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5 phones you should buy instead of the Google Pixel 8 Pro

Someone holding the Bay blue Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Is the Google Pixel 8 Pro an excellent smartphone? Absolutely! It’s quite possibly the best smartphone Google has ever made, and we weren’t shy about heaping praise on it in our Google Pixel 8 Pro review. While its battery life isn’t anything to write home about, and the temperature sensor is a bit of a whiff, the sheer quality of the camera, gorgeous design, strong specs, and promise of seven years of updates mean it’s not a phone to miss out on.

But while the Pixel 8 Pro is a very strong smartphone, it’s far from the only choice. In fact, if you’re looking at the Pixel 8 Pro right now, there are five other smartphones you should consider buying instead of Google’s most expensive flagship.

Google Pixel 8

The Google Pixel 8 on a table.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 8 Pro may be the best Pixel Google has ever made — but it’s only a “may” because the Google Pixel 8 exists. Pound-for-pound, and considering pure value, it’s difficult for the Pro to claim a total victory over its cheaper sibling — and that’s why the Pixel 8 is a strong alternative to the Pixel 8 Pro.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it: You won’t get as many advanced features on the Pixel 8 as you do on the Pixel 8 Pro. But they’re undoubtedly features you can live without. The most prominent is the loss of the 5x optical zoom lens, which is definitely a shame. But be honest with yourself; how often do you take 5x zoom pictures anyway? Everything else is just a slight downgrade — dropping to a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 6.2-inch display instead of 6.7-inches, and fewer large storage options. You still get the option of 256GB of storage, which is plenty for most people, and the smaller display means the phone itself is smaller (a bonus for those who don’t want a phone as comically large as the Pixel 8 Pro).

The best part is that much of the Pixel 8 mirrors what makes the Pro variant so good. You get Google’s Tensor G3 processor, a bright OLED display with a dynamic refresh rate of up to 120Hz, and the same seven years of updates. The battery life on the Pixel 8 should last you about a day, but likely no more. And yes, the camera is just as good, and the AI tricks are here, too.

Whether you buy the Pixel 8 over the Pixel 8 Pro is largely a question of budget. The Pixel 8 is a full $300 less than the Pixel 8 Pro, which makes it an extremely tempting proposition. Is an additional camera lens and larger screen worth $300 to you? For some, it may well be. But for us, it’s clear the Pixel 8 represents phenomenal value for money, making it an extremely good phone to grab over the Pixel 8 Pro.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus

The purple Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus resting against a white pole.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

For many people, Samsung is synonymous with Android, so it makes sense that one of the Pixel 8 Pro’s strongest competitors is the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus. The two devices have a similar price point, with smaller, lower-powered variants beneath them. But it would be a mistake to assume they’re basically the same, as in a lot of ways, these are two diametrically opposed devices. In fact, put a goatee on the S24 Plus, and it could pass for the Pixel 8 Pro’s mirror universe twin.

Where the Pixel 8 Pro is lacking, the S24 Plus excels, and vice versa. The battery life is the biggest example of this; The S24 Plus comfortably has a two-day lifespan, while the Pixel 8 Pro is very much a single-day smartphone. In fact, on heavier days, you might struggle to get to bedtime with Google’s latest. Adding to this, charging is much faster than the Pixel 8 Pro’s comparatively sluggish 30W. The processor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, is also faster than the Pixel 8 Pro’s Tensor G3 and runs cooler, too. They even have opposite designs; The Pixel embraces gentle curves, while this year’s Galaxy Plus model has gone in hard on flat edges.

Swings and roundabouts go both ways, of course, and there are some downsides to the S24 Plus. Samsung’s One UI software is still based on Android, but it’s noticeably busier, with a lot of extra Samsung-themed apps. The camera, while great, also isn’t as good as the Pixel 8 Pro. While you get an extra camera lens, the overall performance isn’t quite as strong, so you’re sacrificing quality for versatility.

This comes down to what you value in a smartphone. If you want strong battery life, with a similarly powerful processor, faster charging, and don’t mind the more crowded software and a slightly less capable camera, then you should consider the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus for the same price.

