Joe Maring / Digital Trends
Google has unveiled the next generation of Pixel devices at its “Made by Google” event in New York. This new lineup includes the Google Pixel 8, Google Pixel 8 Pro, the Google Pixel Watch 2,
- Improvements with the Tensor G4 chip
- Better cameras for the Google Pixel 9
- Possibly time for a new design
- Unexpected surprises
- More colors
- The wait-and-see gameShow 1 more item
The Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro definitely have some nice upgrades this year. The designs of both phones have subtle changes like more ergonomic rounded corners, flat displays, and symmetrical bezels. The Pixel 8 has a 6.2-inch AMOLED display with a 60-120Hz refresh rate and up to 2,000 nits of peak brightness, while the Pixel 8 Pro has a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a 1-120Hz refresh rate and 2,400 nits of peak brightness. That’s the brightest screen on a smartphone yet!
Other improvements include the new Google Tensor G3 chip, up to 1TB storage on the Pixel 8 Pro, and the 8 Pro also has a new 48MP telephoto lens. New camera software features include Best Take, Macro Focus on the Pixel 8, and more.
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While these upgrades are certainly nice, they’re still pretty iterative from their predecessors. If you don’t necessarily need a new Pixel right now, it could be worth holding out until next year for the Google Pixel 9.
Improvements with the Tensor G4 chip
When Google debuted the Tensor chip in the Google Pixel 6 series, it was the first step in moving away from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips that largely dominate the industry. However, ever since it debuted — and even now with the Pixel 8 — the Tensor chips have largely been designed in collaboration with Samsung. Basically, the Tensor G-series chips have parts built by Google, but the majority of the design is similar to Samsung’s own Exynos chips.
According to recent reports from The Information, Google initially planned to release a fully custom, in-house chip for the Tensor G4 in 2024 with the Pixel 9. However, it seemed to miss a deadline, so it may not be included in the Pixel 9 after all. We likely won’t see Google’s own custom Tensor chip until 2025 with the Google Pixel 10, and Google will likely still be working with Samsung for the Tensor G4 next year.
Still, the Tensor chipsets so far have not been the best performers. In our time with previous Pixel phones, Tensor chips can get pretty warm after just a few minutes with resource-intensive apps or tasks. And despite having large batteries, Google’s Tensor-powered phones typically don’t last more than a day with heavy use. We’ve also encountered bugs and performance issues as well.
While the Google Pixel 8 and Tensor G3 have just come out, we don’t yet know how well the chip will perform. Maybe the third time’s the charm for Google, but it wouldn’t hurt to hold out another year or more for a better-performing and more power-efficient G4 chip or later. Even if it’s still not created fully in-house by Google, another year of experience and design should make it an improved chip across the board.
Better cameras for the Google Pixel 9
Joe Maring / Digital Trends
With the Google Pixel 8 series, only the Pixel 8 Pro received significant camera upgrades. That’s good news if you want the Pro model, but the regular Pixel 8 feels like it was left out in the dust.
The specs for the Pixel 8 camera include a dual camera system with a 50MP main sensor along with a 12MP autofocus ultrawide camera — virtually unchanged from the cameras on the Google Pixel 7. Meanwhile, the Pixel 8 Pro has a 50MP main camera with 2x optical zoom, a new 48MP ultrawide camera, and a 48MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom and Super Res Zoom up to 30x. And while both have a 10.5MP selfie camera, only the Pro model has autofocus.
We wouldn’t be surprised if more improvements were made to the regular Pixel 9 cameras next year, such as the higher megapixel ultrawide camera and autofocus on the selfie camera. After all, the cameras on the base model have remained pretty much the same since the Pixel 6, so they’re definitely due for an upgrade. There’s no guarantee that will happen on the Google Pixel 9, but it sure does seem like next year is when Google will need to make those upgrades.
Possibly time for a new design
Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends
Google has kept the same overall design aesthetic for its Pixel smartphones since the Pixel 6. And there’s nothing really wrong with that — it’s a good design that stands out from the crowd. The rounded corners and the camera bar definitely make the Pixel unique among a sea of iPhones and Samsungs.
If you take a look at the history of Google Pixel design, the design changes every two to three years. Since the Pixel 6, Google has continued to use the same design for three years now, continuing the Pixel 6 aesthetics with the Pixel 7 and now the Pixel 8. The Pixel 9 would be the perfect time to change things up a bit.
We have no idea what a refreshed design for the Google Pixel could look like, but for anyone who’s tired of the same old camera bar on the back, it may be worth holding out another year to see what Google comes up with for the Pixel 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends
Google sometimes drops some unexpected surprises with new Pixel launches, so nothing’s impossible. This year, we got a novelty temperature sensor on the Pixel 8 Pro, which ultimately may just be a gimmick. But hey, it’s there if you want to use it — and it’s not something you’ll find on any other smartphones available today.
The Pixel 8 Pro also got a storage upgrade of up to 1TB, similar to Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Perhaps Google could increase the storage on the base model Pixel 9, as the Pixel 8 is currently only available in 128GB or 256GB. With possible advanced camera upgrades next year, it would be nice if Google increased the storage capacity of the base version to 512GB at least.
What other random things could we see on the Pixel 9? Who knows! Maybe Google will bring back Active Edge for squeezing the phone to activate Google Assistant. Perhaps we’ll see the return of Soli for hands-free gestures like the Google Pixel 4 had. Or maybe there will be something that’s not even on our radar yet! Google typically finds interesting ways to surprise us with the Pixel series, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t happen with the Google Pixel 9.
Google Pixel 8 Pro (left) and Google Pixel 8 Digital Trends
Google typically has at least one fun color for both the base Pixel and Pixel Pro. This year with the Pixel 8, we got a nice Rose color, while the Pixel 8 Pro got a gorgeous Bay blue color.
However, though I was looking forward to the Rose color myself, it seems a bit more dull in person and looks more like a peachy hue rather than pink. Maybe with the Pixel 9, Google can actually release a true pink color, more like what Apple has with the pink iPhone 15.
I would also love to see Google come up with a purple color, perhaps for the Pixel 9 Pro, or even a bold red. Something fun that hasn’t been done before, in addition to the usual black and white colors.
The wait-and-see game
Google Pixel 7 (left) and Pixel 7a Andy Boxall / Digital Trends
If you need a new smartphone right now and you want one from Google, we aren’t saying to suffer for another year waiting for the Pixel 9. Buy a Google Pixel 8 or Pixel 8 Pro if you need it, and you’re likely to end up with one of the better Android phones you can get this year.
However — if you don’t need to upgrade this very second, and you’re OK waiting to see what Google has to offer next year, it’s worth seeing what the company has to offer with the Google Pixel 9.