We’ve seen the Google Pixel 3 leak on the XDA forums (twice), on Reddit, in a cab, in a train, in a Chinese shop, on the Russian black market, but finally, we get to see the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL for ourselves. Today, Google officially unveiled their latest Pixel flagship smartphones along with a wireless charging dock called the Pixel Stand. Although the many leaks have stolen much of Google’s thunder, today’s Made By Google event finally puts the rest the endless speculation about the two devices. Here’s everything you need to know about the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL: Google’s pair of powerhouse flagship smartphones with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, wireless charging support, a top-tier camera, the latest version of Android Pie, and yes, a notch (on the XL.)
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Design
Last year’s Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL have a dual-tone back: the top part made of glass and the bottom part made of plastic-coated aluminum. On the front, the previous generation devices have a very 2017 design. What I mean by that is that both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have thick bezels on the top and bottom. In 2018, we’ve seen smartphone device makers follow Essential and Apple’s lead by minimizing bottom bezels as much as possible and reducing the top bezel by using display panels with notches. Google has taken a different design approach.
Google Pixel 3
With the Google Pixel 3, not much seems different compared to the Google Pixel 2 save for the increase of 0.5″ in screen size and the addition of a second front-facing camera. The smaller Pixel 3 doesn’t have a display notch unlike it’s larger sibling, but it also doesn’t have a notch-less, bezel-less design as you’ll find on the Samsung Galaxy S9. The Pixel 3’s design is very much still premium, however. The dual-tone back returns on the Pixel 3, but this time, the bottom part is made of glass to allow for wireless charging. It’s very subtle, however, and something you can’t really tell from marketing renders. The Google Pixel 3 will be available in Clearly White, Just Black, and Not Pink, and the iconic colored power button from the Pixel 2 also makes a return here.
If you’ve ever held a Pixel 2, the Pixel 3 will feel right at home. The fingerprint scanner is on the rear right below the transition between the two panes, the single rear camera is situated to the top left of the device and alongside it, the LED flash, the volume and power buttons are located on the right-hand side of the device, and the USB Type-C port is located on the bottom.
Google Pixel 3 XL
Dread it. Run from it. The notch still arrives. Yes, the Pixel 3 XL has a large notch. The presence of the display notch has been made clear multiple times in the last few months despite the insistence of adherents to the “Pixel Ultra” theory. Google isn’t simply copying Apple if that’s what you’re thinking; the notch is definitely a design choice. I don’t doubt that, if Google had really wanted, they could have gone with a “waterdrop” notch as seen on the upcoming Huawei Mate 20 and OnePlus 6T. However, that would mean sacrificing useful component space. Indeed, Google has packed the notch area with dual front-facing cameras, a speaker, and a proximity sensor. Thus, Google is deliberately making use of the notch area just like LG did with the LG V40 ThinQ and just like Huawei is doing with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. (Although a few smartphones like the Vivo NEX and upcoming Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 and Honor Magic 2 have basically eliminated bezels thanks to a pop-up camera, it remains to be seen if the technology is truly ready.)
At the bottom, there’s still a rather large bezel which houses a speaker. It’s unfortunate that the bottom bezel isn’t smaller, but what’s interesting is that the Pixel 3 XL is basically identical in size to the Pixel 2 XL. On the rear, the device has a dual-tone back with the bottom part made of glass to support wireless charging. Just like its smaller sibling, the Pixel 3 XL ships in three colors: Clearly White, Just Black, and Not Pink. And just like last year’s Pixel 2 XL, the colored power button is present on the Pixel 3 XL. The fingerprint scanner, rear camera sensor, USB Type-C port, and buttons are placed in the same location as on the Pixel 2 XL, but the SIM card tray has been moved to the bottom.
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Specifications
For fans of OLED technology with its incredible colors and deep blacks, you’ll be happy to know that both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have OLED panels. When we reviewed the Google Pixel 2 XL’s display, we found it to be incredibly accurate. Color accuracy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, however, which is why Google lets you choose from a few color modes. This time around, though, they’ve thrown in an Adaptive mode. We’ll be looking into the device’s display calibration to see just how good the panel really is, so stay tuned.
As for the actual display panel specifications, the Google Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch FHD+ 18:9 OLED display while the Google Pixel 3 XL has a 6.3-inch QHD+ 18.5:9 OLED display.
CPU and GPU
Thanks to excellent software tuning, the Google Pixel devices have been among the most performant Android devices on the market. We expect the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL to be no different in this regard. Both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip, and while upcoming devices like the Samsung Galaxy S10 may feature the next-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 8150, the Pixel 3 should be able to keep up with the next generation devices in terms of real-world performance, just based on past history.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset features the Adreno 630 GPU, and based on our testing on the OnePlus 6 and POCO F1, should be able to handle the latest Android games with ease. We’ll be putting the Pixel 3 through our routine performance tests, of course, to see how well the device compares with existing devices. After we get our hands on the OnePlus 6T and Razer Phone 2, we’ll see how the Pixel 3 fares against 2018’s cream of the crop.
