The Google Pixel 8 may have only just arrived in your hands, but it’s already getting an important update. Google will be bringing lossless USB audio to the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro, and it’s a feature that may help justify the phones’ $100 price hike. Assuming you want the best possible audio pumping into your ears.
This news comes from Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering over on Reddit. He confirmed the Pixel 8 series will be getting lossless USB audio support in a future update, as will other Android phone makers — all thanks to the addition of lossless USB audio in Android 14. Unfortunately, we currently don’t have any idea of when the audio-enhancement will actually arrive.
Burke describes lossless USB audio as ensuring “bit perfect audio”, meaning it bypasses the audio mixer and any processing specs. Because this feature is now part of the Android operating system, it’s up to the phone makers and app developers to take advantage of it — Google included.
Lossless USB audio means you will need to have wired headphones to gain any of the benefits. You’ll also need to have access to lossless audio, either from a streaming service like TIDAL or Apple Music, or your own catalog of music in a lossless format.
Lossless audio isn’t new, and in the days before MP3s and music streaming it was pretty ubiquitous. But as the convenience of digital music players won out against the likes of CDs, it fell out of favor. It’s only recently that the demand for lossless audio on more portable devices is actually being catered to — provided you’re willing to pay a premium for it.
Fortunately this move by Google should do a lot to make lossless audio more accessible. Particularly those who don’t own Apple devices, many of which have started offering lossless audio support already.
As for the Pixel 8 series, If Google can roll this feature out quickly it could make the phones much more appealing for audiophiles. Which in turn could help justify the fact both phones are more expensive than they were last year. According to a poll by GSMArena, 38.7% of respondents feel the Pixel 8 Pro is too expensive. Only 9.6% feel that this is the case with the Pixel 8, but a further 31.9% still want to wait for the Pixel 8a — which should be noticeably cheaper.
The Pixel 8 series has a lot going for it, but for many people that may not be enough to justify purchasing one — myself included. While I’m not any kind of audiophile. Played right, offering lossless audio on something that isn’t a Sony Xperia, or some expensive specialist device, could work in its favor — especially at a slightly lower price tag than the iPhone 15 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
It just depends on when Google can get it out to people, and how well it works.