Top High-End Phones: A Standout Choice

The Pixel 8 Pro’s stellar camera system makes it an easy recommendation for a high-end phone.

The Google Pixel 8 Pro’s camera, taken at an acute angle while the phone rests on a mesh black background.

The Pixel 8 Pro’s stellar camera system makes it an easy recommendation for a high-end phone.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

If you’re in the market for an Android phone in the $1,000 range, we highly recommend the Pixel 8 Pro. 

The Pixel 8 Pro has all the base ingredients of a worthwhile, high-end Android phone: an adaptive 120Hz OLED display, powerful performance, and premium design and materials. It has excellent battery life as a large-screen phone, and it’s our top pick for overall camera quality among the best Android phones.  

While Google’s new AI features aren’t enough of a reason to buy the Pixel 8 Pro on their own, they don’t hold the phone’s performance back. Some features are impressive and convenient, others could be improved, and your mileage may vary widely depending on your intended use. 

Google’s Magic Eraser AI photo editing tool in a side-by-side example, showing how the tool was able to remove people in the background of this beach photo.
Magic Eraser was one of the first few AI features Google introduced with the Pixel 6, and it’s one of the better ones. It was able to remove the people in the background from the original photo (left).

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Depending on your priorities, you may happen on AI features that are genuinely useful and that work well. And if you have experience with the Pixel 6 or later and you’ve enjoyed Google’s AI features, you’ll only enjoy them more on the Pixel 8 Pro.

For example, Magic Eraser is one of my favorite AI features on Pixel phones. On the Pixel 8 Pro, it was able to effectively remove all the people in the background in the photo below, making it seem like it was just me and my daughter at the beach.

Google keeps adding new AI features, but they’re not reasons to buy the Pixel 8 Pro

Perhaps realizing there are few ways to differentiate its Pixel phones on a hardware level, Google has been touting its smart AI software features, starting with the Pixel 6 series when Google first introduced its Tensor processors to help power AI features. 

There’s a long list of AI features that Google has added to Pixel phones over the last three generations that are designed to be helpful or make photo edits easier. Google added more for the Pixel 8 series, and I wasn’t entirely impressed with all of them. 

One of the biggest new AI photo editing features is Magic Editor, which claims to do a variety of impressive edits to a photo. For example, it lets you resize objects or subjects or move them to a different part of the photo. It works OK sometimes, but it often leaves behind a noticeable patch with strange textures when you make objects smaller or move them elsewhere in the photo. It’s not something I’d use very often, if at all, because the lighting on objects rarely looks right when they’re moved. And you can forget about it if the object you’re moving has a shadow.

Side-by-side examples of Google’s Magic Editor tool that lets you move objects and subjects elsewhere in a photo on the Pixel 8 Pro
This is a particularly bad example of the Pixel 8 Pro’s Magic Editor trying to move the subject elsewhere in the photo. Good examples aren’t that much better.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

I also tried turning a cloudy day into a sunny day in a photo or turning a sunny day into golden hour lighting, as Google has touted, and it’s never produced a convincing result. Especially for turning overcast days into sunny ones, there’s something just not quite right.

Side-by-side examples of Google’s Magic Editor attempting to turn a cloudy sky into a sunny day.
The original photo on an overcast day (left) and the Pixel 8 Pro’s attempt to transform it to a sunny day with Magic Editor (right). There’s something off about the transformation.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Google also introduced an Audio Magic Eraser to help remove or at least reduce unwanted sounds in a video, like wind noise or unwanted chatter. It’s surprisingly effective and could help save a video with excessive surrounding noise.

Other recent AI features include webpage summarizing in Chrome, which only works sometimes. For example, it doesn’t work for a review I wrote, but it does work with one of my versus posts. Basically, it’s inconsistent, and not knowing whether it will work or not makes me forget about the feature very quickly.

To be clear, while not entirely impressive (to me), Google’s Pixel AI features don’t detract from the phone’s excellent core qualities, including performance, camera quality, and battery life. However, I wouldn’t buy the Pixel 8 Pro because of the AI features.

Strong battery life, average charging speeds

The bottom of the Google Pixel 8 Pro, showing its USB-C charging port.
The Pixel 8 Pro has excellent battery life, but charging could be a little faster.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The Pixel 8 Pro is a high performer in battery life, having completed our intensive battery test with 62% remaining. That’s on the high end compared to other phones with 6.7-inch displays, which mostly scored under or around 60%.

It means the Pixel 8 Pro should last longer throughout the day than the Galaxy S24 Plus, which scored 60%, but you’ll likely still need to charge it overnight. 

(Overall, the best Google Pixel phone for battery life is the Pixel Fold, which scored 69% in its folded phone mode and 65% in its unfolded tablet mode. The Pixel 8 Pro had the second-best result among current Pixel phones.)

Our battery test involves two hours of video streaming at a set brightness, one hour of music streaming while connected to a Bluetooth speaker, five runs on the Geekbench 6 CPU benchmark test, and two runs of the intensive 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test. 

The Pixel 8 Pro supports up to 30W charging speeds, which is fast but not especially remarkable. It’s capable of 23W wireless charging speeds if you use Google’s 2nd-generation Pixel Stand, or 12W with a standard Qi charger. Google doesn’t include any charger with the Pixel 8 Pro. 

The best, most consistent camera system

The Pixel 8 Pro strengthens Google’s reputation for having the best cameras on any phone. In our testing, the Pixel 8 Pro has the top overall camera system among the best Android phones with its three powerhouse lenses: a 50MP main camera, a 48MP ultrawide, and a 48MP 5x zoom.

A photo of a barn taken with the Pixel 8 Pro
Google’s Pixels tend to take gorgeous photos with natural colors and lightning full of depth

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The Pixel 8 Pro takes superb photos with rich natural color and dynamic lighting that maintains depth and natural-looking contrast between light and dark details.

A photo of an old-fashioned fire truck taken by the Pixel 8 Pro
The Pixel 8 Pro kept this classic fire engine’s beautiful red color without trying too hard to enhance as other phones do.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Indeed, the Pixel 8 Pro takes the most true-to-life photos out of any phone we’ve tested. Unlike most other phones, especially those from Samsung, the Pixel 8 Pro doesn’t try too hard to deliver an “impressive” photo with excessive processing, like overly boosted color saturation or over-eager HDR.

Pixel 8 Pro photo of a cat.
Without overdoing it, the Pixel 8 Pro effectively brightened up this cat’s face so it could be visible against the bright background.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

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