Google Pixel 8 Pro in Kenya

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The Pixel 8 Pro brings an updated camera system, an impressive display, a new and improved chipset, the promise of 7 years of software support, and an unexpected design change - what is Google's flagship phone for 2023 all about and should you get one?

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The bread and butter of Pixel phones has been their camera, and the 8 Pro has no shortage of improvements in that field. Key among those is the ultrawide on the back, which gets a new, larger sensor, while the main camera and the telephoto get revamped optics. It may not sound like a lot, but evolutionary steps can mean a lot when they add up.

Super Actua display is Google's branding for the new panel on the Pixel 8 Pro that should go as bright as 2400nits - while we didn't quite get that, we measured some remarkable numbers elsewhere. The Tensor G3 chipset's performance in the things Google deems important is more difficult to measure, but it's undoubtedly an upgrade over the previous generation in the things we can quantify. Putting a number on software support is also somewhat difficult, but 7 does sound remarkable - years of updates, that is.

And while the Pixel design language has been mostly dialed in these last couple of years, it turned out that 2023 did still have something new to bring - or, rather, the well-forgotten old flat display. Time is a flat circle and all that.

Here's a quick refresher on the key specs of the Pixel 8 Pro before we move forward with the unboxing.

Google Pixel 8 Pro specs at a glance:

  • Body: 162.6x76.5x8.8mm, 213g; Glass front and back (Gorilla Glass Victus 2), aluminum frame; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 min).
  • Display: 6.7" LTPO OLED, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1600 nits (HBM), 2400 nits (peak), 1344x2992px resolution, 20.04:9 aspect ratio, 489ppi; Always-on display.
  • Chipset: Google Tensor G3 (4 nm): Nona-core (1x3.0 GHz Cortex-X3 & 4x2.45 GHz Cortex-A715 & 4x2.15 GHz Cortex-A510); Immortalis-G715s MC10.
  • Memory: 128GB 12GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, 512GB 12GB RAM, 1TB 12GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
  • OS/Software: Android 14.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 50 MP, f/1.7, 25mm, 1/1.31", 1.2µm, multi-directional PDAF, multi-zone Laser AF, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 48 MP, f/2.0, 126˚, 0.8µm, dual pixel PDAF; Telephoto: 48 MP, f/2.8, 113mm, 1/2.55", 0.7µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS, 5x optical zoom.
  • Front camera: 10.5 MP, f/2.2, 20mm (ultrawide), 1/3.1", 1.22µm, PDAF.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@24/30/60/120/240fps; gyro-EIS, OIS, 10-bit HDR; Front camera: 4K@24/30/60fps, 1080p@30/60fps.
  • Battery: 5050mAh; 30W wired, PD3.0, PPS, 50% in 30 min (advertised), 23W wireless, Reverse wireless.
  • Connectivity: 5G; eSIM; Wi-Fi 7; BT 5.3, aptX HD; NFC.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); stereo speakers; Ultra Wideband (UWB) support.

Google Pixel 8 Pro unboxing

Not that there's a whole lot of unboxing to be done, really. The Pixel 8 Pro shows up in a rather standard half-height white cardboard box with a likeness of the phone printed on the lid.

nside, the list of accessories is pretty short - you get a USB-C cable and a USB-A-to-C adapter to facilitate data transfer from as many types of older phones as possible. Sure, there's also a SIM eject pin and some paperwork, but nothing all that useful, like a charger.

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Design, build quality, handling

The new Pixel 8 duo features a design that is similar to the previous generation, with mostly trivial changes to the chassis. Apart from the upgraded Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the front and back and the flat screen, the Pixel 8 Pro uses the same materials - glass on both panels, and aluminum for the frame.

Even dimensions are almost the same, although the 8 Pro is ever so slightly shorter and narrower, probably due to the trimmed bezels. The IP68 certification is still on the list of features as well.

There are two other relatively minor changes to the design. Firstly, the corners of both handsets, the 8 and the 8 Pro, are rounder than last year, and the 8 Pro's camera bulge protrudes a little more than last year's 7 Pro.

Speaking of the camera bulge, now all three sensors sit behind one whole glass piece, and the LED flash is joined by a temperature sensor, but more on that later. The Pixel 8 Pro also retains the default Obsidian paint job and adds two new ones - Porcelain and Bay.

We have the Bay color option, which is a light but still intense blue hue that we haven't seen from other makers. Regardless of colorway, the 8 Pro's back has a frosted matte finish, which is pretty nice to the touch but it's also quite slippery. Fingerprints and smudges aren't easily visible, which is nice.

Moving to the front once again, we're greeted by slightly slimmer bezels, rounded corners and, as before - centered cutout for the selfie camera. A most unexpected change here is among the biggest design shifts this generation - from the curved front glass design of yesteryear, to an almost entirely flat one. The edges of the display are still gently rounded, making for a smooth, almost seamless transition into the frame. The glass is nowhere near being 'curved, though.

The side rails aren't quite the departure from the norm - glossy finish, rounded edges - for the third generation of Pixel Pros in a row. The usual bits are in the usual places too - starting on the bottom, we can see the USB-C port and the speaker grille for the 'main' speaker.

Both the volume rocker and the power button are on the right side - nothing all that extraordinary, only there's the typical Pixel twist. The power button sits atop the volume rocker, which requires time to get used to if you're coming from any other brand of phone, but at least both keys are easy to reach with your right thumb (left index/middle finger works too). 

The glossy sides feel extra nice and are surprisingly grippy. Part of that has to come from the fact that the flat display means the rails get to be meatier than what the Pixel 7 Pro's screen curves allowed for. In any case, the frame is adequately grippy, and the whole device feels nice and secure in hand. 

All in all, even if you are coming from a two-year-old Pixel 6 Pro, the Pixel 8 Pro will feel right at home. Google didn't introduce any major design changes, and for the most part, the Pixel 8 Pro feels like the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro. That said, a lot of people may consider the move to a flat display a big deal and find in it a reason to get an 8 Pro.

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