Google Pixel 9 Pro — 9 things I want to see

Google Pixel 8 Pro
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Google Pixel 9 Pro is coming later this year — if Google sticks to its normal schedule, the updated phone should be with us sometime in the second half of this year. While 2023's Google Pixel 8 Pro had a bunch of major upgrades, especially in terms of battery life and the new Super Actua display, the phone still lags behind some of its rivals in key areas. 

There’s only so long a Pixel can survive on perks like first access to Android updates. And for someone like me, who ultimately decided against the Pixel 8 Pro for a variety of reasons, it’s imperative that Google steps up and continues to deliver with the Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro.

Here are 9 things the Pixel 9 Pro needs if I’m going to upgrade without any hesitation.

More telephoto zoom

Google Pixel 8 Pro hands-on.

(Image credit: Future)

Telephoto zoom is fantastic, but there’s a limit to how high it can typically go. Higher levels of optical zoom require more space, and space inside a smartphone is already at a premium. But we have seen telephoto lenses reach as high as 10x magnification before, in the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

That leaves plenty of opportunity for the Pixel 9 Pro to go a little beyond the current 5x magnification limit. Maybe not all the way up to 10x zoom, but it would be nice to see Google push the limit up to 6x or maybe even 7x magnification. Combine that with Google’s SuperRes Zoom technology and you have a recipe for some excellent long-distance photos. Considering Samsung’s Space Zoom combines optical and digital zoom up to 100x, though, Google’s certainly got its work cut out for it.

Better battery 

Pixel phones have always been inconsistent in the battery life department, but the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro were leagues ahead of the previous two generations. Not that 10 hours and 3 minutes (per our battery test) is what we’d call fantastic — it's close to average, really, and it’s certainly nowhere near good enough to land on our best phone battery life page. 

So Google needs to continue pushing the limits of what a Pixel’s battery life can do. Get the battery going for 11 hours, maybe even 12 and start catching up with the likes of iPhone 15 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. At the very least I’d expect the battery life to stay constant, rather than going down by any meaningful amount

Better performance on Tensor G4

Google Pixel Event Tensor chip screenshot

(Image credit: Google)

Chip performance has never been the Pixel’s strong suit, even after switching to the Tensor. It’s been argued that the Tensor isn’t meant to be a high performance chipset, with the focus instead being on AI and security — enhancing the phones’ features rather than scoring high in benchmarks.

But that doesn’t mean Google shouldn’t be striving to improve Tensor performance, and I’d like the Tensor G4 to avoid lagging behind the competition quite so much. At the very least it would be nice to see a bump in efficiency, which will help reduce common complaints like poor battery life and excessive heat production. But the closer we get to being able to have on-device video boost, rather than having to upload to the cloud, the better.

Qi2 Wireless Charging support

The Qi2 wireless charging standard isn’t yet finalized, so 2023’s Android phones missed out. 2024 is a different matter, and by the time the Pixel 9 Pro arrives, Qi2 will have had several months to settle in and start offering magnetic wireless charging to non-Apple phones.

If the Pixel 9 Pro comes with Qi2, it means that we could see compatibility with MagSafe-centric products. Chargers, phone stands, accessories on the back of your phone and so on. There will be no more fiddling to get the right positioning on stands, just snap the phone in place and it’s good to go. It would also give Google the excuse to release a third generation Pixel Stand that might be able to push beyond the current 23W wireless charging speeds.

Faster charging

Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.

(Image credit: Future)

The 30W charging on the Pixel 8 Pro certainly isn’t bad, but it could be better, particularly since the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra have been hitting 45W wired charging speeds for the past few years. Normally I’m more in favor of better battery life, rather than relying on fast charging, but there’s no reason why we can’t have both.

Sure it’ll mean having to buy another charging brick, which isn’t likely to be cheap, but that’s a small price to pay. At the very least, it’d be nice to see wireless charging speeds go up, because 23W isn’t all that impressive. 

