Google Pixel 8 Pro temperature sensor — what we know so far

 Google Pixel 8 Pro in black.
Google Pixel 8 Pro in black.

While some were skeptical about the utility of such a sensor, it has now been all but confirmed. Earlier this month, Google accidentally published a 360-degree simulator of its new Pixel 8 phones. It was quickly taken down, but a screenshot captured by Mishaal Rahman for posterity clearly shows the temperature sensor labeled by Google.

Back in May, a video leaked showing Google’s big surprise new feature for the Pixel Pro 8: a temperature sensor.

While the video was, in the literal sense, fake (the images on screen were clearly simulated and didn’t track with the phone movements very well) it seemed highly likely that it was a quickly thrown together explainer video of how the feature would work once complete.

So what exactly could the temperature sensor be for? Here’s what we know so far.

Google Pixel 8 Pro temperature sensor — what is it?

According to the prolific Google leaker Kamila Wojciechowska, the sensor in question is a Melexis MLX90632.

If that’s correct — and there’s no real reason to suspect it isn’t, given Wojciechowska’s pedigree — then it’s important to reel in expectations as to what the sensor could do: It’s not a thermal camera, or anything to do with photography. It’s for measuring temperature and nothing more.

Or as Wojciechowska puts it: “Google simply decided to include a fairly expensive gimmick in its device, and not for the first time.”

Google Pixel 8 Pro temperature sensor — what it could do

So what can we expect the temperature sensor to do? Well, to measure temperatures.

If you’re curious as to how much heat your laptop is putting out, or whether your coffee is cool enough to drink, the Pixel 8 Pro’s temperature sensor could be a useful addition to your toolkit.

But if the instructional video leaked back in May is still current, it seems that Google’s main aim is for the temperature sensor to be used for medical purposes: to check whether you or anyone else has a fever. The video showed users how to take their own temperature, by holding the phone “as close as possible” to the forehead, moving it slowly across to the temple over a period of four seconds.

This feels like a throwback to the Covid era, when contactless thermometers were sometimes used by shop staff as a way of quickly checking whether customers were likely to be displaying a high temperature. If this is indeed a reaction to those dark days, then it could be an indicator of just how far in advance manufacturers plot upcoming smartphones’ features.

Google Pixel 8 Pro temperature sensor — outlook

If these are the use cases Google has in mind, then it does feel a little like a gimmick. Checking whether you have a fever is handy, but unless the process has been refined since the video emerged, it looks a bit unwieldy, and a wireless solution is likely to be less accurate than a dedicated thermometer in any case.

This could be a feature that appears for one generation and then vanishes without a trace — which will sound familiar to anybody who remembers the Pixel 4’s Soli integration — gone by the time the Pixel 5 arrived.

On the other hand, there may be some incredibly clever integration that we simply haven’t thought of yet. We’ll find out on October 4 when Google unveils its new phones alongside the Pixel Watch 2. You can read about everything we’re expecting here, but we’ll have all the coverage and analysis you’ll need on Tom’s Guide on the day itself too.