Google’s Pixel phones are in trouble

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The Google Pixel 8 pinch nan Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 6.Google Pixel 6 (left) pinch nan Pixel 7 and Pixel 8. Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Almost each azygous reappraisal of the Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Pro talks astir really these 2 return america to nan promised onshore of AI nirvana connected smartphones. Google Assistant screening calls for you? Check. More intelligent smart reply suggestions? Of course, my lazy psyche deserves that convenience. Enhanced zoom that relies connected pixel-level image reconstruction to de-haze blurry edges? My Instagram dump would emotion that.

Erase sound from videos? I want that, too. Summarizing web articles? That’s each tab-hoarding journalist’s dream. Those each are nan AI features that rightfully put nan Pixel 8 duo successful a different league. But they are not intolerable to emulate. Moreover, it besides appears that Google intentionally locked immoderate camera wizardry to nan Pixel 8 Pro to warrant its thousand-dollar asking price.

The transportation for a Google Pixel telephone is still a bully one, but betwixt immoderate questionable decisions from Google this twelvemonth — and fierce title that conscionable won’t extremity — it’s not unreasonable to deliberation nan Pixel family is successful danger.

A dragon burning down Google’s house

Xiaomi 14 Pro successful white.Xiaomi 14 Pro, powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC. @Daniel_in_HD / X

For easiness of comparison, let’s attraction connected nan Pixel 8 Pro. It’s a awesome telephone for $999. But it’s not nan champion telephone for $999. And erstwhile smartphones powered by Qualcomm’s AI-loving Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip hit nan shelves, nan vaunted AI separator of Pixels will dilute further. Take a look astatine nan Xiaomi 14 duo, launched connected October 26, and besides nan OnePlus 12 sitting correct astir nan corner.

Thanks to nan caller Qualcomm spot wrong and nan caller HyperOS software, nan Xiaomi instrumentality offers AI-aligned perks for illustration reside generation, an article summarization instrumentality that transcribes video calls into notes and makes short summaries, AI image generation, text-to-slide creation, and nan expertise to move doodles into artwork. Just for illustration nan Xiaomi 14, Honor’s upcoming flagship utilizing nan aforesaid Qualcomm spot will besides beryllium capable to natively tally instauration generative AI models connected smartphones.

But that’s not all. Qualcomm says nan upgraded NPU and nan AI stack connected its latest flagship spot will let users to remove undesirable objects from videos, just for illustration nan Pixel phones. Expanding nan canvas of images utilizing AI plugins to get multi-step analyzable tasks done pinch a sound prompt, positive text-to-image generation, are among nan galore different tricks it tin propulsion off.

Someone holding nan Google Pixel 8 Pro successful beforehand of a colorful mural.Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The latest Qualcomm spot doesn’t wholly portion distant nan Google Pixel’s AI” credentials, but an mean Android flagship has ne'er been this adjacent to matching nan intelligence that Google often touts for its phones. Will nan Pixel abruptly go “just different premium Android phone” aft nan onslaught of Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 phones? Not really. But is their worth deprecated? Absolutely, and for much reasons than conscionable fancy AI tricks.

Of course, Google has a fewer cardinal leverage points — for illustration a smarter Google Assistant, a generative AI pup called Google Bard, and immoderate software-side camera chops. But those are hardly nan features that are a “must” connected a thousand-dollar phone.

Even nan aging rivals rank up

An iPhone 15 Pro successful Blue Titanium (left) and Google Pixel 8 Pro successful Porcelain showing camera modules.Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Seven years of OS updates, you say? It’s great. But is location an assurance that each nan caller package experiences that Google develops successful nan coming years will tally connected your aging Pixel 8 successful 2029? Almost surely not. Look nary further than nan Pixel 8, which can’t propulsion each instrumentality that nan Pixel 8 Pro can. And past there’s nan wide characteristic gulf you spot betwixt nan Pixel 7 and Pixel 8 generation. I won’t excavation further into nan past, but you get nan thought of wherever I’m going.

Now, let’s talk astir merit. Is nan Pixel 8 Pro nan champion $999 phone? Arguably so. Can it hit nan latest “Pro” iPhone? Certainly not astatine earthy performance. Definitely not astatine ecosystem benefits. Obviously, not astatine nan longevity of package support. Unfortunately, nan Pixel besides lags down nan Apple flagship astatine artillery endurance and video seizure finesse by a patient margin.

Let’s look into nan Android world. Last year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra still fares amended than nan Pixel 8 Pro’s Tensor G3 chip astatine immoderate awesome benchmark tests. It has a terrific zoom camera and stunning nighttime mode capabilities. The package is much feature-rich from a customizability position than nan Pixel 8 Pro. It has immoderate neat ecosystem benefits that play good pinch Windows PCs. The yesteryear Samsung flagship besides offers a desktop-like subsystem called DeX. The artillery life is better, and truthful are nan thermals.

