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Here are our first photos taken with the Google Pixel 3

Pixel 3 XL in all colors
Pixel 3 XL in all colors (Image credit: Android Central)

Leading the smartphone camera race for a year with the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, Google had a tough act to follow. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL focus on new software-based features and utilizing the Pixel Visual Core to take better photos than the last generation, but also significantly upgrade the front-facing camera setup for selfie shots. As I work through my full review process, I wanted to share my first handful of photos taken with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL so you can get a feel for what these cameras are capable of in the real world.

These photos are, for the most part, submitted without comment. I'm still formulating my opinions on the entire Pixel 3 and 3 XL experience for my full review, and a big part of that is analyzing how well the cameras perform. For now, take a look at my first photos taken with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL and see for yourself what they can do.

Click images to view larger

The one big thing to note here is that Google's super-low-light mode, Night Sight, is not yet available to test — so all of the darker photos here are taken with regular HDR+ processing. Everything else has been taken with the standard camera app as it shipped from Google, submitted without edits or tweaks.

For more opinions on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, check out our hands-on preview — come back soon to see our full review!

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

63 Comments
  • Awesome pics
  • A bunch of these were shot right by my office on Lafayette/Canal - sweet. Where'd you go to get that high up view of the Manhattan Bridge arch?
  • There's a hotel called "Hotel 50 Bowery" that has a rooftop deck with some great views.
  • Looks like the camera has taken a step back..
  • I knew that comment was coming To me looks more natural with finer detail.
  • I don't know about a step back but they definitely do not look as good as they should. I am viewing them on my 4K monitor and they do not look as good as many Note 9, Huawei p20, S9+, or even iPhone pictures. They should have completely taken the camera system from the P20 and improved the software for their own devices.
  • ^ Agreed. Not overly impressed.
  • These look excellent. The night shots don't seem to have a graininess problem.
  • Not worth $150 over last year's model. And who honestly cares about super duper selfie camera?
  • Head out into the world — you'll see how much people care about selfies.
  • Selfies are the begining of the end of Western Civilization
  • Part IV. I really enjoyed the first three versions of that movie. I'd worry more about climate change versus social norms, regarding selfies.
  • Climate change is real... The Earth has gone through many cooling and warming cycles on a geological time scale humans find difficult to imagine. You... Thinking man can stop earth climate cycles.... You are a fool. 🤣
  • Climate change isn't debated. The effects humans have on it is. Ots not like we came out of the last ice age because of automobile usage, you know.
  • The effects humans have on it is. Not really, no. At least not among the scientists who study the topic.
  • Climate change has been so politicized that you can't trust 3/4ths of those scientists trusts. You don't seem to have been keeping up on the topic.
  • Climate change is real, but global warming is BS.
  • Exactly. People care about selfies but as long as they're half decent, nobody cares! Half the people on my team at work have a Galaxy A or J variant and you should see how many selfies they take!
  • I agree. If alot of this is software..and I think I remember reading that the 2xl also has the chip used for photos hopefully an update will be pushed to pixel 2 owners. I don't take selfies so the front camera I have on my 2xl is fine for duo video calls
  • Only ac thinks you need a pixel to take a selfie
  • Waiting for 6T
  • I was too until the news of no headphone jack and no wireless charging broke out. In late 2018, you gotta have at least one for me to consider.
  • I was in the same camp until I got a phone with a fast charger. I'd rather have that now than wireless charging, which I've had 4 years of experience with. Fast charging is so much more useful than wireless charging. Until wireless charging becomes more ubiquitous like built into coffee shop and Conference board tables it's basically a more expensive way to charge your phone more slowly. But do you know what beats a fast charger? A battery that lasts more than a day of heavy use. Waiting to see how the Pixel 3 does but mah wise it's not looking all that impressive.
  • Lol, The Pixel 3 battery will be spectacular! ... It doesn't have micro SD storage and less stuff like apps and web pages are open because it has less RAM. Hint: Batteries in average spec phones last longer.
  • That's because they are using SoCs optimized for this. This is like saying a laptop with an i7-U CPU has better battery life than a gaming laptop model with an i7-HQ CPU and dGPU... It means nothing at all, because it's so obvious.
  • My OG Pixel has twice as less ram than a OnePlus 5T yet I can run just as many apps as I want without getting a single lag or framedrop. It's not always about numbers.
