Last month, I spent my time sniffing out all the upgrades and improvements to the new iPhones. As ‘pawmised,’ this month I dedicated my time to hunting down all there is to know about Google’s latest Pixel smartphones. Interestingly enough, it seems like the tech-giant has taken pieces of what makes the iPhone so appealing and has applied it to Android technology (if only I could do the same thing with me and Clawdia). And, unlike other Android providers, Google has really raised the stakes against iphone users. Indeed, the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, which are available in-stores, are certainly top dog material!
Both versions have maintained many of the features and design elements that Android users have come to expect of Google’s technology. For instance, the two-tone back maintains a single camera lens—because there’s no need for a second lens to get high-quality images with such superior software. The smartphones also kept Active Edge to summon Google Assistant, as well as the full HD pOLED display, 4GB of RAM and Android 9 Pie operating system that debuted with the Pixel 2 XL. Other features that carried over to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL include the e-SIM card, fingerprint scanner and Bluetooth 5 capability.
Here’s how these two smartphones stand up:
This year, it seems the biggest improvements to the Pixel are in its software. Yes, the hardware has also made some gains, including the all-glass Gorilla Glass 5 back for improved durability (reported to be 1.8 times more durable than the Pixel 2, and to be able to withstand drops of over 5 feet). The all-glass back also means the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL can charge wirelessly now (like the new iPhone X models). Both Pixels also have rounded aluminum edges for added durability and improved water resistance (also on par with the new iPhone X models), and the Pixel 3 XL has a screen notch to allow a fuller edge-to-edge display (Pixel 3 maintains the no-notch look of previous versions).
Buyers of these new smartphones will also get a surprise in the packaging, with USB-C wired Pixel ear-buds included! (Previously, Google has never opted for an ear-bud bundle with its devices.) With improved sound on the smartphones’ front-facing speakers, the inclusion of the ear-buds this time around is a nice touch on Google’s part.
Although the hardware upgrades seem moderate, it’s in the software that users will truly appreciate the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Both devices have upgraded processors (10nm Snapdragon 845 mobile platform with the Adreno 630 GPU) and a 100,000:1 contrast ratio that supports a wider color gamut display. What does this mean? Get ready for improved streaming with smoother, more fluid graphics, especially with game-play! The Pixel Visual Core has also received some attention for better image processing and image learning. In fact, the Visual Core works with the camera and on-device shortcuts to prompt you to call, email or access the website listed on business card, or through a QR code, placed in front of the lens. And you don’t even need an internet signal for access! And speaking of responsive camera technology, users of both Pixel versions will see the return of Google Lens, so you can activate search simply by placing the item in question in front of your camera lens. There’s even a new call-screening feature, where Google’s Duplex can answer potential spam calls for you.
Most impressive are the improvements Google has made to its camera system. While the back lens on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL remains by itself; the sensor has been upgraded for faster and sharper autofocus as well as for improved dynamic range and color reproduction. Both versions also support RAW image capture that any photographer would envy. The devices also feature a synthetic fill flash for portraits, sharper contrast and detail as well as deeper colors and truer white balance, and even night-sight sensors for brighter images in low-light conditions. Most surprising is Google’s decision to add hardware for the front screen cameras, as the tech-giant generally keeps hardware updates to a minimum. Users of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL can now revel in dual 8MP cameras, one regular lens and one wide-angle.
And while we’re on the camera-trail, it’s bark-worthy to note the updated Portrait Mode, which now uses a learning algorithm instead of just dual-pixel depth for image mapping; as well as to the newly added Top Shot, which records a second and a half burst of shots (as long as the Motion Photos setting is turned on) so you can choose the perfect moment of your action shot to keep. (Like when my humans go to take my picture and suddenly a squirrel runs by.)
All in all, the camera upgrades made to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL support fans’ reviews that these Android devices provide the most consistent, most reliable quality of images and video. And what’s more, you can teach an old dog new tricks with these devices, as the camera system has zero learning curve.
Here is a quick comparison for all my tech-spec aficionados:
- Starting at $799
- 5-inch screen with pOLED display (no notch)
- 18:9 aspect ratio
- 443 ppi
- 1,080×2,160 resolution
Pixel 3 XL
- Starting at $899
- 3-inch screen with notched QHD+pOLED display
- 5:9 aspect ratio
- 523 ppi
- 1,440×2,960 resolution
Every time a new Pixel comes out, there is a new smartphone listed for “Best Camera”—not best Android camera—and the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL continue to bring Google to the top of that list. You’re basically purchasing the camera (and likely the best one for any smartphone device), and you get the perks of a smartphone to go with it. And while the battery life and the screen brightness on these devices are still lacking, they will seem like minor hiccups compared to the overall better build quality and superior software of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
It seems Apple-only-users will soon be chasing their tails, as Google catches up and starts surpassing it on user-friendliness and capabilities. (With that in mind, it should also be noted that the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL basically turn into a Google Home when it is docked on the Pixel Stand—let’s see Apple figure that one out!)
So there you go: my review of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Android devices that have just been released. Hope this helps you on the hunt for a new smartphone!
Until next time,
Your pawsitively pawesome pal Cache