Google’s Pixel is gearing up for another bout with Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy.
After a seemingly endless stream of leaks, including full-on video reviews on YouTube, Google’s latest phones are now officially official. Called the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, the new phones are Google’s latest showcase Android devices for 2018.
As the rumors and leaks suggested, the two new phones feature modest redesigns from last year’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, increasing the screen size in exchange for shrinking the black bars, or bezels, that surrounds the display.
The Pixel 3 now has a 5.5-inch OLED display (up slightly from the 5-inch screen on the Pixel 2). The Pixel 3 XL embraces the edge-to-edge notched design popularized by the iPhone X, raising its screen to a 6.3-inch size that surpasses last year’s Pixel 2 XL (6-inches) and places it right below the 6.4-inch display on the Galaxy Note 9 and 6.5-inch screen on Apple’s iPhone XS Max.
From left: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, Google’s Pixel 3 XL and the iPhone XS Max.
From left: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, Google’s Pixel 3 XL and the iPhone XS Max. (Photo: Eli Blumenthal, USA TODAY)
On the camera front, the two phones keep a single rear 12.2-megapixel camera while adding a second front-facing shooter. Google says the two front cameras, both at 8 megapixels, are for improved selfies and group selfies thanks to a wide-angle lens.
Improvements to Google’s artificial intelligence and a new Top Shot feature aims to recognize your best photo, capturing multiple photos before recommending the best one.
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A Night Sight feature aims to remove the use of flash by using machine learning to boost low light without having the flash wash out the subject. The cameras also have a portrait mode for keeping the subject in focus while blurring the background.
While most manufacturers have embraced the idea of at least two rear lenses, Google is again banking on its software to help its phones take the best pictures regardless of the situation. Last year’s Pixel line featured one of the most well-regarded cameras of the year, giving weight to the company’s claims and setting a high bar for this year’s phones.
Beyond the camera, one of the most interesting new Pixel features is Call Screen, which can automatically screen your calls. This can be used for stopping spam telemarketing calls as well as screening regular calls in real time. Users on the other end will be notified that the call is being transcribed.
All the transcription is taking place locally on the device, with nothing being saved on Google servers.
Call screen on Google’s Pixel 3
Call screen on Google’s Pixel 3 (Photo: Google)
As with prior Pixels, both devices will run the latest version of Android, version 9 or “Pie.” A Qualcomm 845 Snapdragon processor, the same chip that runs other Android flagship phones including the Galaxy S9, S9+ and Note 9, OnePlus 6 and LG’s V40, will provide the processing power.
Both phones are water resistant and now feature wireless charging. Google will have a wireless charger available for $79.
The two devices are available for preorder in either black, white or a pinkish color Google is playfully calling “not pink.” The Pixel 3 starts at $799 and the 3 XL starts at $899; both prices are for their respective 64GB variants (128GB versions are also available for an extra $100).
Verizon will be the exclusive carrier for the phones in the U.S., though those on a different network can purchase the unlocked variant directly from Google for the same price.