Being the company's ultimate smartphone, the Pixel 8 Pro only competes with similarly top-tier offerings from rival brands. And with the increased price this year (€1,100/$1,000), looking at it from the perspective of a value proposition isn't quite as justified as before.
A Galaxy S23 Ultra costs about as much as the Google flagship and has a lot going for it - the S Pen is essentially a one-of-a-kind feature, battery life is better on the Galaxy, the Samsung cameras are about as close to the Pixel's in versatility as it gets. The Pixel 8 Pro does counter with unique features of its own (in supported regions), the longest software support in the industry, and, if we have to admit it - a camera experience which, if you're a fan of, you can't really be entirely happy with a Galaxy.Pixel 8 Pro (left) next to Galaxy S23 Ultra
Another similar comparison is against the iPhone 15 Pro - that non-tangible and very subjective 'it's about how it makes you feel' debate. On the objective side of things, we have the iPhone's generally superior video quality and notably longer battery life, which the Pixel counters with €350/$200 of savings, though the situation gets trickier if the 15 Pro non-Max joins the discussion. We'd be happy to leave this dilemma to ecosystem considerations and personal preference.Pixel 8 Pro (right) next to iPhone 15 Pro Max
Less obvious alternatives can be found too. For example, the OnePlus 11 can save you several hundred Euros or dollars (depending on who you ask and when, but around €300/$300), and it's only going to be a significant compromise if you're after long reach with your camera. Or, of course, the Google software, but that's a concession you might be forced to make anyway.
An unorthodox option could be a Xiaomi 13 Pro - we'd consider the Ultra, but that could prove difficult to track down. For about Pixel 8 Pro money, you could get a higher-specced 13 Pro with a 1-inch sensor main camera and a unique close-focusing telephoto - it's not the Pixel's camera system, but it's a hugely capable camera system that may align more closely with your wants and needs.
Last, but not least, why not an Xperia 1 V? It's about as Pixel-like as you'd get in this bunch when it comes to software, before you get to its myriad camera apps, and those can open a world of possibilities for your photo and video capture. And the Sony also has quite remarkable imaging hardware, even if not all of it translates into real-world image quality. It does also feature a microSD slot and a headphone jack, if you're that kind of person.
With the Pixel 8 Pro Google has made strides to address a host of the complaints we had about the previous generation. No longer is the selfie camera a hit-and-miss affair, and the new ultrawide is also miles better than before. The improvement in charging speed didn't go unnoticed either, but the Pixel had so much to catch up here that it couldn't all happen in one generation.
Some of the old pain points remain, however, key among them is the battery life that's a bit below average. The in-house chipset isn't quite up to the standard of the day in absolute performance and doesn't handle sustained load with much grace. The limited regional availability of the exclusive software features also rubs us the wrong way, though a valid counterargument is that if Google doesn't sell it in your country, you can't expect it to work to its fullest in your country.
Moving to the good stuff, it's not just that the ultrawide camera is no longer a source of grievances, but the telephoto has been improved too. So, with both flanks of an already great main camera now covered, the normally excellent cameraphone is now somehow even better.
The brand-new display is now up there with the leading efforts in the industry - not that the old one was bad, it's just that this Super Actua panel is more deserving of high praise, than a simple 'yeah, that's good enough'. Similarly, the already stellar software support gets promoted to best-in-business - we'll see how quickly Google will forget about that 7-year promise, but right now, it sounds really nice.
When first introduced, the visor on the back of the Pixel 6 Pro was quite polarizing, but two years later, it's evolved into a somewhat appealing trademark design element. This year Google has also fitted a thermometer in there - we're not quite sure just how useful it is yet, but if no one else has one, it has to be a plus for the Pixel 8 Pro. What we find to be another welcome development is the flat display - even one of the biggest supporters of curves in this office has grown to appreciate screen protectors and truly trouble-free handling.
In the end, we think the Pixel 8 Pro is the evolutionary upgrade you'd expect it to be and then some. Google could have done less this generation and still charged the extra $100/€200, but instead, they actually did bring some meaningful improvements that move the series forward. We approve.
|128GB 12GB RAM
|256GB 12GB RAM
|512GB 12GB RAM
|Show all prices