I’ll come out and say it right now: The Google Pixel 8 Pro is an outstanding smartphone. Actually, I’ll do you one better. It’s easily the best Pixel phone Google has ever released. Hell — the Pixel 8 Pro just may be my favorite Android phone of 2023.
I gave the Pixel 8 Pro a lot of praise in my review of the phone this past October. I went so far as to call it the “best Pixel I’ve ever used.” A bold claim, for sure. But is all of that still true after using the Pixel 8 Pro for well over a month? Is it still the Pixel phone I’ve been waiting for, or has my usual bad luck with Pixel bugs tarnished my experience?
Everything I still love about the Pixel 8 Pro
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The Pixel 8 Pro’s design really impressed me in my review, and that hasn’t changed one bit after weeks of daily use. A lot of this boils down to the more rounded design this year, which was 100% the right call on Google’s part. Even with all the design improvements Apple made to the iPhone 15 Pro Max this year, I find myself reaching for the Pixel 8 Pro over it, partly because of just how good Google’s in-hand feel is. And, yes, that Bay blue color is still one of the best I’ve seen on a smartphone this year.
The only negative I have to say at this point is that the stainless steel frame surrounding the camera sensors has already picked up a lot of small scratches — something I also noticed on the Pixel 7 Pro last year. They’re only visible in certain lighting, and they appear to be purely cosmetic, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if Google ditched stainless steel next year for something like titanium instead.
I also need to give major props to the Pixel 8 Pro’s camera setup. Google’s Pixel phones are well-known for having excellent cameras, but that hasn’t stopped the Pixel 8 Pro from being any less impressive here. The above gallery shows just a handful of some of my favorite shots I’ve gotten over the month.
And it’s not just still photos where the Pixel 8 Pro impresses. Although I don’t usually take a lot of video on my smartphone, I’ve been making an effort to do so on the Pixel 8 Pro. And whenever I do, I’m thrilled with the results I get. From the buttery smooth stabilization, gorgeous colors, and crisp details, the Pixel 8 Pro takes exceptional-looking video. Take a look for yourself with the clip above.
I’ve taken the Pixel 8 Pro to dimly-lit concert halls, pumpkin patches, nature trails — you name it. No matter the setting and no matter what I want to take a picture of, the Pixel 8 Pro produces incredible results. It’s been so good, in fact, that I decided to move my cloud photo library from Apple Photos to Google Photos so I can keep using the Pixel 8 Pro as my main camera of choice. It really is that good.
And it doesn’t stop with the design and cameras. The 6.7-inch OLED display on the Pixel 8 Pro has been absolutely lovely. Its colors are vibrant and punchy, the 120Hz refresh rate is as smooth as can be, and the every-so-slightly curved edges feel fantastic when you’re swiping and scrolling on it. Furthermore, Android 14 on the Pixel 8 Pro has been so much fun to use. The lock screen customization tools are great, the entire UI is quick and snappy, and even stranger additions like the AI wallpaper generator are nice touches.
I could go on and on. The in-screen fingerprint sensor is reliable, having Face Unlock work for logging into applications has been amazing, the buttons feel excellent and clicky, and the speakers sound great — you get the point.
Google got so much right with the Pixel 8 Pro, and everything that I loved when I first took the phone out of the box has continued to impress a month later.
Bugs? What bugs?
I also had a lot of nice things to say about the Google Pixel 7 Pro last year, but my experience with that phone was ultimately ruined by software bugs and performance issues. The Pixel 8 Pro was smooth sailing after using it for about a week before I published my review — but how is it holding up after a very busy month?
To my absolute surprise, it’s been fantastic. I haven’t encountered any crashing apps, no weird UI effects with YouTube, and no bizarre formatting that breaks my Quick Settings — all things that plagued my Pixel 7 Pro last year. I had one instance where the always-on display randomly stopped working, but disabling and re-enabling it in the Settings app immediately fixed it, and it’s been operating flawlessly since.
I’ve also been continuously impressed by Google’s Tensor G3 chip. The previous two generations of Tensor chips in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 6 handsets were … not good. They were notorious for overheating, had very poor power efficiency, and were generally just not reliable for daily use.
Although the Tensor G3 chip isn’t the most powerful mobile chipset available today, it’s been a tremendous upgrade over Google’s previous attempts. My Pixel 8 Pro has been very fast and responsive, whether I’m playing back-to-back matches of Marvel Snap or multitasking across a handful of different apps. And even with heavier use, the phone stays much cooler than previous Pixels. I have been able to get it to warm up a few times during particularly long gaming sessions, but I’d expect that from any modern smartphone.
Is this to say the Pixel 8 Pro won’t suddenly develop new, unexpected issues over the coming weeks and months ahead? Absolutely not. Pixels are notorious for getting worse over time, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on the Pixel 8 Pro to see if that happens. But it’s been virtually flawless so far, and that’s not something I can say about the previous two generations of Google’s phones.
The Pixel 8 Pro’s two ongoing issues
For the most part, the Google Pixel 8 Pro’s first month has been off to a phenomenal start. But there are two issues with the phone that continue to be a nuisance.
The first is battery life. I complained about this in my Pixel 8 Pro review, and it continues to be a problem today. I wouldn’t say the Pixel 8 Pro’s battery life is outright “bad” or “terrible,” but it’s also a noticeable step down compared to other Android phones available.
As I found in my review, I’m still getting a full day with the Google Pixel 8 Pro without having to worry about charging it before bed. I’ve had some days where I could stretch it to a little under a day and a half, but it never goes beyond that. Plus, doing so only happened when I used the Pixel 8 Pro sparingly throughout the day. Other phones from earlier this year — like the Motorola Edge Plus and OnePlus 11 — easily deliver two days of use per charge without having to closely monitor how much you use them. The Pixel 8 Pro has a fine battery, but it very clearly isn’t on the same level as some of its competitors.
The other issue is charging. The Pixel 8 Pro is slow when it comes to charging. Going from zero to 100% always takes around an hour and a half, and while that’s fine if you just charge the phone overnight while you sleep, it’s not ideal if you need to charge as quickly as possible in a short amount of time. This is another area where companies like Motorola and OnePlus have taken a significant lead over Google, and it remains disappointing that the Pixel 8 Pro is lagging here.
This is the Google phone I’ve been waiting for
My month with the Pixel 8 Pro so far has been a night and day difference compared to my time with the Pixel 7 Pro. Last year’s Google flagship was buggy, inconsistent, and just not a phone I wanted to keep using once my review was published. With the Pixel 8 Pro, I’m dreading the day when I have to take my SIM out of it and pop it into a new phone I need to review.
Am I still anxious about the phone suddenly deteriorating into an unusable mess? A little bit. Google’s Pixel phones haven’t been kind to me over the last couple of years, and I’m weary to forget about that any time soon. But the Pixel 8 Pro is so exceptionally good that that anxiety is growing less and less with each day.
The Google Pixel 8 Pro still has a lot to prove over the coming year, but if things keep going the way they have over the past month, I have a feeling this will be the Android phone that remains in my pocket throughout much of 2024.