Google unveils new Pixel 8 phones and updated smartwatch

Rivals to Apple’s iPhone feature new artificial intelligence capabilities

Google has unveiled its latest rivals to Apple’s iPhone, with Pixel 8 devices that feature new artificial intelligence capabilities.

The company also extended the support for the phones to seven years of operating system updates and security patches, giving the new Pixels greater longevity, and debuted an updated Pixel smartwatch at the Made by Google event.

The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are direct competition for Apple’s new iPhones, which were unveiled last month.

The premium Google device, the 8 Pro, comes with a 6.7-inch screen, putting it on a par with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, an AI-powered camera and new capabilities which include a temperature sensor that can be used on walls and other objects. Health-related applications are expected to follow later on.


The Pixel 8 has a 6.2-inch display, with a higher refresh rate and improved low light photography.

Both Pixel phones feature Google’s latest mobile processor, the Tensor G3, which enables more powerful AI in photography, can summarise web pages and reduce spam calls among other functions. However, not all features will be available in every market, Google said.

Among the advanced camera capabilities are Best Take, which allows budding photographers to combines similar group shots and swap faces to create a single image that shows the best of each subject; the ability to take macro shots; and Magic Editor for photographs that uses AI techniques to reposition subjects in the frame, alter skies and other backgrounds, and resize elements within the photograph.

The AI capabilities of the phones will also improve call quality and allows users to edit out unwanted background noise from videos recorded on the phones, with the new Audio Magic Eraser feature. Future features for the 8 Pro include Pixel’s new Video Boost technology, which has HDR+ and enhanced colour grading, and Night Sight Video for low light shots.

The Tensor G3 security features also mean that Pixel owners will be able to use their face to unlock more apps.

The Pixel 8 starts from €799 while the Pro version of the phone will cost from €1,099.

“Google was clearly focused on driving the mobile AI message in today’s event and having AI on the device/client will be a big topic for the industry going forward,” said International Data Corporation analyst Ryan Reith.

“If supported by strong marketing, Google could drive higher market share with this line-up, specifically in the US.”

The Pixel Watch 2, an updated version of the watch Google launched last year, comes with AI-backed advanced health tracking features, including an improved heart rate monitor and a skin temperature sensor, and a new digital crown.

Google has also upgraded the chip that powers the watch, and changed the design to make it lighter than last year’s model. The Pixel Watch 2 supports rapid charging, and runs Wear OS 4, the latest version of the software. It will also include the Gmail and Calendar apps.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist