Article updated September 18th; article originally posted September 16th.
Google has set the scene for its “Made By Google” event on October 4th, and the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are set to take center stage. The Pixel 8 Pro especially will break new ground in hardware and software. Looking through the leaks, details, and information available, here are three experiences that will have a significant impact on the smartphone world.
Update: September 18th: Iskra Petrova and the team at Phone Arena have put together some concept renders on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro colour schemes. We have seen three variants already in Google’s launch video and leaked promotional video (the peony shade of pink, porcelain, and sky blue), but what of the other colors.
While we do have their names to go on – the Pixel 8 will come in Haze, Jade, Licorice, and Peony; while the Pixel 8 Pro will come in Porcelain, Jade, Licorice, and Sky – these don’t convey the full shades on offers. Instead, Phone Arena has taken information from promotional videos, leaked materials, and the previous leak of the Pixel 8 wallpaper to find the colors.
Put these all together and you have their artist’s rendition of the new phones, which you can see here.
Away from the fashion decisions, what promise does the hardware hold?
First up is the Tensor G3 system on chip. Rather than go for the off-the-shelf premium chipset from Qualcomm in 2021, Google set out to design its own chipset for the Pixel 6. The Tensor G1 didn’t quite match the raw power of the then-current SnapDragon 888. It was designed around artificial intelligence and machine learning, which provided more software benefits that positively impacted the user experience.
The camera software’s post-processing was one area, but you also had faster on-device translation and transcription as other visible advantages. Last year’s Tensor G2 built on these, and you can expect the Tensor G3 to carry on down this path, allowing the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro to excel in these areas.
As to the performance gap to the Snapdragon chipsets, the Tensor G3 is set to match the current Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, although the Gen 3 is expected to launch early next year.
Then, you have the investment put into the camera, both in software and hardware.
For the latter, Google is set to use the new Samsung Isocell GN2 image sensor on both the Pixel 8 Pro and the Pixel 8. This is a step up from the previous GN1 sensor, allowing the new handset to sample 50 megapixels while capturing 35 percent more light. It also supports recording video at 8K resolution and 30 frames per second. Still, we are waiting to see if Google will unleash that level of performance – it will be incredibly intensive on power usage and require careful thermal management.
The software is also seeing new features in the updated Camera app. Google’s Camera app is only available (officially) on Pixel devices, and version 9 will only run on Android 14; you can be sure this app harnesses both the new optical hardware and the AI and ML capabilities of the Tensor G3.
Previous Pixels introduced the AI-powered unblur and magic eraser for still images; with the Pixel 8 Pro, video editing will pick up its own AI tools. The Audio Magic Eraser is expected to deal with unwanted noise, people, and music in your recorded videos and remove them from the final cut with little more than a slider and some on-screen highlighting.
Finally, Google is modelling what the community would like to see from manufacturers regarding software support and security updates. Google is set to offer five years of Android updates to Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro owners. Given that the new smartphones will be the first to ship with Android 14 out of the box, this will be one of the longest support windows of a new mainstream Android device, surpassing the high-water mark currently held by Samsung for the Galaxy S handsets.
A ground-breaking chipset that focuses on targeted speed rather than raw performance; a camera that will offer unsurpassed image taking and editing; and a guiding light for other Android partners to follow.
And it has a flat screen.
Yes, there’s much to love about the upcoming Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.
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