To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Best Pixel phones 2024: Google’s smartphone family tried and tested

Front of black Google Pixel 8 on corner of brown table

We put Google’s current Pixel smartphone lineup to the test to find the perfect phone for you

It’s only been relatively recently that we’ve taken to mulling over the best Google Pixel smartphones. The very first Pixel phone didn’t hit the market until 2016, which was eight years after the first Android phone and a full nine years after the first iPhone.

Yes, we’re rather surprised it took the maker of the Android OS quite so long to make its own phones too, but we’re glad that Google finally got around to it. As far as we’re concerned, the launch of a new Pixel phone is right up there with the launch of an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy phone on the excitement scale.

What makes a Pixel phone so uniquely compelling? It’s a combination of super-clean and clever software, amazing cameras and a unique design sensibility. These three things apply to pretty much every phone that’s ever borne the Pixel branding.

Such consistency means that you can get a taste of Pixel magic whatever your budget. We’ve tested and reviewed every single Pixel smartphone to hit the market and below we’ll run through the best you Pixels on the market. First, however, we’ll explain how we test every Pixel model that comes through our doors.

Best Pixel phones: At a glance

Best Pixel for most peopleGoogle Pixel 8 (~£699)Check price at Amazon
Best-value PixelGoogle Pixel 8a (~£449)Check price at John Lewis
The cheapest PixelGoogle Pixel 7a (~£299)Check price at John Lewis
Best Pixel foldableGoogle Pixel Fold (~£1,999)Check price at Amazon

lightbulb emoji

Want to learn more?
Jump to the buying guide

How we test Pixel phones

As with all smartphones, we start our Pixel review process by downloading the Geekbench and GFXBench apps from Google Play. These apps test the CPU and GPU speeds respectively, producing a set of scores that we can compare to competitors. When it comes to testing a Pixel phone’s display, we use a colorimeter and a piece of software called DisplayCal to measure how accurately the colours are being reproduced, as well as results for the contrast ratio and maximum brightness.

We also use that DisplayCal software to help set the Pixel’s screen brightness to 170cd/m2, which enables us to maintain consistency for our comparative battery test. This involves engaging flight mode and running the same looping video until the phone runs out of power, then recharging and noting the timestamp at which it died.

Finally, we look at the Pixel’s cameras, taking a wide range of shots with all the lenses, including interiors, landscapes, night shots and portraits. We’ll also shoot some rapid panning video to judge the quality of the stabilisation.

READ NEXT: Best smartphone

The best Pixel phones you can buy in 2024

1. Google Pixel 8: Best Pixel for most people

Price when reviewed: £699 | Check price at Amazon

Front of black Google Pixel 8 on corner of brown table

  • Great for… compact performance and a superb main camera
  • Not so great for… zoomed-in photos and watching movies

The Pixel 8 isn’t the most advanced Pixel phone on the market – see the Pixel 8 Pro entry below – but it is the best all-rounder for most people. In much the same way as a regular iPhone, it strikes brilliant performance in a tidy form factor, all at a non-extortionate price.

With a 6.2in 120Hz display, it’s a relatively compact phone that’s easy to carry around and use one-handed, yet it runs on the exact same Tensor G3 chip as the Pixel 8 Pro. You also get an identical 50MP main camera as its big brother, which means that the Pixel 8 takes some of the best pictures of any smartphone on the market, even in low light conditions.

The Pixel 8 is capable of almost all of the same AI tricks as its Pro brother, from automatically transcribing conversations to suggesting message rewrites. The crucial factor in all this is that the Pixel 8 can be had for hundreds of pounds less than the aforementioned 8 Pro. Shop around and you might even find it retailing for a price not too far removed from the mid-range Pixel 8A.

Read our full Google Pixel 8 review

Key specs – Processor: Tensor G3; Screen: 6.2in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 50MP, 12MP (ultrawide); Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 14

2. Google Pixel 8a: Best-value Pixel

Price when reviewed: £449 | Check price at John Lewis

google pixel 8a review phone shown on desk with homescreen on

  • Great for… speedy performance and a great camera on a budget
  • Not so great for… average battery life and slow charging

If your budget can’t quite stretch to the Pixel 8, then the Pixel 8a gets about 90% of the way there for potentially much less money. Why only potentially? This is Google’s latest phone, so it hasn’t quite received the same level of heavy discounting as its bigger brothers, but a starting price of £449 is still excellent value, and the deals are coming.

The Pixel 8a offers a nicely compact and fluid 6.1in 120Hz display and the same Tensor G3 processor as the Pixel 8 Pro, but for a lot less money. While its 64MP main camera isn’t quite as impressive as those of its siblings, it still takes excellent photos in most lighting conditions. Little details like wireless charging and IP67 water resistance aren’t common at this end of the market, nor is Google’s seven-year software support promise, which is shared across the Pixel 8 line.

Read our full Google Pixel 8a review

Key specs – Processor: Tensor G3; Screen: 6.1in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 64MP, 13MP (ultrawide); Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 14

3. Google Pixel 8 Pro: Best high-end Pixel

Price when reviewed: £699 | Check price at Argos

google pixel 8 pro review

  • Great for… big sharp display for media consumption and dedicated zoom camera
  • Not so great for… biggest model and still relatively expensive

If money is no object – or you just happen to have a little extra to spend – then the most capable phone Google currently sells is the Google Pixel 8 Pro. It does everything that the Pixel 8 can do, but in a much bigger body with a correspondingly spacious 6.7in QHD+ display. Mobile movie watchers take note.

