December 1, 2023

Due to a coincidence of timing, I’ve waited for over three weeks to get my Pixel 8 Professional, which arrived the day we flew to Mexico, on October 13. And it has been sitting in my Pennsylvania house ever since, ready for my return.

Nicely, we’re again. And after a routine flight with no points to talk of and an interminable Uber experience from the airport that took nearly two hours due to visitors, we arrived right here nearly 12 hours after we had left our house in Mexico Metropolis, a bit worn out.

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However not worn out sufficient to not no less than unbox the Pixel 8 Professional, take some pictures of it, pop on the case I additionally bought, energy it on, sign up to Google, get it absolutely up to date, and start some gentle configuration. And I do have some first impressions.

The primary, alas, is stunning and surprising: After spending over 6 weeks with the iPhone 15 Professional Max, I discover the Pixel 8 Professional feel and look a bit underwhelming comparatively.

And … I do know. Any Pixel fan will inform you that this newest Pixel design type, with its distinguished digicam bar, is a giant enchancment over the uninteresting, plastic-like designs of the previous. And I agree with that. However as a latest iPhone consumer, I may inform you that the Pixel under no circumstances measures as much as the long-lasting feel and look of Apple’s newest flagships. It’s simply not in the identical league, and doesn’t give off the identical premium vibe.

Utilizing a case, as I do, helps to attenuate the variations. However even then, the iPhone retains a pleasant visible benefit, with its flat sides and extra sq. (much less tall and skinny) form. Luckily for the Pixel, nevertheless, Google’s entry brings some pragmatic usability wins over the iPhone. That digicam bar retains the Pixel rock regular on a desk or different flat floor, whereas the iPhone’s offset digicam bump means it’s going to all the time be wobbly. And for right-handers like me, having all of the aspect buttons—Energy, Quantity Up, and Quantity Down on the Pixel—on the identical aspect, the precise aspect, of the machine makes for simpler one-handed use.

In some methods, this comparability of look, really feel, and usefulness says so much concerning the iPhone/Pixel debate, because it includes each emotion and logic. The iPhone is prettier for lack of a greater phrase, extra luxurious, and the Pixel is probably extra pragmatic, extra clearly a instrument. It’s a white-collar/blue-collar factor, maybe. However I’m stunned by how noticeable that is, given how a lot Google has tweaked its trendy smartphone design for the reason that preliminary model two years in the past.

Anyway. There have been few surprises through the Pixel’s software program setup, one other acquainted expertise. The one main addition I observed was a request to arrange Face Unlock, Google’s model of Face ID, along with Fingerprint Unlock, which nonetheless makes use of an in-display fingerprint reader, and a PIN. The implementation of each of those applied sciences was lackluster in earlier Pixels, and my reminiscence of Face Unlock on the Pixel 7 Professional is that it was so insecure that Google wouldn’t allow you to use it for Google Pay.

However this isn’t true of the Pixel 8 Professional: It’s positively utilizing Face Unlock to authenticate my entry to this fee resolution, so one thing optimistic has occurred on that entrance. I’ll look into that, as I very a lot choose facial recognition on any telephone. (And the iPhone’s Face ID function is especially good.)

Past that, the Pixel expertise is acquainted, maybe too acquainted, and evidently Android 14 is about as minor an annual replace as may be. Which, to be truthful, was true of iOS 17 as properly. These are mature platforms, in any case. That stated, there was a system replace, which I put in, and that course of was a wholesome reminder of how lengthy these items take to put in: Microsoft actually figured this out in Home windows, however Android and iOS stay prior to now on this space, unsophisticated and sluggish.

I additionally needed to replace what seemed to be each single app that got here preinstalled on the telephone, which was as anticipated and didn’t take all that lengthy. After that concluded, I examined the digicam system rapidly. Due to course I did. And what I noticed was totally different sufficient from what I anticipated that I turned on the outdated Pixel 6a to match. And there have been some fascinating modifications since I final checked out this.

A while again, I can’t recall when, Google added a Picture/Video swap beneath the Digicam app’s text-based carousel that allows you to swap between modes like Portrait, Picture, Night time Sight, and so forth. That is preferable to the iPhone Digicam app format, which mixes photograph and video decisions in its in any other case similar mode carousel. However the Pixel 8 Professional additionally gives modes that the extra lowly Pixel 6a doesn’t—Motion Pan, Lengthy Publicity, and so forth—in addition to distinctive controls and choices.

There’s a pleasant fast settings icon within the decrease proper, for instance, that pops up a panel with Brightness, Shadow, and White Stability, and, relying on what you’re doing, different decisions. (A few of these choices have been beforehand obtainable on-screen within the viewfinder.)

And there’s a brand new Settings button within the decrease left that pops up separate common and professional photograph (or video) settings for choices like Night time Sight, High Shot Timer, Macro Focus, and extra.

This was full-featured sufficient that I began questioning if I had in some way configured this factor for a professional mode or no matter. However wanting round on the full app settings, it seems not. (Certainly, there are some fairly superior choices in there I’ll must analysis, like social media depth information and enabling the Show P3 shade format.) I believe that is simply what the Pixel Digicam app is now, an fascinating mixture of common and professional options which you could swap between on the fly. I prefer it.

No actual photograph observations but. And I’ve solely taken one comparability shot, in low gentle, with the Pixel 8 Professional and the iPhone 15 Professional Max.

Pixel 8 Professional model:

iPhone model:

In the present day’s a busy day between our having simply returned, Home windows Weekly this afternoon, and our coming transfer, which would require some consideration every day going ahead. However I’ll set up and configure all of the apps I exploit later at the moment after which swap over my T-Cellular eSIM to the Pixel. And shortly—at the moment, perhaps tomorrow—I’ll additionally stand up and operating with the Pixel Watch 2 that I obtained for “free” with the Pixel 8 Professional buy so I may give {that a} go.

Extra quickly.