Google Pixel 8 Pro Review: Falling in Love With It Is Easy. Seeing Its Weaknesses Is Easier

Google Pixel 8 Pro Review: Falling in Love With It Is Easy. Seeing Its Weaknesses Is Easier

  • The best screen ever on an Android.

  • The longest software support on a phone today.

  • Not everything is perfect–the camera is no longer its main selling point.

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Google Pixel 8 Pro


The Google Pixel 8 Pro is the first Android phone to offer seven years of updates. A game-changer in the mobile industry, it’s expected to be among the best phones of the year. However, it’s now priced at almost $1,000 (jumping from $899 for the Pixel 7 Pro), which makes it more important than ever for Google to manufacture a Pixel phone with the most advanced hardware.

A lot of AI, a new processor, and improved cameras–all of this seems promising. Still, after testing it for just over a week, it’s still unclear whether it’s worth buying the Pixel 8 Pro.

Index of contents (17)

Google Pixel 8 Pro specs


GOOGLE PIXEL 8 PRO

SIZE AND WEIGHT

6.4 x 3.0 x 0.3 in

7.5 oz

SCREEN

6.7-inch Super Actua Display OLED

2992 x 1344 resolution (481 ppi)

120 Hz LTPO

Gorilla Glass Armor 2

PROCESSOR

Google Tensor G3

Titan M2 security coprocessor

RAM

12 GB LPDDR5X

STORAGE

128 / 256 / 512 GB UFS 3.1

OS

Android 14

7 years of Android updates

BACK CAMERA

Main: 50 MP, f/1.68

Ultra-wide/Macro: 48 MP, f/1.95

Telephoto: 48 MP, f/2.8, 5x optical zoom

Super Res Zoom 30x

Night Sight (photo & video)

FRONT CAMERA

10.5 MP, f/2.2

BATTERY

5,050 mAh

30 W fast charging

23 W wireless charging

CONNECTIVITY

Wi‑Fi 7

Bluetooth 5.3

5G

NFC

USB-C

OTHER

Under-display fingerprint sensor

Face Unlock

IP68

Temperature sensor

PRICE

From $999

Google Pixel 8 Pro - Unlocked Android Smartphone with Telephoto Lens and Super Actua Display - 24-Hour Battery - Porcelain - 256 GB

Design: A Very Pixel Kind of Pixel

Google Pixel 8 Pro

Google has made it clear that its phones must have a distinct design, which has its advantages and disadvantages. The camera module has been the focus since the Pixel 6, and in the eighth generation, it retains the same design as the previous year. The large metal strip that houses the lenses remains the center of attention.

The Pixel 8 Pro is noticeably more comfortable than the previous generation. The back glass finish and the absence of curved edges help in ergonomics.

On the positive side, the phone is quite comfortable to hold. The rounded edges make it pleasant to grip, and the lack of a curved screen means that your fingers will only touch the frame, not the screen. Additionally, the matte finish on the back glass is excellent at resisting fingerprints, making it one of the least fingerprint-prone phones on the market.

Despite its 6.7-inch size, the phone is not heavy, weighing in at just 7.5 oz. This makes it much more comfortable to hold than the Google Pixel 7 Pro.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

On the less positive side, this year, the Pixel is one of the flagship phones that feels less premium in hand. The choice of materials is what it should be–glass and aluminum. However, the phone doesn’t feel excellent and the competition begins to distance itself in terms of the finishes. Additionally, the aluminum body can get dirty easily. With $1,000 phones, some can feel like a piece of jewelry. This Pixel, however, is not one of them.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

If we turn it around, the front makes the most of its frames, although, contrary to popular belief, they’re not symmetrical. The lower bezel is slightly higher and creates what is known as a “bottom chin”. This is a common trifle in high-end Androids, although it’s still striking how difficult it is for most manufacturers to create completely symmetrical fronts.

In short, the build quality is good but not excellent. The keypad’s position is more than correct, although it’s located quite low for a 6.7-inch phone. It’s a pleasant phone to look at and has a lot of personality. The main drawback this year is the lack of premium aura that, in my opinion, a phone that wants to compete with the best on the market should have.

