Pixel 8 Pro: Google’s AI powered super phone
The Google Pixel 8 Pro is the tech giant’s latest flagship smartphone, and it is a device that truly pushes the boundaries of what we can expect from on-device artificial intelligence (AI). The driving force behind these advancements is the Tensor G3 chip, Google’s semi-custom-designed system on a chip (SoC) that is built specifically to optimize machine learning and AI tasks.
- Google’s on-device Gen AI helps assist you while using the phone, meaning there is less focus on making sure everything you do is perfect. No more over pronunciation while talking to Google Assistant or using voice typing, everything just works naturally. You no longer need to worry about photos coming out perfectly or lighting being flawless, you can just fix it later and have it look nearly perfect.
- This is great not only for content creators, but also the “average consumer.” There is peace of mind in knowing you do not have to go out of your way to make sure a photograph is perfect, or the phone can understand you, but rather it will just work and adapt to you.
- Tensor G3 is not as performant as other chips released in 2023, but still provides an equivalent experience to those chips. While the raw performance is closer to a 2021 SoC, the effective AI performance is significantly better. While voice transcription on iPhone 15 Pro Max has a bit of latency and accuracy is not there, Google’s Pixel 8 Pro is near instant and just about perfectly accurate.
- The new body design is more comfortable with a velvet feeling glass texture, the new flat screen makes the device feel more premium while the augmented camera visor keeps Google’s recognizable design and improves it to fit their new hardware.
- The overall experience of the device rivals Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max, outdoing most of the Android competition. It’s $999 price tag at 128GB of storage is competitive, though given the size of AI models the device should have started at 256GB.
One of the most impressive features the Tensor G3 enables is real-time voice transcription. This isn’t just an incremental improvement on previous technology, but rather a transformative leap forward. The Pixel 8 Pro, thanks to an advanced speech recognition model running natively on the device, can transcribe spoken words into text with unprecedented speed and accuracy. The result is a voice typing experience on the keyboard that’s more fluid and intuitive than ever before, allowing users to dictate messages, emails, and other text-based communications faster than they could manually type them. This bleeds into other features as well, like transcription in the voice recorder app and Google’s Call Screening. I have been enjoying not having to worry about how quickly it processes because it is near instant and incredibly accurate.
Thanks to the new on-device LLM, the AI-driven enhancements do not stop there. In Gboard,there is now a proofread function that will look over and correct any text. It works similarly to Grammarly and Microsoft Editor. The Recorder app on the Pixel 8 Pro will soon feature an AI-powered summarization tool that can generate concise summaries of long audio recordings. This innovative feature has the potential to be a game-changer for professionals who frequently attend lengthy meetings or students who record long lectures. Instead of having to manually review hours of audio, users can quickly get the gist of the content via these automated summaries. This is on top of the speaker labels and text search for audio.
Audio Magic Eraser brings AI-powered audio editing capabilities to the Pixel 8 Pro. By analyzing the audio waveform in a video, the device can isolate specific sounds, enhance them, or even remove them entirely. This can be a boon for amateur video creators, allowing them to easily remove unwanted background noise and improve the overall audio quality of their videos without needing professional editing skills or software.
Google also leverages the power of the Tensor G3 chip to enhance the Pixel 8 Pro’s photo editing capabilities using an on-device Gen AI image model. The Magic Eraser feature, which was already impressive in previous iterations, now uses an intelligent scene completion algorithm to realistically fill in the background when users remove objects from their photos. This results in cleaner, more natural-looking images even after significant edits.
The Magic Editor feature takes this a step further by allowing users to modify various aspects of their photos with AI-powered tools. You can adjust the lighting, apply depth effects, and even reposition elements within the photo. All these edits are powered by generative neural networks, making them surprisingly intuitive and effective. Unlike the Magic Eraser, this does not happen on-device. Instead, it is processed on Google’s data centers. It takes around 15-20 seconds to process but provides much better results than on device AI.
While all these photo and video features are amazing, and they are, they need to be implemented at the system level rather than in apps like Google Photos. If I want to use Audio Magic eraser, a Pixel 8 feature, to fix audio in Instagram/Snapchat/TikTok, a very common use case, I should not need to record the video in the default camera app, go to Google Photos and fix it, then go to the social app, upload it, then edit it. Google needs to work with the Android team to expose these features as APIs app developers can use or find a way to provide them at a system level, like Apple does with portrait mode and portrait lighting on the camera feed.
While the Tensor G3 chip may not lead the pack in terms of raw processing power, with rivals like Apple’s A17 Pro and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 offering higher benchmark scores, the Pixel 8 Pro still offers smooth and responsive performance in everyday use. More importantly, the areas where the Tensor G3 truly shines – namely, the AI-driven features – are areas where raw processing power is less important than optimized, efficient performance. Trust me, you will not notice this raw power in day-to-day usage, but you will notice the AI features day-to-day. It’s near instant and simply great. Efficiency as well, battery is easily an over 1-day battery.
Benchmarks put the raw performance of Tensor G3 CPU and GPU around the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and just shy of A15 Bionic performance.
#GooglePixel8Pro Tensor G3 GPU performanc/efficiency test results. Apparently Samsung 4nm LPP node is just not as good as TSMC when it comes to efficiency. We’re looking at something that’s roughly 1.5-2 gen behind the current flagship SoCs. pic.twitter.com/k1UVDbmqmS
— Golden Reviewer (@Golden_Reviewer) October 10, 2023
Aside from its impressive AI capabilities, the Pixel 8 Pro also boasts a refined design, a top-tier camera system, and an unmatched commitment to long-term software support, with Google promising a minimum of seven years of updates. This combination of features makes the Pixel 8 Pro an excellent choice for anyone in the market for a high-end Android device.
For the enterprise market, the seven years of promised system and security updates is even more important. Google has also promised to provide repair parts to partners for the lifetime of the device. This alongside the possible utility of the thermometer built into the device, which I suspect will be swapped for a LiDAR sensor within the next generation or two, makes it a unique but good toolkit for enterprise use.
However, it is the on-device AI capabilities that truly set the Pixel 8 Pro apart from its competitors. Google has always been at the forefront of AI and machine learning, and with the Pixel 8 Pro, they are bringing that expertise to the realm of smartphones in a way that is both innovative and practical. For professionals, power users, and anyone else who wants a smartphone that is not just powerful, but also smart and continually improving, the Pixel 8 Pro is a compelling choice that is hard to not recommend.