Sunday, July 21, 2024

5 reasons why you should not buy the Google Pixel 8 | Digital Trends

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Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Google’s Pixel phones have gone from an oddity to a smartphone market mainstay. Where once we thought the Pixel would go the way of the Nexus line or any one of a number of projects Google has prematurely killed off, the Pixel range has gone from strength to strength, and now they seem as common as Samsung Galaxy phones and iPhones.

Key to the Pixel’s success is the strength of the camera system. The combination of Google’s software with some solid hardware has led to the Pixel becoming one of the best smartphone camera systems around. That’s culminated in the Google Pixel 8, which is an excellent smartphone. That said, you shouldn’t buy one. Here’s why.

The Tensor G3 processor isn’t great

Render of Google's Tensor G3 processor.
Google

The Pixel 8 houses the third generation of Google’s in-house processor, the Tensor G3, and while it’s a definite improvement over previous versions of the chip, it pales in comparison to those made by more experienced manufacturers.

It’s a powerful chip and deserves to be called a flagship chip — but Google hasn’t closed the distance between the Tensor and equivalent chips from Snapdragon and MediaTek. The power is there, but it’s hampered by a number of issues that continue to hold it back. Temperature generation is a big one of those, and while the G3 keeps cooler than previous Tensor chips, it still gets hot when it’s under heavy load, such as during gaming sessions. In comparison, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 doesn’t suffer from this and is capable of keeping up with the most demanding games without heating up anywhere near as much.

It’s also fair to admit the Tensor G3 is a less powerful chip than its competitors, sporting lower clock speeds than the last generation Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Granted, it’s not something you’re going to notice in day-to-day use, and maybe not even during gaming sessions. But if you’re paying for a flagship phone, you expect hardware that can go toe-to-toe with the alternatives. The Tensor G3 doesn’t really offer that, and it’s something to keep in mind.

The Tensor chip also feeds into a different problem with the phone: the battery life.

Battery life and charging

A person putting the Google Pixel 8 on charge.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

One of the legacy problems with the Pixel range has been battery life, and it’s not a problem the new Tensor processor has been able to fix. It’s another arena where the Tensor G3 and Pixel 8 have improved over previous years, but it’s still not where we’d like it to be.

The Pixel 8 has a relatively small 4,575mAh battery, and it does mean the phone limps along with a one-day battery life. But you know what? This is fine. It’s OK. You can live with it. But we’d be lying if we said it was up to the standard of the competition. The Samsung Galaxy S24, Galaxy S24 Plus, and OnePlus 12 all sport two-day battery lives, and that sort of longevity is rapidly becoming the standard. Once again, the Pixel 8 doesn’t cut the mustard and can’t stand up to the competition.

Even worse, the charging speeds don’t make up for it. The Pixel 8 tops out at 27W, which is admittedly faster than the Galaxy S24’s 25W and equal to the iPhone 15 Pro‘s charging speed. But it’s left behind by the S24 Plus’s 45W charging and looks like it’s standing still when compared to the OnePlus 12’s 80W charging.

Like the performance above, this isn’t all bad. The Pixel 8 isn’t slow to recharge, and the day-long battery life isn’t terrible by any means — but there are significantly better options out there.

You want a more versatile camera system

The Google Pixel 8's camera module.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 8’s camera is incredible. Exceptional, even. The main lens is one of the best pieces of camera tech on the entire smartphone market, and it’s rare it’ll take a picture you’ll dislike. But venture further than the main lens, and your options aren’t as good.

Accompanying the Pixel 8’s main lens is a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens that just isn’t up to the same standard. While Google has done a good job balancing the colors so it matches the main lens well enough, the relatively low megapixel count hampers ultrawide shots significantly. Zoom in at all, and you’ll see a lack of detail — a problem the Pixel 8 Pro‘s superior 48MP ultrawide lens does not suffer from.

The lack of a telephoto lens also hurts versatility. You can zoom with the main lens, thanks to the high megapixel count, but it’s hard for even this excellent lens to truly replace a dedicated telephoto zoom. As a result, you have a truly incredible camera when you stick to just the main lens. It’s not a particularly versatile system and not really recommended if you like to experiment with your smartphone camera — or just like to take wide-angle or zoomed shots.

There are lots of great Pixel 8 alternatives

OnePlus 12 Glacial White on a wrinkly satin white cloth.
The OnePlus 12 Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

One big reason not to buy it is because there are a bunch of phones to buy instead of the Google Pixel 8. Some, like the Google Pixel 8 Pro, are just flat-out better versions of the same phone. Others, like the Samsung Galaxy S24, are better in some ways but worse in others. Samsung’s Galaxy devices have recently had much better performance, thanks to the latest Snapdragon chips and much stronger batteries, but they don’t quite match the stellar performance of the Pixel 8’s camera.

You can also go on a madcap and hair-raising odyssey with the lunatic that is the OnePlus 12. OnePlus’ latest flagship phone is bonkers powerful, with good cameras, and a truly incredible 80W fast charging rammed in for seemingly no reason at all. Or, if you want a phone that’s similarly close to the developers of the phone’s software, you can buy an iPhone. Heck, if you just want to save some money, then you could buy the Google Pixel 8a.

In short, there are plenty of fish in the sea, and a number of those fish probably aren’t using the Pixel 8. Listen to those fish and see what else there is out there. Our best smartphones list is a great place to start looking, and so is our list of the best phones you should buy instead of the Pixel 8.

The Google Pixel 9 is coming soon

Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro and Pixel 9 XL leaks.
Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, and Pixel 9 Pro XL Rozetked

But really, this is the biggest reason not to buy the Pixel 8: The Google Pixel 9 is likely just around the corner. Google has an event booked for August 13, and it’s more than likely where we’ll be introduced to four new Pixel devices.

Yes, four. Google is rumored to be taking a big page out of Samsung’s and Apple’s books and introducing a whole new model. Whispers and leaks say we’ll be looking at not just the Google Pixel 9 and 9 Pro but also the Pixel 9 Pro XL. And if folding phones are more your thing, we’ll also likely see the Pixel 9 Pro Fold — the phone we previously called the Pixel Fold 2.

The Pixel 9 looks to be getting a big design refresh, with flat sides and slimmed-down screen bezels. The camera visor on the back is round now, but there’s been little word on what sort of lenses Google will be looking to fill them with. The renders do seem to show the standard Pixel 9 will still only have two lenses, so the chances of an ultrawide and telephoto on the flagship are pretty low. The Tensor G4 processor is also expected to debut with these three phones, and rumors say it will have improved thermal management — hopefully ending those overheating issues for good.

It’s never a good idea to buy a phone when a successor is almost out, and it’s always a good reason to sit and wait. Even if the Pixel 9 doesn’t float your boat, you’ll have Pixel 8 discounts to look forward to. Now is definitely not the time to buy a Google Pixel 8; wait and see what August brings.






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