Google is betting everything on artificial intelligence and trying to change smartphone photography forever
With this year’s Pixel line, Google has decided: it’s time to bring artificial intelligence into the hands of the masses. Perhaps the smartphone made by Google has never been mass market: although recognized by the first iterations as one of the most effective camera phones ever, Pixel has always struggled to impose itself on the competition from Apple and Samsung, however allowing Google to continue to have your say on the hardware and show the world your vision of Android straight from the source. And as we know, if there is one thing that the big G is working hard on, it is the spread of artificial intelligence in its software: so Android 14, the new version of the operating system, debuts on the new Pixels (Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro) making them one of the most interesting tech releases we’ve seen this year. Even more, with the Pixel 8 line Google goes out of its way and promises seven years of updates. Artificial intelligence takes its first steps, but on a device that will be supported for all future evolutions of the technology.
The new proprietary Tensor G3 processor powers a 6.7-inch smartphone that is very light for its category, 212 grams. The design remains very similar to the previous generation, confirming Pixel Pro as one of the most comfortable smartphones with a generous diagonal in daily use, even with one hand. The cameras, once again, are the flagship, starting from the main 50 megapixel one (on both models). But every single camera has been improved on the Pixel 8 Pro, including the introduction of autofocus to the front camera. Compared to the Pixel 7 Pro, the 48MP ultra-wide lens collects 105% more light and focuses 30% closer for improved Macro Focus shots with aesthetic blur. To top it all off, the 48MP telephoto lens delivers even sharper zoomed-in low-light shots, even at 10x, while maintaining optical quality.
An example of the excellent 5x zoom of the Pixel 8 Pro.
The real technology that makes the Pixel 8 Pro a marvel in photos and videos, however, lies in the software. Google has launched new functions based on artificial intelligence on its phone that not only improve those already present on Google Photos, but introduce new features that make the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro something new in a panorama of smartphones that are all the same. With Magic Editor it is possible to reposition and resize the subjects or use the presets with a single touch to make the background stand out, all with just a few taps: it is the generative AI that thinks about “reconstructing” the parts that are missing behind the subject we have moved.Best Shot is an even more incredible feature to see in action the first time: it uses photos taken sequentially of a group to get the best combination of all: the algorithm on the device creates a blended image from a series of photos to obtain what we want, with for example the possibility of mixing the expressions of the subjects in the shot.
It doesn’t end there: Gomma Magica Audio allows you to easily reduce distracting sounds from videos, such as wind or noisy crowds. This first-of-its-kind computational audio capability uses advanced machine learning models to sort sounds into distinct layers so you can control their volumes individually. Later this year, the Pixel 8 Pro will get Video Boost, which pairs Tensor G3 with Google data centers. This feature applies cutting-edge processing to videos to adjust color, lighting, stabilization and graininess: a few hours after shooting them and having been processed remotely, videos will be “updated” on your device with even better quality. Video Boost will also enable better video quality in low light conditions, all in postproduction.
Artificial intelligence is a superpower that recurs throughout this year’s Pixel experience, like when you can summarize web pages on Chrome, or like Call Filter, which silently responds to calls from unknown numbers with a natural voice to engage the caller: autonomously separates wanted and unwanted senders and will later suggest contextual responses to tap to quickly answer simple calls. All this is just the beginning, and we can imagine that in the future Google will increasingly enrich the AI functions of its smartphones. Pixel 8 Pro is ready, even if at first glance immature: all these functions are already useful, but they certainly weigh on a processor that often has to “think”. The implementation of AI, especially in photos, requires waiting for the result to materialize before our eyes for even tens of seconds. If it is true that the first benchmarks reveal that the Tensor G3 is not a monster of power, it is also true that a good cause of the bottlenecks can also be found in the fact that the Pixel 8 Pro is a smartphone that bases its functions on an Internet connection .
For the rest, Pixel 8 Pro is a top of the range in all respects, this year also in price, which increases compared to the previous one. The functions, however, are all there, as well as an excellent 120Hz display, crystal clear and powerful sound, even a new sensor on the back that allows you to measure the temperature of objects to which it is brought close. The battery, which has always been the weak point of the line, performs much better this year, and holds up to the computational load of the AI and of the phone in general, lasting a full day. The smartphone tends to heat up on the back after intensive use, but never to worrying levels. The price, we were saying, has increased: 1099 euros for the 128GB version, which becomes 1,159 for the 256 and 1,299 euros for the 512GB version. Thanks to a limited offer, the Pixel Buds Pro wireless headphones are included in the purchase as a gift or 229 euros discount on Pixel Watch 2, the two new arrivals in the Pixel ecosystem. Furthermore, the Pixels will arrive in Italian physical stores for the first time this year, thanks to the collaboration between Google, Unieuro and Vodafone. The Pixel, essentially, faces the general public more than ever: and given the balance between innovation and avant-garde achieved, this could be its year.