It’s been a crazy week for fans of the Google Pixel smartphone line. After a steady trickle of leaks in the first half of the year originating mainly from industry sources, we’ve now had three separate instances of the Google Pixel 3 XL appearing in public. The first and second leak originated on our very own forums, and while they revealed the new design and some of the basic hardware specifications, the leakers were unable to share further details because the devices weren’t functional. This month, however, several bloggers and YouTubers, mainly from the Ukraine and Russia, got their hands on stolen pre-production Pixel 3 XL units. We’ve seen a full unboxing video, AnTuTu benchmark rundown, sample photos, and even full reviews. Given how many Pixel 3 XLs are now out in the wild, we haven’t even scratched the surface of how many leaks we’ll be getting ahead of the device’s expected October launch. To help you wrap your head around the plethora of leaks we’ve seen, here’s a summary of everything we know so far about the Google Pixel 3 XL.
At the end of the article, we have a table summarizing the differences we think we know between the Google Pixel 2 XL and the Google Pixel 3 XL. The table doesn’t go into any detail, though, so we recommend looking at the table after we describe the new features in the Pixel 3 XL in greater depth. Lastly, to improve the page load speed, all images in this article have been posted in thumbnail size. Please click or tap on the image to open the viewer to see the images in higher resolution.
Note: All of the information in this article is based on leaked pre-production units of the Google Pixel 3 XL. We can’t guarantee that the hardware specifications and software features we’ve seen on these units will match the production units, though there’s a high likelihood they will.
Google Pixel 3 XL Design
The leaks have left little to the imagination here—we know basically every detail of the device from essentially every angle. First of all, let’s discuss the obvious here: It’s got a notch. A pretty large notch, in fact. We’re not getting an Essential Phone-style cutout or Huawei Mate 20-style waterdrop notch. We’re getting a deep notch that extends farther down than notches we’ve seen on other devices. If you’re a notch hater or someone who only barely tolerates notches, the design of the Google Pixel 3 XL will be a major put-off. I’ve gotten over my distaste of notches and find the Pixel 3 XL’s notch to be tolerable. The notch is just one aspect of the device, however. The Pixel 3 XL has a lot to offer, so you should consider whether the notch is truly so intolerable that the other areas where the Pixel 3 XL shines aren’t enough to make up for it. While we haven’t confirmed what the camera sensors housed in the notch area will be used for, there are a couple of new features that Google may introduce which we’ll discuss below.
The only other major design change from the Google Pixel 2 XL is the material used on the back. The Google Pixel 2 XL had a plastic-coated aluminum back, but most of the leakers so far have stated that the Pixel 3 XL has a glass back. Although, one of the early reviewers states that the device has a plastic body. Anecdotally, the OnePlus 6 in Midnight Black feels like soft-touch plastic despite being made of glass, so it’s possible Google has achieved a similar finish on the Pixel 3 XL. In any case, the device almost certainly supports Qi wireless charging, which we’ll discuss in further detail below.
The positions of the rear camera, fingerprint scanner, power button, volume buttons, and USB Type-C port remain unchanged. Even the colored power button makes a return as the Clearly White model is seen with a light-green colored power button whereas the Just Black model has an orange-colored power button. The stereo speakers make a return, although the top speaker is notably smaller compared to the one on the Pixel 2 XL as it must fit within the notch area. The only position of the nano-SIM card tray has moved from the left side on the Google Pixel 2 XL to the bottom in the Google Pixel 3 XL.
There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack nor is there a slot for a microSD card, as expected. We don’t know if the device will be waterproof, either.
Google Pixel 3 XL Display
We know it has a notch and there’s little doubt it’ll be an OLED panel, but there’s been some confusion about how large the display will be. The CAD renders show a 6.2-inch display although the software information revealed in AnTuTu show a 6.7-inch display (18.5:9 aspect ratio, according to the leaked resolution). Rozetked believes it’s a 6.2-inch display (although they aren’t really sure) while Mobile-Review believes it’s a 6.7-inch display when accounting for the notch. Whatever the actual display size is, Rozetked states that the device is basically the same size as the Pixel 2 XL. They even state that the Pixel 3 XL fits into the same cases!