If Google really does include Qi2, and a new Pixel Stand wireless charger, there’s nothing stopping it from bumping it up by at least a couple of watts. The more we get, the happier I’ll be.

No price increase

The Google Pixel 8 series costs $100 more than the Pixel 7 series, which is not ideal. While the phones are still cheaper than their rivals, smartphones are expensive enough as it is — and nobody likes paying more for stuff they want.

That means it’s the last thing we want to see from the Pixel 9 series. Google already had to make the unpopular decision to increase its prices, but pushing them up again so quickly might just destroy any goodwill it still has with Pixel fan, especially considering the lower price has been one of the most appealing things about Google’s phones.

Scrap the temperature sensor and lay off gimmicks

Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.

(Image credit: Future)

The temperature sensor on the Pixel 8 Pro is a neat idea, but it’s a couple of years too late to be a major selling point. It makes me wonder why Google bothered to include it, beyond using the concept as a marketing gimmick. Honestly? We should do away with the thing and put whatever resources it ate up to better use. 

The same goes for any other gimmick Google might have waiting in the wings. It’s unclear whether gimmicky features help to sell more phones. What I do know is that a gimmick isn’t going to elevate a bad phone into a good one. So it’d be nice to see Google focus on making the Pixel 9 Pro and all the important stuff as high quality as possible.

Better storage options 

It’s 2024, and it’s about time that the 128GB storage option is put out to pasture. It’s fast becoming woefully inadequate for long term storage needs, especially as photo and video sizes have been getting larger. Instead Google should be following Apple’s example with the iPhone 15 Pro Max and do away with the smallest storage option altogether.

Starting with 256GB of base storage also means that Google could finally introduce UFS 4.0 storage. Currently the Pixel 8 Pro uses UFS 3.1 which is, by comparison, slower and less energy efficient than the new upgraded 4.0 storage chips. Plus it’s only available on storage as low as 256GB, and by scrapping the 128GB models it ensures there can be parity across the entire Pixel 9 Pro lineup.

Fewer post-launch problems 

Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.

(Image credit: Future)

A lot of phones suffer from post-launch problems, and the Pixel series has never been the exception. While the Pixel 8’s problems didn’t generate quite as many headlines as the Pixel 6, but it still had a bunch of noticeable issues. They ranged from simple things like screen tint issues to more irritating hardware faults — like the bumps caused by springs pressing the rear of the display. If that's not a blatant failure in quality control, I don't know what is

Some problems, particularly the software kind, are inevitable. But it does seem like the Pixel series gets the lion’s share of those issues whenever a new device pops up. No matter how quickly they get fixed, that’s not a good reputation to have. So it’s something Google really needs to get a handle on with subsequent Pixel devices. And there’s no better time to start than the Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.

  • Teleken
    For me, I don't care about wireless charging or faster wired charging - c'mon 30W is already very fast. I care about battery life, but more importantly longevity. Let me set arbitrary maximum charge levels and timed charging to full manually. My P6P can't do that. I'm all about the better optical zoom and camera improvements - Google has been lagging behind. If Samsung wasn't so full of their crap bloat and an attempt to create their own ecosystem entirely I might be tempted to go back. Also I'm down for the brighter screen (the P6P is woefully not bright enough in sunlight), but I also need lower minimum brightness with better contrast for use at night. Also don't shrink the resolution of the screen... The processor to be more of an upgrade is nice but really my 8 year old phone is still very usable, which is why we need the other features to really step up. I was very disappointed at the minimal difference between the P6P and P8P which resulted in no upgrade this year, and I used my Note 8 for 5 years before that because upgrades in the past decade are just so minimal for non-gaming use, and screen resolution plateaued almost a decade ago too.
  • sfmartinw
    Let's dump the unreliable fingerprint scanner and use the savings for a reliable Face Unlock.

    Can we remove the compromise between getting 60fps video and HDR/VideoBoost? My concert videos are either too dark and or have horizontal banding...