Google Pixel 8 — what we know and what we'd like to see

Google Pixel 7 Pro back view
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Google Pixel 8 remains a ways off yet, with Google focusing on the Pixel 7a and Pixel Fold releases for now. But that doesn't mean rumors about Google's next flagship aren't out there. Google has made serious strides toward producing excellent phones, and we expect to see that continue later this year. 

Information about the Pixel 8 remains rather scarce, especially after the device was a no-show at this year's Google I/O. Still, we have some thoughts on what we'd like to see Google add to its phone lineup. From better battery life to even stronger cameras, the Pixel family still has room to improve.

Here's what we know about the Pixel 8 so far.

Google Pixel 8 latest news (updated May 18)

Google Pixel 8: Possible release date

Google has stuck to a late autumn release cycle for the Pixel series for a few years now, so we expect the same to hold true for the Pixel 8. That means an October time frame, especially if you look to recent Pixel releases for guidance.

Google announced the Pixel 7 on October 6, 2022 and the Pixel 6 on October 19, 2021. We think it's safe to bet on an early to mid-October debut for the Pixel 8, though a lot can change over the next seven months.

While the Pixel 7 got a sneak peak at Google I/O 2022, Google didn't do that for Google I/O 2023, instead placing the focus on the Pixel 7a and Pixel Fold announcements. 

Google Pixel 8: Specs

Pixel 7 Pro hands-on

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Right now, we only have a few things to go on about Google's Pixel 8 design plans. Thanks to a WinFuture Pixel 8 leak, we think we know the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro codenames: Shiba and Husky, respectively. 

It's all but certain that Google will use the new Tensor G3 chipset (codenamed Zuma) to power the new phones. Some speculate that Tensor G3 will be based on the Exynos 2300 with a G5300 5G modem, which has been supported by more recent leaks.

The newer source, which details the Exynos 2300 chip that the Tensor G3 is believed to be based on, also reveals which CPU and GPU cores the chip will have. Overall, it looks like, similar to previous Pixels, the Pixel 8 series won't pursue maximum performance for its CPU, but should still have a capable GPU.

The Pixel 7 came equipped with 8GB of RAM while the Pixel 7 Pro has 12GB of RAM. We expect Google will keep a similar configuration between the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. That said, the above leak claims both Shiba and Husky will have 12GB of RAM.

As for the displays, we think Google will stick with OLED panels for both phones. The Pixel 7 has a flat 6.3-inch FHD+ display. The Pixel 7 Pro is a much larger curved 6.7-inch QHD+. The latter sports a 120Hz refresh rate while the smaller Pixel has 90Hz. All of this to say, we think Google will keep a similar disparity between the two models.

But according to the same leak that spilled the beans on the codenames and RAM, we might know the screen resolutions. Husky is said to have a resolution of 2822 x 1344, while Shiba allegedly has 2268 x 1080.

Google Pixel 8: Design

With Google having introduced a new design to its flagship phones as recently as 2021, it's unlikely that we're going to see a major overhaul in the fall, especially after no Google I/O teaser. Still, Google fine-tuned the look of its phones with the Pixel 7, and that could continue with this year's update.

Pixel 8 Pro renders

(Image credit: OnLeaks/Smartprix)

To that end, initial Pixel 8 Pro renders posted by Steven H. McFly (also known as "OnLeaks" on Twitter) have appeared and they suggest a phone that looks a lot like the Pixel 7 Pro. However, there are some noticeable differences — the corners of the phone are more rounded and there looks to be a new sensor underneath the flash on the horizontal camera bar. It's unclear what role that sensor might play, but if it's truly coming to the Pixel 8 Pro, you can bet that more details will soon emerge.

Leaked Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro case renders from MySmartPrice also suggest a similar form factor to previous generations so far as the camera bars are concerned. 

The biggest possible change, detailed in a follow-up post from OnLeaks, is that the Pixel 8 Pro seems to have a flat display. The Pixel 7  Pro and Pixel 6 Pro before it had curved panels, so this will make for a considerable change if it's accurate.

