Google Pixel 8 Pro Review: Probably the best Android smartphone right now

Being a consumer tech reviewer for so long, I have always been carrying two smartphones – one iPhone and one Android phone – for testing purposes. For the longest time, that Android smartphone has been a Google Pixel.

I started with the Google Pixel 3a in 2019, before moving up the series whenever I could. I was delighted to review the Pixel 7a earlier this year, and now even more thrilled to get my hands on Google’s latest flagship Pixel 8 Pro.

  • PRICE: From S$1,549, get it Google Store, Shopee, and Lazada
  • SIZE: 162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8 mm
  • DISPLAY: 6.7-inch, 1-120Hz, Super Actua, LTPO OLED, 2,992 x 1,344 pixels
  • PROCESSOR: Google Tensor G3; Titan M2 security coprocessor
  • REAR CAMERAS: 50MP wide-angle (2x optical zoom); 48MP ultra-wide-angle; 48MP telephoto (5x optical zoom)
  • FRONT CAMERA: 10.5MP dual ultra-wide-angle
  • CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
  • BATTERY: 5,050mAh
  • WEIGHT: 213g

As you might expect from a top premium smartphone, the Pixel 8 Pro is packed with all the tech goodies you can imagine. It is powered by the latest Google Tensor G3 processor with Titan M2 security coprocessor, so it can fully utilise Google’s power artificial intelligence (AI) securely.

Sleek design with good gripSlightly more expensive than its predecessor
Gorgeous displaySmooth glass back can be slippery without case
Superb cameras for both amateurs and professionalsOnly obsidian colour has storage options up to 512GB
Latest Android software devoid of bloatware
Thermometer (party trick!)

Being a Pixel phone, it does not have the bloatware that usually comes in other Android smartphones. As such, you get a clean and latest Android 14 operating system (OS). You can personalise your lock screen with new custom clock and wallpaper collections, as well as see at a glance the most important information at the top of your Home Screen. An added incentive will be Google promising seven year of OS and security updates, which means you can technically use the Pixel 8 Pro until October 2030.

In terms of design, the Pixel 8 Pro does not differ much from its predecessor with the volume rocker and power button on the right side and no buttons on the left.

All the controls are on the right side of the phone. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

It comes in three colours – porcelain (obsidian (black) and bay (light blue) – with an aluminium frame, a matte glass at its rear and the front has a gorgeous high-resolution 6.7-inch Super Actua display.

The glass back is smooth to touch and does not attract fingerprints or smudges. It is a tad slippery without a case, so you might want to be careful. It does have IP68 certification, so you don’t have to worry about it dropping into a pool but on a concrete floor. Overall, the Pixel 8 Pro is nice to grip and hold.

The review unit comes in Bay, aka light blue. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The front glass is now flat without the curved sides. The Super Actua display can go as bright as 2,400 nits and intelligently adjusts between 1 and 120 Hz to balance between power conservation and responsive performance.

Smartphones these days are practically the camera of the masses. The Pixel 8 Pro comes with an upgraded rear triple-camera system consisting of a 48-megapixel (MP) ultra-wide-angle camera, a 50MP wide-angle main camera with 2x optical zoom and a 48MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom. Adding to the camera arsenal is a 10.5MP ultra-wide-angle selfie camera.

The Pixel 8 Pro has a monster camera system, front or back. (Photo: Google)

Catering to both photography nobs and shutterbugs, the Pixel 8 Pro offers point-and-shoot interface as well as full manual controls such as 50MP in RAW format, manual adjustments of shutter speed, ISO and focus.

But with Pixel phones, it is always been about computational photography. And the Pixel 8 Pro is no exception. It offers Best Take, which allows you to blend similar photos into one photo where everyone looks the best.

I am not a fan of Best Take, but many people might be. (Video: Google)

Then, there is the Magic Editor that lets you reposition and resize objects in your picture. You can also use presets like magic wand to erase certain undesirable objects. To me, these are gimmicks that you probably try and have a laugh.

Thankfully, the bread and butter camera is still top notch. Photos shot are incredibly sharp and vivid when shot in good lighting conditions, from ultra-wide-angle to the maximum 5x optical zoom focal length.

Shot taken using the Pixel 8 Pro’s ultra-wide-angle camera. (Photo: Trevor Tan)
Shot of the same scene but taken using Pixel 8 Pro’s telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Selfie shots offer accurate skin tones. Its Night Sight mode continues to offer well-lit and balanced photos for night scenes. I could even photograph community cats at night without a hitch.

Look at the fur and details on this community cat photographed at night. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Not to mention, it now has an automatic Macro Focus mode that lets you take photos within 5cm of the subject. I also particularly like the Action Pan feature that mimics motion panning. Just look at the photos below that I took during the Tour de France Singapore Criterium 2023 last month and you be the judge!

Both shots taken with Pixel 8 Pro’s Action Pan feature. (Photos: Trevor Tan)

In terms of operation and performance, the Pixel 8 Pro might not be the fastest but it is no slouch too. In the Geekbench 6 benchmark test, the Pixel 8 Pro scored 1,713 (single-core) and 3,954 (multi-core). By comparison, the Google Pixel 7a scored 1,410 (single-core) and 3,442 (multi-core) but a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 clocked 1,978 (single-core) and 5,097 (multi-core).

Still, running most apps feel buttery smooth, and there was no visible lag when playing mobile games from Pokemon Go to League of Legends. But it is not just about the speed. The Pixel 8 Pro offers plenty of AI features, such as creating your own wallpaper by choosing from a selection of prompts and getting Google Assistant to translate and read aloud written content on your screen.

Trying out the AI wallpaper function. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

One nice trick unique to only Pixel 8 Pro is the thermometer feature, which uses the sensor beside the camera module to measure temperature. Simply open the Thermometer app, select the material of the surface you are measuring, hold the sensor around 5cm from the object and click measure. Not too sure about its accuracy, but certainly a nice party trick and conversation topic.

Actually close to the temperature set for my freezer. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Powered by a 5,050mAh battery, the Pixel 8 Pro’s battery life is one of the best I have encountered on an Android smartphone. With a full charge at the start of the day, I came home at the end of a working day with still around 75 per cent battery level. And I have been checking emails, browsing social media and using WhatsApp the whole working day.

On the downside, the Pixel 8 Pro costs S$250 more than the Pixel 7 Pro at launch. While there might be critics who are up in arms over this, I personally think it is well worth the increase in pricing due to all the improvements.

In addition, only the obsidian model comes with three storage options of 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. The bay colour has 256GB and 512GB, while the porcelain colour only has 128GB storage option.

VERDICT: If you are looking for the best Android smartphone, your search ends with the Google Pixel 8 Pro. It ticks almost every box on your wish list and you can potentially use it for another seven years.

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