Unlike most mobile phone manufacturers that focus on newer and stronger hardware, Google’s Pixel series of mobile phones have always focused on their AI functions. Compared with the flagship Pixel mobile phones of the past few years, this year’s This is even more true with the Pixel 8 series. Its processor pursues faster AI computing performance; its camera not only provides richer AI post-production options when taking pictures, but also after taking pictures; and its seven-year software update guarantee is even more Let it enjoy the latest AI technology for a long time to come.
This makes Pixel 8 Pro stand out among the current crowd of smartphones and ride on this year’s AI trend, but what exactly is its AI function? Has it brought any substantial changes to the mobile phone experience? Let’s take a look at Google’s mobile phone masterpieces this year!
Before getting into AI and software functions, we still need to take a look at the hardware of Pixel 8 Pro. This is the third consecutive year that the Pixel series mobile phones have continued to use the “goggles” design language, which is characterized by an eye-catching lens protruding banner on the back. Among the current mobile phones, the recognition rate is very high. When jumping from the Pixel 6 Pro to the Pixel 7 Pro generation, Google replaced the original black banner with a metallic color, leaving only a pill-shaped and a round black opening at the lens, where its three lenses are placed. It’s quite an obvious change in terms of shape. However, the difference between Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 8 Pro this time is much smaller. It just connects two black openings together to form a long, pill-shaped black opening. Using the same design for three years is almost the limit. I hope Google can replace it with another design in the next generation.
Compared with Pixel 7 Pro, you can clearly feel that all elements of the camera protrusion have been “amplified”. Not only is the pill-shaped opening enlarged, the entire camera bump is actually slightly thicker, and the LED light has become larger. The thickening and enlargement of the camera department seems to be mainly affected by the new wide-angle lens, which will be explained in more detail later. Under the LED, only the Pixel 8 Pro has a new thermometer, which will be explained in detail later. The back of the Pixel 8 Pro has a silky matte glass texture. Surprisingly, the resistance when holding it is lower than the mirror-smooth glass Pixel 7 Pro. Fortunately, the middle frame can provide enough There is no resistance, and when you hold it, you won’t feel that it is in danger of flying out.
If you still have concerns, Google has naturally launched an official silicone protective case. In addition to protecting against scratches and increasing the stability of holding, it can also slightly eliminate the lens protrusion, but it is still not flush. The editor myself really likes the way the Pixel protrudes. It doesn’t wobble around when lying flat on the table, and I’m not too worried about damaging the lens part.
The metal middle frame of Pixel 8 Pro is roughly the same as that of Pixel 7 Pro, and the buttons, SIM card slot, USB-C port, etc. are also in the same position. But the front of Pixel 8 Pro is quite obviously different from the previous generation. It has been using a curved screen for two generations, and it has been replaced by a flat screen. A curved screen is beautiful, but occasionally there is a problem of accidentally touching the edge, especially when taking pictures, so switching to a completely flat screen also has its advantages. In addition, the borders on all sides of this screen are equally narrow, eliminating the little “chin” left on the lower side of the previous generation.
Following the recent trend of manufacturers naming their screens to show differentiation, Google has also branded the screen of Pixel 8 Pro as “Super Actua” (Pixel 8 is “Actua”). Judging from Google’s description, Super Actua does not refer to any special unique technology, but to express its accurate color and ultra-high brightness. In terms of color accuracy, the Pixel 8 Pro’s 6.7-inch LTPO OLED panel is indeed not as saturated and colorful as many models on the market, but some things (like food) will not look so “fake” on the screen. As for the ultra-high brightness, the screen brightness of Pixel 8 Pro can reach a peak of 2,400nit. It is no exaggeration to say that it can really blind your eyes when turned on to the extreme. In addition to providing excellent outdoor readability, this also allows Pixel 8 Pro to present an excellent HDR effect. In scenes with strong contrast between light and dark, you can truly intuitively feel the lighting in the bright areas, creating an unprecedented See the “transparency”.
