and Audio Magic Eraser keeps the camera package feeling somewhat near the cutting edge.

Unfortunately, the 12MP ultrawide isn’t great. The field-of-view (FoV) is a little distorted in the corners, and fine details are too noisy in dim light. On the plus side, the wider 125.8-degree FoV upgrade fits more in, and autofocus (finally) is very helpful for macro and group shots. The ultrawide still benefits from Google’s excellent computational photography capabilities, so I found the results as consistent as ever. The Pixel 8’s cropped 2x images are passable, and you can hit 3x or 4x in a pinch if you don’t mind the upscaling artifacts. Still, what I wouldn’t give for a telephoto lens, even a basic 2x or 3x, instead.

The phone’s core features are as solid as ever, but delve deeper into Google’s hardware choices and you can certainly question whether the Pixel 8 is built to last. UFS 3.1 memory, for instance, is cost-effective and fast enough for large file transfers, but the 2020-era storage option has far from great random I/O (I tested 40MB/s random read with caching, while a UFS 4.0-equipped S23 Ultra boasts around 80MB/s respectively) that may or may not present a bottleneck for future high-end apps, game load times, and advanced machine learning tasks. 8GB RAM is again ample for daily tasks but could also become a limitation as the market pushes toward on-device generative AI. Usually, a future-proof purchase has to be on the cutting edge, but Google obviously can’t cram the very best of everything into a $699 phone.

Google’s Tensor G3 processor is also not best-in-class in some regards. It benchmarks well behind flagship rivals powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, targeting a more mid-range performance point. It’s still more than adequate for my daily tasks and powering through heavier sessions, and it’s unlikely to feel sluggish for several years. However, we have also spotted that the Pixel 8’s processor is a tad slower than the Pro model’s version, compounding our concerns.

Gamers will certainly feel this chip’s limited potential more keenly. You already have to turn some graphics settings down to sustain high frame rates in the most demanding games, and the mid-tier GPU core count leaves us concerned that high-end titles in three or four years could prove too demanding. The absence of ray tracing technology, while still niche, keenly shows that Google hasn’t built the chip with future gaming capabilities in mind.

Still, Tensor G3 is the key that enables Google to offer seven years of support, so perhaps it’s worth the trade-off. However, we can’t be sure how Google’s seven-year update pledge will shape the Pixel 8 experience over the long term. Given the brand’s propensity for killing features without warning (see Photo Sphere’s disappearing act) and struggle to bring promised features back to older devices (see the cancellation of Clear Calling for the Pixel 6), it’s highly likely that the Pixel 8 won’t track Google’s latest and greatest features. It’s already a step behind the 8 Pro, which has exclusivity over the cloud-AI-powered Video Boost for capturing improved clips, Recorder Summaries, and upgraded Magic Eraser features. Thankfully, despite suggesting it wouldn’t happen, Google has confirmed that Gemini Nano support will be coming to the Pixel 8.

Seven years of updates sound brilliant, but the Pixel 8 is already missing out on features destined for the Pro.

Google has made it clear; buy the Pixel 8 Pro if you want the best Feature Drops. I would err on the side of caution if you’re considering picking up the Pixel 8 as a gateway to the latest and greatest Google AI tech for years to come. AI is a fast-changing landscape where cloud features can be dropped on a whim, while the requirements for on-device AI are snowballing. While still obviously a win for longevity, remember that Google’s seven-year update pledge doesn’t guarantee anything beyond security, core OS features, and unspecified Feature Drops that won’t always have parity with the latest devices. There’s already a feature gap between the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro that’s only likely to widen.

Bringing this all together, many buyers will certainly enjoy years of solid use with the Pixel 8. Social use cases, checking email, and the occasional family snap won’t stress this phone even many years later. What the Pixel 8 isn’t is a future-proof purchase for demanding users, gamers, and avid photographers who aren’t looking to trade up before that update window ends. The hardware just isn’t cutting-edge enough to hold up that long. In fact, Google doesn’t even intend to bring its latest AI features to the phone already, which is a major concern for longevity.

