Last year's vanilla Pixel 7 was an interesting device as it launched with a fairly competitive price tag, but this year, Google thinks the upgrades are worth about €150 more. The handset asks $700 in the US and €800 in the EU. In the context of the rather limited US market, the Pixel 8 remains competitive enough by undercutting Apple's iPhone 15 and Samsung's Galaxy S23. Although, the latter may be found for about the same price as the Pixel 8.Pixel 8 vs. Pixel 8 Pro
Either way, the iPhone 15 and the Galaxy S23 remain the Pixel 8's natural competitors. That's, of course, if you consider the iOS ecosystem. In this case, the iPhone 15 will surprise you with generally better battery life, a considerably more powerful chipset and a slightly better display (it supports Dolby Vision and it's brighter). However, the Pixel 8 is more in line with 2023's trends and offers a 120Hz refresh rate, faster charging, uses a bigger sensor for its main camera, and, for the first time ever, it has the upper hand regarding software support. Google promises 7 years of full software support as opposed to Apple's 5-year support cycle.
We could argue all day about which phone of the two is better for photography, and we think it depends. It all boils down to processing, as the Pixel 8 produces more vibrant images, while the iPhone 15 tends to stay closer to the natural type of processing. Two things stand out in this comparison, though - the iPhone 15 records better videos, while the Pixel 8's ultrawide camera is much better at handling more lighting scenarios and offers autofocus.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 has several advantages over the Pixel 8. It has a dedicated 3x telephoto camera, longer overall battery life (but with similar screen-on runtimes), a more powerful chipset, a slightly better build with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and a more feature-rich OS with most of its functionalities available to all regions. We are not saying the Pixel 8's proprietary version of Android 14 isn't customizable or lacks features, but most of the cool ones are region-locked. Speaking of software, the Pixel 8 edges out the Galaxy S23 with 7 years of full software support and more timely updates. Moreover, the Pixel 8 should be considered for its camera prowess as it outperforms the Galaxy S23 in pretty much every scenario.
Two other viable Android options are the Asus Zenfone 10 and the Xiaomi 13. If you are in the market for a small flagship phone, the Xiaomi 13 should definitely be on your list. The device's build may not be particularly impressive, but it packs excellent hardware inside that chassis — a display with comparable quality with Dolby Vision support and a much more potent Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Additionally, battery life is longer, charging is much faster, and the camera hardware is more versatile as it has a dedicated 3.2x optical zoom camera. In terms of overall camera quality, it's hard to say which one is better, but in some cases where processing is the deciding factor, the Pixel 8 usually wins.Pixel 8 vs. Pixel 8 Pro
Lastly, we got the Zenfone 10 under the "compact 2023 flagship" label, but to be perfectly honest, it doesn't offer anything more compelling than the Pixel 8. Skimming through the spec sheet reveals a faster 144Hz display, a more powerful chip, quicker charging (on paper, 27W vs. 30W) and it has a grippy texture back, which is a rare find these days. However, most of these advantages don't necessarily mean a better user experience. We will give the Zenfone 10 credit for its longer battery life, but the Pixel 8 comes out on top with actually faster charging, a considerably better camera experience, a brighter screen and longer software support.
Despite its considerable price hike, the Pixel 8 remains rather competitive, especially for US consumers. Its MSRP is below its natural regional competitors, offers an improved viewing experience in line with 2023's industry standards, excellent camera experience, faster charging, and 7 years of software support, and timely major OS updates.
But the Pixel 8 isn't without its flaws. For instance, a 3x telephoto unit would have been greatly appreciated as well as a more competitive chipset with better thermal control and wider availability for its smart features. After all, many of the Pixel's clever software features can't be utilized to its fullest in many markets. Charging and battery life aren't particularly impressive either, although somewhat okay in Pixel terms. We also wonder why Google decided to skip the autofocus feature on the selfie camera and the support for Pro camera mode on the smaller Pixel.
Bottom line, the Pixel 8 is an easy recommendation because, despite its issues, it's a significant upgrade over the previous generation and manages to pack competent hardware into a compact body.
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