Pixel 8 Pro uses Gorilla Glass Victus on both the front and back, and has IP68 waterproof and dustproof specifications. What the editor tested this time is the “Obsidian Black” color version. As in the past, Pixel 8 Pro comes in “Black”, “White” and another special color. This year it is the sky blue “Gulf Blue” ”. In addition, this year’s white color is slightly less white than last year, but a slightly more low-key “ceramic rice” color.
After roughly looking at the appearance, the next step is the highlight part. As usual, Google has spent a lot of effort on the Pixel 8 Pro lens, but this year’s software changes can be said to be far greater than the hardware changes.
The three-lens combination used by Pixel 8 Pro is a 50MP main lens, a 48MP ultra-wide-angle lens, and a 48MP 5x telephoto lens. The most obvious upgrade among them is the 48MP ultra-wide-angle lens, which has been increased from the previous generation’s 12MP to 48MP. However, in fact, the aperture of the three lenses has been slightly increased. Among them, the 50MP main lens has been increased from f/1.85 to f/1.68. The wide-angle lens has been increased from f/2.2 to f/1.95, and the telescope has been increased from f/3.5 to f/2.8. The front lens has been replaced by a 10.5MP Dual PD autofocus lens from a 10.8MP fixed focus lens, and its wide-angle field of view has also slightly increased from 92.8 degrees to 95 degrees. Theoretically, the increased aperture should improve the performance of Pixel 8 Pro in night shooting, but in fact, because the Night Sight of the previous generations of the Pixel series is too powerful, it is difficult to say how much impact the increased aperture will have in actual shooting. There is a difference.
The real big changes in Pixel 8 Pro are in the software. In the past, Pixel cameras did not provide users with much manual control. At most, they gradually added adjustment sliders for brightness, contrast, and white balance. The rest of Pixel basically requires you to “trust AI” and leave it to the phone itself. Automatically adjust various parameters. However, on Pixel 8 Pro, Google’s camera strategy has taken a U-turn, providing “professional” manual control for the first time. In addition to the original brightness, contrast and white balance, it also opens up ISO and shutter. speed, and can even control focus and provide focus peaking. Not only that, you can also choose to shoot at 50MP or 12MP resolution, choose to save JPEG or JPEG+ RAW files, and even customize whether the lens automatically switches.
In line with this major change, the camera interface of Pixel 8 Pro has also been changed, and the three sliders on the original screen have been moved to the menu on the lower right (or the upper right if held horizontally). Although it is understandable that Google is trying to reduce the elements on the screen and avoid confusing too many sliders, but now if you want to simply adjust the brightness contrast, you have to click twice more in the menu. Another interface change is that Pixel 8 Pro separates photo and photography modes, and has a switch button below. This also differentiates the shooting modes that can be selected between the two, saving a lot of dragging. Speaking of shooting mode, Pixel 8 has removed the 360-degree panorama mode that was previously available – although it sounds like not many people use it, the editor actually quite likes using this little feature, especially it When watching on your mobile phone, you can turn on the “AR mode” of the virtual space, making you feel like you are in the space. It’s a pity that this function will no longer be available in the future.
The Pixel camera can automatically take natural and beautiful photos about 99% of the time. In fact, there are very few situations where you would want to enable Pro mode. But there are always those occasional shots where the color accuracy or exposure are a little bit off from expectations, or the subject lacks contrast, and the phone just can’t focus. For this 1% special case, it is the best time to use Pro mode.
Another special mention is that Google has launched a new mode called Ultra HDR on Pixel 8 Pro. Pixel 8 Pro will automatically activate Ultra HDR depending on the situation (currently it seems that most photos are enabled), and store additional brightness information in addition to the standard JPG image, so that the photo can be displayed on a high-contrast screen. Can restore more realistic light and dark effects. There is no conspicuous mark on which photos were taken in Ultra HDR. You have to go to the detailed information of the photo to see it, and the difference is not very noticeable on a non-HDR screen. The picture above is a screenshot taken by the editor, trying to show the difference as much as possible, but it is still very different from what you see on the full-bright screen of Pixel 8 Pro. It is no exaggeration to say that the Ultra HDR mode allows the Pixel 8 Pro’s 2,400 nits screen to really shine. It is actually the most amazing part of the entire Pixel 8 Pro photography experience.