The third-generation Google Pixel device will again have 4GBs of LPDDR4X RAM. For most users, 4GBs of RAM should be more than enough for day-to-day use. But if you’ve ever used a smartphone with 6 or 8GBs of RAM (like the Razer Phone, OnePlus 5/5T/6, POCO F1, etc.), you’ll know that the extra memory can make a difference in real-world use. Having your apps stay open in memory long after you used them can speed up your workflow, for one. Extra RAM also helps mobile gamers switch to other apps without the device killing the game in the background. We’re unsure if 4GB of RAM will be Google’s norm moving forward, but we’re definitely starting to notice the lack of extra RAM despite Google’s use of zRAM.
You have the choice between a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL with either 64GB or 128GB of UFS 2.1 internal storage. Both devices lack microSD card slots, as expected from a Google device, so you’ll have to rely on the cloud if you really need more than 128GB of storage space. Fortunately, Google’s cloud services are great for keeping your multimedia files: there’s YouTube Premium, Google Photos, Google One, and more. Free, unlimited original quality photo and video uploads to Google Photos will be available until January 31, 2022. As a reminder, Pixel 2 owners get this same promotion until January 15, 2021.
Competitors like Huawei and Samsung now offer devices with 512GBs of internal storage (the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 respectively), but it’s still rare to see devices with such a high amount of internal storage. Still, we would have preferred to at least see a 256GB storage model like OnePlus offers on the OnePlus 6.
When companies like Samsung and Huawei are releasing smartphones with triple rear camera sensor arrays, Google makes do with a single rear camera. What the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL lack in extra camera sensors, they make up for in software. Google’s camera software is so good that the company thinks you don’t need two or three rear cameras—and they have the results to back it up. Google’s Pixel smartphones have consistently been among the best—if not the very best—mobile phone cameras on the market. Google Camera‘s HDR+ and Portrait Mode features have raised the bar for smartphone photography, and these existing features will continue to do magic on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Thus, don’t be disappointed to hear that both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL sport a single rear 12.2MP camera sensor with a f/1.8 aperture.
On the front, however, there actually is a secondary camera sensor—meaning there are dual 8MP front-facing cameras with a f/1.8 aperture. Google isn’t using it to do anything crazy like the LG V40’s Cine Shot, but the secondary wide-angle lens should help you take better group selfies. Indeed, Google is introducing a new “Top Shot” feature which helps you take the perfect selfie to only capture smiling faces and make sure that everyone is included in the shot. The Pixel 2’s Face Retouching feature is getting a new “Soft” and “Natural” option to better support different facial complexions. We’ll go into greater detail on these new camera features down below.
Google wants you to take advantage of the Pixel 3’s camera prowess in every app that can take a picture, and as such, they’ve brought back the Pixel Visual Core co-processor from the Pixel 2. Apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, and more use the Pixel Visual Core to get Google Camera’s HDR+ processing without having to implement it on their own. That means the Pixel 3 will give you the best pictures in apps like Snapchat, even if you’re on the Snapchat Alpha redesign.
Lastly, video recording remains unchanged from the last generation. Both the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL can record at a maximum resolution of 3840×2160 at 30 frames per second. Google’s incredible Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) is included and the hardware Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) is also present, so you’ll be able to take nice, stabilized videos while on the move. Slow motion is still limited to [email protected] while the OnePlus 6 manages 480fps and the Huawei P20 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 manage 960fps.
Battery and Charging
While the Google Pixel 3 has a slightly larger battery capacity compared to its predecessor (2,915mAh versus 2,700mAh), the Google Pixel 3 XL has a slightly smaller battery capacity compared to the Pixel 2 XL (3,430mAh versus 3,520mAh). Given that both Pixel 3 units should be more power efficient than their predecessors due to the benefits of the upgraded Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, the battery life of the new Pixel flagships should be comparable to last year’s models even if both Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have slightly larger displays than the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL respectively. The USB Power Delivery standard is plenty fast in comparison with fast charging standards. It’s not as ridiculously fast as SuperVOOC in the Lamborghini OPPO Find X, but it gets the job done.
As a bonus, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL both feature wireless charging. This certainly isn’t Google’s first foray into wireless charging (the Google Nexus 4 to Google Nexus 6 all had it), so it’s hard not to say that the reason behind the feature’s addition is that Apple did it on the iPhone X. Regardless of the reason, it seems that Google is at least keeping up with competitors by offering fairly decent wireless charging speeds via the Pixel Stand (up to 10W)—but more on that later.