Display: Nits, Nits Everywhere

Google Pixel 8 Pro

In 2023, I became frustrated with manufacturers who promised peak levels of more than 2,000 nits, but were never reached in real-world usage and only appeared as small white dots on the panel during HDR content playback. However, the Pixel 8 Pro delivers on its promises.

The Pixel 8 Pro’s display’s auto mode is one of the brightest in the high-end Android market, even in full sunlight. It’s a great experience to see how the panel shoots up the nits when other devices struggle in direct light. However, I must criticize the automatic brightness feature. Although Google claims that it’s adaptive, it hasn’t adapted well to my usage even after two weeks of use.

Despite forcing the brightness to the maximum, the panel remains dimmer for most of the day. This only happens indoors, as it shoots up to its peak nits in full sunlight. This issue can be fixed with software, and I hope that Google will correct it soon.

I appreciate Google’s transparency in explaining how it measures brightness. The numbers are clear: up to 1,600 nits for HDR and 2,400 nits for maximum peak brightness.

Many manufacturers trick you with their nits figures, implying that a certain brightness level covers the entire display. However, Google is transparent in this regard.

The HDR brightness is measured using a 100% pixel-on ratio, meaning that the entire screen shines at 1,600 nits. However, the maximum brightness is measured using a pixel-on ratio of 5% only, which means that the 2,400 nits are only real in a small group of pixels and not the whole panel. This is an important detail and Google is clear about that, but many manufacturers aren’t.

Due to this reason, phones with 2,000 nits, such as the iPhone 15 Pro, can actually shine brighter in real-world use than a 2,400 nits panel. The brightness level depends on the percentage of pixels on the panel that can shine at that level.

Having said that, even though 2,400 nits is only measurable in small areas of the panel, I can confidently say that this is the best display I've ever tested on an Android device at maximum brightness. It’s simply exceptional, and once you use a display like this, almost all other screens will look bad.

Google Pixel 8 Pro Although I love Android Stock, I miss a bit more of screen customization.

This phone has a 6.7-inch OLED display with almost 500 ppi and an adaptive refresh rate. The factory calibration is very accurate, but some users might find the panel a bit cold, leading to eye fatigue with extended use. There’s no True Tone-style option to warm up the display, which is something that Android flagships have had for years. The whites on the panel are not pure and tend to appear somewhat bluish. However, this isn’t a major issue, but over time, as we get older, we tend to appreciate warmer tones.

There is a Night Light mode available that applies a warm filter to the panel, which can be set according to the user’s preferences or based on the time of day.

Overall, the Pixel 8 Pro’s display is impressive, with a high pixel density and excellent maximum brightness. Unlike other phones with curved screens, this phone’s display is flat. While some users prefer curved screens, objectively speaking, there are no advantages to this design. Samsung started using curved screens to differentiate its premium phones from other models, but they are now moving away from this trend.

Audio: One of the Best

Google Pixel 8 Pro

The Pixel 8 Pro surprises with its sound quality. It’s true that, in my opinion, the equalization tends to enhance the mid-tones, and the bass could be improved. However, at maximum volume, it delivers one of the best sound experiences among Android phones. The speakers are dual, located at the front and bottom, providing stereo sound.

Google has added software features to further improve the audio experience. The phone comes with adaptive sound, which evaluates the acoustic quality of the environment using the microphone and equalizes the sound based on it. The phone also has spatial sound and AI to mitigate background noise during calls. Additionally, users can enjoy spatial audio with compatible headphones.

Performance: The Lack of Power Is Starting to Take Its Toll

Google Pixel 8 Pro

The Google Pixel has been using Google’s own chips, the Google Tensor, for a few years now. The latest generation, Tensor G3, is a 4 nm chip manufactured by Samsung. Unfortunately, it falls short of TSMC’s claims, as performance is likely to suffer. If you’re paying $1,000 for a phone, you want it to perform like a high-end device.

The technology used in the Pixel for internal memory, UFS 3.1, is also not the best. Most Android flagships now use the UFS 4.0 standard, which offers a notable improvement in startup times, file transfer, and other aspects. It’s a controversial decision to skimp on key aspects such as memory.


