The Pixel 8 Is Coming Today: What to Expect From Google's New Flagship Phones
Google is expected to launch its next-gen flagship phones, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, in a matter of hours. Here's what to expect.
Sareena DayaramSenior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
Google is expected to show off its new Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro phones at a New York event in a matter of hours. They're set to be unveiled alongside the Pixel Watch 2.
"Big fall launches are stressful, but Pixel helps these Best Phones Forever stay cool as cucumbers. The w8 is almost over." Google posted on Threads. "Rest up for Made By Google on October 4th."
Google hasn't been coy about the upcoming devices, revealing a number of details ahead of today's event. In a series of videos, Google provided a "sneak peek" at the Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro and the Pixel Watch 2. Until Google fills in the rest of the blanks, here's what you can expect from its upcoming flagship phones.
Pixel 8 software: Seven years of updates?
Apart from cameras, Google's sophisticated software is one of the key attractions of a Pixel phone. Google's upcoming Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro smartphones are rumored to provide seven years of software and security update support, according to a leaked list of specifications compiled by 91Mobiles. If that's true, it'd be a significant improvement over the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro models, which Google pledged to support with five years of security patches and three years of major Android updates.
It would also put Google's support of the Pixel line a lot closer to the level of support Apple provides for the iPhone line. For instance, 2010's iPhone X and 2017's iPhone 8 have both received software updates from their launch year through 2023. They'll both continue to receive security updates, even if they will be excluded from this year's iOS 17 software update. By comparison, both Samsung's latest Galaxy S23 phones and the OnePlus 11 guarantee five years of support. Fairphone, a sustainable smartphone manufacturer known for its device longevity, plans to support its newest model, the Fairphone 5, with eight years of security patches.
Pixel 8 camera hardware: Ultrawide camera gets a bigger and better sensor
The Pixel 7 series is known for its photography chops, and last year the camera upgrade included a telephoto lens. This year, the upgrade appears to be focused on the ultrawide camera as well as an upgraded main camera sensor, according to reports by Android Authority.
The article says only Pixel 8 Pro will get an upgraded ultrawide camera, taking the form of a 64-megapixel Sony IMX 787 sensor -- a solid upgrade from the now-dated Sony 12-megapixel IMX 386 sensor. This new sensor, which is also used in the main camera of Google's Pixel 7A, is nearly double the size and should translate to a higher quality ultrawide camera that'll allow more light into the sensor.
Another big rumored upgrade is to Samsung's Isocell GN2 for both Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Samsung promises a slew of capabilities including better light processing, capturing fast-moving objects with ease and shooting 8K video.
Pixel 8: Higher price tags?
Pixel fans in the US may have to pony up more for this year's Google lineup, at least according to 9to5Google citing a retail source. The report says the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are each expected to receive a price increase of $100 from their predecessors. That brings the price of the Pixel 8 to $700, while the top-end Pixel 8 Pro should start at $1,000 if that report is accurate.
A recent promotional video showcasing the phone's AI capabilities was recently leaked by Wojciechowska, courtesy of 91Mobiles. This leak appears to offer a window into how Google plans to incorporate more AI into its flagship smartphones. Earlier this year, the company announced that Magic Editor would be available on "select" Pixel phones.
This feature is a more advanced version of Magic Eraser, allowing you to edit any picture you take to your liking. A demonstration of this feature shows a person taking three pictures of a family on a carousel and combining them into one shot where everyone is smiling and looking at the camera simultaneously. The video also highlighted other camera features including the much-anticipated Night Sight for low-light videos, and Video Boost.
Pixel 8 Pro: Thermometer feature
One of the notable changes that could make its way to the Pixel 8 Pro is a new thermometer feature according to a video leak from 91Mobiles, working again with Wojciechowski. (The video has since been taken offline, but you can find copies on the internet.) The feature is tipped to be a contactless thermometer that monitors your skin's temperature to help you determine if you might be running a fever.
If the leak is accurate, it won't be the first time smartphones have offered such a health feature. We saw it on the Honor 4 Play Pro, which has an IR sensor, as well as in paid apps on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3. This would, however, be the first time we've seen one on the Pixel lineup.
Pixel 8 design: Display, camera bar tweaks expected
After Google overhauled the design of its Pixel lineup in 2021, the changes to the Pixel 8 series design are expected to be more subtle.
Remember the horizontal camera bar? That's expected to remain, but this year all cameras on the Pro model could be encased in a single glass pill, unlike the pill-and-circle design of the Pixel 7 Pro. There also appears to be an extra sensor, which might be that thermometer feature discussed earlier.
Another potential design change, at least according to display analyst Ross Young, is a smaller display on the standard Pixel 8. He expects we'll see a 6.16-inch display on the Pixel 8, down from the 6.32-inch display on the Pixel 7, while the Pixel 8 Pro will remain the same size as its predecessor.