Magic photo editing
Google has added a feature called “Magic Eraser” to Pixel 6. After selecting an object on the screen, the phone uses AI calculations to “fill in” the holes left by the removal. This year’s Magic Photo Editing function can be said to have undergone a comprehensive evolution on top of the Magic Eraser, bringing AI photo editing to a whole new level.
Pixel 8 Pro’s Magic Photo Editing function, just open Google Photos, select a photo, and press “Edit”, and you will find its independent button in the lower left corner to activate it. Before using Magic Photo Editing, you must back up the photos to Google Photo’s cloud will do. Magic photo editing can be roughly regarded as a combination of three different editing methods, which are introduced one by one below.
First, it is the same as the previous “Magic Eraser”, editing individual objects on the screen. Now after circling an object in the screen, you can not only delete it, but also move it and even zoom in or out. For all advanced photo editing functions, Google now provides four different calculation results for you to choose from, allowing you to find the one with the least “flaws”. The picture above is an example of encircling, moving, and then zooming in. Here we also show you two different example effects of the tree trunk behind the removed explanation board. In fact, both the lower left and lower right results look quite natural. Not only are there basically no traces of retouching at all on a mobile phone screen, but even if they are enlarged on a computer screen, they are actually not very visible.
The second function is that it can perform special operations on the sky, water, etc. in the picture to bring a more intense effect to the picture. Taking this Taipei cityscape taken by the editor as an example, the three AI computing modes of “Sky”, “Golden Hour” and “Water Body” for advanced photo editing can be enabled. The above pictures are four kinds of “skys” automatically generated by AI. The first three pictures are still roughly at dusk, while the fourth picture is directly changed to afternoon, and even the height of the sun is different, which is quite impressive. The picture below shows four types of water bodies automatically generated by AI. In fact, the water surface in the original photo is relatively calm, but it seems unnatural to add waves.
As before, each application of Google will provide four effects. If you are not satisfied with the four, you can also ask Google to generate four more. Compared with the previous photo object editing, this large-scale direct replacement of the sky or water body will inevitably be somewhat unnatural in terms of lighting, reflection, etc. Although the effect is amazing at first glance, you cannot take a closer look.
Finally, photo object editing can directly change the entire photo into a completely different style, using the original photo as the skeleton of the composition. This is undoubtedly the mode that allows Google’s AI to “let itself go” the most. Like the sunset photo above, the first of the four photos in Google Photo has become “Tahara style”, and the tall buildings in the background have also become trees. The second Zhang replaced the grass in the foreground with rocks, the third picture became an entire oil painting, and the fourth picture directly turned into a modern painting. This is a model where fun is far greater than practical application, but it can also be seen that Google AI actually has a lot of room for imagination.
Well, although Pixel 8 is mainly based on new AI technology, Pixel 8 Pro actually adds a special new hardware feature, which is also a quite unexpected thermometer. In fact, Samsung tried to build a thermometer into a mobile phone in the Galaxy S4 and Note 3 generations ten years ago, but it only appeared in this generation, and it has not been equipped since.
The current Pixel 8 Pro thermometer is very simple in concept and use. On the rear lens protrusion, below the LED fill light is the Pixel 8 Pro’s temperature sensor, and there is also a corresponding app on the phone. Just open the app, place the sensor within about 5 centimeters above the object to be measured, and then press the huge circle in the middle of the app, the temperature of the object to be measured will appear. If you want more accurate data, Google also provides a variety of materials to choose from, such as food, drinks, metal, plastic, cloth, etc., to help the sensor make better judgments.
If you take a closer look, you will find that the “materials” that can be selected do not include body temperature – this is because Google is still applying for approval from the FDA and is expected to officially support it in the near future. Of course, this does not mean that you cannot use it to measure body temperature, but after all, body temperature is within a small temperature range, and it is necessary to obtain relatively accurate data and have a high degree of reliability. Therefore, currently Google does not recommend directly Used to measure body temperature.
Based on the editor’s random tests on some objects in life, most of the thermometer data should be accurate, but the real question is, where is it used in daily life? If we go back to two years ago or a year ago when the epidemic was at its worst, having a thermometer on your mobile phone to quickly measure whether you have a fever is undoubtedly a very convenient feature, but now most places no longer measure body temperature. Thermometers are a bit weak at the application level.