GOOGLE PIXEL 8 PRO

IPHONE 15 PRO MAX

XIAOMI 13 ULTRA

ONEPLUS 11

SAMSUNG GALAXY S23+

PROCESSOR

Google Tensor G3

Apple A17 Pro

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (for Galaxy)

RAM

12 GB

8 GB

16 GB

16 GB

8 GB

GEEKBENCH 5/6 (SINGLE/MULTI)

1,754 / 4,060 (6)

2,637 / 7,103 (6)

1,982 / 5,492 (6)

1,176 / 4,960 (5)

2,019 / 5,308 (6)

3D MARK WILD UNLIMITED

8,843

13,667

13,978

14,018

14,250

3D MARK WILD LIFE STRESS UNLIMITED

8,432 / 6,111

15,375 / 9,170

13,926 / 12,788

14,250 / 11,186

14,018 / 13,968

PCMARK WORK

10,145

-

15,048

11,406

15,823

Let’s discuss the benchmarks. It’s important to note that these are not a direct reflection of the phone’s actual performance. However, they do provide a good indication of the processor’s potential and how it performs in certain situations, especially in high-end devices.

Google Pixel 8 Pro The CPU and GPU performance drops significantly. 3D Mark’s results are lower than last year’s processors.

The CPU stress test shows a noticeable drop in performance after a few minutes of testing. This means that the phone can’t sustain its peak performance for a long period of time. While it’s normal for processors with high peaks to experience this (although processors such as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 are powerful and free of throttling), it’s alarming to see a drop in performance when the maximum peak is low.

The processor's first generation had room for improvement, as it's always the case. The second generation didn’t improve much, and the third is still lagging behind.

This is even more evident in the 3D Mark GPU stress test. The highest score achieved was 8,874, which is lower than what I’ve seen on some Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phones. Is this enough power for day-to-day use? Yes. Is it what you would expect from a high-end device today? No.

In real-world use, this lack of power is noticeable. In PUBG Mobile’s 40 fps mode, I’ve seen drops to 28 fps. In games like Genshin Impact, it barely exceeds 40 fps in 60 fps mode.

While the device works smoothly and swiftly in everyday tasks like social media and navigation, it’s not the most fluid and fast phone I’ve tested. However, a high-end device that costs almost $1,000 shouldn’t lack the necessary power for demanding tasks that are expected from a top-tier phone.

Biometrics

The Pixel 8 Pro features fingerprint and facial recognition technology. The reader is slightly improved over last year’s model. Although it’s not the fastest, it works well and with a minimal error rate.

Google claims to have improved the security layer of its facial recognition system. However, it’s still based on a 2D image captured by the front camera, so it’s not as advanced as Apple’s or Huawei’s systems, which use ToF sensors. Despite this, facial recognition works perfectly as a complement to the fingerprint reader.

Software: The Pixel’s Main Selling Point

Google Pixel 8 Pro

The Pixel phone is known for its software, which is designed to provide an exceptional user experience. Although it may not boast high-end specs, it’s a perfect fit for those who prioritize user experience over hardware. This year, Google has made a significant improvement by announcing that the Google Pixel 8 Pro will receive operating system updates for 7 years. However, there are concerns about how the system will perform with a processor that has known efficiency issues. Nevertheless, Google’s decision is commendable.

The Pixel phone’s interface is simply exquisite, and it represents what Android should look like on any phone. The animations are smooth, and the menus and settings adapt seamlessly to the wallpaper thanks to Material You. The system also provides suggestions to help users get the most out of their phones. Plus, overall, the Pixel phone’s software is carefully designed.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

This year, Google has introduced some new AI features, such as the AI wallpaper generator. However, it has some limitations since we cannot provide it with completely custom instructions. Instead, we can substitute certain words to create backgrounds. After providing predefined instructions, the wallpaper will be ready in less than ten seconds.

Another new feature is the temperature sensor. Unfortunately, it’s disappointing. The interface is not Google-like, with only a button you can tap to measure. Additionally, it’s designed to measure the temperature of objects rather than people, which limits its usefulness in health-related scenarios.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

Despite being the smartest Android phone, the temperature sensor’s measurements are not always accurate. Compared with a laser thermometer, the differences can be up to 35 degrees. It can also be frustrating that the sensor gives different results in each reading.

