If you're in the market for a new Google Pixel phone at the moment, you've got the Google Pixel 7, the Google Pixel 7 Pro, and the more recent Google Pixel 7a to choose between. They're all very decent smartphones in their own ways, but I can't help but look ahead to later in the year and the Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Pro.
If the rumours are to be believed, then the next couple of Pixel phones should be with us around October time. That's when the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro were announced in full by Google in 2022, and so it seems likely that the follow-up models are going to appear 12 months afterwards (maybe with the Pixel Watch 2 as well).
While what we've heard so far about the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro sounds promising, it's by no means certain that I'm going to take the plunge and actually take the upgrade. First, Google needs to convince me that the deal is worthwhile by pulling out some stops in certain areas...
1. Much better battery life and charging speeds
Underwhelming battery life has been mentioned in both our Pixel 7 and Pixel 7a reviews (though it was actually okay on the Pixel 7 Pro). Based on my own previous experience with Pixel phones, this is an area where Google needs to do much better – I've found that these handsets have never really been great in the battery life department, and get noticeably worse as time goes on.
It feels as though a lot of manufacturers, Google included, design phones to a certain spec and then worry about battery life afterwards – but in 2023, it's really not okay that handsets are struggling to make it through a full day of use. From the consumer perspective though, battery life makes a huge difference to the experience of using the phone. I'd happily take a bit of extra weight and thickness to the Pixel 8 Pro if it meant that the battery didn't need constant recharging.
Then there's charging speed: 23W, 20W and 18W for the Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7a respectively. Those are really poor figures considering that the latest smartphones can get all the way up to 240W now. This is another area where the Pixel devices are lagging behind, and there's lots of room for improvement with the Pixel 8 Pro.
2. Next-level camera capabilities
The Pixel phones have long been synonymous with top-quality photos and videos, thanks mainly to Google's efforts in image processing technology and AI – being able to use machine learning to, for example, brighten up a low-light shot.
In the last couple of years though, phones like the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra have caught up with Google in this department. You can get stunning results from plenty of handsets nowadays, and the Pixel series doesn't seem quite so special to me in this particular field anymore.
I'm hoping that the Google Pixel 8 Pro comes through with next-level camera capabilities in terms of both the hardware and the software it offers: multiple high-quality camera lenses on the back of the handset (perhaps even a periscope lens) and then some really neat tricks when it comes to the way that pictures and videos are captured and saved.
3. More software innovations
I've written before about the exclusive features that you get when you buy a Pixel phone: these are very welcome, but it doesn't mean that Google can't do more in this department. I'm hoping that Google adds even more reasons to go for the Pixel 8 Pro as opposed to one of the best Android phones from Samsung or OnePlus.
The AI chatbot Bard seems like a good place to start. Google Assistant has been around for years, of course, but it's something we've all got used to now, and in all honesty it's not particularly useful. Having an AI helper on hand to compose emails, respond to text messages and make life run more smoothly would be much appreciated.
We've heard little about Android 14 up to this point, and it's the mobile operating system that the Pixel 8 Pro is almost certainly going to come with. Let's hope between now and launch day we get a few announcements about Android features that have iPhone owners feeling envious, and convince me to upgrade to a Pixel 8 Pro.