One of the things we’re expecting from Google I/O 2023 is our first glimpse at the Google Pixel 8 Pro — ahead of an official release later this year. Currently, I’m rocking a Pixel 6 Pro, which I’ve been pretty happy with. Since the two-year mark is a good place to upgrade, you’d think I’d be excited at the prospect, right? Not exactly.
The Pixel 6 Pro has been doing a pretty great job over the past two years. Is it the best Android phone? Not anymore, but I’m a simple man that doesn’t need a phone that’s at the absolute cutting edge all the time. Simply put, the Pixel 6 Pro is doing well enough and I have no real desire to upgrade yet.
Short of an absolutely miraculous must-have feature that nobody could have predicted, there’s only one thing that would make me want to ditch my Pixel 6 Pro and buy a Pixel 8 Pro: better battery life.
The Pixel 6 Pro is still a great phone
The Pixel 7 Pro may have taken the Pixel 6 Pro's place on our best phones, best Android phones and best camera phones lists, but that doesn’t change the fact the Pixel 6 Pro is a great little device. Well, not little considering it has a 6.71-inch display, but you know what I mean.
The Tensor G1 chipset may not be the most powerful, certainly compared to the likes of the iPhone 14 Pro Max or the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, but I’ve never suffered any performance issues during my 18-month stint with the phone. It probably helps that I tend to use my phone quite casually, and rarely (if ever) do things that require a lot of resources to run properly - like high-spec mobile gaming.
Then again, if I’m not doing these things, and have no real desire to start, then I don’t really need a phone that performs better on benchmarking tests. My money is far better spent on other things, like fixing the leak in my shower or painting my walls in a new color.
Similarly, I’ve had no problems with the camera quality. Sure, there have been some issues, like the time Night Sight took a little too long to do its thing, and made it look like my neighbor's cat only had one eye, but overall I’ve been very satisfied with what the Pixel 6 Pro can do.
It may not be the best camera on a smartphone, but good enough is the general feeling I have about the results. Sometimes I wouldn’t mind having Photo Unblur at my disposal, but I don’t feel the urge to spend another $899 for a single feature I wouldn’t need very often.
Plus, sticking with a Pixel, compared to a Samsung or a OnePlus, means I get all the Android updates right away, and without a bunch of the nonsense certain phone makers like to add to the software. Oh and it’ll be a cold day in hell before I willingly switch back to an iPhone. iOS is not for me.
In the past, I tended to keep hold of my phones for a while. Usually for as long as I can stand using them, and don’t feel irritated by their very presence. That’s what happened to the OnePlus 7 Pro I discarded when the Pixel 6 Pro came out. Frankly, by the time October 2021 came around, I couldn’t wait to get rid of the blasted thing — and its weak camera performance.
I may get to that point with the Pixel 6 Pro in a year or so, but for the time being I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got. Barring one big exception: the battery life.
The Pixel 6 Pro’s battery life is trash
Pixel devices don’t have the best reputation where battery life is concerned, and the Pixel 6 Pro is absolutely no exception. According to our testing it managed to run for 7 hours and 49 minutes with the adaptive refresh rate switched on, and 7 hours and 55 minutes locked at 60Hz.
I’ve experienced this weak battery life personally, and throughout a normal day I’ll need to charge up at least once if I want the phone to survive until I go to bed. Recently I checked the battery gauge at the top of my phone, and it estimated my phone would last until 8.30 p.m. which is not good considering the battery was at 100% when I got up just before 8 a.m.
The Pixel 7 Pro is even worse, clocking in 6 hours and 31 minutes with adaptive refresh rate switched off. That’s not just embarrassingly bad, it’s straight up appalling that a flagship smartphone released in 2022 could have such a god awful battery life. If I were in the mood to upgrade my 6 Pro already, that figure would immediately put me off buying the Pixel 7 Pro.
It doesn’t give me high hopes for the Pixel 8 Pro’s battery life, but stranger things have happened. The Google Pixel 5 managed to last 9 hours and 29 minutes in our battery life test, or around 10 hours if you locked in at 60Hz. It’s not one of the best phone battery lives, but it shows Google can offer good battery life when it wants to.
It’s unclear what sort of battery life we may see in the Pixel 8 Pro, but if it proves to be a significant upgrade over the past three Google flagships, then I may be tempted to upgrade.
The fact is, the Pixel 6 Pro is a pretty great device — battery life aside. It was good when it launched, and the fact it can handle everything I need it to handle means it’s still a great phone now. There’s no real reason to upgrade and feed the capitalist machine or the increasing piles of e-waste that is plaguing the planet.
The Pixel 8 Pro might well have a bunch of cool stuff, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be cool enough to warrant spending another $900 on a phone. Plus, whatever cases and screen protectors I need to get my hands on after the fact.
The Google Pixel Fold might be another story, though, especially since I’ve never owned a foldable phone before. So long as the battery life doesn’t suck, of course. Sadly, considering the recent pricing rumors I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford one.