Review of the Pixel 8

I've had this phone now for almost a month and I really wanted to give it the proper go and not review it with only a little time.  

I have to admit, I typically am used to the 'pro' models of Pixels, so the 8 immediately hit me with the smaller size.  But, it's still a Pixel, and it's the latest offering and what they showed off at the events.  Google is including AI in more and more things and having the Tensor G3 equipped to handle more AI and machine learning, you gotta try it out.

Let's dive in.

Now, this is a flagship still, despite it's littler size and it's $950CDN.  It's a pretty penny, but still nowhere near the costs of some of the other 'flagships' out there.  But, I'm fairly reminded as I get to my little office when I see the Pixel 7a (at $600CDN price point), that these 2 phones are pretty related.

So what do you get for this $950CDN?

  • 6.2" @ 2400x1080 @ 60-120Hz
  • Tensor G3 with 8GB RAM
  • 128GB storage
  • 50MP (f/1.68, 1.2µm, 82°) + 12MP (f/2.2, 1.25µm, 125.8°)
  • 10.5MP selfie (f/2.2, 1.22µm, 95°)
  • 4575mAh
  • IP68
  • In display fingerprint sensor / face unlock

On its face, those specs are super exciting, but I think one of the things we have to keep in mind as we continue down this path is that specs almost don't matter any more, a lot of it is going to be based on what can these specs do, and the chip Google's putting in is pretty smart to make the most of what it can.  In that sense, Google really is shining.

But let's dive in:

Going around the phone it feels pretty premium.  You're are really going to notice how 'round' everything feels.  The rounded corners feel more bubbly/round than before, and that matches well with everything you see in Material design these days, more bubbly round boxes.

I put the case on right away (which you saw in the unboxing - which I do like as it's not just the material, there's a strong backing in it...) so I don't get to feel the full premium quality of it, but that's alright, I rarely take it out of the case (so I wouldn't know if it were a glass back or plastic).  Speaking of the case, the rubber that they've used can be a little, well, not 'sticky', but putting it into my pants pocket it can pick up lint and have a bit of 'resistance' coming out of the pocket, pulling the lining with it often.  So, hopefully that settles down over time.

But going around the phone, it feels like every other Pixel out there for layout of the buttons and back camera.  Again, I'm still, even almost a month later, amazed at how small it feels for this phone.  It's noticeable when I tend to type out an email vs. glide typing that I can make a few more mistakes.

Getting into the phone itself is very easy.  The fingerprint sensor we're all used to, works just as it should, but even faster is its facial recognition; face unlock.  I set mine up so that upon waking it'll try to see the face and if it sees mine it'll automatically bypass the lock and go to the homescreen (or last app).

For me, it works so fast that if I pick up the phone, it wakes and before I could even put my thumb on the screen, it'll unlock for me.  Love it.  It's about as fast as the 4XL was, and that had Project Soli built in.

In terms of performance, I can notice that the 8GB, being less than the 12GB I was used to, can be a little underperforming (maybe I'm too exacting?) comparatively.  That being said, I really wouldn't say that I was hindered or frustrated in any way using it.

Things may take that second longer to load up, but once good to go the scrolling and swiping between apps seemed a breeze.

I did notice that sometimes going back to an app, where I'd be used to on the 7Pro, would see that some app would need to be refreshed, like it had low memory'd the app.  Nothing major, just something to notice.

Also, can't tell if it's the phone or not, but I have some audiobooks downloaded and they're like a dozen hours long or so.  On the 7Pro I'd have no problem going back to YouTube Music to listen to the device file and it'd be exactly where I left it (unless I played something different since); whereas it's about 1/3rd of the time I go back to YTM to find the audiobook MP3 is starting from the beginning.  Again, I don't know if it's a memory thing or not.

That's about the only issue I've noticed with performance.

In other performance, the battery is consistently good.  I'm a bit of a worry wart when it comes to batteries, so I am usually constantly charging it (always have a cable/qi pad somewhere nearby).  Although, on days where I tried to fight past my battery fear, it would easily end the day with about 40-30% left over, depending on what I did.  A day where I was doing a lot more moving around and it was chillier outdoors, I'd notice that it'd be about 45%'ish around 6pm (we'd have football from 830am - 630pm on game days and I'd be doing running around most of the day; taking pictures, posting to social, etc...).

In terms of the camera.  It's good.  

It can be a little annoying sometimes how it'll try to switch between normal and 'macro' mode if you're ever doing something somewhat close up.  But I like the outcome.

I do miss the opportunity for a zoom lens on it, as zooming in on a picture really makes it look bad.

Zoomed in to take a pic, and it sorta looks okay, but if you look at it the detail is all fuzzy.

Now, that's at the most extreme, but I'm used to having the Pro to have the options for longer zooms.  Just something to adjust to, knowing I shouldn't (something I just got spoiled with the Pro).

As for some of the advanced features that the 8 may have over the 7a; the addition of the Magic Editor, or using the AI wallpaper are pretty neat; ultimately items I think will come to the other devices too.  I will note that they feel 'slow' on the 8.  I don't have the Pro to compare to, but they really touted at the event that the 8Pro will have so much more learning built into the device that maybe it can be faster (or maybe I'm just impatient as everything else on the phone is pretty darn quick and then having AI do some work is inherently slow...).

So the big question I still have after all this is should I save a couple hundred bucks and get the 7a or should I get the 8?  Ultimately, I'd say the 8.  Primarily, it's newer, has the newer chip and features designed for that chip (rather than some updates for older ones later one); but a big part of that is that Google is committed now to 7 years of support for this phone.  Sure, that's not 7 years of 'warranty', but it's 7 years that you know it's not going to be forgotten and not get that update everybody else is getting or making sure you have protection against any security issues.  There's a lot to be said about that peace of mind.

I would tho', recommend you pay a little extra and get the 256GB model tho'.  I'm finding lately that 128GB can be a little 'cozy' - especially after even 8-9 months of use it starts getting into that near full area (depending on how many pictures you take I guess).