As for the screen resolution, the AnTuTu and AIDA64 apps report a 1440×2960 resolution. Mobile-Review states that the display brightness is less than the brightness on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. The reviewer also states that the display panel is as accurate as the iPhone X, but he did not provide any data backing this up. We have no other information about the panel quality and calibration.
If we go by our experiences with the Pixel 2 XL, it’ll probably reproduce colors accurately—maybe too accurately by default for the comfort of most consumers. Fortunately, Google will give users the option to disable color management and boost the saturation. We may see the return of the “Natural”, “Boosted”, and “Saturated” display profiles on the Pixel 3 XL. However, it seems that Google will also introduce a new automatic color mode on the Pixel 3 XL. As we first spotted in a teardown of Android P Developer Preview 2 and confirmed by a screenshot posted by Mobile-Review, this automatic color mode will “adjust between vivid and accurate colors.” We aren’t entirely sure how this automatic color mode will work as the “Natural” profile should automatically manage colors depending on if the app implements it. Our display analyst Dylan Raga believes that this new color profile will choose sRGB versus wide color for content that doesn’t explicitly set the color space, though we’ll find out when the device launches.
Google Pixel 3 XL Performance
CPU and GPU
The Google Pixel 3 XL will be powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip with the Adreno 630 GPU. That means it should be able to handle the latest games like Fortnite Mobile on Android with ease, at least according to our own testing. There’s little doubt that the Pixel 3 XL will be one of the fastest devices on the market, both in raw benchmark performance and real-world usage. The only question is how it’ll compare to the OnePlus 6 and other Snapdragon 845 devices like the recently launched Xiaomi Poco F1. The OnePlus 6T is rumored to launch in October as well, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the successor to last year’s Razer Phone will launch shortly after.
But it’s not just the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon system-on-chip that makes the Google Pixel line among the fastest Android smartphones on the market. After all, the Google Pixel 2 is able to keep up with the latest flagships of 2018, unless you’re Artem Russakovski. It’s thanks to Google’s software tweaks that their smartphones are so smooth even when compared to many phones with the same SoC. The Google Pixel’s EAS tuning is one area that helps it remain performant, for example. There are loads of other tweaks that their performance engineers have implemented to make the Pixels fast devices, although some changes were reverted after feedback from developers. We’re confident that the Google Pixel 3 XL will continue Google’s trend of releasing smartphones with little-to-no hiccups or lag.
Unlike other smartphone makers, Google seems to be sticking to 4GBs of RAM in the Pixel 3 XL. When companies like OnePlus started to push the boundaries of how much RAM should be in a smartphone by including 6GB and then 8GB RAM variants of their smartphones, there was some debate about how efficiently these smartphones were allocating processes in memory and if more than 4GBs of RAM is truly necessary. Soon after the OnePlus 3‘s release, we discovered that the company limited how many background apps would stay in memory. This practice, later reversed in a software update and no longer present in future OnePlus phones, was done to improve battery life and performance. It felt as if the extra RAM was just for marketing and not for practical use. As such, there were few even among Android enthusiasts who felt the extra 2 or 4GBs of RAM was necessary.
But recently, I’ve seen the opinion shift among enthusiasts as Android applications start consuming more and more memory, causing apps that were recently used to be restarted when opening them back up. Even in normal usage, I’ve experienced frequent app redraws on my Google Pixel 2 XL whereas my OnePlus 6 was able to keep the apps in memory. Games like Fortnite Mobile will slow to a crawl on devices with 4GBs of RAM if there are even a few background services, something which never happened during my playtesting on the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 6 with 8GBs of RAM. Google seems committed to the idea that 4GBs of RAM is enough for their flagship smartphone. After all, having more RAM means the device must power that RAM, reducing battery life. I don’t claim to know more than Google’s performance engineers when it comes to memory management, but consumers are starting to notice a difference between a device with 4GBs of RAM and 6/8GBs of RAM—perhaps it’s time for Google to reconsider.
