Hands-On Unboxing: Google Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, Pixel Watch 2 [PICS]
Google last week announced its new Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel Watch 2, its latest offerings heading into the holiday season. We had the opportunity to go hands-on with these latest devices so let’s take a look at what’s new.
The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro this time around have more rectangular corners that remind me of an iPhone-like design, aside from the camera bar on the rear. The new blue colour really pops and the matte glass back is nice on the Pixel 8 Pro. Both phones feel great in the hand and are easy to hold. They are a bit slippery out of the box.
But if you put Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro into their respective silicone cases made by Google, the phones are protected but still look pretty decent. The cases protrude out slightly past the camera bar to protect the lenses when placed flat on a table. The cases seem to attract a lot of dust and dirt. But they do feel good in the hand and I’d be confident the cases would protect from drops, easily.
Here’s the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro inside their silicone cases from the front:
Here’s the design of the Pixel 7 versus the Pixel 8 below:
Left to right: Pixel 7 (white), Pixel 8 (black)
The Google Pixel 8 brings several incremental improvements over its predecessor, the Pixel 7. Starting with the display, the Pixel 8 has a smaller 6.2-inch OLED screen with a resolution of 1080 x 2400 and 428 PPI, along with a peak brightness of up to 2,000 nits. The Smooth Display now goes up to 120 Hz, up from the previous limit of 90 Hz.
In contrast, the Pixel 7 has a slightly bigger 6.3-inch OLED screen but with a lower PPI of 416 and no specified peak brightness.
Additionally, the Pixel 8 is both smaller and lighter, measuring 150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9 mm and weighing 187 grams, compared to the Pixel 7’s dimensions of 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7 mm and weight of 197 grams.
Battery capacity in the Pixel 8 has also been upgraded to a typical 4,575 mAh, compared to the Pixel 7’s 4,355 mAh.
From the side view, we see one change on the left side of the Pixel 8 (black), which is a lower SIM card tray placement and also an antenna that’s moved up just a smidgeon:
Memory configurations for both phones remain largely the same, offering up to 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of UFS 3.1 storage. However, the Pixel 8 uses LPDDR5X RAM, potentially offering faster performance. Both models utilize Google Tensor processors, but the Pixel 8 employs the newer G3 version, whereas the Pixel 7 uses the G2 version.
Camera specifications are similar, featuring a 50 MP wide and 12 MP ultrawide rear camera. The Pixel 8 introduces Single-zone LDAF for potentially better focus and has a slightly wider front camera field of view at 95°, compared to the Pixel 7’s 92.8°. Video capabilities remain largely the same, but the Pixel 8 adds features like Audio Magic Eraser and Macro Focus Video.
Connectivity options in the Pixel 8 have been updated to support Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth v5.3, an improvement over the Pixel 7’s Wi-Fi 6 or 6E and Bluetooth v5.2. In terms of software support, the Pixel 8 promises seven years of updates, extending over the Pixel 7’s five years.
Both phones feature Corning Gorilla Glass Victus and are IP68 dust and water-resistant. Overall, the Pixel 8 offers incremental improvements in various aspects, including display quality, battery size, and processor speed, and it also promises longer software support.
The Pixel 8 is plenty fast with the new Tensor G3 chip and the screen is really nice and smooth. It’s really too bad that Apple doesn’t let Android users onto iMessage and FaceTime, because you know people would switch over in droves.
The price of the Pixel 8 went up $150 to start at $949 CAD, up from $799 CAD last year. Google said the price hike this year for Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro is because “we’ve made a number of amazing upgrades,” attributing the cost to “innovation to hardware.” The company further justified the pricing by noting that it is lower than similar spec devices in this category.
Google Pixel 8 Pro is Now Bigger and Brighter
Below is the Pixel 7 Pro (white) next to the slightly larger Pixel 8 Pro (blue). You can see the camera bar on the rear is beefier and the camera lenses are bigger than last year.
The Google Pixel 8 Pro introduces several key improvements over the Pixel 7 Pro, starting with the much brighter display. The Pixel 8 Pro features a 6.7-inch LTPO OLED screen with a resolution of 1344 x 2992 and 489 PPI, along with a peak brightness of up to 2400 nits, which is noticeable.
In contrast, the Pixel 7 Pro also sports a 6.7-inch LTPO OLED screen but with a higher resolution of 1440 x 3120 and a PPI of 512. Additionally, the Pixel 8 Pro is just a hair lighter, weighing 213 grams compared to the Pixel 7 Pro’s 212 grams. The newer model also comes with a slightly larger battery, boasting a capacity of 5050 mAh, a slight increase over the Pixel 7 Pro’s 5000 mAh.
Again, I’m reminded why Apple can’t integrate a fingerprint reader into its display to go with Face ID. The Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 have fingerprint readers built into the display. Pixel 8 Pro has face unlock as well. It’s nice to have both as sometimes you want to unlock your phone without staring right at it.
Here’s a closer look at the camera bar on the Pixel 8 Pro:
Memory configurations for both phones offer 12 GB of LPDDR5X RAM, but the Pixel 8 Pro provides more storage options, including up to 1 TB of UFS 3.1 storage in the U.S., compared to the Pixel 7 Pro’s maximum of 512 GB.
