April 17, 2024
The Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 7 being held next to each other.
Joe Maring / Digital Traits

Nearly all of Google’s Pixel machine releases in 2023 have been winners, making this the perfect yr for Pixel but.

Don’t imagine me? It’s true! Right here’s what Google has completed with its cellular {hardware} and software program over the previous months that permits me to make such a daring declare.

This isn’t in regards to the Pixel 7 collection

The Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7a held in a person's hand.
Andy Boxall/Digital Traits / Digital Traits

The most effective yr for Pixels? Certainly I’m joking, proper? I get this declare might lead to some offended emails, as though the Google Pixel 7 and Google Pixel 7 Professional had been launched in 2022, most can have spent 2023 with them. I do know these two had issues, and other people didn’t at all times have the perfect expertise with these two gadgets. However the hassle is, mine, for essentially the most half, had been high quality. Higher than high quality.

After I reviewed the Pixel 7 on the finish of 2022, I didn’t have any reliability issues, and other than just a few battery life points later in its life, the Pixel 7 Professional has been the identical once I’ve used it at numerous instances all year long. The cameras are glorious, the software program clear and easy, and the design remains to be cool at the moment. It’s arduous to take towards telephones an excessive amount of when your private expertise has been largely very optimistic. Nonetheless, I’ll concede that if these two had been the 2023 fashions, I wouldn’t have written this text.

It’s a great factor, then, that the true 2023 Pixel telephones are the Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Professional, which don’t appear to have suffered wherever close to as a lot because the Pixel 7 when it comes to reliability and possession woes. The Tensor G2 chip appears to be much less problematic, the battery life is extra linear and dependable, and the cameras are equally as good. The AI options unfold all through are technically astounding, and though it’s by no means good when costs go up, you’re very clearly getting superior gadgets this time round — in all respects.

The Pixel 8 turned issues round

Someone holding the Google Pixel 8 Pro in front of a colorful background.
Joe Maring / Digital Traits

Whereas the 2023 Pixel gadgets have impressed, it’s arduous to neglect (and for some, forgive) the problems across the Pixel 7. It has been a number of months because the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Professional had been launched, and up to now, neither has attracted the identical sort of destructive consideration that made the Pixel 7 collection such a threat. All of the cellular staff at Digital Traits (plus just a few outdoors the staff) have used one or each of the brand new Pixel 8 fashions, and nobody has been compelled to write down something significantly damning in regards to the expertise but.

Though the Pixel overlords took care of me in 2022 and provided me with Pixel 7 telephones that had no points, others weren’t so fortunate. Tales, internally and externally, unfold about critical unreliability, and it was a problem to not add a caveat to a Pixel 7 suggestion each time. The telephone you obtain would in all probability be high quality, however there was additionally an opportunity it might be something however that, and that’s not a great thought to have in your thoughts when forking out on an costly product.

Nonetheless, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Professional don’t appear to have suffered in the identical approach. No telephone is ideal, and there’ll at all times be some dangerous ones hanging round, however for essentially the most half, Google appears to have sorted out its reliability issues for 2023 and the Pixel 8 collection. An organization of its measurement and sources shouldn’t be making dangerous telephones in any respect, so saying congratulations isn’t the fitting response. However Google’s efforts are a giant a part of why this yr has ended up being so significantly better for the vary than the final.

The Pixel Fold and Pixel Watch 2

Google Pixel Fold in Obsidian in Reverse Selfie Camera mode.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Traits

The Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Professional are the apparent decisions when speaking about why 2023 has been the perfect yr for Pixel gadgets but, and whereas they’re excellent certainly, they’re not all that distinctive. As an alternative, they’re the spine of Pixel greatness in 2023, and the true stars of the present are the Google Pixel Fold and the Google Pixel Watch 2.

Google’s first folding smartphone is a large deal. It hit the scene and have become solely the second big-screen foldable you might formally purchase within the U.S., and with it got here incredible software program and an enviable digital camera. It gave Google some much-needed cellular tech credibility, displaying it’s nonetheless able to making cutting-edge cellular gadgets and never simply wheeling out a trio of Pixel slabs annually.

