There were so many leaks ahead of today’s Pixel 3 reveal that Google kicked off its launch event with a montage of them. But the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are indeed real and available for pre-order today starting at $ 799 and $ 899, respectively.
The successors to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL clock in at 5.5 inches for the Pixel 3 and 6.3 inches for the Pixel 3 XL. They run Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chips, have 4GB RAM, and come with 64 of 128GB of storage, as well as a USB-C port.
The smartphones sport a matte finish on their all-glass backs, which were designed with a new silky texture to help avoid fingerprints. The new flagship devices are available in three cheekily named colors: Just Black, Clearly White, and Not Pink.
Display and Camera
The phones come with flexible OLED displays that extend to the upper corners of the screen like the iPhone XS. The edge-to-edge displays give both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL bigger screens and larger screen-to-body ratios than their predecessors. The Pixel does not have a notch, but the Pixel 3 XL does. The devices also pack dual front-firing stereo speakers that Google says boast 40 percent louder and richer sound. Google is giving Pixel owners six months of YouTube Music for free to tout the devices’ improved sound.
Many of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL’s most heavily touted improvements are on the camera front. The 12.2MP dual cameras are powered by Pixel Visual Core, a custom-design imaging chip built into Pixel 3 to make the camera faster and smarter. It underpins features like Group Selfie, which offers 184 percent more room in the frame than iPhone XS selfies, according to Google, to get more people and scenery in the shot.
A feature called Top Shot, meanwhile, automatically captures alternate shots in HDR Plus to help you choose the best photo. Google may call this feature original, but it’s essentially a copycat of what you can do with Key Photos in iOS. The Super Res Zoom feature is designed for a similar function, shooting a burst of photos and running the variations through immersion algorithms for a closer zoomed-in shot.
The more unique camera improvements include Night Sight, which uses machine learning to choose the right colors in extreme low light based on the content of the image. It’s coming next month to Pixel 3 as well as the rest of the Pixel lineup.
The Pixel 3 camera experience also lets you edit depth of field and more in portrait mode (as in the new iPhones), features a photo booth mode, and improves motion auto-focus to keep objects in focus as they move around the frame. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL both come with unlimited Google Photos storage.
Smart Software and Wireless Charging
On the software side, the new Pixels have a bunch of augmented reality bells and whistles. Playground, Google’s evolved version of AR Stickers, is integrated directly into the front and rear Pixel 3 cameras. It includes new content and characters, including exclusive partnerships with Marvel to feature Avengers heroes and with Childish Gambino on a dancing Donald Glover for your AR scenes. The AR characters can interact with each other and respond to your actions and facial expressions.
Pixel 3 will also launch with Google’s controversial Duplex feature, which can make calls for you to do things like make dinner reservations. There’s also a new feature called Call Screen, launching on the Pixel 3 and coming to the whole Pixel family next month, that answers the phone for you to ask who’s calling. It will then transcribe the response in real time on your screen to make sure you “never have to talk to another telemarketer,” Google says.
Google Lens is beefed up on the Pixel 3 as well and integrated directly into the camera. Lens lets you analyze images like a takeout menu or movie poster and pick out information like phone numbers and URLs. There’s also a Lens feature called Style Search, rolling out city-by-city next month, to help you identify what someone’s wearing so you can buy it yourself.
Another nifty new feature on the Pixel 3 is Flip to Shush. Simply turn your phone upside down on the table and the device will automatically mute sounds and notifications.
Rick Osterloh, Google’s SVP of Hardware, also touted the Pixels’ on-device security. The new devices come with a new dedicated Titan Security chip to secure the lock screen and strengthen encryption, offering on-device protection for login credentials, app data, the operating system, and more. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will run Android Pie.
Finally there’s the Pixel Stand. The chic wireless charging stand charges fast through cases, and when you dock your phone the UI adjusts to be glanceable from across the room. The screen slowly brightens before your alarm goes off in the morning, and it can also act similarly to the new Google Home Hub to control connected devices with Nest Hello, and become a curated photo frame that shuffles through memories while docked.