However, the Pixel is still the smartest Android phone. It also has some great features such as improved AI calls, a recorder app that can transcribe and tag text, and automatic song recognition when Always On Display mode is enabled. The system is designed to be useful and adaptable to the user, so you don’t have to adapt to the interface. This is a key point that makes the Pixel stand out.

Battery Life: Unfinished Business

Google Pixel 8 Pro

The Pixel 8 Pro has a 5,050 mAh battery, which is slightly larger than the previous model’s 5,000 mAh battery. Fast charging has also been upgraded to 30 W, but it still takes a while to charge the phone at around 1.10 hours.

Battery life varies depending on usage. In the best-case scenario, when connected to Wi-Fi and used heavily, the phone can last for 6-7 hours of screen time. However, the brightness of the screen and the inefficiency of the processor can cause battery life to drop when used outdoors.

The Google Pixel 8 Pro can withstand a day’s use quite easily. But if most of the cycle is spent on 5G networks, it doesn’t take up on the task too well.

After a screen time of 3.36 hours with 5G enabled at all times, there still was a 29% battery remaining (it would’ve been almost 5 hours had I continued to use my phone). This allows you to use your phone throughout the day without running out of battery. However, considering that the battery is somewhat larger and the processor should be more efficient (it’s not), I’m not fully satisfied with the results.

One thing to note is that screen hours figures are not always easy to find. If you go to the Battery settings, you’ll see a Screen time since last full charge section. However, this is not entirely accurate. The accurate data is the one you get by clicking on View by systems. There can be differences of up to 1 hour.

Camera: As Fantastic as It Is Imperfect

In the past, the Pixel’s camera was simply unbeatable. Its HDR and its Portrait mode were unmatched, and few manufacturers offered realistic results such as those you could get from a Google smartphone.

Google has always focused on software rather than brute force (sensor size), although that has changed slightly in recent years. The company has made small improvements on the hardware front. Having said that, they haven’t corrected some of the processing errors that have been present for years, and this has led to the Google Pixel camera no longer competing to be the best. They’re content to compete for the second or third place.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the hardware changes. The Pixel camera now uses the Samsung ISOCELL GNV sensor, a small revision of the GN1 used in the Pixel 7 Pro. The lens aperture has also been improved to f/1.7.

Additionally, two other lenses have been added: a 48 MP ultra-wide lens and a 5x telephoto lens. This is the new “Pro” setting, which allows for manual controls on the Google Pixel camera for the first time.

  • Main: 50 MP, f/1.68, 25 mm (wide), 1/1.31” image sensor size, OIS
  • Telephoto: 48 MP, f/2.8, 113 mm (telephoto), 1/2.55” image sensor size, 5x optical zoom
  • Ultra-wide: 48 MP, f/1.95, 126º (ultra-wide)
Google Pixel 8 Pro The Camera app is as complete as ever, although is no longer as intuitive as before.

When you launch the Camera app, you’ll notice several small changes and improvements. You still see the different modes at the bottom, and integration with Google Lens is automatic. You’ll also find new features in the Settings menu, such as the option to save images in DCI-P3 format instead of sRGB.

Each mode has its own settings, which are accessible through the two Settings buttons on the interface. However, the placement of these buttons can be confusing as they’re located opposite each other. Use the right button to access manual (non-Pro) settings such as brightness, shadows, or white balance.

You’d want to use the opposite button to access photo settings, which are divided into two–General and Pro. For the first time, the Pro mode is integrated into a Google Pixel, allowing you to shoot in 50 MP and choose the RAW format. However, the Pro mode prompts are too small, and it would’ve been better if everything was integrated into a single button. The same goes for the RAW format.

Google Pixel 8 Pro Google, can you please make the Pro mode prompts a bit bigger? Thanks.

I have unknowingly left the RAW mode on more than once, which is difficult to detect until you go back to Photo > Settings > Pro > RAW, and check. This is a bit of a hassle on a phone with 128 GB of entry-level storage.

New Software Features

Now, let me explain the new AI camera functions that come with this Pixel. The Google Photos app remains the same. However, since 2021, there is no free storage. It’s quite problematic that a phone that forces us to have photos in the cloud and whose default gallery is Google Photos requires payment.

