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Everything we know about Google’s much-leaked Pixel 3

Everything we know about Google’s much-leaked Pixel 3

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Still: Rozetked

The Pixel 3 XL may have the honor of being the most leaked smartphone in history. So with just days to go before Google formally introduces the phone at its New York City event, it seems like we know nearly everything that’ll be announced.

We’ve rounded up all the details that have leaked so far about the Pixel 3 XL and the smaller Pixel 3, along with all the details that are still rumored and a couple of the unknowns that we’re waiting to find out about on Tuesday. The event is happening on October 9th at 11AM ET, and we’ll be there to cover the news.

New screens

The biggest physical difference on both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL is supposed to be their screens. The Pixel 3 is rumored to go from a traditional, squared-off 16:9 screen to a more modern 18:9 screen with thinner bezels and rounded corners. It’ll basically be like what you saw on all of last year’s flagship phones.

The standard Pixel 3.
The standard Pixel 3.
Image: Google Pixel subreddit

The Pixel 3 XL will, of course, get a notch like any good 2018 flagship. That means more screen space, but, controversially, it also means having a notch. And in this case, it’s a pretty thick one. Even as a person who’s not inclined to criticize notches, I have to say that it doesn’t look like Google’s finest design moment.

Info is a little sketchy regarding exactly how large each of the screens will be (which is weird, given how thoroughly leaked they are), but rumors currently point to a 6.7-inch screen on the XL (0.7-inch more than last year) and a 5.5-inch screen on the smaller model (a 0.5-inch jump). It seems as though both of these increases are entirely due to stripping away bezels instead of enlarging the actual devices. And while 6.7 inches is always going to be big, it’ll be a little bit less big than it sounds because of the phone’s tall aspect ratio.

So the screens will be bigger, but they’ll probably be upgraded, too. After last year’s OLED burn-in scare, you can bet that Google will have put its new displays to the test before sending them out to stores to make sure they don’t have any reliability issues.

Same design, new colors

Both phones look almost identical to the Pixel 2, with just some slight differences. The glass shade on the back now seems to drip down along the edges instead of going straight across. The bezels on the front will be different because of the new screens. And the back is now expected to be entirely glass, with the bottom half once again coated in a matte paint to give it that two-tone look.

The more noticeable difference will be new colors for 2018. Both phones appear to come in black and white, with the white model (on the XL, at least) getting a mint green power button as a nice accent. (Unfortunately, it looks like the white-and-black “panda” model is gone.)

Right now, there are rumors about two possible additional colors: aqua and pink. From Google alone, the signs are pretty strong that an aqua version of one or both phones is on the way. Its teaser website included the color, and it just launched a Home Mini in the new color as well.

There hasn’t been nearly as much pointing to a supposed “pink sand” option. But AndroidHeadlines published what are supposed to be “official renders” of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL in pink, offering up some much more concrete evidence.

One interesting addition to this rumor: AndroidHeadlines believes there won’t be an aqua option, at least at launch, of either phone. That’d be the first time the Pixel launched without some kind of blue color option.

Wireless charging

This is expected to be the first Pixel that’s capable of wireless charging, adding a feature that’s become nearly ubiquitous ever since the iPhone added it last year. It’s not yet known if Pixel 3 will support any type of fast charging (though it would be a surprise if it didn’t), but it does look like Google is planning some special features for when a phone is being powered this way.

Image: 9to5Google

A number of leaks have pointed to Google selling a “Pixel Stand” wireless charger, which appears as though it’ll charge the phone while ambiently displaying some info from Google Assistant. It looks like that could include messages, alarms, music, calendar events, or photos.

A smarter rear camera

The Pixel’s one true standout feature is its camera. And while we don’t know much about image quality upgrades this year — though we expect to see something — we do know that Google is trying to make the camera smarter. There’s a redesigned interface that makes it easier to pick out what mode you want. More importantly, it looks like Google Lens will constantly be running whenever the camera is opening, analyzing your screen for anything recognizable so that it can display info.

Will this be useful? That’s much harder to say. Google and other companies seem to be convinced that this is a feature that consumers will want. But right now, it’s slow and inconvenient: you usually have to open a specific app, point the camera, wait for recognition, then tap whatever it is that the app finds. That’s rarely easier than just typing in a search.

But Google seems to be building in some common sense features like business card scanning, and having the default camera app do that automatically could remove some of the existing problems with this type of feature.

A second selfie camera

Here’s one of the bigger changes to the Pixel 3 and 3 XL: they’re supposed to include a second camera on the front for wider selfies. Is that something we need? I’m honestly not sure, and we’ll be looking for Google’s explanation of why it decided to go down this route as the next major Pixel camera upgrade.

People have also been wondering if Google will put the second camera to use for any other purposes, like an improved portrait mode or a face detection login system. There hasn’t been anything confirmed on this front, though. It’s possible this is just another camera angle.

Lots of live wallpapers

One small but nice thing that Google has paid attention to is its phones’ wallpapers. Past generations have included a bunch of fun and stylish options built in, including some very simple animated ones. And it sounds like Google is going even further this year.

A bunch of wallpapers have leaked already, and among the most interesting are some live options that respond to the time of day and the way you interact with your phone. One very neat little touch is that these also carry over to the phone’s ambient display, adding a splash of color or movement. Owen Williams, who writes the Charged newsletter, tweeted a number of the options, including a music visualizer and a kind of adorable one that adds a “little explorer” to your lock screen.

A better processor

Alright, this is sort of an obvious one since it happens every year. This time around, both phones are expected to get a Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm’s current top-of-the-line processor. Unfortunately, it’s not clear if anything else is changing. RAM is currently rumored to stay the same, at 4GB, and there’s no word on higher storage capacities.

Bundled earbuds

Last year, Google cut out the headphone jack and threw a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle in the box to make up for it. This year, it seems like Google is going to include a pair of USB-C headphones, too, which should make the situation a little bit nicer for people without a wireless option on hand.

Wired Pixel Buds seen in the packaging on the left. There still appears to be an included dongle.
Wired Pixel Buds seen in the packaging on the left. There still appears to be an included dongle.

The headphones look a lot like Google’s Pixel Buds, just with wires. Oddly enough, it looked like Google intended to ship these with the Pixel 2 last year, but it decided late in the game to just include the dongle. Given how hard it is to find a decent, cheap pair of USB-C earbuds, this is appreciated.