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Gemini Nano, Pixel 8, and the Future of Pixel Smartphones

by Huey Louis Antonio 20 Mar 2024

Gemini Nano, Pixel 8, and the Future of Pixel Smartphones

Initially garnering applause after announcing 7 years of OS and security updates for their Pixel 8 line during launch, Google’s currently facing criticism after announcing that Gemini Nano, their on-device AI, won’t be making it to their standard Pixel 8. The developer announced it during a segment on the Android Show, where they first teased the capabilities of their new AI features.

Enthusiasts have seen this as a possible rocky future where the gap between the base Pixel and their Pro counterparts continue to widen. But right now though, how big is this anyway? What exactly are base Pixel 8 users missing out on from Gemini Nano?

What is Gemini Nano?

Gemini is basically Google’s latest on-device AI model, with Gemini Nano geared at improving mobile devices. It basically brings AI features straight to your smartphones, letting it process all of these tasks on-device, which also helps with privacy and security.

Some of its features include improvements to the Recorder app, where the AI can help summarize conversations you’ve had, whether it’s through text or voice, for easy viewing later on. Additionally, smart replies will also be possible across a wide variety of apps like Messages and WhatsApp where the AI can help you craft your response.

That’s on top of its image editing features like Magic Editor and Best Take, some of which are available on the base Pixel 8. To be fair, some people have noted that Gemini still needs improvement, with Google themselves still refining the accuracy of its responses as well as providing better nuance.

However, if you are the type who uses AI features regularly, then you might want to consider getting the Pixel 8 Pro, at least, if you’re planning to switch to Google’s current devices this year.

"Hardware limitations"

So why is Google not bringing Gemini Nano to the base Pixel 8? Well, according to Google’s developers at the Android Show, the problem is hardware. It’s supposedly a lot harder to implement Gemini’s features on the standard Pixel compared to the arguably, more powerful Pixel 8 Pro. 

Except, some people did find this statement odd considering both the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro use the same chipset: the Tensor G3. Those who were around at launch also recall Google marketing the Tensor chips to be geared towards AI and machine learning, even as it takes a hit on certain aspects like battery efficiency and gaming performance.

If it’s not the chipset, then others have looked at RAM limitations, as the base Pixel 8 only comes with 8GB of RAM. But then, the base Samsung Galaxy S24 also starts with 8GB of RAM, and yet it’s been confirmed to get all the AI features to come with Gemini Nano.

It’s definitely a baffling decision indeed and a development that may not be promising for those planning to buy a non-Pro Google Pixel 9 in the future. Especially since there's talks of Apple supposedly being in talks with Google to license Gemini for their upcoming iOS 18.

Planning on building up your own Pixel ecosystem? Check out our great deal on Google's Pixel Tablet today!

Is going Pro the best option for Pixel smartphones?

It’s possible that the omission of AI features is one other way Google will differentiate their Pro models going forward. That’s on top of the Pro’s more advanced camera features as well as better camera hardware in general, such as a dedicated telephoto camera.

Some software-based features are also already limited to the Pro, including manual control over stills and videos, as well as Night Sight video recording. Additionally, if you prefer a larger display and slightly more powerful speakers, then the Pro continues to win out.

Come the Pixel 9 launch, and it’s possible that only the Pro variant will offer the full “Android experience the way Google intended it” as per their blurb. The question is then: Is the full Pixel experience worth getting the more expensive Pro? More importantly…

Are Pixel 8 owners really missing out right now?

In a poll conducted by Android Authority, people who bought the Pixel 8 over the Pixel 8 Pro didn’t really do so for its camera capabilities. From the responses given, people opted for the base Pixel 8 mostly for its size. Measuring just shy of 6 inches, the compact size makes it quite comfortable for those with smaller hands.

Additionally, the price could also be a deciding factor, even though the Pixel 8 has technically gotten a big price bump compared to its predecessor, the Pixel 7, at launch. The Pixel 8 for example, is available for around PHP 45,000.00 here at Kimstore!

If that’s your main reason for going with base Pixel, then you might not need to shell out the extra for the Pro models and their added features.

On the flip side though: Sure, Gemini may not be as important right now, but if Google is promising up to 7 years of updates for their phones, then what other features will come exclusively to the Pro in the future? Will it be worth keeping a base Pixel 8 for those 7 years if newer models get more functionality?

Ultimately, it’s hard to say. Google did mention bringing Gemini Nano to “future” Pixel devices instead, which may include a possible Pixel 8a and standard Pixel 9. For now though, this incident is one more proof that you should always take phones based on what it can do now, rather than any promises its manufacturer makes for the future.

Because promises can always be broken.

For gadgets and electronics, get it at Kimstore!

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