It’s been a while since I did what I do best, critic! Let’s talk about the Google Pixel 8 series which arrived with much fanfare, promising groundbreaking features, and the best Android experience yet. But is it all sunshine and rainbows? While the Pixel 8 undeniably boasts impressive specs and innovative software, a closer look reveals some potential dealbreakers that might make you reconsider your purchase, especially if you live in Africa.
While the Pixel 8 boasts impressive hardware specs, including a powerful Tensor G3 processor and a beautiful OLED display, it can’t escape comparisons with its competitors. In a market saturated with top-tier hardware, the Pixel 8’s offerings on paper feel somewhat underwhelming, Furthermore, the Pixel 8’s camera, considered a crown jewel, faces stiff competition from the likes of Samsung and Apple. The improvements over its predecessor are incremental, until you start using the crazy Artificial Intelligence (AI) Google has baked into the devices, but there is a catch…
Missing Out on the Full Pixel 8 Experience
Perhaps the most significant win by the Pixel 8 series over all other smartphones released in 2023 is its software, but that is also its downfall. As prominent tech reviewer MKBHD aptly states, “It’s (Pixel 8 Pro) so much software to the point where if you live in a region where not all the software features are enabled it is a noticeably worse phone.”
And if you live in Africa, this is awfully clear. Here’s a glimpse at some of the Pixel 8’s exciting features that are currently only available in the US:
- Google Assistant Call Screen: This feature allows Google Assistant to answer your phone calls and screen for spam or unwanted calls. It can also transcribe the call and provide you with a summary afterward.
- Magic Editor: This feature uses “semantic understanding and generative AI” to let you reposition a subject in your photo
- Hold for Me: This feature eliminates the need to wait on hold on the phone. Hold for Me will automatically wait on the line for you and notify you when a human representative is available.
- Assistant Driving Mode: This feature provides a hands-free way to use your Pixel 8 while driving. It includes features like voice navigation, hands-free calling, and music playback.
- Direct My Call: This feature allows you to automatically navigate to the location of a business when you call them. It works with Google Maps and can help you save time and effort.
- Google Lens: While Google Lens is available globally, most of its advanced features, have limited functionality or accuracy outside the US.
- At a Glance: This feature provides quick access to information like weather, calendar appointments, and traffic updates. However, some of the information displayed may be specific to the US.
- Custom Routines: This feature allows you to create custom routines that can automate tasks on your Pixel 8. However, some pre-made routines may be specific to the US and may not work properly in other regions.
- Live Caption for phone calls: Transcribe phone calls in real time.
- Video Boost: This feature uploads your videos to the cloud and processes them further for even greater dynamic range and detail.
- Assistant with Bard: This feature integrates Google’s AI chatbot with Assistant which works in a way where it can combine data from multiple Google apps on the device to provide relevant results for your queries.
The Google Pixel 8 series presents a complex proposition. Its impressive software features, when available, offer unparalleled convenience and innovation. However, the geographical restrictions on these features leave a sour taste, creating a sense of unfulfilled potential for a significant portion of its global audience.
Despite Google being very active in Africa, it’s important to note that they have no Google stores here. With offices established in several African countries, their absence of official Pixel stores is a deliberate decision, a sign of neglect.
The lack of official stores coupled with geo-restricted software features creates a frustrating experience for many African users who are eager to embrace the full Google Pixel experience. This disconnect between Google’s continental presence and its consumer accessibility raises concerns which should be addressed.
So, should you buy the Google Pixel 8? No, if you value hardware performance and camera prowess above all else, you’re better off exploring other options.