I’ve been using the Pixel 8 for about a month, making it my full-time smartphone priced at $699, is it more affordable than most flagships.
But does the camera live up to expectations? Does the Tensor G3 cause any heating issues? How’s the battery life? Well, I’m here to answer those questions in my one month later Pixel 8 review.
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What’s We Covered!
Google Pixel 8 Design and Build
I love the adorable compactness of the Google Pixel Series 8, it brings me joy every time I pick it up. Its size is almost identical to my other favorite compact smartphone of 2023, the Asus Zenfone 10 (Review), just a tad smaller. The hand feel is excellent, with sloped corners and edges that neatly fit into your palms.
The camera bump, stretching the full width of the phone, serves a dual purpose, it prevents wobbling on a desk and acts as a comfortable ledge for your pointing finger, enhancing one-handed use. Despite its slippery nature, Google’s design feels premium, featuring a matte aluminum frame between Gorilla Glass Victus on both front and back.
Unlike the Google Pixel 8 Pro model, the regular 8 has a glossy AR-end, and while I typically prefer matte finishes to avoid fingerprints, this model does a good job of hiding smudges. The darker Olive color helps mask any fingerprint blemishes, making it more Colin Firth than Johnny Depp in oily terms. The regular Victus glass finish on the back has endured only a few light scratches near the bottom after one month. For long-term use, I highly recommend a screen protector.
The display is impressive, with minimal complaints. The bezels around the screen, though not ultra-slim, are not offensive to the eyes. The in-display optical fingerprint sensor works well unless your hands are too moist. Face unlock serves as a backup, but it struggles in dim light. The Pixel 8 is IP68 water and dust resistance held up during a bubbly bath session, making it reliable for various activities. Overall, the it offers a pleasing design, sturdy build, and reliable features, with only minor gripes about the bezels and fingerprint sensor in specific conditions.
Google Pixel 8 Software and Features
Because it is a Google smartphone, you get the fresh Android 14 experience straight out of the box, coupled with the assurance of 7 years of OS and security updates. This means the Pixel 8 can reliably see you through to 2030, assuming you don’t upgrade. Android 14 shares a familiar look and feel with Android 13 but introduces new features and updates. Notably, the AI can generate unique wallpapers on demand and provide live translations to English in various situations.
While I haven’t personally used them on the Pixel 8, the new safety features seem thoughtful and useful. However, the absence of the temperature sensor, present in the 8 Pro model, is a noticeable miss on the regular regular 8. Some additional features, including the summarized tool, are set to arrive before the year’s 2023 end.
Regarding the everyday software experience, the it faced a few bugs, Android Auto has intermittently refused to work during car rides, and certain apps occasionally freeze, both in the foreground and background. Google Maps, in one instance, failed to load properly. Hopefully, future updates will address these issues and improve the stability.
On the downside, the storage options are limited, starting at 128GB, the absence of a 256GB option is disappointing, especially when many mid-range and budget smartphones offer this capacity. Unfortunately, there’s no 512GB option, and the lack of microSD card support adds to the limitations. Additionally, the Pixel 8 accommodates only one physical SIM, although eSIM support is available.
Google Pixel 8 Display and Audio
The Pixel’s 8 Series has 6.1-inch 20:9 OLED display, it remains a standout feature. The full HD Plus 2400×1080 pixel resolution delivers sharp visuals on the compact screen, With full HDR streaming support (though lacking Dolby Vision), the display boasts crispy contrast and vibrant colors. While the brightness maxes out at 2000 nits, not as brilliant as the 8 Pro, visibility has been excellent in various conditions, except for some outdoor Disney Plus viewing, which can get a bit murky. The refresh rate smoothly scales from 60 Hz to 120 Hz, offering a fluid experience at the maximum setting.
It stereo speakers and they are commendable for a smaller device, providing ample volume even at maximum levels. Audio quality holds up well allowing me to enjoy videos and podcasts while multitasking in the kitchen. Streaming over Bluetooth has been problem-free, whether through speakers or headphones, even in traffic and Noisy areas.
Google Pixel 8 Performance and Gaming
Talking about performance Pixel smartphones, the Pixel 8 is powered by the Tensor G3 chipset and supported by 8GB of DDR5 RAM. Unfortunately, the Tensor G3 falls short of the snappiness seen in the prevalent Snapdragon AG Gen 2, found in most flagship smartphones in 2023.
