The first Google Pixel 8 camera leak hints at a major upgrade

Google Pixel 7 Pro camera app

Ryan Haines/Android Authority


  • A leaker has claimed that the Pixel 8 series could get tiered HDR technology.
  • This feature offers higher HDR quality than is currently available for the Pixel 7’s main camera.
  • This leak also suggests that the Pixel 8 could get a sensor upgrade as a result.

Google’s phones have long offered an HDR+ photography feature as a tentpole mode, with both the Nexus and Pixel ranges using this multi-frame HDR solution to improve dynamic range and reduce ghosting in regular snaps .

Now tipster and developer Kuba Wojciechowski has uncovered clues 2023 pixels get tiered HDR support. Wojciechowski poked around the Google Camera Go app and discovered hints of the feature for 2023 devices.

The tipster also correctly points out that the main Samsung Isocell GN1 sensor used in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 series doesn’t offer tiered HDR support. However, the Isocell GN2 does offer this feature, which suggests a main camera upgrade for the Pixel 8 could be on the cards.

How does this compare to Google’s existing technology?

Google’s original HDR+ solution took a series of quick exposures. But the company has switched to HDR+ with bracketing from the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G. With this technique, five short exposures are taken before the shutter button is pressed and one long exposure is taken when the shutter button is pressed halfway.

Meanwhile, Layered HDR is Samsung’s more modern take on HDR photography. This technology captures three separate exposures (short, medium and long) in very rapid succession and then stitches them together for the final photo. So it seems like middle exposure in particular is missing from Google’s HDR+ solutions.

Google HDR Plus vs. HDR Plus with bracketing

Google’s original HDR+ solution (above) and HDR+ with bracketing technique.

Samsung noted at the time of the GN2’s launch that staggered HDR brought more detail and vivid colors than the GN1’s real-time HDR mode, adding that it reduced power consumption by up to 24%. The company has also confirmed in other sensor launches that staggered HDR is faster than traditional HDR solutions, although we’re not sure if that was in comparison to GN1 mode or previous HDR implementations.

Of course, speed is life when it comes to HDR shooting. So any speed improvement here should also result in less ghosting and potentially less time spent looking at the dreaded “Processing” screen. Adding other upgrades mentioned above, the Pixel 8 could deliver more efficient, higher-quality HDR captures by relying on this solution.

However, the bigger benefit here is the fact that Google could upgrade the main camera sensor in the Pixel 8 series. Switching to a sensor like the Isocell GN2 would also open the door to improved low-light performance, thanks to larger pixels and improved autofocus via Dual Pixel Pro technology.

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