A person wearing the Google Pixel Watch 2.
Andy Boxall / Digital Traits

However the true shock was the Pixel Watch 2. The primary Google Pixel Watch wrapped its disappointing efficiency and brief battery life right into a bland, minimalist, single-size case after which charged prime cash for the pleasure of proudly owning it. It didn’t change the design or add a case measurement for its successor, which is a critical oversight, however it did maximize efficiency and enhance battery life, making it a usable on a regular basis smartwatch for anybody who was pleased with the dimensions and design. In the identical approach the Pixel 8 exorcised the Pixel 7’s demons, the Pixel Watch 2 helped forgive the Pixel Watch’s shortcomings.

The Pixel 7a and Google’s software program

The Google Pixel 7a face down on a table.
Andy Boxall / Digital Traits

I favored the Pixel Fold and Pixel Watch 2, however the common Pixel telephone that sticks in my thoughts most is the Google Pixel 7a. It got here out at first of 2023, and I used to be so stunned to search out how little I missed utilizing dearer gadgets once I used the 7a each day. It’s an extremely succesful, very easy-to-own smartphone that doesn’t break the bank to purchase, and until you need all of the AI options within the Pixel 8, it’s the low cost Pixel to purchase this yr.

AI is one among 2023’s huge developments, and Google included a bunch of AI options (some nonetheless coming quickly) on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Professional, with the Magic Editor actually standing out. Except for eradicating undesirable distractions in your images extra successfully than Magic Eraser, it may rework the look and composition with just a few faucets of the display, too. It’s astonishingly highly effective and quite a lot of enjoyable to experiment with.

Android 14 logo on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Traits

For the Pixel 8 collection, Google additionally prolonged its software program up to date dedication, so in the event you purchase one this yr, it is going to obtain updates till 2030. This beats Samsung and OnePlus’s 4 and five-year commitments and takes on the Fairphone for potential longevity.

Sadly, the dedication doesn’t retroactively apply to gadgets launched earlier than the Pixel 8, so the Pixel Fold and the Pixel 7a will solely get three years of updates. This apart, Google has pushed its software program ahead in a significant approach in 2023, offering not solely new and fascinating options — but in addition encouraging us to maintain our telephones for longer.

Google’s one misstep in 2023

Google Pixel Tablet in white, attached to the dock.
Andy Boxall / Digital Traits

5 glorious Pixel gadgets had been launched in 2023. Google did the fitting factor and offered longer software program assist for 2 of them, and it gave us enjoyable AI options that anybody may use and revel in. No critical, deal-breaking points have been reported up to now, and I’ve loved the entire Pixels I’ve utilized in 2023 an important deal. It has been an superior yr for Pixel.

Aside from one Pixel product.

There’s at all times a “however” in these conditions, and the one new-for-2023 Pixel that also hasn’t fairly gelled is the Google Pixel Pill. I’ve been utilizing it since launch, and though it did surprisingly properly once I tried to interchange my Apple iPad Professional, it was truly surpassed by the very good (and significantly better worth) Amazon Fireplace Max 11 pill at doing so. The dearth of an official keyboard accent and an reasonably priced case actually hurts it.

I take advantage of the Pixel Pill principally as a sensible display in my kitchen, the place Google Assistant is required lots. Sadly, Assistant has grow to be so unreliable — much more so with Android 14 put in — that I hardly hassle with it anymore, because it often fails to acknowledge directions or it prompts options on different Google House gadgets for no cause. Siri is rather more helpful and dependable. The Pixel Pill isn’t horrible, however it does really feel a bit misplaced and is the least fascinating of the Pixel merchandise I’ve used this yr.

What Google must do in 2024

The Google Pixel 8 Pro and Google Pixel 7 Pro being held next to each other.
Joe Maring / Digital Traits

The truth that 2023 Pixel gadgets have been so good makes Google’s job in 2024 tough. It must construct on this and never simply keep on as normal. Whereas not a straightforward process, there are some apparent adjustments it might probably make to make 2024 even higher for Pixel gadgets. These embody making the Pixel Watch 3 in several case sizes, decreasing the worth of the Pixel Fold 2, and introducing a compact folding telephone to the vary.

When the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Professional got here alongside, they breathed new life into the Pixel telephone vary, however Google was in peril of throwing all of it away when the Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Professional, and Pixel Watch all upset ultimately. It has managed to keep away from catastrophe this yr with a bunch of good new gadgets, however it might probably’t let the pendulum swing again in the other way for 2024.

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