One of the Pixel 8 Pro’s outstanding features is the Best Take feature. It uses AI to analyze bursts of photos we’ve taken and combines their data to get the best version. This means that the feature will swap our face with that of another picture where we look well. To use Best Take, the photo must be backed up and on the Google server.

This odd feature is designed for group photos, where multiple shots are taken to ensure the best picture is captured. It can also be used for single-person shots, although this is not as useful.

Similar to iPhones, Google takes a short video to capture more information when taking photographing people. If the AI determines that a better frame is available in the video, it will recommend using that frame instead.

Another new feature is the Magic Editor, which is exclusively available for photos uploaded to Google Photos. Although the editor has immense potential, my feelings are mixed.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

If you’re not satisfied with the sky or water in a photo, you can easily replace them. You can also adjust the tone of the photo to create a golden hour effect or modify the size of any element within the photo. Furthermore, you can easily (and effectively) make any unwanted element disappear.

The best part is that all these modifications are now available in the Midjourney style. You can modify the photo as per your liking, and Google Photos will provide four different options to choose from. However, all these modifications are processed in the cloud, and it can take up to 10 seconds for the Best Take feature to replace all the elements.

10 seconds is a reasonable time considering the amount of data that needs to be processed and modified in the cloud. However, some users might not be willing to wait that long.

Main Camera Photography

Google Pixel 8 Pro The Pixel camera is still the Pixel camera, for better or for worse.
Google Pixel 8 Pro Post-processing results are still imperfect.

I’m slightly disappointed with the Pixel 8 Pro’s main camera. However, if you’re considering buying this phone, you can rest assured that the images are detailed, balanced in HDR, and have a pleasing look that will appeal to many of its fans. Nevertheless, the Pixel stopped being unbeatable a couple of generations ago and it’s easy to see why.

Google Pixel 8 Pro In full daylight (in somewhat harsh light, that is), over-processing is noticeable throughout the images.

One of the reasons that explains this is the lack of naturalness in some pictures. This is not so easy to notice if we don’t compare the results with other phones, but it’s quite evident even in scenes with good lighting. Despite having a powerful sensor, the Pixel tries to shine by overprocessing images, and this ends up being counterproductive.

Google Pixel 8 Pro When lightning is not perfect, HDR manages to shine, but the processing of skin and other elements in a picture can be improved.

Overprocessing and forcing contrast used to be a legitimate and effective tactic a few years ago when sensors weren’t as powerful. Processing images in the same way as three or four years ago you did with much larger sensors is not the best idea.

Google Pixel 8 Pro You don’t need to shoot using Macro to get sharp close-up shots.
Google Pixel 8 Pro The noise reduction pattern is not uniform (some areas are not as detailed), and, this year, it’s somewhat more aggressive.

Very forced edges, excessive contrast, and the classic “smudges” that we used to find with the Pixel's small sensors (something that has already changed, so it’s 100% due to the processing) shouldn’t be present in a premium phone such as the Pixel 8 Pro.

To reiterate, although it may seem contradictory, the camera is good, very good. However, in the high premium range, we scrutinize details closely, and this camera falls behind in naturalness compared to some of its rivals.

Zoom and Ultra-Wide

Google Pixel 8 Pro
Google Pixel 8 Pro The 5x shots are sharp, but they still have the “Pixel look” and are a bit too saturated for a lens targeted at photography purists.

The Google Pixel 8 Pro features an x5 lens that, while not as large as some of its competitors, is still a joy to use. However, the lens lacks naturalness in processing, which means that the purist-oriented look that some users may prefer is not achieved.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

However, I did like the ultra-wide lens, which produces excellent results. It’s one of the best phones at correcting distortion. In fact, some photos taken with this lens look like they were not even taken using a wide angle, and there is no annoying fisheye effect in the corners.

Portrait Mode

Google Pixel 8 Pro 1.5x Portrait | 2x Portrait. The first picture is quite dark. In the second one, there are spots and HDR artifacts in the hair, it’s not residual light.

The Portrait mode is where Google makes it obvious that they’re not improving the camera significantly. Although it’s good at capturing objects, it struggles with people, as the depth map it generates is unable to properly segment the subjects, resulting in edges that aren’t correctly cropped.

