AH Awards: Best Camera Smartphone of 2023: Google Pixel 8 Pro

The Pixel 8 Pro combines capable camera hardware with Google’s AI smarts to provide outstanding results.

Google announced two flagship smartphones this year, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. These two phones do have the same SoC, design language, and so on. The Pixel 8 Pro does have a number of advantages, though. One such advantage lies in the phone’s camera department. The two phones have the exact same main camera, but their ultrawide shooters are different, and only the ‘Pro’ model has a telephoto camera. On top of that, Google will soon roll out some camera AI features to the Pixel 8 Pro, features that won’t be available on the regular model at all. Even as it is right now, the Google Pixel 8 Pro provides an outstanding camera experience, so great, that we decided to award it with the title of the best camera smartphone of 2023.

The Pixel 8 Pro provides great camera results regardless of which one you use

It’s not exactly a secret that Google’s Pixel phones are well-known for their camera prowess. Well, this year’s flagship did not disappoint. During our review period, we were once again impressed by a smartphone from Google, in the camera sense. Google managed to improve upon last year’s offerings, thanks to both new camera hardware and software. Google used a new main camera sensor this time around, which opens new possibilities for further updates too. Even as things stand at the moment, however, the Pixel 8 Pro is an outstanding camera phone. The competition is very fierce this year, so this was definitely not an easy decision. Ultimately, however, the best smartphone camera title belongs to the Pixel 8 Pro.

Google Pixel 8 Pro Review AM AH 30Google Pixel 8 Pro Review AM AH 30
Google Pixel 8 Pro cameras

Just to be clear, our decision is mainly related to camera performance, but we had to count in Google’s camera AI features as well, which are an important part of the experience. Let’s talk about the cameras first. The Pixel 8 Pro comes with a wider aperture this time around, and a new camera sensor. Google used the ISOCELL GNK sensor here, improving upon the ISOCELL GN1 which was placed inside the Pixel 7 series. This new sensor is more capable on paper, and it does prove that in use as well. It allows more light to enter the scene, and provides Google’s algorithms more info to work with.

The ultrawide camera received a major boost compared to last year’s model

The ultrawide camera also got a major boost. Google is now using a 48-megapixel shooter, over a 12-megapixel camera used last year. It has a rather wide field of view (126 degrees), and a wider aperture (f/1.95) as well. This camera does allow over 100% more light to enter the shot compared to last year. The results are great, we’ll talk about that in a moment. This camera is also used for macro shots, and the improvements that we’ve mentioned are very beneficial in that aspect too. The telephoto camera also has wider aperture, and does provide better shots.

The images provided by the main camera are more detailed, though the same Google Pixel look for pictures is still there. Google prefers cooler tones, and it does an outstanding job in HDR conditions. That contrasty look is still here, so Pixel users sure won’t be disappointed. We’ve noticed considerable improvements with the ultrawide camera, perhaps even more than with the main camera. The shots are more detailed, and the difference is easy to spot in macro photography too. To make things even better, Google does a great job of keeping the colors in-tune between all three rear cameras, so that it doesn’t feel like the images are taken with different phones entirely. The video aspect also received a boost, and the upcoming ‘Video Boost’ feature will only make things better. That feature is expected to arrive this month, and will send your videos to Google servers to be processed and improved. Google is promising major improvements.

It has great truly great array of camera features, and two additional ones are coming

Speaking of great upcoming features, ‘Zoom Enhance’ is also coming. That feature will be able to sharpen and generally improve images that you already took, in case you need to zoom into the details. It will use generative AI to do that. Now, there are plenty of useful features already available on the Pixel 8 Pro, that we tested out. The Pro controls are available here, which is not something we’re used to seeing from Pixel phones. They can come in real handy if you want your shot to be very specific, needless to say, you can achieve some outstanding results here. Night Sight video improves nighttime videography, while Best Take will make sure that blinking in group photos never ends up being an issue again. The ‘Magic Editor’ is a truly powerful feature that allows you to completely change your already taken images, if you want to. We’re talking about moving objects, changing the skies entirely, and so on.

The Pixel 8 Pro is truly packed with camera features, and even without them, the phone provides outstanding results. If you’re looking for a point-and-shoot camera smartphone, without thinking too much about it, this is the phone for you. Also, if you like to tinker with images, and love to have plenty of useful features, the Pixel 8 Pro has you covered. If you like ultrawide photography, or love to zoom into objects, this phone doesn’t disappoint… and so on. You get the gist. The Pixel 8 Pro is a truly great camera smartphone.