One of the critical areas where smartphone manufacturers love to compete is in the camera. It is an area where software and hardware can make a huge difference to the experience, and it’s also something that can be easily communicated to consumers. “It takes better pictures,” says everything.
When Google launched the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, it leaned heavily into imaging to show off not just the hardware but the impact of its new hardware. That continued with the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Google will take a more significant step when the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are launched later this year.
What can we expect to see when Google debuts the new handset family later this year?
The latest leaked details have been highlighted by Kamila Wojciechowska. Where the Pixel 7 family was an iterative improvement on the Pixel 6 family, essentially turning the camera hardware through the increased data collected, Google is bringing new hardware to the Pixel 8 family.
Most noticeably, the main image sensor moves up to Samsung’s Isocell GN2 (compared to the GN1 found inside the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 families). The sensor is physically larger, should capture more light, allow for more detail to be captured in low lights, and increase the shutter speed to reduce blur. HDR processing will be improved, with reduced lag between the various frames shot before processing them into HDR images.
In theory, it can record at 8K resolution and 60 fps, although the current Pixels struggle to stay cool running at 4K/30 fps. Let’s see what happens software-wise on that front.
Both the wide-angle lenses are going to see increased specifications as well. The Pixel 8 Pro is expected to replace the 12-megapixel Sony IMX386 with the 64-megapixel IMX787. The Pixel 8 retains the IMX386 sensor but with a slightly wider physical lens.
No doubt, the biggest change will be in the Tensor G3 chipset. Rather than pure performance, the Google-designed silicon is optimized towards machine learning-focused tasks and is used extensively in the post-processing of images. This happens both at the automatic level and in user edits with tools such as magic eraser and unbar relying on the hardware. The improved performance of the G3 over the G2 will yield better results on similar optical hardware.
With those optics improving, the silicon improving, and Google gathering another year of consumer data, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro cameras will be looking to set the standard for smartphones across the board, both those running Android and those running on other OS choices.
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