5 ways upgrading to Pixel 8 Pro made me happy I paid the higher price

June Wan/ZDNET

I’m a big fan of the Pixel line of phones. I’ve been using them since the very first iteration and haven’t jumped off the Pixel train since. To date, there has only been one major disappointment for me (the Pixel 4), and that was only because of very poor battery life.

So, when it came time to purchase a new Pixel 8 Pro, there was absolutely no question about it. I purchased one for myself (moving from a Pixel 7 Pro) and one for my wife (moving from a Pixel 6 Pro).

Also: Google Pixel 8 vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro: Which model should you buy?

For those who have been using either a Pixel 6 or 7 Pro, you’re probably wondering if the 8 is worth the more expensive price. 

Let me shine a light on that question by giving five reasons why it is.

Reason 1: The migration

Normally, when you migrate from one Pixel to another, you have to use the included USB-C cable for the transfer. Not with the 8. This time around, all you have to do is keep the phones close to one another and the transfer happens wirelessly. 

Also: Google releases Android 14 for Pixel phones, and there’s a lot to like

On top of that, the transfer is faster than it ever was when using a cable. I’m not sure how Google pulled off that particular bit of magic, but it works like a charm. I had my Pixel 8 setup in a few minutes and was diving into it without so much as a single hiccup.

Reason 2: The speed

The very first thing that hit me about the Pixel 8 Pro was the speed. The Pixel Pro phones have always been zippy, but this Tensor 3 chip-powered device is something else. Since the phone arrived, I’ve yet to see a single lag on the phone. 

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Apps open immediately and switching between them is blazingly fast. Photo-processing speed is also unparalleled. For example, when I would take a portrait photo with my Pixel 7 Pro, the phone would take a few seconds to process the image. With the Pixel 8 Pro, the processing happens almost immediately. 

It’s so fast that, when I took my first portrait photo, I thought something had gone wrong and the camera app forgot I was taking a portrait photo. How wrong I was.

Also: Pixel 8 Pro vs. Pixel 7 Pro: Is it worth the upgrade?

If you take a lot of portrait-type photos, the quality of images from the Pixel 8 Pro will blow you away — and so will the speed at which the device processes them.

Reason 3: The camera

A portrait photo of my turntable cartridge shows off the Pixel 8 Pro’s ability to capture detail.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

The camera on the Pixel 8 Pro is phenomenal. I’ve been used to the Pixel cameras blowing my mind for the past few years. But the improvements from one iteration to the next always seemed to be incremental. With the Pixel 8 Pro, the iteration jumps leaps and bounds forward. This camera is, hands down, the best I’ve ever used. 

Also: Google Pixel 8 Pro review: This phone sold me on an AI-powered future

Close-up images are stunning and the camera automatically detects when macro mode is necessary. Portrait photos are stunning as well, even close-ups. 

Macro photography is dead simple with the Pixel 8 Pro.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

The Pixel 8 Pro camera is so good that I’ve yet to take a bad photo. Even when I’m not trying, the pictures turn out stunning.

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Reason 4: The display

I’m not gonna lie — when I heard Google was flattening the Pixel 8 Pro screen, I was disappointed. I’d grown accustomed to the elegantly rounded edges of the Pixel 6/7 Pro phones. 

So, when my Pixel 8 Pro arrived, I was surprised at how much I liked a return to the flat display. The corners of the Pixel 8 Pro are slightly more rounded, which gives you the feeling the display is slightly larger than the Pixel 7 Pro.

The Pixel 8 Pro is on the right, and on the left is a Pixel 7 Pro.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

The colors of the Pixel 8 Pro display also seem a bit more natural than the Pixel 7 Pro. Even with the phone set at natural colors on both devices, the difference is obvious. Where the Pixel 7 Pro seems a bit whiter, the 8 is a bit softer, which makes it easier to view for long periods.

Reason 5: Sound

The sound that comes from your phone will always be limited — and there’s little that can be done. That being said, the sound from the Pixel 8 Pro sound is night and day from the Pixel 7 Pro. 

I’ve always hated listening to just about anything through phone speakers, but the Pixel 8 Pro makes me hate the sound a bit less. Sure, it’s still sound coming from a phone. But what you hear is richer, less tinny, and actually enjoyable.

Also: Google Pixel 8 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

No, the sound isn’t going to please an audiophile, but when you can hear even the slightest bit of bass from a phone, you know it’s above average. The Pixel 8 Pro speakers are head and shoulders above any phone I’ve used. The device won’t replace my turntable or a pair of brilliant headphones, but the that comes from sound from the Pixel 8 Pro is quite good.

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In summary, I’m very pleased with the purchase of the Pixel 8 Pro. Some of the upgrades are more subtle than you might think, but in the areas where this phone shines, it’s absolutely brilliant.

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