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Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. Google Pixel 8: don’t buy the wrong Pixel

Google Pixel 8 in white and pink.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

As is usual for Google these days, details about the newest Pixels were spoiled well before the Made By Google announcement event. But that hasn’t dampened our enthusiasm one bit, as the Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Pro are easily the two most advanced and desirable phones Google has ever created. The Pixel 8 range introduces the Google Tensor G3 processor, a variable 120Hz refresh rate for both phones, and the option for 1TB of storage on the Pro model.

Google Pixel 8 Event in 11 Minutes

These two Pixels are the top smartphones you can buy from Google, but it’s clear just from the names that there’s a gulf between them. That the “Pro” model is the more advanced and expensive of the two isn’t going to surprise anyone, but there’s a question here: Is it worth spending more on the Pixel 8 Pro, or does the Pixel 8 offer everything you need in a much cheaper package?

We put the two of them head-to-head to find out.

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. Pixel 8: specs

Google Pixel 8 Pro
Google Pixel 8
Size 162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8mm (6.4 x 3 x 0.3 inches) 150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm (5.9 x 2.8 x 0.4 inches)
Weight 213 grams (7.5 ounces) 187 grams (6.6 ounces)
Screen size 6.7-inch Super Actua OLED display with 1-120Hz refresh rate 6.2-inch Actua OLED with 60-120Hz refresh rate
Screen resolution 2992 x 1344 pixels (489 pixels per inch) 2400 x 1080 pixels (428 ppi)
Operating system Android 14 Android 14
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 128GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Processor Google Tensor G3 Google Tensor G3
RAM 12GB 8GB
Camera Triple lens 50-megapixel wide, 48MP ultrawide, and 48MP telephoto rear, 10.5MP front Dual lens 50MP wide, 12MP ultrawide rear. 10.5MP front
Video 4K at up to 60 frames per second, 1080p at 60 fps 4K at up to 60 fps, 1080p at 60 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.3 Bluetooth 5.3
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display Yes, in-display
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 5,050mAh

30W wired charging

23W wireless charging

Reverse wireless charging

4,575mAh

27W wired charging

18W wireless charging

Reverse wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support Most major carriers Most major carriers
Colors Bay, Porcelain, Obsidian Hazel, Rose, Obsidian
Price Starting at $999 Starting at $699
Buy from Google Google

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. Pixel 8: design, display, and durability

Google Pixel 8 Pro and Google Pixel 8, both in black.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Google hasn’t changed the design up much with the Pixel 8 range, and whether that’s a good thing or not will depend largely on how you feel about the Google Pixel 7‘s design. The dimensions are slightly different, but aside from that, you’re looking at the same rounded corners, glass-over-metal build, and camera visor. It’s a unique look and certainly not boring, which is something Google has struggled with in past Pixel phones. The two smartphones in question are largely the same, albeit with the Pro being distinctly larger than the standard Pixel 8. The Pixel 8 Pro is also quite weighty, tipping the scales at over 200 grams. But really, that’s expected with a phone this large.

There are more differences when we look at the displays. Both sport variable 120Hz refresh rates, meaning the refresh rate changes speed depending on what it’s doing. So, if you’re playing a game, it’ll ratchet up the highest refresh rate, but if you’re looking at images, it’ll drop down to conserve power. The difference here is the Pro’s display has a broader range of possible rates and drops all the way to 1Hz. The Pixel 8, by comparison, only drops down to 60Hz. Both are brighter than the previous generation and while the Pro has a higher potential brightness, it’s unlikely to be a clinching difference between these two phones.

Google Pixel 8 in grey and black.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

What about durability? Both are likely to be similarly tough, though the Pixel 8 Pro uses Gorilla Glass Victus 2 rather than the first edition of Victus the Pixel 8 uses. Will that make a massive difference? Probably not. Both have an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance so that they can resist water ingress from short dips in clear water. Don’t take them swimming, though.

While these two phones share a lot of similarities, the Pixel 8 Pro’s better display helps it take this category.

Winner: Google Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. Pixel 8: performance, battery life, and charging

Official product render of Google's Tensor G3 chip.
Google

These two phones feature the public debut of Google’s new processor, the Tensor G3. Representing the third generation of Google chips, the Tensor G3 offers upgrades across the board — including to the CPU and GPU — and finally fixes those temperature issues we’ve previously seen with the Tensor range. It’s an excellent processor, easily the best Google has ever made, and provides a strong and smooth experience. Both phones use this chip, so it’s largely a tie here.

Not so when it comes to storage, though. The Pixel 8 starts at 128GB, with the option to upgrade to 256GB. The Pixel 8 Pro has these options and then some extra, with 512GB and 1TB variants also available. We’re not sure why Google couldn’t have pushed the Pixel 8 to a 512GB option, too, as it’s somewhat left out in the cold. However, even 256GB is going to be plenty of space for most buyers, so it’s not that big of an issue.

Google Pixel 8 in black, with the screen on.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8 Pro has the larger battery size of the two models here, so does it come out on top in battery tests? Not really. Despite the 5,050mAh cell, it barely squeaked out a day of usage during our review period, usually ending at 10.30 p.m. with between 15% to 5%. That’s a far cry from the two-day battery lives we’ve seen on other Android phones this year. That’s certainly not the case with the Pixel 8, which easily managed to make it through the first day and deep into the second, too. It’s a big difference, and it means the Pixel 8 scores big.

