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Technology

Is the Pixel 8 worth the upgrade?

Google Pixel 8 Pro AH 01 jpg.webp

The latest iteration in the Google Pixel line of phones is finally here. The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are the most powerful Pixel devices with their Tensor G3 processor. Along with the added muscle, these phones bring some new and useful features. While that’s the case, the question is whether the upgrade to the Pixel 8 is worth it.

You’re most likely asking this question if you purchased the Pixel 7 or the 7 Pro last year. These phones were extremely popular last year when they launched, and they’re great options today. So, is it time to trade up or should you hold out for the Pixel 9?

We’re going to go over the reasons why you should upgrade as soon as possible and the reasons why you should hold onto your current phone. Before we get started, you can find the pre-order links for these devices below.

Pre-order the Pixel 8 (Best Buy)

Pre-order the Pixel 8 Pro (Best Buy)

Why the Pixel 8 is worth it

So why should you part with your Pixel 7? This question could be a bit tough considering how iterative upgrades work. However, if you take a closer look at some of the finer details, you’ll start to see a strong case for switching up.

Software support

First and foremost, those OS upgrades. Google shook the Pixel community with its announcement. Now, the Pixel phones (before the Pixel 8) have a pretty lukewarm update schedule.  The phones get three major OS upgrades with five years of security patches. That’s pretty lacking considering that Samsung offers an additional year of OS upgrades. Also, it’s laughable compared to what Apple does for its phones.

Well, the Pixel 8 will get seven years of OS upgrades. It’s launching with Android 14; it will be supported until Android 21. This means that the phone will lose support all the way in 2030. If you’re planning on getting this for the long run, then you know that it’s going to be supported for longer than you’ll own it, most likely.

The upgraded AI capabilities of the Tensor G3

So, Google’s Tensor chips aren’t going to make Qualcomm quake in its boots. The Tensor chips aren’t exactly weak, but they’re not meant to be the beefiest processors out there. They shine with their AI power. The first-generation Tensor chip enabled on-device speech dictation on the Pixel 6, which was major.

The AI prowess of the Tensor chips has only gotten stronger in the intervening years. In fact, Google did some pretty impressive things with the AI in the Tensor G3. Google put actual generative AI models on the chip for the Pixel 8 Pro. This means that the phone can perform on-device generative AI.

The chip has some of Google’s own foundation models built in. They’re stripped-down versions, obviously, but they’re able to give the Pixel 8 Pro a huge boost over the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. The Pixel 8 Pro can generate AI with 150x as many computations as what you get on the Pixel 7 series.

Google even loaded an image model onto the Tensor G3. This means that it can utilize generative AI when editing images. This AI will power the Zoom Enhance feature coming to the Pixel 8 Pro.

So what?

Sure, the more powerful AI is cool, but why should you trade up? You have to think about this: What does Google have coming down the road? The increased AI power in the Tensor G3 only opens more possibilities for amazing AI feats for the phone to perform in the future. Having these language models on the chip is a game-changer.

The upgraded camera

It wouldn’t be a new Pixel phone without substantial camera improvements. If you’re looking for the best that Google has to offer in photography, then this update will be worth it. Starting off, you’ll expect improvements in the low-light performance. Most of the sensors for both the regular and Pro versions take in more light.

The main sensor takes in 21% more light compared to last year. The telephoto camera on the Pro model takes in 56% more light compared to last year and the ultrawide takes in 105% more light. This will lead to some much better low-light photos compared to the Pixel 7 phones.

Speaking of low-light performance, the Pixel 8 Pro will bring Night Sight video. This will boost the low-light performance for video.

As for the regular Pixel 8, the ultrawide camera gets autofocus this time around. This means that this phone will be able to use macro mode.

Take those improvements with the additional AI enhancements, and you have one of the best cameras of the year. If you’re big into having this best photography experience, then the Pixel 8 is a no-brainer.

Newer battery

If you switch up to a newer phone, then you’re going to be getting a newer battery. A year doesn’t take a toll on the performance or the camera, but it definitely takes one on the battery. Your Pixel 7’s battery is most likely starting to feel long in the tooth.

Why the Pixel 8 isn’t worth it

So, those are some pretty strong reasons to switch to a shiny new Pixel 8. However, do you really have to upgrade? There are some reasons why you might want to hold onto your old phone.

The Pixel 7 is still fast

Sure, some people like to be on the bleeding edge of technology. However, you can survive being close to the edge. The Tensor chips are optimized excellently for the Pixel phones, and the Pixel 7 had great performance. A year in, that phone still flies. It’s not the most powerful, true, but you’re still getting buttery smooth performance.

The Pixel 7’s camera is still great

Google is unveiling some amazing features with the Pixel 8’s cameras. However, the Pixel 7’s camera is still one of the best cameras that you can get on a phone. The photos that you get from that phone are absolutely gorgeous. If you hold onto your Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro, you won’t be getting a bad experience in the slightest.

Prices are going up

In case you didn’t know, this year’s Pixel phones start at $100 more than last year’s. The Pixel 8 starts at $699 and the Pro model starts at $999. So, the Pixel 8 Pro joins the $1,000 phone gang. The global economy is in a tough spot at the moment. Buying a new phone might not be in the cards. Sure, you can capitalize on a trade-in deal, but it costs you nothing to just hold onto your old phone. You’re still getting a fantastic device with the Pixel 7.

The Pixel 7 will still get two more years of OS upgrades

So, the Pixel 8’s software support blows Pixel 7’s support out of the water. However, you can still hold onto your Pixel 7 for two more years before software support becomes an issue. You’re still going to get all of the fundamental features that are coming to Android 14, Android 15, and Android 16. If you’re worried about software features, you’re still covered.

Well, what if you have a Pixel 6?

Maybe, you’re a Pixel 7 owner and you decide to keep your phone, but what if you’re still clutching your Pixel 6? Well, the Pixel 6 is definitely no spring chicken. The performance of the original Tensor chip is okay, but it’s slowing down. As for the battery life, well, you’ll be lucky to get a day of light usage.

It might be worth getting a Pixel 8. You’re getting the newest and most powerful Tensor chip, an updated camera, a much brighter screen, much better AI prowess, a much fresher battery, and many more years of software support. The Pixel 6 will lose support after Android 15 (next year’s version). the Pixel 6 was an amazing phone and a great change of direction for the company, but it might be time to switch up.

That’s the dynamic with phone releases nowadays. If you bought last year’s iteration, you’re good with keeping it for another year. However, if you’ve been holding out for two or three years, the update is much more worth it.

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