Performance is even stronger here, as accompanying that shared Tensor G3 chip is 12GB of RAM. This makes it better equipped to tackle Google’s sophisticated AI tasks on-device, making the process quicker. The main advantage of the Pixel 8 Pro over its brothers, however, is the inclusion of a dedicated 48MP telephoto camera. In our tests, it captured the kind of detailed 5x shots that neither the Pixel 8 nor the Pixel 8a could manage.

Key specs – Processor: Tensor G3; Screen: 6.7in, 2,992 x 1,344; Camera: 50MP, 48MP (ultrawide), 48MP (telephoto); Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB; Operating system: Android 14

Also consider: Google Pixel 7 Pro

Want the Pixel 8 Pro’s super-sized screen and camera zoom capabilities without spending so much money? Google still sells its predecessor, the similarly marvellous Google Pixel 7 Pro, as new for a lower price. If you can’t find the phone in stock at Google, you’ll probably find some brand new examples selling cheap on Amazon or another third party retailer.

4. Google Pixel 7a: The cheapest Pixel

Price when reviewed: £299 | Check price at John Lewis

  • Great for… strong camera and wireless charging for cheap
  • Not so great for… limited software upgrades and mediocre battery life

The Pixel 8a might be our pick for the best value phone in the line-up, but it’s not the cheapest. That honour falls to the Pixel 7a, which Google is still selling at its RRP of £499. That’s £50 cheaper than the Pixel 8a, but you’ll doubtless be able to find a deal for significantly less, whether from Google or a third party retailer.

For not a lot of money you’re getting a brilliant phone that still holds its own in 2024. The Pixel 7a comes with a 6.1in 90Hz OLED display, a Tensor G2 processor that provides almost-flagship performance and the same camera system as the Pixel 8a. You also get Google’s ever-appealing stock Android UI, albeit without the same seven-year upgrade promise or AI tricks of the Pixel 8 family.

Read our full Google Pixel 7a review

Key specs – Processor: Tensor G2; Screen: 6.1in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 64MP, 13MP (ultrawide); Storage: 128GB; Operating system: Android 14

5. Google Pixel 7 (Renewed): A refurbished bargain

Price when reviewed: £236 | Check price at Back Market

  • Great for… design and specs still fresh and now very cheap
  • Not so great for… limited future software support

Pixel phones are a good pick if you’re not insistent on having the newest tech. Google has kept the design language and feature sets of its phones broadly similar across the last few generations, which means a well-chosen refurbished model will still feel fresh. Our pick is the Pixel 7, which is like a classier, better-built Pixel 7a (see above), but with a bigger 6.3in display and a superior camera.

You still get Google’s clean and capable software, with another two major OS upgrades and around three years of security updates yet promised. Snappy performance is a given, with Google’s Tensor G2 chip keeping things fluid. There are plenty of refurbished models out there at the time of writing, with an asking price that’s around 70% of a brand new model at launch.

Read our full Google Pixel 7 review

Key specs – Processor: Tensor G2; Screen: 6.3in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 50MP, 12MP (ultrawide); Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 14

Check price at Back Market

6. Google Pixel Fold: Best Pixel foldable

Price when reviewed: £1,999 | Check price at Amazon

  • Great for… huge fold-out screen and strong triple-camera system
  • Not so great for… quite expensive and some outdated elements

If you like Google’s way with software, design and cameras, but have also had your head turned by the emerging foldables market, you’re in luck. Google makes a foldable of its own in the Google Pixel Fold. It’s most notable for supplying a huge fold-out 7.6in 120Hz OLED display, along with a highly usable 5.8in cover display that lets you use it like a ‘normal’ smartphone. It also provides one of the best camera systems of any foldable we’ve ever tested, including a dedicated 10.8MP telephoto camera.

There’s a very simple reason we’ve listed the Pixel Fold last on this list, however. This is very much a first-generation product, with chunky bezels and a big display crease, while it falls behind the Pixel 8 range on performance and software support. However, our biggest bugbear with the handset at launch – its prohibitively expensive asking price – is no longer such a factor, with brand new examples selling for hundreds (and hundreds) less.

Read our full Google Pixel Fold review

Key specs – Processor: Tensor G2; Screen: 7.6in, 2,992 x 1,344 (internal), 5.8in, 2,092 x 1,080 (external); Camera: 48MP, 10.8MP (ultrawide), 10.8MP (telephoto); Storage: 256GB, 512GB; Operating system: Android 14

How to choose the best Pixel phone for you

How much do I need to be spending?

Google offers a broad spectrum of pricing for its Pixel phone range, and often offers money off each model. At the time of writing that starts at £299 for the Pixel 7a, and runs up to £1,199 for the Pixel Fold.

How many software upgrades will these Pixel phones be getting?

That depends on the model you opt for. All phones within the Pixel 8 range have received a seven-year update promise, which is as good as it gets in the industry. The Pixel 7 range, along with the Pixel Fold, will both receive at least another two major Android versions and another three to four years of security updates.

What’s so special about Google’s cameras?

Why does everyone keep going on about Pixel phone cameras? It’s got little to do with the hardware, however the range-topping Pixel 8 Pro is pretty well equipped in that regard. It has more to do with Google’s unique expertise with machine learning and AI, which can create startlingly clear and uncannily well-exposed shots through sheer computer smarts. Google also pioneered the ability to do things like remove photo bombers after the fact.

Are these phones good for gaming?

Pixel phones have a strong average level of performance, thanks to Google’s approach of using its own custom Tensor chips right across the range. You can guarantee that any Pixel phone being sold brand new right now will be able to handle games well. With that said, Google’s Tensor chips aren’t the fastest on the market, and anything with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip (like the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra or the OnePlus 12) will be capable of superior gaming performance.

↑Return to top

Read more

Best Buys