Moreover, I find it odd that you’re forced to shoot at a minimum distance of 1.5x, which makes it impossible to shoot a portrait at 1x without cropping the sensor. Additionally, there is no 5x Portrait, which means that the telephoto lens is not being used here.

The processing of the Portrait mode is not as correct as I would’ve wished. In the images above, with a not-too-aggressive backlighting, you can see that the skin is overprocessed and lacks detail, which makes the image look quite unfinished. Also, the other elements of the photo are not well outlined.

Night Photography

Google Pixel 8 Pro

It’s time to discuss the Night mode, one of the areas where Google used to shine. The camera did an excellent job of controlling the highlights. However, in some photographs, it tends to neutralize warm tones too aggressively.

Though this correction can be useful in eliminating the yellowish tone of streetlights, it can also result in images that lack warmth. Additionally, the camera’s noise reduction is more aggressive than in the previous model, which can make some parts of the image appear overly softened, almost like a watercolor painting.

Google Pixel 8 Pro The shot has a good look overall, but as soon as we zoom in, we can see the processing errors.

Selfie

Google Pixel 8 Pro Selfies look balanced (with very good HDR) and have that “Pixel look”.
Google Pixel 8 Pro But as we zoom in, the lack of detail is more pronounced than expected.

The quality of selfies taken with autofocus is usually very good when the lighting conditions are favorable. However, if the lighting is poor (even during daytime), the camera’s processing tends to blur the details and ruins the image.

Video

The issues we’ve seen in the photography department are also present in the camera’s video performance. While Google has improved the video quality significantly since the Pixel 6 series, the 4K 60 fps of the Pixel 8 Pro falls short of the best camera phones in the market.

Google Pixel 8 Pro Significant distortion even when recording at 4K 60 fps.

It’s interesting to see here the same processing issues we saw in the photography department. Google needs to re-evaluate its processing techniques for both photography and video. Although it has the capacity to produce more natural results, it still relies on outdated techniques.

Google Pixel 8 Pro: Xataka’s Take

Google Pixel 8 Pro

Raising the price by $100 compared to the previous model is a significant increase. If the improvements are also significant, it’s easy to justify that price rise. However, if the screen and the AI features are your main selling points, it’s difficult to defend Google’s new approach to its flagship model.

The Google Pixel 8 Pro has evolved from the previous generation, with improvements in design and panel. The phone no longer has a curved design, but instead boasts 2,400 nits and a more comfortable design, albeit not too premium.

The processor is not up to par with the rest of the phone, and the camera hasn’t improved in quality. The software and updates remain the Pixel's selling points.

The phone’s processor is a significant disadvantage, as it falls short compared to its main rivals in this price range and those below $1,000 that have the latest Snapdragon. Additionally, there is no improvement in battery life, and 5G is very inefficient.

The camera, despite the new AI features, has not improved too much and still has some issues. For instance, the Portrait mode uses a fairly simple technology, and faces lack sharpness, while direct rivals have almost perfect depth maps.

I have tested the phone myself and found that while it still looks amazing, it has some shortcomings. For a user who doesn't zoom in on photos, the camera still has that wow effect and look that many consumers love. However, upon closer analysis, there are some questionable decisions made during the processing.

Despite its small disadvantages, I still find the phone impressive. If I had to choose an Android phone, it would be this one. The display is spectacular, the performance is sufficient for day-to-day use, and the camera, despite its flaws, is enjoyable (although it starts to fall behind the competition in some areas).

9,0

Design 9
Screen 9,5
Performance 8,5
Camera 9
Software 9,5
Battery 8,75

In favor

  • Superlative screen, probably the best in the market today.
  • Pixel’s software is still its main selling point. Now, with 7 years of support.
  • Still one of the best-rounded flagships currently.

Against

  • Camera should be improved. Same issues, inconsistencies, and lack of realism we saw some generations ago.
  • Tensor G3 is not up to the task, and clearly not worthy of a flagship phone.
  • Unjustified price increase.


Imagen | Xataka

The device has been loaned for testing by Google.

Note: Some of the links published in this article are affiliate links, which means Xataka On may earn a commission for purchases made using those links. Despite this, no brand or store has paid to have their products featured in this piece. All products are chosen independently by our writers and editors.

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