5 things Google needs to fix with the Pixel 8 series
Google Pixel phones don’t sell in the same numbers as Samsung’s best phones. But over the past couple of years, Google’s smartphone lineup has seen a resurgence, as the company has prioritized its hardware efforts in 2023. And with rumors suggesting that the upcoming Pixel 8 series will feature some significant changes, the company’s 2023 flagship Pixel phones could be a hit. widely among consumers. As a longtime Pixel fan and a frustrated Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 user, it’s important that Google addresses some long-standing issues with its upcoming Pixel devices.
1 Tensor G3 cooler
For all its AI and machine learning prowess, the first-generation Tensor chip that powers the Pixel 6 series was a hot mess. The situation has improved with the Tensor G2 inside the Pixel 7 series, as Google has made several changes that focus on efficiency. But these improvements are not enough. The Pixel 7 can get very hot under medium to heavy load, making it almost unusable.
The situation is even worse if you live in a hot climate. There were numerous occasions when the Pixel 7 Pro overheated while surfing the internet or taking photos under direct sunlight in the harsh Indian summer. And I’m not alone with these complaints. Online forums (2) are filled with reports of Pixel 7 users about their phones getting so hot that they are unusable.
With climate change wreaking havoc globally, extreme temperature events are expected to become a regular occurrence. And it’s important that our phones stay on. I can understand phones getting hot while playing heavy games when temperatures are high, but not during regular use.
The Pixel 7’s overheating issues are more challenging when compared to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and OnePlus 11. These phones offer solid battery life and stay relatively cool under heavy workloads.
With the Pixel 8’s Tensor G3 chip rumored to use Samsung’s 4nm technology and newer, more efficient CPU cores, hopefully you won’t run into the same overheating issues. And frankly, it would be unacceptable for the Pixel 8 series to suffer from it, especially since the best Android phones have improved significantly in this department this year.
2 Random battery drain
Battery life has never been the forte of Pixel phones. And while the Pixel 7 has some notable improvements over the 2021 Pixel 6, battery life is mediocre at best. But random battery drain, which has become a common problem with Pixel phones, has made the situation worse. In April 2022, an annoying bug in Google Messages was the reason Pixel users were experiencing excessive battery drain. Recently, a bug in a Google app in May 2023 caused Pixel phones to overheat. Then, a feature outage in June 2023 caused serious battery and heating issues in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 series.
These are not exceptions but the rule. Ask any longtime Pixel user, and they’ll attest to their phone randomly draining more battery than usual. Sometimes, the problem can be resolved with a reboot, but in other cases, it requires an update of the operating system or Google Play Services from Google.
While a sub-par chipset or modem plays a role in draining the battery significantly, Google’s poor quality assurance cannot be denied here. With the Pixel 8, the company needs to step up its game and ensure that random battery drain issues don’t crop up from time to time.
3 Better network reception
Overheating was just one of the issues with the Pixel 6’s Tensor G1 chip. Its Exynos 5123 modem was notorious for poor network reception and slow download/upload speeds. With the Pixel 7’s Tensor G2, Google switched to a newer Exynos 5300 modem. It performs much better in almost all scenarios than its predecessor, but the modem’s performance is still not as good as that of the competition. Google’s support forums and Reddit are filled with complaints from Pixel 7 users about poor network service.
You will experience network issues and dropped calls in difficult situations. Even worse, there is a higher than normal drain on the battery when using mobile data, and the phone can get warm, which shows just how inefficient the Exynos modem is. Phones with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon modem provide better network reception, especially in areas with weak signals. It’s 2023, and we shouldn’t be complaining about poor network performance in phones, but here we are.
Rumors suggest that Google will be sticking with the same Exynos 5300 modem inside the Tensor G3 chip. However, it should come with newer firmware and support the latest 5G standards. Besides a better antenna design and other improvements, one can hope that the Pixel 8 series will perform better than the last two generations in the network reception department.
4 Launch errors today
Launch day errors have become common in smartphones. Most companies release a software update on the day the phone is launched to solve various bugs. But Pixels are more glitchy than usual when they’re released, which Google takes the time to process. For example, the Pixel 7 series launched in mid-October 2022, but it took Google a few months to resolve unwanted scrolling issues that were reported from day one.
It was even worse with the launch of the Pixel 6 in 2021. There was a strange bug with the ghost connection, an issue preventing the use of an external DAC, Wi-Fi issues, and more.
Bugs are an integral part of smartphone launches nowadays. What is important, however, is how quickly the manufacturer can ramp up and fix these issues. Hopefully, with the Pixel 8 series, Google will tighten software quality assurance even further and can keep launch day bugs to a minimum.
5 Wider availability
Samsung phones are available in almost all major markets around the world. And it’s the same for iPhones. But for reasons known to Google, Pixel phones are only available in a few markets. This was fine earlier when the company seemed to have given up on its ambition to be a major player in the smartphone market. But that does not appear to be the case now. For its Pixel range to succeed, the company needs to bring it to more markets.
The Pixel 7 series launched in 17 countries, which is a big jump from the nine markets where the Pixel 6 launched. With the Pixel 8, Google should build on this momentum and expand the lineup to more countries.
But market availability is only one problem. Even in countries where Pixels are available, Pixels are available from select retailers. In India, for example, you can only buy the Pixel 7 through Flipkart. This is despite the presence of the official Google online store in the country. Even worse, you can get a Pixel 7 with only 128GB of storage. The 256GB version never went on sale in the country. Likewise, the 512GB Pixel 7 Pro never made it to the European market.
It’s time for Google to step up
It is now Google that is preventing Pixels from reaching their full potential. The company managed to outdo itself with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 series, but it left some issues lingering for a long time. With the Pixel 8 this year, we’re hoping the company can work together and be able to improve the experience by addressing these long-standing issues.