On October 4, Google will host an in-person event in New York City where it has promised to introduce the Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel Watch 2. Thanks to many leaks, including some self-inflicted ones, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the company’s latest devices. Here’s everything you need to know about what Google could announce next week.
Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro
As it did last year, Google has already acknowledged the existence of its latest phones ahead of their official launch date. Following months of leaks, on September 7 the company shared a 23-second clip showcasing the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro from nearly every angle. At the same time, it went live with dedicated landing pages for its new devices on the Google Store. The company claims the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro feature “the most advanced Pixel cameras yet and Google AI to help you do more, even faster.” The landing page also advertises the Magic Eraser and Live Translate capabilities of the new Pixels, though those are capabilities found on Google’s older devices as well.
According to leaks that have been published so far, many of them sourced by developer and Android Authority contributor Kamila Wojciechowska, the Pixel 8 Pro will feature a flat 6.7-inch OLED screen with 1,344 x 2,992 resolution. For comparison’s sake, the Pixel 7 Pro has a curved 6.71-inch 1,440 x 3,120 display. It’s unclear why Google has seemingly decided to outfit its latest flagship with a smaller screen, but the move to a flat display may have something to do with it. According to Wojciechowska, the 8 Pro’s OLED panel will max out at 1,600 nits of peak brightness when displaying HDR content. It is also apparently capable of more smoothly transitioning between different refresh rates.
As for the Pixel 8, it’s expected to feature a 6.17-inch 1,080 x 2,400 display capable of 1,400 nits of peak brightness. Additionally, the screen will reportedly sport a 120Hz refresh rate, up from 90Hz on the Pixel 7. If that information is accurate, the Pixel 8 will be noticeably smaller than the Pixel 7, which has a 6.31-inch screen. The teaser clip Google shared earlier in the month didn’t show the Pixel 8 Pro’s display, but it did appear to confirm the Pixel 8 will be more compact than last year’s model. As an aside, the Pixel 7a is rumored to be Google’s final a-series phone, which may explain why the company has decided to shrink the Pixel 8.
Internally, both the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will reportedly include a new Tensor G3 processor. Most reports suggest Google’s latest in-house chip won’t be a substantial upgrade over the Pixel 7 line’s Tensor G2 SoC, though a faster processor, Wi-Fi 7 connectivity and support for hardware-based ray tracing are among the enhancements fans should expect. As for memory and internal storage, the Pixel 8 will reportedly ship with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of base UFS 3.1 storage, while the Pixel 8 Pro will offer 12GB of RAM and 128GB of space to start. In the US, Google may allow consumers to configure the 8 Pro with as much as 1TB of built-in storage.
More consequentially, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are sure to pack a few photography upgrades. To start, both phones will reportedly feature main cameras with new Samsung ISOCELL GN2 sensors. The 50-megapixel GN2 is the same sensor found on the Galaxy S22 and S23. It’s physically larger than the previous generation GN1 Google has used since the Pixel 6, and capable of capturing 35 percent more light than its predecessor. It also comes with a modern feature set, including the ability to capture 8K video at 30 fps and Staggered HDR photos. The latter is something Google could use to reduce the amount of time it takes to capture HDR images.
since the fun with the Pixel 8 series is basically over anyway...
here are the google store pages of the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro
(P8P 1/2) pic.twitter.com/kcWIGF1iTu
— kamila 🌸 (@Za_Raczke) September 25, 2023
The upgrades won’t stop there for the Pixel 8 Pro. Google’s latest flagship will reportedly feature a new time-of-flight sensor that should improve autofocus performance. More significantly, the Pixel 8 Pro’s ultrawide camera may come with a more modern sensor. According to multiple reports, Google plans to use a new 48-megapixel sensor to replace the Pixel 7 Pro's aging 12MP Sony IMX386. The former is almost twice the size and, as a result, should produce more-detailed images. The Pixel 8 likely won’t receive a new sensor for its ultrawide camera, but Google has reportedly equipped it with a lens with a wider field of view. For selfies, the two phones should offer about the same experience, with both devices rumored to feature a single 10.5MP front-facing camera.
A few early reports suggested the Pixel 8 Pro would include a built-in infrared temperature sensor. It doesn’t appear Google plans to use that component for anything photography-related. Instead, it could allow users to measure the temperature of inanimate objects.
Of course, new hardware is only part of the story with any Pixel release. As in years past, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will likely ship with an assortment of software enhancements, including a redesigned camera app that offers a few new features. However, most exciting of all (if you’re a sustainability nerd like me), is that there are indications Google plans to support the Pixel 8 line with up to seven years of software updates. It’s unclear if the company’s pledge will include seven major Android platform updates. Either way, seven years of monthly security patches would be unprecedented for an Android device, and likely prompt other companies, including Samsung and OnePlus, to extend their software coverage. Even Apple may feel pressured to support its devices for longer. That would be a major win for consumers.
As for pricing, over the weekend Wojciechowska shared an official-looking Google document that suggests the Pixel 8 will start at $699, a $100 increase from the $599 the company charged for the Pixel 7 at release. The same document states the Pixel 8 Pro will start at $899, or the same price as the Pixel 7 Pro. Another leaked document indicates consumers who pre-order the Pixel 8 Pro will get a free Pixel Watch 2 from Google.
Pixel Watch 2
Speaking of the Pixel Watch 2, it looks like the company will improve on a few of its predecessor’s more notable shortcomings. Here again, most of the pre-release information available on Google’s upcoming wearable comes courtesy of Wojciechowska, who cites an internal source within the company for their reporting.
The original Pixel Watch was widely criticized for its subpar battery life. From a hardware perspective, it appears Google decided to tackle that problem from two different angles. Firstly, the Pixel Watch 2 is rumored to feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 processor. A Snapdragon chip would be a huge upgrade from the Pixel Watch’s aging Exynos 9100 SoC. The new processor would not only offer significantly faster performance but much improved power efficiency too, thanks to a 4nm fabrication process. In addition to being less of a battery hog, the W5 includes support for low-power states that would further boost the Pixel Watch 2’s battery life.
At the same time, Google has reportedly outfitted the wearable with a battery that is about four percent larger than the one found on the current Pixel Watch. That would be a modest upgrade, but since we’re talking about a smartwatch, any increase in battery capacity is meaningful.
Separately, the Pixel Watch 2 may include a dedicated ultra-wideband (UWB) chip, something not found on its predecessor. Details on what kind of software features the component would support are slim, but in combination with reports that Google has been working on a lost item tracker codenamed Grogu (yes, that Grogu), it’s not too hard to guess what the company could have in mind. At the very least, the Pixel Watch 2 could offer precision object tracking.
Another nifty feature a UWB chip could enable is seamless media transfers between the Pixel Watch 2 and Pixel Tablet, as well as future Nest smart speakers. That’s something Apple offers with the HomePod mini and UWB-compatible iPhones, so it’s not hard to imagine Google implementing something similar for the sake of feature parity.
After a jam-packed I/O last spring that saw Google introduce the Pixel Fold, it’s unlikely the company has any secret hardware that it’s waiting to announce next week. Still, Google probably has a few surprises planned. If Microsoft’s recent Surface keynote is any indication, expect Google to spend at least part of October 4 talking up its latest AI breakthroughs. Whatever the company has in store, make sure to visit Engadget that day. In addition to hands-on coverage after the event, there will be a liveblog hosted by Engadget Deputy Editor Cherlynn Low and Senior Editor Sam Rutherford.