Google Pixel 3. That is a name that brings emotions to the mind of any tech enthusiast, whether ones of hatred and disgust, or those of happiness and a desire to obtain one. I’ll let you guess which one I am. These are my thoughts on the Google Pixel 3.
Let’s start with almost certainly the most underwhelming thing about this phone; the specs. Like most flagship Android phones this year, it comes with a Snapdragon 845 with an Adreno 630 GPU. However, unlike most flagship Android phones this year, it comes with a maximum of 128 GB of storage, and only 4gb of RAM. This has sparked a large controversy about memory management on the Pixel 3, which you have probably already heard about. Google has recently said that they are working on a solution to this issue, and, in my completely unprofessional opinion, people are making too big of a deal of this. Will it really kill you if you have to wait about half a second for the app to load? If so, this phone isn’t for you, and you should probably wait until about 2020, when phones will no longer lag. The Pixel 3 has a screen resolution of 1080p, with a 5.5″ display, and the XL has a 1440p 6.3″ notched display, neither of which I have seen in real life, but from other reviews, they both seem very good, especially considering Google’s past with smartphone displays.
Honestly, the other reviews that I have seen of the Pixel 3 and 3XL have been less than enthusiastic about both designs, but I completely disagree. Put simply, Google has rounded. On the back, the two-tone design is similar but much more rounded. The back is now made of gorilla glass 5, which I’m a bit disappointed with since gorilla glass 6 is now out, and the two-tone design is kept by a glass-etching process that Google uses, which makes the lower 2/3 of the phone very soft to the touch. It is very nice in the hand, but due to the etching process, it appears to pick up scratches much easier than usual glass.
On the XL, the most controversial feature is by far the notch. So let me just say, yes, it is a notch. Yes, it is taller than average. Yes, at first it is a bit annoying. But it holds 2 cameras, which I will discuss later on, and it is actually about the same volume as a normal notch. Stop freaking out about it! If you choose to buy this phone, you will get used to it eventually, just like you do any notch.
This phone obviously ships with the latest and greatest from Google; Android 9.0 Pie. Whether or not you like this though, is another thing. Personally, after upgrading to Pie on my pixel 2, I saw a large decrease in battery life, which is apparently a known issue. I have of yet been unable to solve this issue, but I am not too worried. Everything else about Android Pie can be summed up in one word; smart. From the navigation pill that allows you to switch apps much faster than the normal 3 key system, in my opinion, to the smart replies integrated into the notification panel, it all makes the software experience so streamlined.
Nowhere in this phone though, will you find any bloatware. On this phone, you get the bare bones of what Google wants Android to be. You can see that as a positive or a negative. On the upside, no bloatware means blisteringly fast speeds, beaten only by the 120 Hertz of the Razer Phone, and the incredible internals of the Oneplus 6T. On the downside, if you are used to the feature-rich Samsungs, LGs or Huawei’s of the phone world, you will be disappointed with this phone. It does pack some nice features, but not nearly as many as those brands.
Now, we get to the best part of this phone. The cameras. On the rear of the phone, there is still only one lens. To some, that will be a disappointment. To me, it is incredible. Yes, you don’t have a telephoto lens, but you have Google’s Super Res Zoom feature where it retains as much detail as possible using a single lens. Yes, you might not have a massive sensor, but the camera is incredibly sharp considering the sensor size. This phone has one of the best cameras on any phone, full stop. From the brilliant sharpness to the perfectly toned colours, Google’s famous HDR+ is still incredible and is helped along by the Pixel Visual Core, which is improved in this update to the Pixel line. The only issue is that there isn’t any sort of Pro photo or video mode, meaning that, while this phone should be fine for posting pictures on Instagram, anyone trying to replace their DSLR with a more compact smartphone camera should probably look elsewhere.
As for the front-facing cameras, and yes, it is cameras, not camera this year, they are very good. Obviously, the rear camera is better than the front cameras, but they have the advantage of having a secondary wide-angle lens. Personally, I don’t really use the selfie camera, so this upgrade is not very useful for me. However, I am sure that if I did take more selfies, I would really appreciate this addition.
This phone has a few extras that should be considered. The Titan M chip which improves security, the Active Edge feature that allows you to squeeze the sides of the phone to launch Google Assistant, the Pixel Visual Core to improve photos, Google’s class-leading video stabilisation, dual front-firing speakers and the incredibly fast fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone are all things to keep in mind when thinking about buying this phone. All things considered though, this phone has so few extras compared to a flagship such as the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
Now, as for the feature that will prevent 70% of people reading this from purchasing this seemingly awesome phone. The price. The Google Pixel 3 starts at a price of £739/$799. That puts it in major flagship territory, and this is only for the smaller model with 64GB of storage. For the XL, it starts at £869/$899. That is the same price as the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which means that you will really have to ask yourself how much a clean Android experience and an incredible camera mean to you.
In the end, for me, it comes down to a lack of features and price. This phone is just not worth the money this year. Despite the brilliant cameras, the pure Android experience, it just isn’t worth the asking price. Especially for me, who earns so little money that £739 is about £2000 for the average person. But, if you love Instagram, are moving from an iPhone or are completely invested into the Pixel line, you will love the constant updates, the HDR+ magic of the cameras and the simplicity of nearly everything about this phone. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. So, for now, I will be sticking to my Pixel 2.
So, what are your thoughts on the Pixel 3 and 3XL? Will you be upgrading? Have you already upgraded? Or do you think it is a horrific disgrace? Let me know in the comments below.