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The best Google Pixel phones you can buy: Expert tested

ZDNET has tested all of the best Google Pixel phones on the market to find the models that are most worthy of your consideration, from budget options to ones that fold.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Google Pixel 8 Pro | Best Google Pixel phone overall
Google Pixel 8 Pro Actua Display
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Best Google Pixel phone overall
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Google Pixel 8 | Best Google Pixel phone for most people
Google Pixel 8 display in bright room.
Google Pixel 8
Best Google Pixel phone for most people
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Google Pixel 7a | Best cheap Google Pixel phone
Person holding the Pixel 7a.
Google Pixel 7a
Best cheap Google Pixel phone
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Google Pixel Fold | Best foldable Google Pixel phone
Google Pixel Fold on a table.
Google Pixel Fold
Best foldable Google Pixel phone
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While the original Google Pixel launched in 2016, long after Android came to be, the search giant's lineup of smartphones has slowly but surely blossomed into one of the most popular options in today's market. Buying a Google Pixel constitutes three benefits specifically: A capable (and intelligent) camera system, a clean user interface, and long-term software support. That was true seven years ago -- and still is today.

Also: The best Android phones you can buy

In the present time, the Google Pixel has not only become a frontrunner in AI capabilities but also in the budget and foldable sectors, with its A-series of smartphones and Pixel Fold, respectively.

ZDNET has gone hands-on with all of the Google Pixel phones on the market, and our pick for the best Google Pixel phone right now is the Pixel 8 Pro, thanks to its reliable camera features, sleek design, and support for up to seven years of software updates. Read on for more picks, whether you're shopping on a budget or wanting to experience newer form factors.

The best Google phones of 2024

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • 7 years of software, security, and feature updates
  • Reliable and consistent triple-camera setup
  • Premium-feeling hardware
Cons
  • A $100 price bump from the last model
  • Base storage of 128GB
  • Wired charging is just passable at 30W
More Details

Google Pixel 8 Pro specs: Processor: Google Tensor G3 | Display: 6.7 inches | Storage options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 48MP telephoto, 10.8MP front | Battery capacity: 4,950 mAh | Price: Starting at $999

The Pixel 8 Pro is Google's most refined device yet, as we found after reviewing it for more than a month. The new Super Actua display gets plenty bright for both indoor and outdoor usage and is fitted into a more curved glass-to-aluminum body, making the device sit comfortably in the hand. 

The Pixel 8 Pro also features an updated Google Tensor G3 chip, giving the phone a performance boost and several new AI capabilities, including context-aware Call Screening responses, the ability to summarize and translate bodies of text, and even support for simultaneous voice-to-text input with multiple languages.

As for the cameras, there are new AI features like Video Boost (which helps better record videos in low light), Audio Erase (which removes background noises from a video) and, for the Pro specifically, Best Take (which lets you swap out faces in a group photo with better ones). The phone's triple camera array, paired with the company's computational prowess, makes the Pixel 8 Pro the best device overall from Google.

Review: Google Pixel 8 Pro

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Similar camera system as Pixel 8 Pro
  • 7 years of software updates
  • Easier to hold in the hand
Cons
  • Charging is not that fast
  • Lacks a telephoto lens
More Details

Google Pixel 8 specs: Processor: Google Tensor G3 | Display: 6.2 inches | Storage options: 128GB, 256GB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10.5MP front | Battery capacity: 4,355 mAh | Price: Starting at $699

While the Pixel 8 Pro will steal all the limelight, don't sleep on the humble Pixel 8 model, which is the best option for most users, average or not. Like the Pro model, the Pixel 8 features Google's latest Tensor G3 processor, a practical amount of storage (up to 256GB), and the same main and ultrawide cameras.

Several of the new Pixel AI features have trickled down to the Pixel 8, too, like Magic Editor and Circle to Search, so you won't miss out on too many software features. In ways, the smaller Pixel is an even better phone than the larger Pro, such as ergonomics and feel in the hand. The ability to reach from one corner of the screen to the other without having to fidget around creates a more burdenless user experience.

Most importantly, the Pixel 8 costs $300 less than the Pixel 8 Pro, making it one of the best phones in its price category.

Review: Google Pixel 8

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Smooth-looking 90Hz OLED display
  • First A-series with wireless charging
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • Just average battery life
  • Only one storage configuration
More Details

Google Pixel 7a specs: Processor: Google Tensor G2 with Titan M2 | Display: 6.1 inches | Storage options: 128GB | Rear cameras: 64MP Quad PD Bayer, 13MP ultrawide, 13MP front | Battery capacity: Typical 4385mAh | Price: Starting at $499

The Google Pixel 7a is not as flashy as the 8 series, but at a starting price of $449 (with plenty of deals circling around), it's the best budget option for Pixel fans. And just because it's more affordable doesn't mean Google skimped out on features. 

For example, the Pixel 7a features the Titan M2 chip and a built-in VPN for added security while using public Wi-Fi networks to protect your personal data from unauthorized access. The latest A-series device also features a 90Hz display, a first for its kind, that feels as smooth to interact with as it is to look at.

On the camera front, there's a 13MP selfie camera and a 64MP main rear camera for ultra-detailed photos and video, which is great for hobbyist shutterbugs and professional photographers alike. The only downside is that the Pixel 7a will only feature one storage capacity option at 128GB and no microSD card slot, so you can't expand your storage in the future without upgrading.