Problems, problems, problems

Holding nan Google Pixel 8 Pro, showing its Home Screen.Joe Maring / Digital Trends

So, wherever precisely is nan “wow” facet of nan Pixel 8 series, particularly nan Pro? Let’s opportunity a telephone is nan sum of its parts. But nan sum of nan parts – moreover nan astir basal parts – is not full for nan Pixel 8 series. Heck, nan Pixels simply can’t shed nan curse of its predecessor.

There are existent Pixel 8 bid users complaining, erstwhile again, astir nan bad antenna connected nan Google phones — resulting successful bad web reception. One personification ran a test utilizing an Android app and recovered nan latest Pixel delivering sub-par web reception results. That’s a basal trait, and a telephone must get it right. After all, we bargain a telephone to beryllium capable to make calls. Apple fable Steve Jobs is bullied to this time for downplaying nan iPhone’s bad antenna problem pinch a “You’re holding it wrong” blunder.

Bad telephony is not forgivable.

It’s distressing that Google still hasn’t managed to lick thing arsenic superior arsenic a Pixel telephone not being capable to telephone nan 911 emergency hotline. The past 911 rumor post was dated conscionable a fewer days agone connected Reddit. There’s a full thread of documented 911 telephone nonaccomplishment posts connected Reddit narrating nan scary ordeal. There’s nary guarantee that Pixel 8 users won’t tally into akin problems.

There’s already a full bunch of complaints regarding connectivity issues plaguing nan Pixel 8 bid phones connected Reddit. The Pixel 7 duo, and nan Pixel 6 bid earlier it, besides gave akin headaches to buyers. There are besides dozens of complaints covering different woes for illustration heating, artillery drain, and different kinds of package bugs.

The Tensor tension

Render of Google's Tensor G3 processor.Google

Now that we are knee-deep into discussing Pixel problems let’s talk nan laggard business of nan Tensor chips, which trickles down each nan measurement to its 3rd loop successful 2023.

Right from nan start, things were shaky. Google has confirmed to 9to5Google that it blocked benchmarking apps – those that tally synthetic load scenarios to trial a processor’s mightiness – to debar leaks. Some opportunity Google did it to forestall unflattering benchmark scores from stirring an online furor. Let’s springiness Google nan use of nan uncertainty here. But nan numbers don’t lie.

At demanding tests for illustration nan 3DMark Wildlife Extreme simulation, nan Tensor G3 was successful nan aforesaid people arsenic nan two-generations-old Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Apple’s A15 Bionic chips. On GFXBench Aztec moving astatine 1440p successful offscreen mode, it erstwhile again returns little numbers compared to nan aforementioned Qualcomm and Apple processors and moreover falls down MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000.

A personification holding nan Google Pixel 8.Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Climbing up to nan Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and nan Apple A17 Pro, nan Tensor G3 doesn’t moreover merit to beryllium successful nan aforesaid convention arsenic different flagship chips of 2023. The A17 Pro averages astir 2,800 connected Geekbench 6 single-core trial and complete 7,000 astatine multi-core runs. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (inside nan Galaxy S23 Ultra) clocks 2,000+ and 5,200+ astatine single-core and multi-core tests, respectively. The comparable tally of nan Tensor G3 is simply astir 1,700 astatine single-core and successful nan 4,400 scope astatine multi-core tests.

On AnTuTu, nan A17 Pro proves to beryllium astir 60% faster, while nan Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is astir 40 to 45% mightier. The A17 Pro’s lead connected immoderate demanding graphics-intensive tests is almost 150% supra nan Tensor G3. Those are not mini numbers by immoderate agelong of nan imagination. And arsenic nan Pixel 8 bid ages, they will driblet retired of favour arsenic much caller AI experiences get that request higher firepower.

I americium not moreover going to put nan benchmark figures that Qualcomm touts for nan Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 because they perfectly embarrass Google’s latest silicon.

What this intends for nan Google Pixel

The Google Pixel 8 Pro sitting upright connected a parkland bench.Joe Maring / Digital Trends

So, here’s nan brute study pursuing a unsmooth Pixel 8 Pro observation. Ultimately, your telephone will support getting Android OS upgrades spaced crossed 7 yearly generations, but they won’t get each nan snazzy features that nan caller Pixels will flaunt successful nan coming years. And that brings america backmost to quadrate one. How overmuch laggardness is forgivable successful favour of a fewer AI tricks earlier you determine to splurge connected a Pixel erstwhile nan title intelligibly offers a amended experience?

A telephone is not each astir AI. A procreation aliases 2 of lagging down is forgivable. But aft that, you request to reinvent nan wheel. We are astatine nan separator of a displacement wherever on-device generative AI is knocking astatine nan Android doorsteps. On nan different broadside of nan mobile ecosystem, Apple is pushing console-grade games and pro-grade camera tricks connected nan iPhone. The Pixels look worryingly anemic and decidedly not fresh for that shift.

At nan extremity of nan day, nan Pixel 8 duo is not bad, astatine slightest not successful 2023. But Google needs to drawback up, and by a lot.

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