Review: Google Pixel 8

Same power in a smaller package

The Google Pixel 8 is the near-perfect compact mobile phone. Only the camera section separates it from the top model.

Published 2023-12-12 - 8:00 am
Google Pixel 8
John Hvidlykke

The idea is a no-brainer: a pocket and wallet-friendly compact version of the top model – but with just as much power in all key areas.

The Google Pixel 8 we’re testing here is built on the same platform as the Google Pixel 8 Pro, which we recently recognised as the high-end smartphone of the year. The processor is the same, but the size and price are conveniently smaller.

(Photo: Google)

It’s not an idea that Google can take credit for coming up with on their own, as all the major mobile manufacturers have given us two or more compact versions of their top models in recent years.

More angular appearance

The Google Pixel 8 looks similar to its predecessor, but the display has straight edges instead of being rounded. A metal frame all the way around the phone acts as a protective bumper. The screen and back are covered in Gorilla Glass Victus. The camera section is framed by a transverse metal band that gives the Pixel phones a recognisable look. It all feels reassuring, as it should on a phone at the upper end of the premium segment.

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The Google Pixel 8 is available in three colours: Obsidian, Hazel and Rose. (Photo: Google)

The most visible difference between the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro is the size. The Pro model is 6.7 inches diagonally, while the Pixel 8 measures 6.2 inches. The same size difference as last year’s models. And while half an inch doesn’t sound like much, the difference is clearly noticeable when the phone is in your hand – or in your pocket.

Same “brain” in both models

The processor in the phone is the same as in the top model. Or maybe we should say “the brain”, since Google’s Tensor G3 processors are optimised for artificial intelligence rather than raw computing power. The only difference in the hardware is the amount of RAM, which is 8 gigabytes instead of the Pro’s 12 gigabytes.

The Google Pixel 8 is available with 128 gigabytes or 256 gigabytes of storage. The 512 gigabytes is only available on the Pro edition, where it makes sense because of the ability to take super high-resolution photos. The Pixel 8 doesn’t have that option.

The OLED display on the Google Pixel 8 is not quite as high-resolution and bright as on the Pixel 8 Pro; they are 1,080 x 2,400 pixels / 1,400 nits and 1,344 x 2,992 / 1,600 nits respectively. But it’s still a razor-sharp display with a brightness that shines through on a sunny day.

The charger is missing – still

The Google Pixel 8 is available in three colours: Obsidian (black), Hazel (grey) and Rose (dark pink). It is IP68 waterproof, so the phone can be used in all environments and weather conditions without worry. There’s room for one physical SIM card and one eSIM. But no SD card.

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The battery is the same as in the Pixel 8 Pro, it is rated at 5,050 mAh. In other words, basically the same as last year. It can be fast charged with 30 watts. But you’ll be looking in vain for a charger in the box. Only a USB cable is included. For the price, it seems cheap. Although not as relatively cheap as the more expensive Pixel 8 Pro, which also doesn’t come with a charger. Nor, for that matter, do Apple and Samsung.

Scaled-down camera section

Whereas last year Google had chosen to use identical camera sections in the two models, but equip the top model with an additional telephoto lens, this year the picture is less clear.

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Google Pixel 8 - 2x telephoto. (Photo: John Alex Hvidlykke, L&B Tech Reviews)

Det kan virke, som om Google har lagt sig ekstra i selen for at synliggøre forskellen mellem Pixel 8 og pixel 8 Pro og dermed berettige prisforskellen. Pixel 8 er ikke bare en mindre Pixel 8 pro uden teleoptik. Kamerasektionen er tydeligt neddroslet.

Pixel 8 har ganske vist samme 50 Mp-hovedkamera som Pixel 8 Pro. Men Pro-funktionerne mangler, vi savner især muligheden for at arbejde med billeder i fuld 50 Mp-opløsning. Her må vi nøjes med 12 Mp.

Og mens Pro-modellen fik en ny supervidvinkel på 48 Mp, må Pixel 8 nøjes med den samme 12 Mp-supervidvinkel, som var i Pixel 7 og 7a.

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Google Pixel 8 Pro - Vidvinkel. (Foto: John Alex Hvidlykke, L&B Home)

The 10 Mp selfie camera is the same for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

In all fairness, the camera section in the previous generation of Pixel phones was one of the best on the market. And of course, those qualities are still there, even though the Pixel 8 Pro has moved on.

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The ultra-wide angle does an excellent job (Photo: John Alex Hvidlykke, L&B Tech Reviews)

På normaldistancen og ved brede vidvinkelskud får man billeder med fremragende dynamik og farver, der med AI-processering næsten er endnu bedre end i virkeligheden!

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Google Pixel 8 - 5X (digital) tele. (Foto: John Alex Hvidlykke, L&B Home)

The magic is still there!

The AI features are still almost borderline magical. For example, Remove Blur, which can lift the quality of shots that were just “barely” in focus.

And the Pixel 8 has thankfully also got the new AI-based features Best Picture (where you can combine multiple versions of your family photo into one best-of-all-worlds photo) and Magic Eraser for Sound (which can remove the parts of the background sound you don’t like).

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Benchmarks

With the same processor as the Google Pixel 8 Pro, there are very few surprises in the speed measurements: they are virtually identical in almost all areas. And since the top model is currently the best phone in its class, the results on the cheaper model are not bad at all!

In dry numbers, the Geekbench 6 processor test comes out with a score of 1,336 in single-core and 4,284 in multicore. In terms of pure processing power, the Pixel phones are not as fast as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-based models, including the Asus Zenfone 10. But it’s still pretty good.

The same trend can be seen on the PC Mark Work 3.0 test, where the score is 11.257.

As my colleague Jonas Ekelund noted in his test of the Pixel 8 Pro, the graphics performance of the Google phones is similar to last year’s top models from Samsung. Thus, the Pixel 8 performs just over a million in score on the Antutu graphics test.

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The Pixel 8 outperforms its big brother in one respect: the battery test. With a result of 15 hours and 45 minutes, it is more than four hours better than the top model. Of course, this is due to the smaller and not quite as bright display.

Conclusion

The Google Pixel 8 is an excellent phone in most respects. And if you need a modern smartphone in a pocket-friendly format, it’s one of the best bets. But while its predecessor wiped the floor with competitors in its price range, this year’s junior model is so uncomfortably expensive that it has to “settle” for five out of six stars. Google only have themselves to blame for this, as they have improved the camera section in the Pro model so much that it seems more attractive to spend 25 per cent more money on the Pixel 8 Pro.

If you’re on a tight budget – and we’re dealing with some pretty expensive mobile phones here – the Google Pixel 7 Pro is an interesting alternative that, with a bit of luck, can be found cheaper than the Pixel 8. However, if you opt for the 7 Pro, you’ll have to forgo the latest AI wizardry; for example, the ability to stitch together group photos from multiple attempts.

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Google Pixel 8
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We think

The exact same processor and speed as the Pro version. And the screen is almost as good. The price difference between the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro isn't big enough. You get relatively more bang for your buck in the Pro edition.

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