Google just unveiled the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, its latest flagship Android smartphones. There was little left to “unveil” after months of leaked images and videos offered a comprehensive preview of both devices well ahead of the company’s press event today in New York. But after all that, today we’re finally getting the whole story on the new hardware and software features that are exclusive to the Pixel 3. “For life on the go, we designed the world’s best camera and put it in the world’s most helpful phone,” said Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh.
The Pixel 3 starts at $799 for 64GB, with the 3 XL costing $899. Add $100 to either for the 128GB storage option. That’s a $150 and $50 premium over last year’s models, respectively.. Core specs for both include a Snapdragon 845, 4GB RAM (there’s no option for more), Bluetooth 5.0, and front-facing stereo speakers. Also inside is a new Titan M security chip, which Google says provides “on-device protection for login credentials, disk encryption, app data, and the integrity of the operating system.” Preorders for both phones begin today, and buyers will get six months of free YouTube Music service. The Pixels will officially launch on October 18th.
The Pixel 3 and 3 XL both feature larger screens than last year’s models thanks to slimmed down bezels — and the controversial notch in the case of the bigger phone. The 3 XL has a 6.3-inch display (up from six inches on the 2 XL), while the regular 3 has a 5.5-inch screen (up from five inches). Overall, though, the actual phones are very similar in size and handling to their direct predecessors.
Google has stuck with a single rear 12.2-megapixel camera on both phones, continuing to resist the dual-camera industry trend. But it’s a different story up front. Both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL have two front-facing cameras; one of them offers a wider field of view for getting more people or a greater sense of your surroundings into a selfie.
The Pixel 2 earned a reputation as perhaps the best camera on any smartphone, and Google is looking to carry that momentum forward with new software features that bolster the new camera performance with AI enhancements. A new Top Shot option will select the best image from a burst series of shots. Like Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, it will weed out pictures that are blurry or snaps where someone blinked. Super Res Zoom uses multiple frames and AI to deliver a sharper final photo even without optical zoom. Photobooth automatically snaps selfies when you smile or “make a funny face.” And a new Night Shot mode promises better low-light performance than other smartphones; Google compared it directly against the iPhone XS.
The new Pixels are capable of 10W wireless charging
For the first time, the new Pixels will support wireless charging (at up to 10 watts), and Google is introducing its own charging stand — the $79 Pixel Stand — as an optional accessory. The Pixel 3 devices recognize when they’re sitting on Google’s charger and show custom UI elements like information from Google Assistant. The wireless charging is made possible by Google’s move to an all-glass back. But the devices still have a two-tone matte/glossy finish thanks to a new etching process.
The latest Pixel phones ship with Android 9 Pie and Google’s digital wellness features out of the box. They also ditch Android’s traditional trio of virtual buttons (back, home, recents) in favor of the gesture navigation introduced as part of Pie. Google Assistant and Google Lens are designed to be core parts of the software experience.
Assistant can answer the phone to screen spam callers and give you a real-time transcription of what they say
There’s one very useful new trick this year: the Pixels 3 introduce a feature that will allow Google Assistant to screen spam calls and let you decide whether to block a caller or get a reminder to call back later. The phone answers itself and provides a real-time transcription of whatever the suspected spam caller says. Call Screen will also come to the previous Pixel models.
Speaking of which, Verizon Wireless will remain the exclusive carrier for the new Pixels in the United States. This is the third consecutive year of that exclusive partnership. The phones can also be purchased unlocked directly from Google, and you can order them through the company’s Project Fi mobile service.