Charging is a slight advantage for the Pro model, but it’s so slight we’re not sure why Google bothered to include it. What’s the difference between the Pixel 8 Pro’s 30-watt charging and the Pixel 8’s 27W? Not that much, so why bother making the difference in the first place? The Pixel 8’s slightly smaller battery cell means the two devices end up charging back to full in about the same amount of time, anyway.

The performance is entirely even, which means it comes down to the battery life — and in an upset, the Google Pixel 8 takes the round.

Winner: Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. Pixel 8: cameras

Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro in pink and white.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

The cameras are another area where the Pixel 8 Pro has an immediate edge, as it comes with a lens the Pixel 8 simply doesn’t get: a 48-megapixel telephoto camera with a periscope zoom of 5x. It’s clear the Pixel 8 Pro has a big advantage, but the Pixel 8 still has a lot going for it. It has the same 50MP main lens, with a digitally corrected 8x digital zoom and an 82-degree field of view. That lens takes incredible shots, as you might expect. It’s joined by a 12MP ultrawide lens, the same lens we saw in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, and though this lens is a bit of a disappointment, it’s not enough to drag the Pixel 8 down.

Unfortunately, it’s up against an upgraded system in the Pixel 8 Pro. Not only does it have the aforementioned telephoto lens, but it also has a much better 48MP ultrawide lens. Each of the Pixel 8 Pro’s three lenses takes exceptional pictures in its own right, and when put together into the Pixel 8 Pro, you end up with an incredible camera package.

Don’t get us wrong, the Google Pixel 8 has a very good camera system indeed, but it can’t match the cutting-edge camera tech in the Pixel 8 Pro.

Winner: Google Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. Pixel 8: software and updates

Android 14 logo on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Finally, the Google Pixel 8 Pro finds itself in a category where it doesn’t have an upper hand. Both of these phones come with Android 14, and it’s one of the purest Android experiences you can have, especially on a flagship smartphone. There are some additions just for the Pixel, but outside of that, it’s Android at close to its purest. As such, it’s swift to respond, doesn’t have any bloatware (outside of carrier additions), and is generally a joy to use.

There are further gems to be found here, too, in the form of a groundbreaking commitment to updates. Google has promised to keep the Pixel 8 range updated for an incredible seven years of operating system updates. Yes, buy this at launch, and you won’t run out of major Android upgrades until 2030. It’s an incredible promise, and both Pixel 8 models get this.

There’s little to separate these two here. It’s a tie.

Winner: Tie

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. Pixel 8: special features

Erasing items in Magic Eraser.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Google has gone big on special features this year, and they’re all based around AI and machine learning. Magic Eraser, the big release last year, has been significantly upgraded and can change the lighting of your final image. That’s combined with the new Best Take feature, which can blend elements from a series of photographs to create one final image. So, if one person’s face looks better in a different shot, your Pixel can move it over to your chosen image and slot it in. Think AI-powered Photoshop, and you’re really not wrong.

Google Pixel 8 Pro showing Best Take feature.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The Pixel 8 Pro has only one main advantage over the Pixel 8, and that’s a new Pro (aka manual) mode in the camera app to fine-tune things like your aperture, white balance, and other professional settings. Oh, and the Pro has a temperature sensor, too, but it doesn’t seem useful for much, so it’s easy enough to ignore.

A number of existing features have also been improved. The spam filter works better than ever, Gboard now has spellcheck and proofreading abilities, and the Google Assistant can translate websites and then read them aloud while sounding more natural than before.

There’s a lot here, but importantly, almost all of it is shared across both phones. This is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. Pixel 8: price and availability

Google Pixel 8 in two different case colors.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are both available now. The Pixel 8 starts from $699, $100 more than the Pixel 7. The Pixel 8 Pro follows the same trend, increasing the MSRP over the Pro model by $100 to $999.

The Google Pixel 8 Pro comes in Bay (light blue), Porcelain (beige), and Obsidian (black) colors. The Pixel 8 comes in Hazel (gray), Rose (orange-pink), and Obsidian (once again, black).

Overall winner: Google Pixel 8 Pro

The Google Pixel 8 Pro laying face-down on a wood bench.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

It was always going to be difficult for the standard Google Pixel 8 to beat its larger, more advanced sibling, and it’s not a poor reflection on the cheaper smartphone to have lost this bout. The Google Pixel 8 Pro is definitely the winner here, thanks to a stronger display, extra camera features, and extra storage options. If you take price out of the equation, then it’s clear why the Google Pixel 8 Pro wins.

But we don’t tend to ignore price, and the price differences here are significant. There’s a hefty $300 difference between these two devices, and that’s a very important factor to consider. We know the $300 gets you a better display and camera, but you’ll need to pay quite a lot more to get access to the higher storage tiers. That leaves us with the display and camera. The stronger display gives you a brighter, more detailed screen and the ability to dip to lower refresh rates. The camera gets you the periscope zoom and an ultrawide lens with more megapixels. Are all those worth $300?

That’s a personal question for sure, but the Pixel 8 still offers a lot of what makes the Pro model so good. It has the powerful Google Tensor G3 processor, a 120Hz refresh rate, one of the best smartphone cameras around, and a two-day battery life — which means the Pixel 8 isn’t a lesser option in a lot of ways. If you’re happy to live without the extras the Pro offers and love saving a bit of money, then the Pixel 8 is an absolute bargain. Is money no object? Then it’s the Pixel 8 Pro every day.

Mark Jansen
Mark Jansen is an avid follower of everything that beeps, bloops, or makes pretty lights. He has a degree in Ancient &…
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