How is Google a Leader in AI, if the Pixel 8 is Already Left Behind?


The much-awaited launch of the Pixel 8 series back in October of last year was accompanied by big promises of a smartphone-led AI revolution. Google’s huge investment in its Tensor chips and work on AI models such as Gemini are proof that it wants to take the lead in the race for modern AI innovation, and the Pixel 8 series plays a considerable role in this strategy. Features like the new Magic Editor, AI wallpapers and more show that Mountain View’s smartphones are capable of running generative AI tasks.

READ: Gemini Nano will not be coming to the Pixel 8

With that being said however, recent news that the base model Pixel 8 will be missing out on Gemini Nano (due to supposed hardware limitations) has cast a bit of doubt on Google’s dedication to its mobile AI prospects. Yes, one could argue that the company was clear about certain features being locked away on the Pixel 8 Pro, but given that a ton of its AI features are cloud-based for the most part, the Pixel 8 seems like it could at least handle Gemini Nano despite the lesser amount of RAM inside, which many are suspecting might be the cause of this limitation.

This is only further fuelled by the fact that Google managed to bring over its “Circle to Search” function to the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro (both of which come with older Tensor hardware), and has seemingly confirmed that the Pixel’s battery stats page will be exclusive for the midrange Pixel 8a and future handsets once they launch – another locked-away feature, at least at the time of this writing.

it’s quite unfortunate that the Pixel 8 is getting left behind this early into its advertised seven-year lifespan

For a flagship phone with a heavy emphasis on software updates as part of its major selling points, it’s quite unfortunate that the Pixel 8 is getting left behind this early into its advertised seven-year lifespan – just five months, actually. As someone who owns a Pixel 8 (and has always had Pixel phones as his main devices), this doesn’t exactly put a lot of confidence into owning the product, and given Google’s track record with services such as Stadia and Pixel Pass (to name a couple) it brings back some rather unpleasant memories.

We also have to consider what other companies are doing at the moment – Qualcomm and MediaTek are pumping out chipsets which are capable of on-device AI, albeit with a little software optimization on behalf of the respective smartphone brand. Google has had its headstart with Tensor and the Pixel 8, and it’s a shame if it were to “nerf” the Pixel 8, especially in a day and age where generative AI is on nearly every new smart device.

Looking at the bright side though, there’s still a chance that things could change. Going back to the arrival of Circle to Search on the Pixel 7, it is possible for Google to bring newer software features to older devices. Take for example Magic Eraser – once touted as an exclusive Pixel editing feature, it’s since become available for different devices, and all users need to do is sign up for a Google One subscription to get it on an older Pixel, Samsung, or even an iPhone.

READ: The “Circle to Search” Feature Finally Arrives for Older Pixel Phones

With that in mind, who’s to say that Gemini Nano won’t arrive for the Pixel 8? Maybe there’s some sort of planned surprise update, but should the folks at Mountain View decide to do so, they should keep in mind that the race for AI is already underway – and no one’s slowing down for Google.

Mike Viray
A writer and content creator with a love for tech and music, Mike is also an avid gamer as well. He and his wife are big fans of Mario Kart.

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