Both smartphones utilize Google Tensor processors, but the Pixel 8 Pro employs the newer G3 version, while the Pixel 7 Pro uses the G2 version.
In terms of camera capabilities, the Pixel 8 Pro features a more advanced system, including a 50 MP Octa PD wide camera, a 48 MP Quad PD ultrawide camera, and a 48 MP Quad PD telephoto camera. This is an upgrade over the Pixel 7 Pro, which has a 50 MP Octa PD Quad Bayer wide camera, a 12 MP ultrawide camera, and a 48 MP Quad Bayer PD telephoto camera. The Pixel 8 Pro also introduces new camera features like Magic Editor, Photo Unblur, and Macro Focus. Oh, and the selfie cam now has autofocus.
Here’s the screen of the Pixel 7 Pro (left) versus the Pixel 8 Pro (right):
The Pixel 8 Pro enhances connectivity options, supporting Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth v5.3, an upgrade over the Pixel 7 Pro’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth v5.2. Both phones offer 4K video recording capabilities, but the Pixel 8 Pro adds new features like Night Sight Video and Macro Focus Video.
In terms of software support, the Pixel 8 Pro promises 7 years of updates, extending over the Pixel 7 Pro’s 5 years. That just ensures that your phone will continue to get security and other software updates, extending longevity at a time when smartphone innovation has seemingly levelled off.
Both models feature Corning Gorilla Glass Victus and are IP68 dust and water-resistant. Overall, the Pixel 8 Pro offers notable improvements in display quality, battery size, camera capabilities, and software support. The Tensor G3 chip makes the phone feel blazing fast with Android 14.
Pixel 8 Pro pricing starts at $1,379, up from $1,179 from last year. That’s a $200 price hike and it’s clear smartphone inflation is real, too.
Google Pixel Watch 2 Brings New Materials, Faster Charging, Advanced Sensors
Unboxing the Pixel Watch 2 this time around comes with a box that opens up like a book, with two tabs on the side you pull up to access the charging cable (left) and extra band size (right), while the watch itself is sitting upright in the middle:
There are not a whole lot of design differences on the surface. The Pixel Watch 2 is hard to distinguish from the original Pixel Watch to the untrained eye.
New color options for the Pixel Watch 2 include Matte Black Aluminum Case with Obsidian Active Band (pictured below), Polished Silver Aluminum Case with Bay or Porcelain Active Band, and Champagne Gold Aluminum Case with Hazel Active Band.
The new model runs on an upgraded Wear OS 4.0 and is powered by a Qualcomm SW5100 chip, a shift from the original’s Exynos 9110 SoC and Wear OS 3.5.
Additionally, the Pixel Watch 2 introduces new sensors, including red and infrared sensors for SpO2 monitoring, electrical sensors for ECG app compatibility, and a skin temperature sensor, features that were not present in the original Pixel Watch.
You can see the addition of more complex sensors on the underside of the Pixel Watch 2 (right) compared to the Pixel Watch (left):
Aside from this change, everything looks essentially the same, but the Pixel Watch 2 (right) running the latest version of WearOS includes some design and UI changes:
Here’s a picture of the Pixel Watch 2 (left) from the side next to the Pixel Watch (right):
The unchanged design for the most part means you can swap bands between last year’s Pixel Watch and this year’s Pixel Watch 2, including the metal links band.
The microphone hole on the Pixel Watch 2 is bigger than that of the Pixel Watch. Also, the side button on the Pixel Watch 2 does protrude more compared to before:
The Google Pixel Watch 2 brings notable changes in materials, opting for 100% recycled aluminum housing compared to the original’s 80% recycled stainless steel. It also weighs less at 31 grams and offers faster charging, reaching 50% battery in about 30 minutes and 100% in about 75 minutes, an improvement over the original Pixel Watch’s 45 minutes to 50% and 110 minutes to 100%.
The LTE version this year adds support for more wireless carriers besides Bell and Telus like its predecessor, as now Rogers and Virgin are also supported.
Pricing this year starts at $479.99 for the Wi-Fi version and $549.99 for the LTE version, up slightly in price from last year’s Pixel Watch at $449 and $529 respectively.
If you’re a heavy Google user, these Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro phones will make you feel right at home, as integration of the company’s apps and services are second to none. Both phones feel great in the hand, haptics are the best on Pixel phones compared to an iPhone, and the cameras took some crispy photos in our brief tests.
As for Pixel Watch 2, the changes are incremental but enough to make someone consider a jump from the original. The display still feels ‘small’ compared to the rectangular layout of an Apple Watch. For Fitbit users, the Pixel Watch 2 has all the fitness tracking you need.
Right now, pre-orders of the Pixel 8 will get free Pixel Buds Pro or $260 off a Pixel Watch 2. Pre-orders of the Pixel 8 Pro will get a free Pixel Watch 2 or free Pixel Buds Pro. These are definitely nice bonuses from Google that you’ll never see offered from Apple.