I just tested the Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro side by side — and this is the biggest upgrade by far

Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.
(Image credit: Future)

I remember a time when it was impossible to use my smartphone outside in direct sunlight. That’s become a worry of the past because today’s flagship phones often exceed 1,000 nits with their displays, and for the first time ever, I can say that a Pixel is now part of the conversation. In my Google Pixel 8 Pro review, I explain how I was impressed by all of the AI-assisted features on Google's latest handset, but I’m most surprised about its much improved display.

Having spent a fair amount of time with the Pixel 7 Pro, I noticed it underperformed in many critical areas — its display especially. It just looked a lot weaker compared to its rivals, and Tom’s Guide’s benchmark testing revealed that model reached a peak brightness output of 927 nits. By comparison, the similarly sized Galaxy S23 Plus had a reading of 1,345 nits in our testing — now that's a bright phone.

Google Pixel 8 Pro vs Google Pixel 7 Pro displays in sunlight

The Google Pixel 8 Pro's display is considerably brighter than the Pixel 7 Pro in direct sunlight.  (Image credit: Future)

Google definitely needed to remedy this problem, so when Google raved about the Super Actua Display of the Pixel 8 Pro at its Made By Google event, I was a little skeptical that it would be a substantial improvement over the Pixel 7 Pro’s pitiful mark. I’m not one to make early conclusions, but Google’s rating of 1,600 nits with HDR brightness and 2,400 nits peak brightness seems overly ambitious. Usually display improvements are often iterative, but rarely do they turn out to be huge leaps.

Well, it turns out that I didn’t need to run the Pixel 8 Pro through the usual barrage of display tests to see exactly how this upgraded display holds up. All I had to do was load up a movie trailer on both phones for a  Pixel 8 Pro vs. Pixel 7 Pro comparison to witness the night-and-day difference, along with a quick read of one of my articles using Chrome. I cannot begin to tell you enough about how much brighter the Pixel 8 Pro’s new display is compared to its predecessor.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Pixel 8 Pro vs Pixel 7 Pro Display Test Results
Row 0 - Cell 0 Max brightness
Pixel 8 Pro1,526 nits
Pixel 7 Pro927 nits
iPhone 15 Pro Max1,550 nits
Galaxy S23 Ultra1,225 nits

Further confirmation about its much improved display is revealed after the Pixel 8 Pro went through Tom’s Guide’s display benchmark testing, resulting in a peak brightness output of 1,526 nits. That turns out to be a 64% improvement over the Pixel 7 Pro, which is remarkable because displays rarely achieve this kind of leap. Usually I see this kind of improvement over a couple of generations at the very least.

Against other rivals such as the the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Galaxy S23 Ultra, the Super Actua Display of the Pixel 8 Pro is a marked improvement. Even though it’s a smidge below the 1,550 nits produced by the Super Retina XDR display of Apple’s flagship, it beats out the 1,225 nits reached by Samsung’s champion.

Google Pixel 8 Pro held in hand.

(Image credit: Future)

I can’t overlook the improvements of the standard Pixel 8 either because it also posts impressive brightness results with its smaller 6.2-inch Actua Display. In Tom’s Guide testing, it managed to reach a peak brightness of 1,349 nits — a 45% boost over the Pixel 7’s reach of 926 nits.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Pixel 8 vs Pixel 7 Display Test Results
Row 0 - Cell 0 Max brightness
Pixel 81,349 nits
Pixel 7926 nits

This is a satisfying win for Google. Even though the Pixel 8 Pro doesn’t reach the ratings that Google claimed — few phones do, to be fair — it’s still a significant upgrade that makes the Pixel 8 Pro a more resounding candidate in the best phones conversation. Paired with other improvements to its battery and cameras, it’s certainly one of the best Android phones you can get — plus it helps that it also has the class leading software and security updates support for 7 years.

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.