Earlier this week, Google announced its latest flagship smartphones, the Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Pro. As the happy owner of a Pixel 6 Pro, I was quite eager to see what Google had in store for us this year. I’m not ashamed to admit I got caught up in the hype of the launch event, which led to a hasty pre-order of the phone. That didn’t last.
As time went on, the excitement of the launch of a shiny new Pixel dissipated, and I started to wonder whether I had made the right decision. The Pixel 8 Pro has a lot to offer, but compared to a Pixel 6 Pro? I wasn’t sure whether that upgrade would be worth it. Especially when you’re paying at least $999 for the privilege.
So I’ve gone and canceled that pre-order and am sticking with my current phone for the time being. And here’s why I did it.
Why I was sucked in by the Google Pixel 8 Pro
It’s actually rather easy to get sucked into the hype of the launch of a brand new smartphone — especially when your current phone has reached its 2nd birthday. Even though I had purchased my Pixel 6 Pro outright, rather than on a multi-year plan, the idea of upgrading on a two-year cycle is still pretty ingrained in my mind.
So, like a toddler, my brain fixated on a brand new phone and decided that it must have it right away. Even though there's nothing wrong with my current phone, the fact that it isn’t the latest one was enough to pry open my wallet. I won’t lie: I was also pulled in by the promise of 7 years of software updates and a free Pixel Watch 2 — even though I don’t actually like smartwatches.
I had some of the same feelings when the Pixel Fold was released, but more restrained, mainly because I don’t have $1800 to spend on a smartphone, and the fact the foldable runs on the Tensor G2 chipset. I rightly predicted that the Tensor G3 would have a lot more to offer, and spending so much on a phone with a chip that was about to be made obsolete seemed like a waste.
The ironic thing is I’m now choosing to stand by a phone that’s even older, and powered by a Tensor G1. But while I’m still missing out, I haven’t spent any money in the process.
The Pixel 8 Pro didn’t have enough to stave off buyer’s remorse
One of the biggest problems affecting smartphones these days is how small the upgrades come with each new subsequent generation. I often feel like a bunch of phone hardware has plateaued, and in the absence of major battery life improvements (something Google is particularly terrible with), it seems that most improvements seem to be on things that I personally don’t care too much about.
The Pixel 8 Pro, unfortunately, emphasized a lot of these types of features. The type of features that, once the initial toddler brain has worn off, don’t actually offer anything that would make me want to part with over a thousand dollars.
A bright Super Actua display is a nice idea, and the Pixel 6 Pro can look awfully dim in bright sunlight — but never so dim that I’ve had problems using it. Similarly, the AI camera features could be very useful for past and future photos, especially if it means I can pretend nobody else was at Disney World at the same time as me.
But just like how I learned to live without Photo Unblur, which makes me incredibly jealous of Pixel 7a owners, I can learn to continue living without a Magic Editor and Audio Magic Eraser. Plus, as someone who doesn’t bother to use Google Assistant outside of my car, the never-ending stream of features Google adds to the service has never appealed — and the Pixel 8 Pro is no exception.
On top of that, there’s a little bit of concern over what the Pixel 8 Pro doesn’t have. At this early stage we still don’t know what the battery life is going to be like, and whether Google will have improved it by any significant amount. The news that there’s no vapor cooling, and how this is part of the reason iPhone 15 Pros might be overheating, also gives me pause.
At the very least that’s an indication that maybe I should hold off, and wait to see what happens. Which is probably sensible anyway, given Google’s recent track record of problems in the weeks after launch,
But hey, at least Google finally scrapped the curved display that’s been plaguing premium smartphones for so long. It’s about time someone saw sense, even if it’s not enough to justify the upgrade.
I’m still happy with the Google Pixel 6 Pro right now
Last time I purchased a phone, I swapped a OnePlus 7 Pro for the Pixel 6 Pro. I’d had the OnePlus for about three and a half years at that point, and it was getting to the stage where I couldn’t wait to be rid of the wretched thing.
It was a perfectly fine phone at launch, but I’d held onto it for far too long and the device had started proving problematic. We’re talking display scratches, chips on the curved edge, OLED burn in and the general mediocrity that came from the OnePlus cameras of that era.
Two years later and I am still perfectly happy with the Pixel 6 Pro. The battery life isn’t as good as I’d like, but for the most part it’s still a perfectly serviceable phone. The screen hasn’t been ruined by one problem or another, the camera still takes good photos, and I’ve never really had any performance issues. Not that I ever really use my phone for particularly intensive things anyway.
On top of that, the phone is still due to get Android updates for the next 12 months. So while I’ll be missing all the Pixel 8 Pro-exclusive features, I’ll still be able to enjoy the next wave of Pixel feature drops. And, considering I wasn’t planning on trading in the phone anyway, the fact it'll lose most of its remaining value over the next year doesn’t actually matter.
Honestlyl, smartphones are too expensive to be frivolous impulse purchases, and the 500-plus dollars I could save by waiting to upgrade until next year could buy me something a lot more useful. Like the dryer my girlfriend has been pestering me to look out for during Black Friday season. Plus, it saves me the trouble of setting up a brand new phone.
I can always change my mind later
Figuring out that I probably don’t want a Pixel 8 Pro early meant that it wasn’t too late to change my mind. All I needed to do was call up my carrier and ask them to cancel, at which point they refunded my up-front payment. The good news is that I can still change my mind again. While there was a deadline to cancel the pre-order without lasting consequences, there’s nothing to say I couldn’t buy a Pixel 8 Pro a few months down the line.
Ok, so I won’t be able to claim the free Pixel Watch 2 that Google seems far too eager to give away, but I’m not mad about that. I’ve never been a huge smartwatch fan to begin with, and often find myself forgetting to wear my Fitbit. If I can’t be trusted to wear that watch every day, then it makes little sense for a different device to turn into a $350 paperweight.
And who knows, maybe the Pixel 8 Pro will get a discount as we close in on Black Friday and the holidays. It wouldn’t be the first time Google’s flagship got a generous price cut so soon after launch, and a significant saving might even be enough to make me change my mind. But right now? I’m sticking with what I’ve got. A good dryer isn’t cheap, you know.