Despite the, daily tasks, it’s generally smooth with quick app launches and efficient multitasking. Gaming, however, reveals its shortcomings compared to some flagship rivals, displaying a weaker frame rate when pushing graphics to the max. While gaming remains acceptable, the Pixel 8 may experience occasional stumbles and jutters.
Regarding overheating, a historical issue with Tensor chipsets it manages well, getting only slightly warm to the touch on occasions. This marks a significant improvement compared to past Pixel phones notorious for overheating. It’s worth noting that this observation is based on usage in October; how it handles warmer temperatures, especially during a potential summertime, remains to be seen.
Connectivity on the Pixel 8 has generally been reliable over the past month, with occasional delays when loading websites or downloading podcasts on mobile data. However, these issues seem less pronounced on Wi-Fi. Overall performance is a mixed bag, excelling in some areas while showing limitations, particularly in gaming and potential future temperature challenges.
Google Pixel 8 Battery Life and Charging
When it comes to the battery life, which has well and truly exceeded my expectations, the Pixel 8 boasts a 4,575mAh battery. This size is certainly decent, considering the compactness of the phone. Throughout the time I’ve been using the it with my sim, I’ve only managed to run it in a single day once.
For instance, yesterday, I get over 6 hours of screen-on time, including a full hour of Skyping, lots of video streaming, and a few hours of background music and podcast streaming. Even with this usage, I still had over 10% battery remaining when I placed it on the charger. Often by the time I finally slump face down on my pillow, I still have around a quarter of the charge left. So, I certainly haven’t been stressed at all by the battery performance.
However, once again, the curse of slow charging with Google smartphones strikes, The Pixel 8 supports 27W wired charging and 18W wireless charging. Even with fast charging enabled, if the it is almost fully drained, it still takes about an hour and a half to achieve a proper full battery again.
There is a real shame compared with some Chinese rivals that can fully charge in around 20 minutes from drain, with those devices, you can simply plug in a cable in the morning, and by the time you’ve finished your morning routine, it’s fully charged again.
Google Pixel 8 Camera Tests
The camera tech on the Pixel 8, led by a 50-megapixel OctaPD camera with optical image stabilization. You have single-zone autofocus, unlike the multizone autofocus on the 8 Pro. Personally, I found the focus to be fine on this mini model, as long as you’re not shooting in super ambient conditions, like basement-level darkness or a nightclub. In proper darkness, the it can take a few seconds to figure out what it’s supposed to be focusing on. Besides that, this mini marvel is pretty much on par with the Pro when shooting with the main 50-megapixel snapper.
It’s not surprising, as both Pixels boast the same image processing and smarts, courtesy of the Tensor G3 processor. For the most part, this produces crisp, natural-looking images and copes beautifully with contrast. Although I’ve seen occasional saturation and artifacts in my photos, and portrait pics can be surprisingly soft at times. Here’s hoping a Google update addresses these issues soon.
Unfortunately, some features present on the Pixel 8 Pro are absent on the regular 8. There are no full-on manual controls or the ability to shoot raw images, and the absence of a high-resolution mode is doubly disappointing, given the lack of a telephoto lens. The phone tops off at an eight-time zoom, and things get grainy above the two or three times mark. The more basic 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle shooter, however it does a fine job when you need a different angle.
For video, you can shoot up to 4K Ultra HD home movies with decent stabilization and excellent audio capture. Vocals come through crisp and clear, even with background noise. The video editing tools on the Pixel 8 are addictive and elevate the camera experience to top-tier. While the Pixel 8 won’t be getting the night sight video mode that the 8 Pro will, it does have the audio magic eraser tool and loads of nifty photo editing tools, making it an easy-to-use version of Photoshop.
The 10.5-megapixel selfie camera lacking the pro model’s autofocus but still producing sharp photos even in challenging lighting. You can shoot up to 4K resolution video with the front-facing selfie cam, and the mics excellently pick up your voice nice and clear even from across the room during a Skype or Zoom call. Great stuff.
Is it worth it?
That’s my full review of Google’s Pixel 8 flagship smartphone after a full month of having it stashed inside my pants, my bag, wherever. There are certainly a few issues that still need sorting out with the general Android software experience and with that camera tech as well. Hopefully, they’ll all be smoothed out nicely in the next update or two. If you want a more compact handset, something similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S23 or the Asus Zenfone 10, and you’re not bothered about having the most powerful smartphone around, you should certainly consider it, especially at this price point.