Here’s a table summarizing the specifications we’ve discussed so far.
|Category||Google Pixel 3||Google Pixel 3 XL|
|Dimensions and Weight||145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9 mm, 148g||158 x 76.6 x 7.9 mm, 184g|
|Build||Two-tone glass back, squeezable frame for Active Edge||Two-tone glass back, squeezable frame for Active Edge|
|Software||Android Pie with 3 years of OS and 3 years of security patch updates||Android Pie with 3 years of OS and 3 years of security patch updates|
|Display||5.5-inch 1080×2160 (18:9) OLED display. Gorilla Glass 5. HDR support.||6.3-inch 1440×2960 (18.5:9) notched OLED display. Gorilla Glass 5. HDR support.|
|System-on-chip||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 with Adreno 630 GPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 with Adreno 630 GPU|
|Co-processor||Pixel Visual Core
Titan security chip
|Pixel Visual Core
Titan security chip
|RAM||4GB LPDDR4X||4GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||64GB/128GB, no microSD card slot||64GB/128GB, no microSD card slot|
|Battery||2,915 mAh||3,430 mAh|
|Rear Camera Sensor||12.2MP f/1.8, 1.4μm
Video recording: 4k @ 30fps, OIS+EISSlow motion: [email protected] Pixel Autofocus, Zero Shutter Lag (ZSL), Rapid and Accurate Image Super-Resolution (RAISR)
|12.2MP f/1.8, 1.4μm
Video recording: 4k @ 30fps, OIS+EIS
Slow motion: [email protected]
Dual Pixel Autofocus (PDAF), Zero Shutter Lag (ZSL), Rapid and Accurate Image Super-Resolution (RAISR)
|Front Camera Sensors||Dual 8.1MP (primary is f/1.8 while secondary is a wide-angle lens with variable apertures of f/1.8 and f/2.2)
Video recording: 1080p
|Dual 8.1MP (primary is f/1.8 while secondary is a wide-angle lens with variable apertures of f/1.8 and f/2.2)
Video recording: 1080p
|Ports||USB Type-C, nanoSIM tray||USB Type-C, nanoSIM tray|
|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||Wireless charging, USB PD||Wireless charging, USB PD|
|IP Rating||IPX8 – Water but not dust resistant||IPX8 – Water but not dust resistant|
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Software Features
As the standard bearer of all Android smartphones, it’s only natural that the pair of Google flagships launches with the latest version of Android: Android Pie. Although they aren’t the first devices to launch with Android 9 (the bragging rights for that go to the Sony Xperia XZ3), the Google Pixel team’s close work with the AOSP team means that the device is poised to always get the latest Android platform features and security updates faster than any other device—even though Essential is close behind. The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL should receive updates to Android Q and Android R at the very least, on top of 3 years of monthly security patch updates. With Project Treble‘s completion in Android Pie, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Pixel 3 gets Android S since the devices should be capable of framework-only updates.
Regarding the software features, here are the features that are common between the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3:
- Active Edge. Squeeze the Pixel to launch Google Assistant or silence alarms, timers, notifications, and phone calls.
- Now Playing. Identify songs that are playing in the background.
- Always on Display. AOD keeps the display in a low-power state while showing the time, date, weather, battery level, charge status, and song via Now Playing.
- Digital Wellbeing. Curb your smartphone addiction by keeping track of your usage and wind down your phone usage at night.
- AR Stickers. Display stickers of popular characters from media and other generic images in augmented reality.
- Google Camera HDR+, Portrait Mode, and Motion Photos.
And here are some of the new software features that are coming with the Google Pixel 3 (and may or may not roll out to earlier Pixel phones):
- Top Shot which lets you “get smiles, not blinks, and take groupie selfies that get everyone in the photo (without selfie sticks).” Top Shot captures a series of frames, and using machine learning, determines which image is the best based on whether the subject is smiling, blinking, and/or looking at the camera. To preserve space, Top Shot compresses unimportant images, but the images deemed important remain high quality. The Google Camera app will show a “Smart Capture” suggestion when the feature is available.
- Photobooth. This feature lets you place your phone down while the on-device AI determines when to automatically capture a photo. The AI can tell when users are smiling or making silly faces and captures multiple alternatives for you to consider. It’s kind of like the standalone Google Clips.
- Super Res Zoom: Improve the quality of zoomed in images with AI.
- Subject tracking autofocus. The Pixel 3 will track subjects in frame rather than having you tap to focus.
- Night Sight: Uses AI to automatically recognize poor lighting conditions and just to take better low-light shots. This feature is also coming to older Pixel devices.
