After months of teases, Google officially showed off its newest flagship smartphones, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, with a focus on how artificial intelligence will play an increasing role in your mobile life.
The Pixel 8 will cost $699.99 and the Pixel 8 Pro will start at $999.99. You can preorder today with the phones launching on October 12.
While the Pixel smartphones were the marquee products at Google’s Fall “Made by Google” event on Wednesday, AI took center stage. The company spent the first 10 minutes of the session talking about AI’s ability to bring “helpful, simple and personal experiences.” It’s just the latest Big Tech company to position itself as an AI leader, with Amazon last month showing up off the upgraded AI capabilities of its Alexa personal assistant, and Microsoft showing of its “Copilot” AI bot for Windows.
“The world is evolving from mobile first to AI first,” said Rick Osterloh, head of Google’s hardware business. “Pixel is designed to bring hardware and software together, with AI at the center.”
Pixel serves as Google’s example of the ideal Android phone, and has its share of hardcore fans. But the franchise has never matched the sales or mainstream awareness of Apple’s iPhones or Samsung’s Galaxy S line. But Osterloh touted some wins for Pixel, noting that. itis the fastest growing smartphone brand in “top markets” and said it’s the only one that’s grown in sales unit over a year ago. The broader smartphone market is poised to see its biggest drop in history this year.
Google is hoping to buck the trend with its Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.
Big AI Talk
AI played a big role at the event, including an auto call screen mode that will answer calls and intelligently decide to filter out spam or sales calls. Google claims it will be smart enough to understand when there are more important calls to let through. The company touted the G3 Tensor chip, which includes a specific processor that deals with AI tasks.
Google talked about how many of the AI tasks will be handled on the device for the Pixel 8 Pro, although it’s unclear how many consumers will see this as a big selling point. Osterloh talked about how this would enable the phone to be smarter and more personalized in a lot of little ways.
The company also took a big chunk of time talking about “Assistant with Bard,” a smarter, more capable AI able to serve everything from a travel planner to a creative partner. It looks to be the next generation of Google Assistant with greatly expanded capabilities, and is coming out in the next few months as an opt-in experience.
Google opted to focus on AI for the event, missing out on more basic specs like battery life (which we’ve included below).
Upgraded Cameras and More
Pixel phones have a reputation for camera quality, and Google spent time talking about the new features, including a “Best Take” capability, which lets you swap out elements of photos to eliminate a frown on one face or a smile on another. Google touted the AI’s capabilities that are adding to its photo editing features. Beyond just simple edits, you’ll be able to change whole elements, like moving the central subject of a photo around and adding special effects.
The Pixel 8 Pro comes with a 50MP wide camera and a 12MP ultrawide camera with autofocus.
The Pixel 8 Pro, meanwhile, gets an upgraded 50MP main camera, a bigger 48MP ultrawide camera and a 48MP telephoto lens with 5X optical zoom. The front-facing camera gets autofocus for better selfies. It also gets an improved “Magic Eraser” that allows for real time editing of photos to fix blemishes or remove elements like a stranger in your photo.
The Pixel 8 Pro also gets “Video Boost,” which improves the vibrancy of the image quality. Video Boost will work with Night Sight for improved low-light videos in the dark. Video Boost will come as an update in December, after the phone is released.
The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro also get upgrades on the display, including a new “Actua Display” with a brighter 6.2-inch screen for the 8 and a 6.7-inch “Super Actua Display” for the Pixel 8 Pro with 2400 NITs of peak brightness and a variable refresh rate that ranges from 1 to 120 mhz.
For people looking to keep their phones, Google said it would support the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro for seven years with OS and feature updates.
On the battery front, Google touts “beyond 24 hours of battery life” with normal usage and up to 72 hours using its “Extreme Battery Saver” mode. The phones also boast fast charging, able to get to a 50% charge in about 30 minutes with Google’s 30W USB-C charger, which is sold separately. It also has fast wireless charging.
The Pixel 8 come with 8GB of RAM and either 128GN or 256GB of storage, while the Pixel 8 Pro comes with 12GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. They also come in two new colors, Bay Blue and Porcelain.
Separately, Google unveiled updated features coming to its Pixel Buds Pro, which also gets AI-enabled features. The main update includes “Clear Calling,” which significantly reduces background noise, as well as the use of Bluetooth Super Wide Band, which provides a stronger connection for an ever sharper, clearer audio feed. The Pixel Buds Pro will also see latency, or the lag time, reduced by 50%. The Pixel Buds Pro get the two new colors as well.
Google also unveiled a new dual screen “Interpreter Mode” to the Pixel Fold foldable smartphone, using AI to offer real-time translation services.
If you buy a Pixel 8 or Pixel 8 Pro, you’ll get a Pixel Buds Pro or Pixel Watch 2 for free.