Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 8: Biggest expected differences

Rendered image of Pixel 9 with Pixel 8.
(Image credit: 91mobiles/OnLeaks/Tom’s Guide)

Diehard Pixel fans have plenty to look forward to this fall when Google’s latest phones are expected to be announced. We’re still a good ways away from that launch event, but a Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 8 comparison can better give people an idea of what improvements are worth waiting for with the newer phone.

Google certainly amplified the Pixel 8 by introducing practical features powered by artificial intelligence, so we suspect that will be the ongoing storyline with the Pixel 9. But this year’s Pixel 9 lineup could be in store for bigger changes that could potentially bring not two, but three new Pixel phones later this year.

Rumors hint at a Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, and a Pixel 9 Pro XL, with the latter causing a little confusion because of Google’s track record of releasing just two flagship devices instead of three. Nevertheless, the Pixel 9 is tipped to be the direct successor of the Pixel 8. We’ll break down everything that’s expected to accompany the upcoming Pixel and how it stacks up against the current model.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 8: Specifications

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Google Pixel 9 (rumored)Google Pixel 8
Starting price$699$699
Screen size6.03 inches6.2 inches
Refresh rate120Hz120Hz
Maximum brightnessN/A1,400 nits
CPUTensor G4Tensor G3
Storage128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB
Rear cameras50MP main, 12MP ultrawide50MP main, 12MP ultrawide
Front camera13MP10.5MP
Battery sizeN/A4,575 mAh

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 8: Release date and price

Pixel 9 leaked image

(Image credit: @OnLeaks)

Google launched the Pixel 8 back last fall during its October Pixel event, with a $699 starting price for the base model. Three different color options were available at launch (hazel, obsidian, and rose), but a mint color option was later added — giving you four color options in total.

We suspect that the Pixel 9 will launch around the same time frame later this year, at a separate event well after Google I/O 2024 in June. And we'd expect the same color options as before. 

So far, there are no hints to what the Pixel 9's price could be, but it could remain at the same $699 cost as before. With a third Pixel model possibly happening this time around, it could push Google to revisit what it charges for its phones.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 8: Design and display

Pixel 9 renders posted by OnLeaks at 91Mobiles

(Image credit: 91Mobiles/OnLeaks)

One of the biggest changes to the design of the Pixel 9 could be a smaller screen. That might sound unbelievable when new phones often stretch the line by offering slightly larger displays, but this may not turn out to be the case for the Pixel 9.

Why’s that? Well, the revelation of a third model in the lineup could be causing Google to reexamine how big each Pixel model will be. Since the Pixel 9 is expected to follow in the same footsteps as the Pixel 8, it should have the smallest screen. Leaked images purportedly of the Pixel 9 show a familiar design, but rather than having the Pixel 8’s rectangular camera cutout, it looks like it’s more rounded on the back.

Furthermore, the leaked rendered images indicate that the Pixel 9 is expected to have a 6.03-inch display. That would make it smaller than the 6.1-inch screen currently on the Pixel 8. Even if a smaller screen does come to fruition, the Pixel 9 could still offer the more compelling screen by improving upon the Actua Display technology introduced with the Pixel 8, which allows that phone's screen to reach a peak brightness of 1,349 nits in our testing.

Beyond the display and camera cut out on the back, the metal trim bezel appears to be more flat with the Pixel 9 — rather than the rounded edges of the Pixel 8.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 8: Cameras

Google Pixel 8 shown held in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Details about the Pixel 9’s camera specs are still up in the air, with the only meaningful rumors relating to the third camera lens for the Pixel 9 Pro and Pixel 9 Pro XL. At the very least, we expect a similar 50MP main and 12MP ultrawide arrangement with the Pixel 9. Usually we’d hear juicy tidbits about the cameras even though we’re still months away from an announcement, but so far it’s been quiet on all fronts for the Pixel 9.

Despite this, there’s plenty of time between now and the fall launch for anything — including a larger sensor that would draw in more light, or perhaps other new pixel binning techniques that could provide for optical quality zoom with the main camera. On the other hand, we anticipate new AI-editing features similar to the Magic Editor capabilities Google added in the last round of Pixel updates.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 8: Performance

Google Pixel Event Tensor chip screenshot

(Image credit: Google)

There was no hiding the underperforming results of the Pixel 8’s Tensor G3 chip, especially against chief rivals like the iPhone 15 and Samsung Galaxy S24 beating it in many of our own benchmark tests (although, we still found gameplay performance on the Pixel 8 smooth and responsive). This means higher expectations for the Pixel 9 to move closer to the head of the class with presumably a Tensor G4. .

Sure, it would be wonderful if the Tensor G4 could outmuscle the competition, but we suspect it’ll be optimized heavily around the Pixel 9's AI-powered features. We’ve seen how the Pixel 8’s Tensor G3 effectively handles AI features like Audio Magic Eraser and Magic Editor locally, so it shouldn’t be any different for the new batch of AI features expected to accompany the Pixel 9.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 8: Software

Gif animation of Best Take feature on Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

(Image credit: Future)

Leading the charge, the Pixel 8 was the device that brought AI into the mainstream with today’s phones. Best of all, they weren’t gimmicky at all because they were actually practical and served a purpose. For instance, take the updated Call Screen feature of Pixel 8, which lets Google Assistant act like a person who can take phone calls on your behalf.

These AI features took precedence on the Pixel 8 over the rest of Android 14, but that could change with Android 15, which should debut with the Pixel 9. We’re still at the early stages of Android 15 — it's in a beta now — but it won’t be long before it’s previewed at Google I/O.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 8: Battery

Battery life could weigh heavily on whether the design changes for the Pixel 9 end up happening. That’s because the Pixel 8 packs a 4,785 mAh battery, but since the Pixel 9 could get a smaller screen, its battery size could be impacted.

While the capacity is never a measurement of how long battery life could be, the bigger determining factor might depend on the power efficiency of the Tensor G4. There’s been no rumors around the Pixel 9’s battery, so we expect the capacity to be somewhat similar to the Pixel 8 — but we wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be slightly less. Regardless of what happens, the Pixel 9 will need serious endurance if it has any intentions in being in the best phone battery life conversation.

Google Pixel 9 vs. Pixel 8: Outlook

Pixel 9 renders posted by OnLeaks at 91Mobiles

(Image credit: 91Mobiles/OnLeaks)

It’s still very hard to definitively say how much better the Pixel 9 could be over the Pixel 8. Without details around its cameras, battery, and AI features, there’s still plenty of time for Google to widen the gap between the two. And of course, we’re eager to know if pricing will remain the same for the Pixel 9.

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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.

  • ZeroChill
    Sadly they lost me this week. The horrible cellular connection and the fingerprint reader constantly getting me locked out of using my phone for work Biometric authentication for 30 minutes at a time as well as the weird quirks with the UI app switched semi-stopping apps and trying to work between apps only to find that the phone has ended the only other 1 of 2 apps running is making life too difficult. I've order a Samsung phone so that I can at least get a working fingerprint reader and stable connection.
    Reply