OnePlus 12

OnePlus 12 in hand with OnePlus 12R in the background.
OnePlus 12 Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

It’s hard not to recommend the OnePlus 12 every single time one of these recommendation articles comes up. The flagship killer has graduated from taking on mere flagships and has its sights set on the ultra-flagship range. Simply put, the Pixel 8 Pro is out of its league here in pure power — though there are still some reasons to choose Google’s latest over OnePlus’s.

In terms of its strengths, the OnePlus 12 is an absolute powerhouse. OnePlus’s latest phone has been designed to take on some of the most powerful flagships in the world, and that means it uses the stupendously powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, up to 512GB of storage, and up to a ludicrous 16GB of RAM. Those specs alone blow the Pixel 8 Pro out of the water, and then you add in a massive 5,400mAh battery that lasts for two days on one full charge and has up to 80W fast charging —  starting from $800.

So it’s a slam dunk for OnePlus, right? Not necessarily. To achieve all this, OnePlus had to jettison everything extraneous, which means there are few extra features of note. You’re lacking the AI smarts you’ll find on the Pixel 8 Pro, and while the OnePlus 12’s camera is good, it’s not on the Pixel’s level by a long shot. Plus, when it comes down to it, all that extra power doesn’t really do all that much. Sure, it’s more powerful, but will it actually feel more powerful day-to-day? For some folks, probably not.

Still, it’s hard to argue against the value for money you get for $800, and for that reason alone, you should really, really consider buying the OnePlus 12 instead of the Pixel 8 Pro.

Motorola Edge Plus (2023)

Someone holding the Motorola Edge Plus 2023.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Here’s one that might have come out of left field for you. Yes, Motorola is still making flagship phones, and you should absolutely care because they’re pretty darn good.

The Motorola Edge Plus came out partway through 2023, and as a result, it doesn’t have the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor a lot of the alternatives on this list have. However, it does have the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, a still very powerful chip that powered the last generation of flagships just fine — and will still put up a strong fight against the Tensor G3. The OLED display is a particular highlight, with an incredible 165Hz variable refresh rate and some screen tech that’s just gorgeous. The battery is another two-day affair, and the 68W fast charging leaves the Pixel 8 Pro’s charging in the dust. Even the software is quite close to the Pixel’s Android, with a few of Motorola’s gesture controls thrown in for good measure.

It falls in similar places to most other challengers. The camera isn’t as good as the Pixel 8 Pro’s and is probably the weakest on this list. There’s also no always-on display, and the speakers don’t hold up to the display’s excellent quality, making movie-watching on this a bit of a letdown. However, at a price of $800, it’s still a very strong contender.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra's screen, resting on a bench.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 8 Pro is a great smartphone, but you can go higher. If you want the most powerful, feature-rich, the most extra phone around, well, you want the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

It should be no surprise at this point that the S24 Ultra is equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, and just like in all the other phones, it’s incredibly powerful. There’s little you can throw at this phone that will faze it, especially when you throw in the 12GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. But that’s not that great, really, is it? Well, Samsung wasn’t done there. The Galaxy S24 Ultra also has a massive 6.8-inch display, running on Dynamic AMOLED 2X technology, with a variable refresh rate between 1-120Hz. When combined with the top-tier specs, it means you get a phone that’s fast, responsive, and incredibly smooth.

The camera system is one of the only ones that can go up against the Pixel 8 Pro and win. Yes, you read that right — Digital Trends’ Andy Boxall put the two phones head-to-head, and it was the Galaxy S24 Ultra that came out on top. Given Google’s dominance in phone cameras in recent years, this is an achievement of serious note for the Samsung phone. Throw in an included S Pen and Samsung’s new Galaxy AI, and you’ve got a smartphone that’s truly transcendent.

Of course, there’s a pretty large caveat here, and it’s the price. The Pixel 8 Pro is already a pricey phone at $999, but the Galaxy S24 Ultra starts at $300 past that, at $1,300. That’s a lot of money to spend on a smartphone, but it really is the only option if you want the most advanced Android smartphone you can buy in 2024.

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Mark Jansen
Mark Jansen is an avid follower of everything that beeps, bloops, or makes pretty lights. He has a degree in Ancient &…
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