2023 was the very best 12 months for Google Pixel gadgets but

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Joe Maring / Digital Tendencies

Virtually all of Google’s Pixel gadget releases in 2023 have been winners, making this the very best 12 months for Pixel but.

Don’t consider me? It’s true! Right here’s what Google has finished with its cellular {hardware} and software program over the previous months that enables me to make such a daring declare.

This isn’t in regards to the Pixel 7 collection

The Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7a held in a person's hand.
Andy Boxall/Digital Tendencies / Digital Tendencies

The very best 12 months for Pixels? Certainly I’m joking, proper? I get this declare could lead to some offended emails, as though the Google Pixel 7 and Google Pixel 7 Professional had been launched in 2022, most can have spent 2023 with them. I do know these two had issues, and folks didn’t at all times have the very best expertise with these two gadgets. However the bother is, mine, for essentially the most half, had been positive. Higher than positive.

Once I reviewed the Pixel 7 on the finish of 2022, I didn’t have any reliability issues, and other than just a few battery life points later in its life, the Pixel 7 Professional has been the identical once I’ve used it at varied instances all year long. The cameras are glorious, the software program clear and easy, and the design continues to be cool at the moment. It’s arduous to take towards telephones an excessive amount of when your private expertise has been largely very constructive. Nevertheless, I’ll concede that if these two had been the 2023 fashions, I wouldn’t have written this text.

It’s factor, then, that the true 2023 Pixel telephones are the Google Pixel Eight and Google Pixel Eight Professional, which don’t appear to have suffered anyplace close to as a lot because the Pixel 7 when it comes to reliability and possession woes. The Tensor G2 chip appears to be much less problematic, the battery life is extra linear and dependable, and the cameras are equally as good. The AI options unfold all through are technically astounding, and though it’s by no means good when costs go up, you might be very clearly getting superior gadgets this time round — in all respects.

The Pixel Eight turned issues round

Someone holding the Google Pixel 8 Pro in front of a colorful background.
Joe Maring / Digital Tendencies

Whereas the 2023 Pixel gadgets have impressed, it’s arduous to overlook (and for some, forgive) the problems across the Pixel 7. It has been a number of months because the Pixel Eight and Pixel Eight Professional had been launched, and thus far, neither has attracted the identical sort of adverse consideration that made the Pixel 7 collection such a danger. All of the cellular workforce at Digital Tendencies (plus just a few exterior the workforce) have used one or each of the brand new Pixel Eight fashions, and nobody has been compelled to put in writing something significantly damning in regards to the expertise but.

Though the Pixel overlords took care of me in 2022 and equipped me with Pixel 7 telephones that had no points, others weren’t so fortunate. Tales, internally and externally, unfold about severe unreliability, and it was a problem to not add a caveat to a Pixel 7 suggestion each time. The telephone you got would most likely be positive, however there was additionally an opportunity it could be something however that, and that’s not thought to have in your thoughts when forking out on an costly product.

Nevertheless, the Pixel Eight and Pixel Eight Professional don’t appear to have suffered in the identical means. No telephone is ideal, and there’ll at all times be some dangerous ones hanging round, however for essentially the most half, Google appears to have sorted out its reliability issues for 2023 and the Pixel Eight collection. An organization of its dimension and assets shouldn’t be making dangerous telephones in any respect, so saying congratulations isn’t the suitable response. However Google’s efforts are a giant a part of why this 12 months has ended up being so a lot better for the vary than the final.

The Pixel Fold and Pixel Watch 2

Google Pixel Fold in Obsidian in Reverse Selfie Camera mode.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Tendencies

The Google Pixel Eight and Pixel Eight Professional are the apparent selections when speaking about why 2023 has been the very best 12 months for Pixel gadgets but, and whereas they’re superb certainly, they’re not all that distinctive. As an alternative, they’re the spine of Pixel greatness in 2023, and the true stars of the present are the Google Pixel Fold and the Google Pixel Watch 2.

Google’s first folding smartphone is an enormous deal. It hit the scene and have become solely the second big-screen foldable you possibly can formally purchase within the U.S., and with it got here implausible software program and an enviable digicam. It gave Google some much-needed cellular tech credibility, displaying it’s nonetheless able to making cutting-edge cellular gadgets and never simply wheeling out a trio of Pixel slabs annually.