Like last year’s model, the Google Pixel 3 XL should come in a 64GB and 128GB storage model. We don’t know if Google will offer a 256GB or even 512GB storage model as some companies have done. Of course, the device won’t have expandable storage just like almost every Google device preceding it. The unlimited original quality Google Photos promotion is ending for Pixel 2 owners at the end of 2020, but we don’t know if Pixel 3 XL owners will get the same offer. As for storage speed, we expect UFS 2.1 at the very least and possibly UFS 3.0 which was introduced at the beginning of this year.
Google Pixel 3 XL Software
The device will launch with Android 9 Pie. It should receive upgrades to Android Q and Android R at the very least, and receive 3 years of security patch updates. We expect the following features already present on the Google Pixel 2 XL to make a return on the Pixel 3 XL:
- Active Edge squeeze feature. Squeeze your phone to launch Assistant or silence alarms, timers, notifications, and incoming calls.
- Now Playing. Identify songs playing in the background
- Always on Display, possibly with wallpaper support. Keeps the display in a low-power state to show the time, date, weather, battery level, charge status, and Now Playing song.
- Digital Wellbeing. Keep your smartphone addiction under control by monitoring your usage and wind down usage at night.
- AR Stickers. Display stickers of characters and other images in augmented reality.
Furthermore, here are the new features we spotted in the leaks:
- New Google Camera app UI. The UI has labels and you likely swipe to change camera modes rather than expand the menu in the current version.
- “Google Lens suggestions” in the Google Camera app. It’s unclear if this just controls whether Google Lens is accessible from the Google Camera app, or if this is automatic usage of Google Lens after taking a photo.
- “Swipe up on home button” gesture toggle missing in Settings –> System –> Gestures. There was some confusion over whether Google would only offer the new Android Pie gesture navigation on the Pixel 3 XL, or whether it would just be enabled by default. A screenshot of the Gesture settings shows that the option to control this feature is missing. It’s possible it was moved to the Pixel Launcher settings, but we think that’s unlikely. This doesn’t confirm that the Pixel 3 XL only offers gesture controls and not the standard 3-button navigation buttons, however, as these units feature pre-release software.
Google Pixel 3 XL Camera
Like its predecessor, we expect the Pixel 3 XL to have one of the best cameras on the market. Even though smartphones like the Huawei P20 Pro and the upcoming Huawei Mate 20 will have triple rear cameras, the Pixel smartphones manage just fine with a single rear shooter. That’s thanks to their incredible software algorithms in the Google Camera app. Porting the Google Camera app to other smartphones is highly popular on our forums because of how much it can improve camera performance on devices like the Essential Phone (although we found that the stock OxygenOS camera on the OnePlus 6 outperforms the Google Camera port, at least for now.) The Google Camera’s HDR+ and Portrait Mode make the Pixel 2 one of the best smartphone cameras on the market, so we expect that Google Camera’s magic will work just as well on the Pixel 3 XL.
As for the camera specifications, both AnTuTu and AIDA64 report that the Pixel 3 XL has a single rear 12.2MP camera sensor with a f/1.8 aperture. The rear camera is capable of recording 4k videos at 30fps. There seem to be dual 8MP camera sensors on the front with a f/1.8 aperture compared to the Pixel 2’s single front-facing camera sensor with f/2.4 aperture. According to EXIF data, it seems like the front-facing camera has a non-fixed focal length which means it can focus onto subjects just like the rear camera. The dual front-facing cameras may be utilized for better selfies called “Super Selfies.” The second camera sensor is reportedly a wide-angle lens. The face retouching feature is said to get an update with new “Natural” and “Soft” options.