Leaked renders of the Pixel 8 suggest it could be significantly smaller than the Pixel 7, with the phone shrinking from 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7 mm to 150.5 x 70.8 x 8.9mm. Most notably, the display looks set to shrink from 6.3 inches to 5.8 inches. The renders also suggest it will feature rounded corners and that the telephoto lens will still be limited to the Pro model.

A leaked video that came from 91mobiles seems to corroborate a lot of the Pixel 8 Pro design rumors. The camera cutout now encompasses all three lenses, while the new mystery sensor below the flash appears to be a temperature sensor. The curved display also seems to be missing, with a flat screen in its place.

Google Pixel 8: Cameras

Google Pixel 7 Pro cameras

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As for cameras, we don't have a lot of information just yet. But according to the same leaker who found the codename, Tensor G3, and screen resolution leak, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro will supposedly use staggered HDR

Staggered HDR takes long and short exposure shots simultaneously instead of one after the other. This should supposedly help with photography inconsistencies like strobing or ghosting effects. It's much faster than the method that Google has perfected over the years.

With staggered HDR, the current 50MP Samsung GN1 camera sensor that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 series use just can't handle it on a hardware level. That implies the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro might see an upgraded main sensor. One possible option is Samsung's GN2.

On top of this, Google may have a new Video Unblur feature, to match the Pixel 7's Photo Unblur ability, ready in time for the Pixel 8. It's been found in an unfinished state in the code for the Google Photos app, but there's plenty of time for it to be finished before the expected Pixel 8 launch date.

A leaked Pixel 8 case render from MySmartPrice shows a large area molded to fit the handset’s distinctive camera bar, with enough room for two lenses to peek through. So it doesn't look like Google is planning on adding a third camera to the mix. That same leaker shared a case render for the Pixel 8 Pro as well, which features a wider pill-shaped cutout to comfortably accommodate a third lens.

Alleged screenshot of the Google Photos Video Unblur feature's UI

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

Google Pixel 8: What we want to see

Pixel 7 hands-on

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While we loved the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, there are a few things we want to see improved for the next generation.

Battery life

Simply put, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro have rather subpar battery life. Given the battery capacities — 4,355 mAh and 5,000 mAh, respectively — the latest Pixels perform well under the 10-hour average we like to see in our battery life test. It's high time for Google to address battery life with the Pixel 8, especially with the Galaxy S23 family all posting better than average numbers on our battery test. (For what it's worth, the Pixel 7a did show some battery life improvements over its predecessor.)

More years of updates

Google controls the Android software, and now it controls the Pixel hardware thanks to designing its own Tensor chips. And yet, the phone maker only promises three years of platform updates. Samsung is now better than Google at providing updates long-term with its four-year promise. Considering that the Pixel should be the Android equivalent of the iPhone, we want to see the Pixel 8 offer five years of Android upgrades and five years of security patches minimum.

Brighter displays

Don't get us wrong, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro have nice displays, which we measured at 926 and 927 nits of brightness, respectively. They're pretty good, even outdoors. But when Samsung and Apple push the 1,500-nit mark, we want to see Google use brighter panels on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

Better Tensor performance

Tensor G2 made serious strides in all ways, especially performance. Yet, it still lags behind Qualcomm and especially Apple Silicon. Granted, Tensor isn't meant to be the most powerful chipset you can get. However, we'd like to see a performance boost in Tensor G3 to make the Pixel 8 more competitive on the performance front. 

Better telephoto colors

The Pixel 7 Pro got an upgrade to a 5x optical zoom on its telephoto lens, which is rather impressive in a world where the Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn't exist. Still, it's the highest zoom on a Pixel ever. However, we found the colors in telephoto shots to be rather lacking, especially when Super Res Zoom kicks in. Samsung struggles with this less, so we'd like to see the Pixel 8 Pro's telephoto images close the gap.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.