When it comes to phone-making duties, Google used to prefer being in the backseat. It was better to rake in all the profits from letting others use the Android software and not gamble on the hardware market.
That was soon not to be enough for the search engine giant. Not even the co-produced Nexus units could cut it. Thus, we got the Pixels.
Three editions down the line and we can say we have never had a bad Pixel. As it should be, the current models – the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL – are the best additions yet. Starting at a price of $799 for the former, how do the specs justify that price?
[Hint: The price is well justified!]
In the box
One would expect Google to include all a user would need on their Android phone in the box, and that they did.
There is a warranty card and SIM unlocks tool to start with. A USB-C cable is also present there, alongside a USB-C adaptor for those who would like to keep using their 3.5mm jack headphones. Another USB-C to USB A OTG adapter is in the box to aid data transfer between your Pixel 3 and other Android devices/ iPhones.
Of course, there is the power adapter for charging too. With that, we have just about everything in the box. Did we mention the Pixel 3 itself?
A 5.5-inch design keeps the phone compact enough that it can be held and operated by one hand. The 18:9 aspect ratio with two decent bezels on the top and bottom makes it a slimmer and more aesthetically-pleasing unit.
There is no getting a notch on this one and curved screens are lost on it too. That does nothing to take away from the beauty of the quality OLED panel though. Now clad in Corning Gorilla Glass 5, it is going to stand against a good degree of abuse before failing.
The body frame of the Pixel 3 is not at all different from that of its bigger brother. Its aluminum frame is backed up by hybrid glass coating on the back to bring the entire premium feel. All that combines to make 5.2 ounces of weight – not too heavy, so a plus!
The Google Pixel 3 comes with a 5.5-inch, 2160 x 1080 resolution screen. The new HDR-spec OLED screen is better than what Google has ever had, signifying an important improvement over the Pixel 2 series.
There is a new dynamic color profile and image retention improvements to scale up the overall feel of the screen.
One major drawback with the screen is in the brightness levels. In a time when higher is better, this screen could register just as much as 401 nits. We know Google Pixel 3 and iPhone XS are not in the same class, but the latter device still managed 200 nits more than the former.
That being said, the software is designed to provide better legibility to users under sunlight. Beyond that though, it keeps you at the available brightness levels.
Google is no slouch when it comes to making sure their devices run as efficiently as possible. The latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset is married to 4GB of RAM across both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Sure, you get the best processing speed on the CPU, but AI support makes the Pixel 3 a better unit (more on that later).
Looking at the numbers here, Google offered something which is shy of what many other manufacturers put out this year. That being said, we would have loved to see at least, 6GB of RAM on this unit.
With the kind of proper task optimizations Google put on the Pixel 3 though, there is no much difference when running this unit against the OnePlus 6 which carries a bigger RAM.
While that is a small consolation, know that the Pixel 3 will still run some operations faster than devices with a bigger CPU memory. Take, for example, the conversion of a 4K clip to 1080p. Here, the Pixel 3 beats OnePlus 6 by almost a minute!
In the spirit of fairness, some users have complained about the Pixel 3 randomly shutting down apps in the background. This was an issue on the Pixel 2 too, so we believe it to be a software rather than hardware problem. Of course, Google has promised an update to fix that.
We all know a good phone is nothing without its camera. The fact that this phone has a single, 12.2MP rear camera coupled with a dual 8MP wide-angle lens up front doesn’t even tell the whole story.
On the back, Google made sure to include Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS).
The rear camera is also improved with AI (thanks to the SD 845 chipset) which is better pronounced with Google’s HDR+ image processing capabilities. Combined with the Pixel Visual Core chip, this phone rivals some of the cool cameras on the market today.
The Google Pixel 3’s camera also compares well against the likes of the iPhone XS, although it comes out lagging in a couple of categories. Perhaps the biggest win is in how the phone can achieve the kind of bokeh effect in the iPhone’s portrait mode with only one camera (as opposed to two on the iPhone XS).
It is also worthy of note that this is the first dual camera device from Google. Not on the back – but the beauties on the front. Needless to say, selfies won’t be what they used to be on the Pixel anymore.
There is a 2920mAh, non-removable battery somewhere in the Google Pixel 3. To be honest, this is a small battery, to begin with. Google makes that offering a little more desirable by shipping it with fast charging technology. Considering how fast it drains though, the maths doesn’t add up.
Letting the numbers speak, a full charge of the Pixel 3 will last in the neighborhood of 8 hours and 27 minutes. These numbers were obtained while using the unit on the T-Mobile LTE network at 150 nits brightness and streaming endless websites.
Switching networks to Verizon, the battery lasted 15 minutes lesser than what was formerly obtained. At both rates, that is less than the numbers from the Pixel 2 which lasted a little over 12 hours under the same conditions.
Of course, these figures are reported for a day of heavy usage. On lighter use, the phone would be able to last nearly a day – if it doesn’t go the full day, that is.
On the other hand, charging the device is quite impressive. The stock charger brings all the power – supplying 18 watts of fast charge to bring the phone up to 50% in half an hour.
Thanks to the glass back, the Pixel 3 can also be recharged wirelessly. That is expected to be slower. Thus, it is still a little bit impressive that the Pixel 3 will wirelessly acquire 10 watts through the Google Pixel Stand.
If you are about to get discouraged by the battery, our advice is that you shouldn’t.
Thanks to the Adaptive Charging feature on Android Pie, the phone will notice your usage statistic after a while and optimize certain processes while shutting down the others. This will preserve the battery life over a longer period of time, helping you get the most out of your Pixel 3.
Google’s latest Android software release is the Pie (Android 9), and we were not expecting the Pixel 3 to run on anything lesser. Unlike the Oreo upgrade, Pie brings a lot more features to the Android phone space.
This version was made to lean heavily on AI, making the user experience even better.
Speaking of user experience, Android 9 Pie brings a new skin and gestures on board. The new gesture-based approach to navigation makes everything smoother to run on the OS. It also brings a learning curve to Android users who have been stuck with the same operational loop over the years.
On the back of that, the Android Pie notification setup beats anything Google has ever developed. Of course, you should remember the squeeze gesture to call on Google Assistant from the Pixel 2.
While that is not a gamechanger, the new Call Screen feature is. More than anything, we would like to see this come to other Android devices in the nearest future.
By 2018 standard, the Pixel 3 could be considered a small phone. But then, who said small is bad? We love the way you can get around it with just one hand and the beauty it brings on board too.
Considering all of the power this unit packs under the hood, it is going to be more than just a phone. Just imagine all the operations – mailing, calling, invoicing, note-taking, etc. – that you would be handling with this unit. That makes it very important that you protect your phone and its data on public Wi-Fi/ other unsecured connection, ensure it doesn’t drop and its data is always backed up securely.
The $150 addition to the price tag from the Pixel 2 of last year could be a deal breaker for a device which didn’t add more weight to the storage and you may grab some exciting deal of 50-100$ less if you wait for a amazon or upcoming flipkart sale. At $799 though, the Pixel 3 is cheaper than most models (with roughly the same ratings) in the Android market today.
When you use this phone for a while, you can’t but start seeing that it might just be the best Android phone to have.