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Google Pixel 8 Pro Review: A Half-Baked Flagship with Camera Troubles

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Gherardo Fiorenzo
Gherardo Fiorenzo is an Italian author with a unique perspective shaped by his experiences in Italy and the US. His thought-provoking articles, short stories, and reviews explore the intersections of language, identity, and culture.

Google Pixel 8 Pro Review: A Half-Baked Flagship

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is the latest flagship from Google, promising refinements over its predecessor. However, our review reveals big problems with this phone, including disappointing camera performance, missing features, and frustrating quirks. It feels half-baked and is not ready for release on Oct. 12.

Camera Troubles

One major issue we encountered was with the phone’s DNG raw images. Initially, they were incompatible with raw editors, but a last-minute update from Google fixed this for new images. However, the DNG files still suffer from fuzziness and noise, which is not typical for raw files.

Google has acknowledged these problems and stated that a camera update to address some issues will arrive in a couple of weeks. We will continue testing the camera with the upcoming software update and update our review accordingly. It’s worth noting that we did not encounter these issues with the regular Pixel 8.

Impressions after 6 Days of Use

Putting aside the camera problems, there are positive aspects to the Pixel 8 Pro. It offers solid gaming performance, decent battery life, and a sleek Android 14 interface. The most significant improvement is Google’s commitment to providing seven years of software updates, ensuring the phone remains relevant until 2030.

However, the camera issues need to be resolved before we can recommend this phone to anyone.

Design and Display

The Pixel 8 Pro retains the familiar design of its predecessor, with a noticeable camera bar on the back. The frosted glass panel feels softer to hold and is less prone to fingerprints. In terms of aesthetics, it may not match the premium look of the previous model’s sage and gold design.

One drawback is that the camera bar protrudes quite a bit, which can catch when sliding the phone into pockets. Adding a case solves this problem. The phone’s frame is made partially from recycled aluminum and is IP68 rated for water-resistance. The 6.7-inch display is vibrant, bright, and perfect for enjoying colorful videos.

Temperature Sensor

One new feature on the back is a small circle next to the camera flash housing a temperature sensor. This sensor enables temperature readings from objects or surfaces, serving practical purposes like checking drink temperature or food before consumption. However, its real-world application may be limited, and it feels like a feature added for the sake of differentiation.

Processor and Android 14

The Pixel 8 Pro comes with Google’s latest processor, the Tensor G3. While we can’t provide benchmark comparisons yet, our experience shows swift navigation within the Android 14 interface, with apps opening quickly and smooth multitasking. The Tensor G3 chip also enables AI features, albeit with varying quality and some processing delays.

Google’s commitment to seven years of software and security updates for the Pixel 8 Pro is commendable, significantly extending the phone’s longevity and reducing environmental impact.

Android 14 offers customization options and additional AI features, such as generative AI wallpaper creation and AI-enhanced image editing. However, there are delays in processing AI edits, which can be frustrating compared to the faster processing times observed on the Pixel 8.

Camera Performance

The triple rear-camera setup on the Pixel 8 Pro has seen updates, including wider apertures and higher resolution. Despite these improvements, our testing encountered major issues. High contrast scenes exhibited bizarre noise and artifacts in shadowy areas, along with aggressive software smoothing that affected detail preservation. Night mode also suffered from similar issues.

DNG raw files, when shot, produced even worse results in terms of noise and overall image quality. The high-resolution mode exacerbated these problems and introduced additional delays to capture shots. While some images taken with other lenses turned out well in good lighting, the overall camera performance falls short of expectations.

Battery Life

The Pixel 8 Pro houses a 5,050-mAh battery, which performed decently in our tests. It experienced a gradual drop in battery percentage after hours of continuous YouTube streaming, but it may not match the endurance of iPhone 15 series. However, for typical daily use, the battery should easily last a whole day with mixed usage, provided it is not heavily taxed with intensive tasks like gaming or streaming.

Final Verdict

The issues plaguing multiple units of the Pixel 8 Pro indicate software problems that need immediate attention. While we anticipate Google’s timely fixes, it is currently difficult to justify the $1,000 price tag for a phone with major issues. We advise waiting for the resolution of these problems before making a purchase.

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