Google unveils the Pixel 8 and the Pixel Watch 2

Estimated read time 5 min read

Google unveils the Pixel 8 and the Pixel Watch 2

Picture: June Wan/ZDNET.

At its Made by Google conference, held yesterday in New York, the web giant not only unveiled its latest Pixel smartphones and connected watches, it also took a new step in the expansion of its AI program, presenting an even more powerful Google Assistant.

If you missed the event, here’s a recap of Google’s announcements.

1. Pixel 8 and 8 Pro

Picture: June Wan/ZDNET.

At first glance, the design of the Pixel 8 series looks a lot like that of last year’s models. The new models are nevertheless rounder, both devices having curved edges and corners. The camera bar is just as polarizing as the previous one, with the Pixel 8 Pro featuring a three-lens configuration, while the standard Pixel 8 only has two – a wide-angle sensor and an ultra wide-angle.

The edges of the new Pixel devices are also thinner than ever, granting users a larger screen area. This will be particularly appreciated on the standard Pixel, because this year it benefits from a noticeable improvement in its refresh rate, which goes from 90 Hz to 120 Hz. The screen sizes remain unchanged: 6.2 inches for the Pixel 8 and 6.7 inches for the Pixel 8 Pro.

AI at the heart of the new Pixel

To everyone’s surprise (or not), AI is at the center of the new Pixel. New photo and video features are coming to this series: Video Boost, which uses its Night Sight technology to better record videos in low-light environments; Audio Magic Eraser, which removes unwanted background noise from a video; and even a Best Take tool, exclusive to the Pro model, which allows you to swap faces in a group photo.

All this, as well as some other improvements of Google Assistant regarding voice dictation and phone calls, is made possible by a new Tensor G3 chipset. Google claims that the Tensor G3 has a machine learning model 10 times more complex than that of the Pixel 6, which dates from two years ago.

Both devices are equipped with 50 megapixel wide cameras with 2x optical zoom, and 10.5 megapixel selfie cameras. The Pro outbids with an ultra-wide dual lens and a 48 megapixel telephoto lens on the back, for better remote capture. If you prefer close-up shots, you will be happy to know that macro photos and videos are improved on both camera systems of the Pixel 8 range.

More sustainable solutions

In terms of endurance, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will be equipped with 4,575 mAh and 5,050 mAh batteries, respectively. There are no significant gains in terms of charging speed this time, the maximum power is still capped at 30 W. It is still better than the latest iPhones.

What has changed significantly is Google’s commitment to software updates. Starting with the Pixel 8 series, the company will offer seven years of software updates. But there is a catch: out of these seven years of software updates, only five concerning OS updates. The last two will only be affected by security patches. Despite everything, this announced longevity may make the investment in the Pixel 8 series more interesting.

Prices and availability

The starting price of the Pixel 8 is 799 euros, and that of the Pixel 8 Pro is 1,099 euros (for the smallest storage, 128 GB). If you want more space, the Pro model is available with 1 TB of internal storage.

Both models are available for pre-order today. They will be delivered from October 12th.

Pixel Watch 2

Picture: June Wan/ZDNET.

Last year, Google unveiled its first connected watch, the Pixel Watch. Naturally, like all first-generation products, many problems have been reported: a rather average battery life, a software full of bugs and a finish that leaves something to be desired compared to the best models from Apple and Samsung.

With this year’s Pixel Watch 2, Google is staying true to its design roots, opting for a pebble-like look and feel, with a circular watch face and pull-out watch straps.

New for sport and health

The big changes to the Pixel Watch this year are focused on sports and health :

  • an improved multipath heart rate sensor allows for faster and more accurate tracking. This has repercussions on other aspects such as sleep tracking, high or low heart rate notifications and a much awaited function, Active Zone Minutes/Heart Zone Training during training sessions. ;
  • a stress management system powered by Fitbit and based in part on the detection of sweating, heart rate variability and skin temperature ;
  • a wider variety of activity tracking, including cycling and running, with automatic detection of training sessions ;
  • the “Safety Check”, a new feature allowing users to program a timer when they move from one place to another. If the user does not respond to the watch prompt at the end of the delay, an SOS message will be sent to his emergency contact list.

The Pixel Watch 2 also benefits from a better autonomy, the company touting a resistance of 24 hours, even with the screen always on. This is almost double the estimate of last year’s model.

Prices and availability

The Pixel Watch 2 is already available for pre-order at a price of 399 euros. If you opt for the 4G LTE model, you will have to pay 449 euros.

If you pre-order your Pixel Watch 2, you will receive a free six-month subscription to Fitbit Premium and a one-month trial to YouTube Music Premium.

3. Pixel Buds Pro

Picture: Jason Cipriani/ZDNET.

If Google has not unveiled a new model of Pixel Buds Pro, the brand has presented a software update for its headphones. To accompany it, two new colors are available: porcelain and azure blue.

Among the promises of the update: better call quality, a low latency mode for games, an application dedicated to Chromebooks and more.

These new features will of course be available on the new Pixel Buds Pro, but they will also be deployed on existing models via an update. So, if you already own Pixel Buds Pro, stay tuned.


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