If you’re compelled to update your phone every five years or so (which is increasingly typical), the Pixel 8 is unlikely to quell that urge. Thankfully, it’s still a great phone for the here and now.

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.

What are the best Google Pixel 8 alternatives?

google pixel 8 vs samsung galaxy s23 rear hero

While previous generation Pixels have been a slam dunk recommend, this year’s $100 price hike makes it a much tougher call. There are certainly a few solid Google Pixel 8 alternatives priced just above and below.

  • Google Pixel 7 ($545 at Amazon): Why not save some cash and grab last year’s Pixel 7? While you might soon struggle to find a brand new handset, a used Pixel 7 would make a fantastic buy, and it’ll still see support out to 2028. Hit the link for a more detailed comparison between the Pixel 7 and Pixel 8.
  • Google Pixel 8 Pro ($999 at Amazon): Perhaps the most obvious alternative, the Pixel 8 Pro ups the ante with more AI-centric features, a telephoto camera, superior charging, and more. Read our Pixel 8 vs Pixel 8 Pro comparison for all the info.
  • Samsung Galaxy S24 ($859.99 at Amazon): It’s pricier, but Samsung’s Galaxy S24 is a more impressive hardware proposition. It is a solid investment with a faster processor, extra telephoto camera, 8K video recording, Galaxy AI smarts, and tougher Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front and rear protection. The Galaxy S24 still lags behind the Pixel 8 in battery capacity, but it now matches the Pixel 8’s seven-year update commitment.
  • OnePlus 12 ($899.99 at Amazon): If you’re willing to trade a few features for a bigger powerhouse, the OnePlus 12 has many a charm. A vastly more powerful chip, blazing fast wired and wireless charging, and a huge display makes OnePlus’ affordable flagship a true workhorse. However, you’ll trade down the Pixel 8’s IP68 rating and superior update commitment, plus it’ll cost you $100 more to boot.
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 FE ($599.99 at Amazon): If you’re after the Pixel 8 as a budget purchase, Samsung’s more affordable Galaxy S23 FE is a solid alternative to save a little extra money. 15W wireless charging, IP68 rating, and solid last-gen processor go toe to toe, and there’s a 3x telephoto zoom camera for additional photography flexibility. The Pixel 8 has a nicer build, better glass protection, and Samsung’s four OS and five years of security patches aren’t quite as good but will probably last this phone as long as you’ll keep it.
  • Apple iPhone 15 ($829.99 at Amazon): While perhaps not a first choice for Pixel fans, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Apple’s all-around superb iPhone 15. Robust dual cameras, wireless charging, an immaculate build, and long-term upgrade commitment are very compatible. However, we have to hand it to the Pixel 8 for its smoother 120Hz display and bigger battery while costing $100 less too.

Google Pixel 8 specs

Google Pixel 8
Display
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
Processor
Google Tensor G3
RAM
8GB LPDDR5X
Storage
128 or 256GB
UFS 3.1
Power
4,575mAh (typical)
27W wired charging (USB-PD 3.0 PPS)
Qi wireless charging
Cameras
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
Dimensions and weight
150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm
187g
Video
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)
Audio
Stereo speakers
Triple-microphone
Spatial audio support
Ports
USB-C 3.2
Dual-SIM (1x nano SIM and 1x eSIM)
Security
Titan M2 security chip
Under-display fingerprint sensor
Face Unlock (Class 3, highest tier)
Durability
Gorilla Glass Victus (front and back)
IP68 rating
Connectivity
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
Network
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
Software
Android 14
7 years of OS upgrades
7 years of security patches
7 years of feature drops
Colors
Obsidian (black), Hazel (blue-gray), Rose (pink)
Warranty
US, CA, JP, TW, IN, SG:
- 1 year

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

Google Pixel 8 review: FAQ

Yes the Pixel 8 supports 18W wireless charging on the Google Pixel Stand (2nd Gen) and 12W with Qi-certified EPP chargers.

The Pixel 8 sports an IP68 rating for dust and waterresistance.

The Pixel 8 is a dual-SIM phone with a single physical nano-SIM slot and digital eSIM.

No, the Google Pixel 8 does not have an SD card slot

No, the Google Pixel 8 does not have a headphone jack.