Breaking News

Google has fixed its recent history of terrible speakers with the Pixel 8 Pro

Google has fixed its recent history of terrible speakers with the Pixel 8 Pro

I had the Pixel 7 Pro as my primary phone for several months and enjoyed many aspects of it — but the audio coming from its speakers was weak and weak compared to flagships from Apple, Samsung, and others. And this was by no means a new flaw in the Pixel line: it's something Google has ignored for years.

I'd argue that things really went off the rails starting with the Pixel 5, when Google replaced the traditional earpiece speaker with an over-engineered, under-display option that used vibrations to produce sound. The result was something that was acceptable for voice calls but very disappointing for anything else. This was a notable decline coming from the perfectly adequate stereo speakers that Google included in the Pixel 4 and 4 XL.

The strange speaker experiment was short-lived; Google reverted to a more traditional setup with the Pixel 6. But for whatever reason, the fullness of sound produced by those speakers never quite returned to the quality I'd expect from flagship phones from any company. It was, at best, okay. Some people turned to EQing using an Android tool called Wavelet to balance things a little better. But no one should do this.

Keep in mind, I am not one of those people who listen to smartphone speakers every now and then. After all, I review earbuds, so that's how most of my music is listened to. And I keep a cursory glance at anyone who destroys their phone speaker in public. But at the same time, there is something inside me that feels very disappointed when I turn on a new phone and there is only a faint sound. I want it to be good for the times I use it while lounging on the couch or laying in bed.

But mercifully, it appears that someone on the Pixel hardware team has finally made a case for fixing this situation with the Pixel 8 lineup. If you're the engineer who said "We can't stay organized like this," please accept my thanks. I can't speak for the smaller phone, which I haven't used much yet, but there are actually a lot of differences between the drivers of the Pixel 8 Pro and its predecessor.

Now you can listen to music from loudspeakers and have an enjoyable experience doing so. When watching videos on YouTube, I don't notice the same ear-piercing quality of sound frequencies that was present on the 7 Pro. Google didn't mention any speaker improvements during its keynote, but trust me, they're there. Perhaps part of this has to do with the fact that the 8 Pro no longer has a curved display (and the thin side rails that come with it). But whatever changes were made, the 8 Pro is back on par. Well done, Google. Considering the $100 price increase, I'd be very annoyed if the trend of mediocre speakers continued.

I don't know that the 8 Pro is quite at the level of the iPhone 15 Pro Max; Whatever you feel about Apple or iPhones, there's no denying how good the company is at extracting good sound (and even some noticeable separation) from mobile devices. This has been the situation for years. But Google's speakers are now present in perfection and tone with the Galaxy S23 Ultra. What have been downsides over the past few years are now back in the pros column. Let's try not to lag behind again this time.

No comments