Lastly, the Pixel Visual Core chip is said to receive an upgrade which will help produce incredible low-light photographs. The Pixel Visual Core on the Pixel 2 is used by apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, and others to take better photos. Snapchat notably takes a screenshot of the camera viewfinder when taking pictures (even on the new Snapchat Alpha), but snaps taken on the Pixel 2 are noticeably higher quality thanks to the Pixel Visual Core.
Rozetked took the camera for a spin to show off its quality. Keep in mind these photos were taken on a pre-production device on a dogfood build of the Google Camera app, so they may not be representative of the final product. Still, it’s easy to tell that the Pixel 3 XL is capable of producing amazing photos. You can view uncompressed camera samples in this Google Drive folder by Rozetked.
“A significant finding in the EXIF data of the photos show that the Google Pixel 3 images are now being captured in the wider Display P3 color space instead of in the older and less-saturated sRGB/Rec.709 color space. This means that the Google Pixel 3’s camera will capture more color than those that capture in the antiquated sRGB/Rec.709 color space, which comprises of nearly all other Android smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 9/Samsung Galaxy S9, Huawei P20 Pro, and the Google Pixel 2. The iPhones have boasted wide color capture since the iPhone 7, and now it looks like Google wants to get on board, as should every other OEM.” – Dylan Raga, XDA’s Display Analyst.
Google Pixel 3 XL Battery and Charging
Compared to the Pixel 2 XL, the Pixel 3 XL has a slightly smaller battery capacity at 3,430 mAh versus 3,520 mAh. There probably won’t be a major difference in battery life between the two devices. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Xiaomi Poco F1’s 4,000 mAh battery or the Huawei Mate 20’s 4,200 mAh are more desirable, though. I have had great battery life on my Pixel 2 XL, so I’m not too worried about the Pixel 3 XL having poor battery life. Plus, the device will almost certainly support USB Power Delivery for fast charging.
Since the very first leak of the Pixel 3 XL, we’ve wondered if the device would support wireless charging. We found code in Android P beta 2 that hinted at a series of wireless charging docks which we speculated would be for the Pixel 3 devices. We even found evidence of a “Pixel Stand” wireless charging dock in the Google App. Finally, wireless charging support was confirmed for the device just the other day, although we don’t know what the Pixel Stand will look like.
— Максим Хорошев (@khoroshev) August 22, 2018
Google Pixel 3 XL Security
As expected, the device will keep the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. Google isn’t including an in-display fingerprint scanner like some of the recent flagship devices. Another recent smartphone trend is the inclusion of advanced facial recognition, as shown on OnePlus’ software-based facial recognition technology and on the Poco F1’s infrared facial recognition. It’s unclear whether the device will support more advanced facial recognition. None of the leaks so far were confident in whether this feature is included. We know that Google is working on a Face Match feature in Google Assistant so we wouldn’t be surprised if a new form of face unlock that’s more secure than the Trusted Face feature will be included on the Pixel 3 devices. If we learn anything about a potential face unlock feature, we’ll let you all know.
Like the Google Pixel 2, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will feature a tamper-resistant hardware security module (HSM). However, since the device will launch with Android 9 Pie, it’ll also have a StrongBox Keymaster in the HSM. This will allow the Pixel 3 XL to check the integrity of a key in an incredibly secure way, making it possible to do secure transactions like authenticating Insulin to administer via an Insulin pump. The key attestation is resistant to CPU-level attacks like Spectre and Meltdown as well. For more details, we recommend listening to the “What’s New in Android Security” talk at Google I/O 2018.
Google Pixel 3 XL Accessories
We expect official cases to be made available, though we don’t have information on what cases will be offered. We don’t know if the wireless Google Pixel Buds will be available this time around, as it seems that Google is making wired Pixel Buds. The wired Pixel Buds can launch Google Assistant by long-pressing on the center button. Standard volume control buttons will also be present, according to the booklet. We’ve already talked about the Pixel Stand wireless charging dock, but unfortunately, these latest leaks don’t show any more information on them.
In the box, you’ll, of course, get the charging brick and USB Type-C cable capable of USB PD. You’ll also get a USB Type-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter and USB Type-C to USB Type-A adapter.
