The leaks may have prepared you for the way the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL were designed; yes that notch is huge on the 3 XL, but they didn’t necessarily tell you the whole story. At an event in New York City, Google unveiled their latest flagship smartphones, and some nifty software enhancements.
Cutting straight to the elephant in the room, the price. The Google Pixel 3 or the Google Pixel 3 XL aren’t going to be cheap devices.
- Google Pixel 3 – £739 for the 64GB model (£839 – 128GB model)
- Google Pixel 3 XL – from £869 for the 64GB model (£969 – 128GB model)
Specs, Design & Display – Google Pixel 3
For those prices, which to be fair to Google are akin to other 2018 flagships from Samsung and Apple, you get some significant specifications on both, with only the dimensions changing between the two devices.
- 5.5″ / 6.3″ FHD+ OLED display (2160 x 1080)
- Qualcomm SnapDragon 845 SoC
- 64GB/128GB internal storage
- 4GB RAM
- 12.2MP f/1.8 rear-facing camera with OIS and dual pixel PDAF
- Dual 8MP f/1.8 and f/2.2 front-facing cameras with PDAF on the f/1.8 lens
- 2915 mAh battery
- Android 9.0 OS
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL differ substantially in footprint with the Pixel 3 XL weighing 34g more than the Pixel 3’s 148g, and sitting at 158 x 76.7 x 7.9mm in height, width and depth compared to the Pixel 3’s 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm.
There’s IPX8 water and dust resistance included here which is something many consumers have started to actively include as a critical part of the decision-making process when purchasing a new device. There’s also support for HDR which will help with providing more contrast when binging those Netflex shows, as will the dual front firing stereo speakers which straddle the display at the top and bottom of the device.
Whilst there is an edge-to-edge display here, those looking at the Pixel 3 XL will notice the rather large chin and the notch area. This could be a year where the smaller of the two devices become the hot item in their line up.
There are the usual 2018 staples here also such as a fingerprint scanner on the rear, Type-C USB charging port, Qi wireless charging and fast charging, a choice of colour options, namely White, Black and Pink, as well as a dual camera setup. That last bit is interesting as those dual cameras sit on the front of the device with Google sticking to a single rear lens again this year.
Software – Google Pixel 3
A lot of the improvements that Google have made to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL this year, as evidenced by the time taken to detail this during their announcement, is in their software. Android 9.0 comes to the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, and with it brings a number of Pixel 3 exclusives.
We saw last year with the Google Pixel 2 that they can deliver a wonderful optical package with a single lens, and some excellent post-processing technology and Google are betting on the same result this year.
Top Shot will take a set of burst shot images when you tap the camera button, and the AI will choose the best image to use and will allow you to scrub through alternatives too in order to make sure you get the best possible shot.
Super Res Zoom
Another camera-specific software option here. Super Res Zoom offers an enhanced digital zoom option which achieves its results by taking a number of photos in an effort to reduce noise in the final, cumulative shot. Google’s post-processing works pretty hard here and in the samples they showed at the event this looked pretty impressive.
We’d suggest you use a tripod of stop drinking Coffee before trying to use this mode however as we’d imagine it would be rather “shaky hand” sensitive.
Whether or not the word “Grufie” is considered acceptable in polite society is a debate well worth having, but Google are making it easy to take such shots here with a specific mode on the Pixel 3. Grab your friends, enable the Group Selfie mode, and a wide-angle shot will be available. You can even activate this via Google Assistant; simply ask for a group selfie!
There are of course a few more options here such as Playground, Google’s re-badging of an AR mode, complete with Marvel characters. There’s also Night Sight which uses machine learning to choose the correct colours to match to a low light shot and brighten the picture rendering flash photography potentially obsolete. There’s also Flip to Shhh, yes that’s the actual name of the setting. Flip to Shhh silences the phone when flipped upside down, but you could have guessed that.
It remains to be seen how well these modes work in the wild but we’re relatively confident that the Google Pixel 3 will be a creators dream.
There’s one more software item we just had to talk about, Call Screen. This is going to be particularly handy to those who seem to get nuisance calls on a regular basis. When receiving a call, enabling Call Screen will instead engage the caller in an AI-led discussion. The opening moments of the caller’s response will be transcribed to screen in real time, and you can make an informed decision as to whether you pick up the call at that point to carry on the conversation, or ignore it completely. This is such a great little idea! Bye-bye PPI calls!
Camera – Google Pixel 3
Google has shied away from delivering a rear-facing dual camera setup which is seemingly ubiquitous in 2018, and has instead opted for a single sensor packing 12.2MP at an f/1.8 aperture, and sporting the post-processing technology referenced above to get the most from its pictures.
Then there are the dual front-facing selfie cameras, one of which packing a wide-angle lens, with the other housing a super-wide angle lens for those Group Selfies.
Early indications are that the Google Pixel 3 will once more shine in photography testing, as the Pixel 2 did, and will no doubt give Apple and Samsung a run for their money.
The Google Pixel 3 – Iterative Updates Done Right?
there’s plenty of testing of the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL to be undertaken to ensure that the software is up to scratch, the battery life is adequate at least and the camera lives up to its predecessor, but it looks as though Google might have a winner on their hands once more.
The key issue might well be the price here, but with the Apple XS and XS Max starting at £999 and £1099 respectively, the pricing for the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL might look like a steal to some.
Let us know in the comments if you’re looking to get your hands on a Pixel 3, and what the most compelling parts of the announcement were for you.