Google Pixel 8 leaks reveal AI-powered camera features and major software update policy

A series of Pixel 8 leaks over the weekend is leaving little to the imagination ahead of Google's hardware event next week.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
The camera bump of the Google Pixel 7a.
June Wan/ZDNET

It's hardly worth calling them "leaks" anymore given the volume and the fact that there's a good chance they're essentially Google-approved advertising for next week's release, but thanks to a slew of leaks over the weekend, some more details about the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro have been revealed.

New AI-enhanced cameras

For starters, a Google promo video touting the phone's AI-assisted photo and video tricks was provided to 91mobiles.com. That promo begins by showing off "Video Boost" which provides smoother video and proceeds to show an upgraded night sight for taking photos in low light. You can think of it as an enhanced HDR capability.

The video goes on to show off the "Audio Erase" feature that removes unwanted background noise from videos, providing an example of a person playing a musical instrument outdoors while a siren blares in the distance. Once the feature is applied to the video, only the music remains. 

The phone's "Real Tone" feature is also on full display, which not only sees more diverse faces in more lighting conditions for facial recognition, the company says, but has an auto-white balance model to help determine color in a picture and uses that to reflect a variety of skin tones in photos -- looking more true to life.

Google Pixel 8 series

Here's a closer look at the Pixel 8 Pro (left) and Pixel 8 (right).


After briefly showing off some astrophotography and Super Res Zoom, next up was a face-swapping feature where if someone in a photo is captured with a bad facial expression, it can be swapped out for a better one (the phone captures multiple images to do this), or AI can edit the face on its own.

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The video closed by showing the phone's manual camera controls, which Google says are "modeled after DSLR" and lets users manipulate shutter speed, focus, ISO, and more.

The Pixel 8 is getting "Pro" upgrades

And lastly, we now know that the regular Pixel 8 will get a display upgrade over the 7, from a 90Hz refresh rate to 120Hz. Of course, that's not the only upgrade from the 7 to the 8, as a couple of things are now clear from these leaks. 

One, Google wants to provide a little more separation between its flagship and mid-level phones. While they were well-received, one complaint about the more recent Pixel 7a was that it was hard to justify buying the Pixel 7 frequently being discounted. That seems to change this year, as the non-Pro flagship phone has enough to distinguish itself and justify its price increase.

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Two, Google is taking the camera on the Pixel 8 series very seriously. The 8 Pro's specs, for example, includes a 48 MP Quad PD telephoto lens, super resolution zoom of up to 30x, and manual controls, making for -- what is on paper -- a stellar camera experience.

Key buying info

In addition, the 91mobiles tipster also revealed that Google Pixel 8 Pro preorders would come with a free Pixel Watch 2. Although exact pricing hasn't been revealed, that's roughly a $350 value and makes the high-end price of the 8 Pro a little more palatable.  

We also learned that the Pixel 8 series will have up to seven years of upgrades for security and OS. It's worth noting though that this doesn't necessarily mean seven years of OS upgrades -- it could be, say, five years of OS plus two more of security.

While we know almost everything there is to know about Google's new flagship phones, you can expect this isn't the last of the leaks. The new phones will be available October 4, so stay tuned for ZDNET's reporting when the products are officially unveiled.

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