Review: Google Pixel 7a

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Compact external screen makes the phone easy to hold
  • Clean and user-centric software
  • One of the best camera systems on a foldable
Cons
  • Battery life can be better
  • Not eligible for Google's 7-year software update policy
  • More fragile than your standard phone
More Details

Google Pixel Fold specs : Processor: Google Tensor G2 | Display: 5.8 inches (outer) and 7.6 inches (inner) | Storage: 256GB, 512GB | Rear cameras: 48MP main, 10.8MP ultrawide, 10.8MP telephoto, and 9.5MP front | Battery capacity: 4,821mAh | Price: $1,799

On the opposite side of the budget spectrum sits the Google Pixel Fold at $1,799. The Fold is the first phone-to-tablet style foldable from the company, and it beats the competition in several regards. Notably, the Pixel Fold has a much smaller screen on the exterior, or when folded, giving the appearance of a compact Android instead of another large-screen handset.

Of course, once it's unfolded, you're presented with a 7.6-inch canvas that's ideal for multi-app browsing, gaming, and streaming movies and videos. It helps that Google embeds a taskbar at the bottom of the screen so that opening two apps simultaneously is as simple as dragging and dropping them out. The dual-screen nature of a foldable makes it a fantastic camera for both group selfies, timed photos, and vlogging.

Did I mention that the Pixel Fold costs $1,799? Well, let me reiterate, because the phone is not cheap, and there's a reason why it wasn't given the superlative of "Best Google Pixel phone for most people" on this list. But the cost of innovation is a thing, and folks living on the bleeding edge will likely find a lot of value out of the Pixel Fold. If that's your cup of tea, this is the first and best foldable made by Google.

Review: Google Pixel Fold

What is the best Google phone?

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is ZDNET's pick for best Google phone. Along with the ample photo and video editing features the phone contains, it's also sleek, premium-feeling, and has enough battery life for a long day of use. All told, it's one of the most dynamic phones on the market, with several AI features to back it up. See how the best Google Pixel phones compare based on price, processing speed, and display size below.

Google Pixel phone

Price

Processor

Display size

Pixel 8 Pro

$999

Google Tensor G3

6.7-inch

Pixel 8

$699

Google Tensor G3

6.2-inch

Pixel 7a

$499

Google Tensor G2

6.1-inch

Pixel Fold

$499

Google Tensor G2

5.8-inch and 7.6-inch

Which is the right Google Pixel phone for you?

If you're interested in a Google Pixel phone, it's nice there aren't too many options available to confuse you or overwhelm your decision-making process. The first consideration is price. If you have a maximum amount you are willing to spend on a phone, then the price can dictate which is right for you.

Thankfully, when it comes to the software experience, Google provides about the same experience across all of the actively supported Pixel phones. You'll see some exclusive AI and camera features here and there, but the general experience is roughly the same.

Choose this Google Pixel phone

If you want...

Google Pixel 8 Pro

A sleek, picture-taking machine with tons of AI features, all-day battery life, and a temperature sensor. It also has the most storage capacity options of the Pixel line-up.

Google Pixel 8

A more affordable Pixel phone with a similarly outstanding camera, colorful body choices, and a handy form factor. It also features some of the AI features found on the Pro.

Google Pixel 7a

The best budget pick of the Google phones, with a starting price of $499, a 90Hz display, and wireless charging support. 

Google Pixel Fold

Google's first foldable device that lets you switch between a compact 5.9-inch display and a productivity-enhancing 7.6-inch display. The Pixel Fold is pricey, but it's well worth the money if you want all the power you can get in a pocketable figure.

How did we choose these Pixel phones?

With several new Google Pixel phones being released each year, ZDNET spends at least two weeks with each model before deciding whether or not (and where) it sits within this buying guide. The qualifications I look for when curating the picks include the following:

  • Availability: The biggest factor is availability; is what's being selected available to purchase directly from Google, a local carrier, or an online retailer? Is it in stock? Or can it only be purchased in used or renewed condition? With the picks on this list, each one can be bought new and sealed, guaranteeing that you'll receive the most reliable experience from the start.
  • Value: Just as important is the value that each Pixel phone brings. While all four on the list differ in price tiers, they each offer enough unique features, camera capabilities, and designs that make them worth paying for. If they're not worth it, they won't be on the list.
  • Performance: Naturally, I only pick models that yield good to excellent performance, from the way they handle day-to-day tasks to more intensive use cases like gaming and video editing.

Do all of these Pixel phones have water and dust resistance?

People use their smartphones everywhere today and having some level of dust and water resistance is important. You should not swim or intentionally submerge your phone for extended periods in water without a waterproof case. Warranties generally do not cover water damage. However, if you are outside in the rain, accidentally drop your phone in a puddle, or spill something on your phone, it should be able to survive such an incident.

On this list, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are the most protective of water and dust resistance, with an IP68 rating, followed by the Pixel 7a (IP67) and Pixel Fold (IPX8).

Do all of these Pixel phones support wireless charging?

Wireless charging is a convenient way to charge your phone without having to plug in a USB-C cord directly into the phone. Wireless charging is also now rated as fast wireless charging in many cases, but even with this "fast" rating, it is still faster to charge up your phone with a direct USB-C cable.

Also: Is your Pixel battery draining faster than it should? This feature can help 

Every Pixel model on this list supports wireless charging.

Are there alternative phones worth considering?

If you're open to alternatives, see below for ZDNET's best-tested picks, including ones from Google and other brands.

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