Google Pixel 3 XL Pricing and Availability
Both the Google Pixel and Google Pixel 2 launched on October 4th. It’s likely the Google Pixel 3 will also launch on October 4th. Since we’re close to the launch date, we don’t expect any of the hardware to change. Some of the devices seen in the leaks are labeled “DVT” while others are labeled “PVT.” In hardware engineering, there are five hardware builds of a device that we’re interested in:
- EVT (Engineering Validation Test) – one design, look for major hardware defects or needed changes, can take multiple EVT runs
- DVT (Design Validation Test) – getting the hardware ready for mass production
- PVT (Production Validation Test) – mass production test, testing the units that’ll likely be sold to consumers
- MP (Mass Production) – produce the units that’ll go on sale
The Pixel 3 XL units that are floating around in the Ukraine and Russia thus likely represent the final hardware that we’ll see in October. However, the software is still eligible to change. Google can continue to make tweaks to the Google Camera app or any of the other software features we’ve seen.
As for the pricing, the Pixel 3 XL is a premium device and will be likely be sold at a premium price. The Pixel 2 XL was sold at a starting price of $850 so don’t be surprised to see a similar starting figure for the Pixel 3 XL. The device will be manufactured by Foxconn and is likely a Verizon Wireless exclusive in the United States.
Google Pixel 2 XL versus Google Pixel 3 XL – Summary
|Category||Google Pixel 2 XL (Confirmed)||Google Pixel 3 XL (Rumored)|
|Dimensions||145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8 mm||158 x 76.6 x 7.9 mm (8.6mm with camera bump)|
|Build||Plastic coated aluminum back, squeezable frame for Active Edge||Glass back, squeezable frame for Active Edge|
|Software and Features||Android 8.0 Oreo (upgradeable to Android Pie)
Active Edge, Now Playing, Always on Display, Digital Wellbeing, AR Stickers
Active Edge, Now Playing, Always on Display, Digital Wellbeing, AR Stickers
|Display||6.0-inch 1440×2880 P-OLED display, Gorilla Glass 5, Manual color mode options||6.2-inch 1440×2960 (18.5:9) notched OLED display, Automatic color profile and manual color mode options|
|System-on-chip||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with Adreno 540 GPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 with Adreno 630 GPU|
|Co-processor||Pixel Visual Core||Pixel Visual Core|
|RAM||4GB||4GB (other variants are possible)|
|Storage||64GB/128GB, no microSD card slot||64GB/128GB (other variants are possible), no microSD card slot|
|Battery||3,520 mAh||3,430 mAh|
|Rear Camera Sensor(s)||12.2MP f/1.8
Video recording: 4k @30fps
Video recording: 4k @ 30fps
|Front Camera Sensor(s) and Features||Single 8MP f/2.4
Portrait Mode, HDR+, Motion Photos
|Dual 8MP f/1.8 with non-fixed focal length
“Super Selfies”, Portrait Mode, HDR+, Motion Photos
|Ports||USB Type-C, nanoSIM tray||USB Type-C, nanoSIM tray|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE, GPS, eSIM||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, LTE, GPS, eSIM|
|Security||Rear fingerprint scanner, Tamper-resistant hardware security module supporting StrongBox Keymaster||Rear fingerprint scanner, Tamper-resistant hardware security module supporting StrongBox Keymaster|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, no 3.5mm headphone jack||Stereo speakers, no 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Charging||USB PD||Wireless charging, USB PD|
|IP Rating||IP67 dust/water resistant||Unknown|
|Colors||Just Black, Clearly White, Kinda Blue||Black, White|
|Pricing and Availability||Starting $850, October 2017||Unknown price, likely October 2018 launch|
|Accessories||Fabric case, wireless Pixel Buds||Pixel Stand, wired Pixel Buds|
If we learn more about the upcoming Google Pixel 3 XL, we’ll let you all know. Let us know your thoughts on the device in the comments below!
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