- Portrait mode changes: Adjust depth of focus, color pop, and subject.
- Playground (more AR Stickers). Also coming to Pixel 2 and Pixel.
- Face Retouching “Soft” and “Natural” options.
- Flip to Shhh in Digital Wellbeing, which lets you flip your phone to silence notifications.
- Google Lens Suggestions in the Google Camera app. This lets Google Lens work in real-time.
- Adaptive color mode: Automatically change color modes depending on lighting.
- New Live Wallpapers with support for special effects on the Always on Display.
- Smart Compose in Gmail. This rolled out on desktop client already, but is now coming to the Pixel smartphones.
- Call screening: Automatically screen for spam calls. Launches today and will come to earlier Pixel devices.
Lastly, here’s a video which shows off most of the features on the Google Pixel 3. This video was ripped from a leaked system app called “Pixel Tips.”
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Accessories
This is the accessory you’ve all been waiting for—the Google Pixel Stand wireless charging dock. We’ve known for some time that the Pixel 3 devices would support wireless charging and that there would be a wireless charging dock called the Pixel Stand, but it wasn’t until late last month when we finally got our first good look at the accessory. The Pixel Stand receives power from a USB Type-C port and supports 10W fast wireless charging, matching other fast wireless chargers. In light of competitors like the Huawei Mate 20 supporting fast wireless charging, it’s important for Google to stay competitive here.
When you place your Google Pixel 3 on the Pixel Stand, you’ll be treated to a special Google Assistant UI in the Always on Display that’s designed for docking mode. When docked to a “trusted dock” like the Pixel Stand, the Google Assistant can tell you the weather, set a timer/alarm/reminder, make a phone call, read your messages, play news/music, and play a game. It can also rotate Google Photos albums.
Pixel Stand will cost $79 and can be pre-ordered today. It’ll technically work with any Qi-enabled device but is made specifically for the Google Pixel 3.
Wired Pixel Buds
Last year, Google introduced the wireless Pixel Buds earbuds which can not only be used for media playback but can also control Google Assistant. Google had to release something since they removed the headphone jack in the Pixel 2, and this year is no different. The Pixel Buds this year are wired, USB Type-C earbuds. With OnePlus releasing USB Type-C Bullets for the OnePlus 6T, we expect to see more device makers bundle wired earphone accessories if their devices lack a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Google made the brilliant choice of releasing a set of cases called “Fabric Cases” last year with the Pixel 2. In my opinion, these cases feel fantastic in the hand. Given how well these were received, it’s no surprise to see that the Fabric Cases will also be available for the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL. There’s even a new, dark shade of pink available to match the “Not Pink” version.
Google is also starting a new program called “Google My Case” which lets customers create and order custom protective cases.
In the retail box, you’ll also get a USB Type-C to Type-A adapter, a USB Type-C to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter, and a SIM tray ejection tool. All standard accessories, though many users seem to not realize that the USB Type-C to Type-A adapter works well as a USB OTG dongle.
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Pricing and Availability
Google doesn’t sell their smartphones for cheap, that’s for sure. You’ll be paying a pretty penny to get your hands on one of these devices. There are many reasons to pick a Pixel over other smartphones, but the three best reasons to choose Pixel are performance, its camera, and software updates. Everything else is just extra, and in fact, usually overshadowed by other devices at or below its price range. But you’ll find it hard to pick another smartphone that can beat the Pixel 3 in those three areas, though if the price is too hard to stomach, the OnePlus 6T or Xiaomi POCO F1 may be better picks.
You’ll get 6 months of the new YouTube Premium service for free. Here are the prices by variant.
|Google Pixel 3||64GB||$799/€859/999 CAD|
|Google Pixel 3||128GB||$899/€959/1129 CAD|
|Google Pixel 3 XL||64GB||$899/€959/1129 CAD|
|Google Pixel 3 XL||128GB||$949/€1059/1259 CAD|
The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will be available in the United States via Verizon Wireless on October 18. It will also be sold in various European countries starting November 11th.
Pre-orders start today for the devices. Pre-ordering the device in many places will net you a free Google Pixel Stand, among other benefits. Check with your local carrier for the best deal.
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Forums
Every new, popular Android device deserves a forum on XDA, and the Pixel 3 series is no exception. In fact, given the Pixel 3’s importance in the Android developer community, we want the XDA forums to be the place for Pixel 3 enthusiasts to gather. If you are interested in talking to your fellow enthusiasts about either the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, then check out the XDA forums below. Here you’ll find news, guides, apps, themes, ROMs, kernels, accessories, and more…once the device starts reaching the hands of consumers!
This is a developing story. Check back for more details as we get them.
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