Perhaps like the previous Soli radar of Pixel 4, Google also hopes that after such hardware exists, app developers can come up with suitable applications to maximize its functions. However, for the time being, it seems that in ordinary daily scenarios There really aren’t many opportunities for thermometers to appear.
Other AI features?
As the AI-first Pixel phone, it seems like its functions shouldn’t be limited to this? Yes, the AI mentioned by Google at the press conference is not just the ones measured, there are many more. One of them is the “AI wallpaper” in the picture above. You can find it by selecting “More wallpapers” in the custom wallpaper style menu.
The use of AI wallpaper is basically as expected. First of all, Google provides 12 “themes”. Each theme is based on a sentence and allows you to modify some of the text to generate pictures. Take the “translucent” in the middle of the picture above as an example. It consists of a “color” in the front and an “object” in the back. Both can only be selected from dozens of options provided by Google, and are not completely free. If you can’t decide on a combination, you can also click “Inspire me” below and let Google choose for you. Once selected, you can let AI generate the wallpaper, and Google will provide three to four variations for you to choose from. Overall, the tablecloths produced are more surreal in style, with fewer objects or simple patterns.
However, there are more AI features that have not yet been implemented on Pixel 8 Pro and will come later. This includes the function of automatically sorting voice transcripts into key points, the smart reply function that can better understand the conversations in the chat stream and make more precise suggestions, the “photo zoom enhancement” function that automatically fills in details, and the addition of Assistant for Bard functions and more. On ordinary mobile phones, this kind of “features coming later” situation may be difficult to imagine, but it is actually normal for Google to gradually open more AI to mobile phones, and many of these functions will also come to older phones. on the machine model.
But having said that, Google still disclosed the functions that have not yet been implemented as a selling point at the press conference. For users who expect that their phones will have these many functions as soon as they are turned on, they should still pay attention to which AI functions are not yet available. .
Performance and battery
Although the Pixel 8 Pro is said to be a “flagship phone,” Google does not focus on data such as CPU or memory performance like other manufacturers. It even said that at the press conference, there was no relevant information about its Tensor G3 processor. not much. In actual use, there is not much difference in speed between Tensor G3 and the previous generation, but when AI operations are enabled for a long time (such as when taking pictures), you can feel a significant reduction in heat generation. For this alone, Tensor G3 has made considerable progress.
In terms of power, although the Pixel 8 Pro does not have much more power than the Pixel 7 Pro, due to the use of the Tensor G3 chip, the actual use experience has increased from about a full day of steady use to about a day and a half. . As long as modern mobile phones can be used stably for a day, generally speaking, there is no big problem, but the extra power saved allows the Pixel 8 Pro to have more power when using hotspots for sharing or taking a lot of photos.
In addition, Pixel 8 Pro now supports 30W wired charging, which is still not fast, but it is still an improvement. However, since Pixel phones no longer come with a transformer adapter, the charger must be purchased separately.
Google’s Pixel series of mobile phones were used to showcase the “pure Android experience” in the early years. In the mid-term, they focused on affordability. In recent generations, they have gradually become a stage for Google to showcase its AI technology. The Pixel 8 Pro has powerful hardware, a second-to-none camera with professional features, and a bright and stunning screen, but ultimately it all serves Google’s AI.
On Pixel 8 Pro, it can be clearly felt that Google’s AI has gradually expanded to all aspects of the mobile phone experience. Although the various AI functions introduced at the press conference have not yet been implemented, we can continue to look forward to new AI functions. On the contrary, This is also the charm of Pixel phones. Google has also promised to provide software update support for up to 7 years, further deepening the impression of this “continuously evolving AI phone”. Relatively speaking, the thermometer function that was supposed to be a special feature seems to have an unclear future.
However, as Pixel phones gradually shift from affordable to cutting-edge technology, the price of Pixel 8 Pro has increased by $100 compared to Pixel 7 Pro. However, considering the evolution of the Pixel 8 Pro in all aspects (and inflation), the Pixel 8 Pro is still a phone worth buying, especially for those who are more interested in software functions than hardware speed.
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