A person wearing the Google Pixel Watch 2.
Andy Boxall / Digital Tendencies

However the true shock was the Pixel Watch 2. The primary Google Pixel Watch wrapped its disappointing efficiency and quick battery life right into a bland, minimalist, single-size case after which charged high cash for the pleasure of proudly owning it. It didn’t change the design or add a case dimension for its successor, which is a severe oversight, however it did maximize efficiency and improve battery life, making it a usable on a regular basis smartwatch for anybody who was pleased with the scale and design. In the identical means the Pixel Eight exorcised the Pixel 7’s demons, the Pixel Watch 2 helped forgive the Pixel Watch’s shortcomings.

The Pixel 7a and Google’s software program

The Google Pixel 7a face down on a table.
Andy Boxall / Digital Tendencies

I appreciated the Pixel Fold and Pixel Watch 2, however the common Pixel telephone that sticks in my thoughts most is the Google Pixel 7a. It got here out at the start of 2023, and I used to be so shocked to seek out how little I missed utilizing costlier gadgets once I used the 7a each day. It’s an extremely succesful, very easy-to-own smartphone that doesn’t break the bank to purchase, and until you need all of the AI options within the Pixel 8, it’s the low-cost Pixel to purchase this 12 months.

AI is one in every of 2023’s huge traits, and Google included a number of AI options (some nonetheless coming quickly) on the Pixel Eight and Pixel Eight Professional, with the Magic Editor actually standing out. Apart from eradicating undesirable distractions in your images extra successfully than Magic Eraser, it may remodel the look and composition with just a few faucets of the display screen, too. It’s astonishingly highly effective and loads of enjoyable to experiment with.

Android 14 logo on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Tendencies

For the Pixel Eight collection, Google additionally prolonged its software program up to date dedication, so in case you purchase one this 12 months, it should obtain updates till 2030. This beats Samsung and OnePlus’s 4 and five-year commitments and takes on the Fairphone for potential longevity.

Sadly, the dedication doesn’t retroactively apply to gadgets launched earlier than the Pixel 8, so the Pixel Fold and the Pixel 7a will solely get three years of updates. This apart, Google has pushed its software program ahead in a significant means in 2023, offering not solely new and attention-grabbing options — but in addition encouraging us to maintain our telephones for longer.

Google’s one misstep in 2023

Google Pixel Tablet in white, attached to the dock.
Andy Boxall / Digital Tendencies

5 glorious Pixel gadgets had been launched in 2023. Google did the suitable factor and offered longer software program assist for 2 of them, and it gave us enjoyable AI options that anybody may use and revel in. No severe, deal-breaking points have been reported thus far, and I’ve loved the entire Pixels I’ve utilized in 2023 a terrific deal. It has been an superior 12 months for Pixel.

Apart from one Pixel product.

There’s at all times a “however” in these conditions, and the one new-for-2023 Pixel that also hasn’t fairly gelled is the Google Pixel Pill. I’ve been utilizing it since launch, and though it did surprisingly nicely once I tried to switch my Apple iPad Professional, it was really surpassed by the very good (and a lot better worth) Amazon Fireplace Max 11 pill at doing so. The shortage of an official keyboard accent and an reasonably priced case actually hurts it.

I exploit the Pixel Pill principally as a wise display screen in my kitchen, the place Google Assistant is required lots. Sadly, Assistant has turn into so unreliable — much more so with Android 14 put in — that I hardly hassle with it anymore, because it normally fails to acknowledge directions or it prompts options on different Google Dwelling gadgets for no purpose. Siri is way more helpful and dependable. The Pixel Pill isn’t horrible, however it does really feel a bit misplaced and is the least fascinating of the Pixel merchandise I’ve used this 12 months.

What Google must do in 2024

The Google Pixel 8 Pro and Google Pixel 7 Pro being held next to each other.
Joe Maring / Digital Tendencies

The truth that 2023 Pixel gadgets have been so good makes Google’s job in 2024 tough. It must construct on this and never simply stick with it as typical. Whereas not a straightforward process, there are some apparent modifications it will possibly make to make 2024 even higher for Pixel gadgets. These embody making the Pixel Watch three in several case sizes, reducing the worth of the Pixel Fold 2, and introducing a compact folding telephone to the vary.

When the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Professional got here alongside, they breathed new life into the Pixel telephone vary, however Google was in peril of throwing all of it away when the Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Professional, and Pixel Watch all dissatisfied not directly. It has managed to keep away from catastrophe this 12 months with a number of good new gadgets, however it will possibly’t let the pendulum swing again in the wrong way for 2024.

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