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Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro Exploring the Cutting-Edge AI Capabilities of Google

Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are official, promising improvements in design, camera, and performance that we expect from any annual phone update. However, Google’s software is where it’s at, and some of the most important features of Pixel 8’s AI-driven image editing capabilities are what we’ve seen on the phone – in ways that range from useful to downright impressive. It’s surprising how capable this year’s Pixel devices are. After some initial time with Google’s new phones, what do we think?

Pixel 8 Series Pre-orders Are Here: What You Need to Know

The Pixel 8 range is now available for pre-order, and it’s set to launch on October 12th. Pricing starts at $699 for the Pixel 8 and $999 for the Pixel 8 Pro. Ordering a  directly from Google comes with a free pair of Pixel Buds Pro. If you opt for the Pixel 8 Pro, you’ll receive the brand-new Pixel Watch 2 as a bonus.

Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro: Familiar Yet Upgraded

The Pixel 8 may look quite similar to last year’s Pixel 7, but there are some notable improvements. Both phones have soft, curved edges that feel comfortable to hold during my limited hands-on time. However, I’m still not a fan of the large bar of aluminum housing the cameras, especially now that the camera modules are even bigger

Nevertheless, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro make for a sleek, attractive pair that comes in a nice set of colors: Obsidian, Hazel, and Rose for the Pixel 8, and Obsidian, Porcelain, and Bay Pixel for the 8 Pro. I have to give it to Google; the Pixel 8 in Rose (which should be a contender against the iPhone 15’s Rosé and fulfill any Barbie’s dreams) and the 8 Pro in a striking baby blue look great. Google should consider bringing “Pro” phones in fun colors too (take note, Apple). The company is also throwing in a new color-matched set of Pixel Buds Pro to go with the Pixel 8 Pro’s airy new shade.

While both phones looked good, I preferred holding the Pixel 8 Pro, thanks to its new matte finish. Along with offering a better grip, this matte back eliminated smudges and reduced the fingerprint risk—two things I appreciated when taking pictures with it. The standard Pixel 8 maintains the shiny finish of previous models and, while most people won’t notice a difference (especially if you’re using a case), I’m a big fan of the matte, smoke-proof designs. The Galaxy S23, iPhone 15, and now the Pixel 8 Pro have all embraced it.

Pixel Phones: A Focus on Efficient Software and Enhanced Photography

Pixel Phones

Pixel phones have always been known for their efficient software and outstanding photography, and the Pixel 8’s camera and AI features are Google’s most anticipated yet. Most of the camera details for the phone seem pretty familiar from last year (with an upgraded Ultra Wide Lens for the 8 Pro), but both promise significant improvements in the shooting experience. Pixel 8 finally gets the Pro’s Micro Focus mode, allowing you to capture close-up details with precision. Google claims that the 8 Pro will deliver better low-light photos and improved zoom, along with Night Sight video, which takes nighttime footage to a new level.

But the real magic happens when you start editing your photos. We’ve been fans of Google’s Magic Eraser feature for a while, which lets you remove unwanted photobombers from your pictures. Now, the company is taking this concept to a whole new level with its new Magic Editor, allowing you to retouch any part of an image practically like magic. I got to see a demo of the Magic Editor in action, and it’s truly impressive – in ways that are both cool and slightly eerie.

In one demonstration, a Google representative took a beautiful shot of a person running on a beach. Then they proceeded to make the person stand out more and change the size freely – all seemingly without heavy-handed or obvious editing. They even applied various filters that transformed the daytime scene into something resembling a Japanese manga – all of these effects process right within Google’s photo app, which is a testament to Google’s AI chops. Also, it’s good news for third-party image editing apps, as these phones come with the new Tensor G3 processor – something that could be a game-changer.

Have you ever taken a group photo just to find out that not everyone is smiling or looking at the camera in every shot? Google aims to fix that with another new AI feature called Best Take. Once you’ve taken multiple shots of a group, you can head into the editor and flip through each person’s face until everyone looks just right. While this solves a very common problem – I’ve spent way too much time trying to find the perfect shot for Instagram – there’s something a bit spooky about flipping a face back and forth until everyone looks completely fine. Pixel phones have always been about bringing AI to photography, and these new features push that boundary even further.

Pixel 8 and 8 Pro: Compact Upgrades with a Dash of AI Magic

Pixel 8 and 8 Pro

While keeping the head-turning AI features in check, Pixel 8 and 8 Pro bring subtle yet nifty upgrades to Google’s phone lineup. In the Pixel 8 Pro, there’s a new trick up its sleeve – a temperature sensor. This little sensor allows you to point your camera at various surfaces and objects and measure how hot or cold they are. This feature works with everything from walls to liquids and food. It seems like Google has arranged various beverages around its wrong office to show off the functionality – a bit quirky, but interesting, especially for those who like to experiment with cooking temperatures and wine pairing.

On the flip side, the good ol’ Pixel 8 gets a boost from 90Hz to 120Hz, resulting in smoother scrolling through web pages and photo albums. This makes the Pixel 8 snappier compared to the Galaxy S23, and it gives it an edge over the relatively sluggish 60Hz displays on the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus.

Pixel 8 and 8 Pro promise better color accuracy and higher brightness with their new “Actua” displays, including the Pixel 8 Pro’s eye-popping 2,400 nits. That’s even brighter than the iPhone 15 Pro, which could make Google’s flagship ideal for outdoor use. Both OLED displays, at 6.2 inches for the Pixel 8 and 6.7 inches for the Pixel 8 Pro, looked quite impressive during my brief demo time. However, as always, we’ll have to see how they hold up during extended use.

Like previous models, Google claims “24-hour battery life and beyond” for these phones, although we found the Pixel 7’s real-world endurance and charging speed to be somewhat lacking. Here’s hoping for an improvement this time around. If you’re springing for the Pixel 8, you can at least count on substantial long-term support – Google says you’ll receive the latest Android and security updates for the next seven years.

Pixel 8 and 8 Pro: A Beautiful Extra Upgrade

Pixel 8 and 8 Pro feel like a lovely incremental upgrade from Google, and those who have Pixel 6 or older will likely reap the most benefits. However, features like Magic Editor and Best Take, which are currently exclusive to Pixel 8, could make them Google’s best phones for photography yet. From the moment you press the shutter button until possible hours later when you decide to complete your shots, these features can make a difference. They might even make the Pixel phones the best Google has ever produced, especially if you opt for the higher-end Pixel 8 Pro model.

It’s worth noting that both these phones are $100 more expensive than last year’s models. And with the new range of iPhone 15 and the reliable Galaxy S23 series, which now has a more affordable entry point with the $600 Galaxy S23 FE, the Pixel 8 faces some tough competition because it’s vying for a place in our best smartphone rankings. We’re eager to see if it can hold its own during our comprehensive review, so stay tuned.

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