  • As someone who has tested the 5T next to the OG Pixel XL, the pixel can not run nearly as many apps at once as the 5T. Numbers do matter. It's not about lag, but the multitasking aspect. I don't want to keep opening up apps from scratch just because I moved to another. The 6T or any other phone with 8gb of ram will run circles around any phone with 4gb once you start using more than a couple apps. Anyone saying numbers don't matter is a light user, for an advanced heavy user 8gb is a must... just sayin'
  • Adding more RAM isn't a fix all.
    In an ideal world, adding more RAM would work and apps would never get swapped out of memory, but if that was the case, we could have stopped at 2 GB or even 4 GB.
    Interestingly enough, at the same time as devices get faster, and more RAM, apps are updated to take advantage of these new performance gains, and ironically, necessitating needing more memory (RAM). What we really need is for app developers to optimize their apps to use as little memory as possible to actually achieve their apps function, and properly release memory when they no longer need it. Developers also need to use the proper API's in Android to restore their applications in the event when Android has decided to kill them for whatever reasons. When done properly, the app reloads quickly and returns the app to the state it was in previously, with up-to-date data.
  • Do you know what beats a fast charger and a long lasting battery? A phone able to get those features as well as fast wireless charging. Samsung has enjoyed those features for years and Pixel 3 is joining that bandwagon.
    Long story short, you better have the choice of going wired or wireless (just like the headphone jack debate)
  • I've had plenty of Samsungs. The hardware looks nice, but the TERRIBLE iterations of Android loaded with bloatware destroy the experience. The battery in them almost always feel hot and they are horrible on charge within 12-15 months of ownership. The Pixel easily beats Samsung in all of those regards.
  • Not as good as last year's camera. Pictures aren't as sharp, no magic here.
  • Lol
    Thank you for that laugh
  • Wouldn't say it tops my Note 9, but that's because they're both amazing. Would only prefer the note but because of their pro mode. Both top of the line
  • Do pictures taken in RAW format still get uploaded in original quality for free??
  • Soo many sour comments. Experts everywhere.lol.
  • They look good, with a nice balance for processing and detail. I really would like to see the original size images, as I know these are not full resolution. A lot of them look like the shots I get on the U11, but some, like the photo at Mercer and Howard, are exceptional.
  • Pictures look good, They aren't even uploaded in full resolution, and the viewer I would assume has some compression. I am excited to see what that camera can offer, and I am coming from an iPhone XS.
  • I like what I see. I just can't spend $1000 on a phone anymore.
  • Nobody wants to spend $1000 on a 4GB RAM phone with no micro SD storage, no headphone jack, and only 4GB RAM in late 2018! 💩🤣
  • The RAM is fine. The small batteries and storage aren't. 64GB base at that price is only good with a MicroSD slot to hold bulk data. Otherwise, it's not very useful. Google Photos is not very useful on a limited data plan u less toure optimizing everything, while keeping literally all the originals on the phone. And if you're gonna do that, you can just get Flickr on any other phone and use their 1TB of free storage.
  • I call BS on that. There are millions buying iPhones with everything you mentioned.
  • iPhones run iOS. Apples and oranges. You also have no choice in that ecosystem. I just switched back to Android after 4 years on iOS. I know what I'm talking about - paying 150 more for storage and then having Apple use the specs to hold iOS features back on updates. Remember facetime over cellular? Older iPhones didn't get it because of battery life concerns when it launched... i.e. Tony Batteries.
  • hmm. not bad. Viewing on 4k monitor, i'm not as impressed as I wanted to be.... seems like pixel 2 was better?
  • Looks like a slight improvement over the pixel 2 based on the dusk City scape. That's better than my own pixel 2 can do on my deck downtown. It still doesn't do better than the p20 pro at stills though, which is disappointing but expected.
  • This is the 2nd or 3nd site I saw photos from the pixel 3 on. And the quality if photos seems to have degraded. Maybe more dynamic range, but they look way mote mushy with way less detail.
  • I felt the same way... The first few pics look a little fuzzy
  • Seeing these further drives home that the phone camera is finding roost in the Instagram world. People want pictures that look “default good” on their small high res phone screens. Which often means “processed looking” imo. These colors are very aggressive to my eye and reminds me of those ultra realistic paintings that at a glance look like a photo. Xs photos look the same, but in a different way. A lot of shots comes out looking like photos that laid in a dusty shoebox for like a year and a half...not real long but there is a “wine-ish dustyness” to them. I’m def. not “Khabib jumped out of the octogan” suprised with them.
  • Andrew - In spending a short time indoors with both the 3 and the 3 XL, I noticed a fairly distinct difference between the two with regards to the wide angle lens. Specifically regarding contrast and exposure levels with portait mode turned off. One had low contrast yet was very prone to overexposure. Granted this was strictly viewing the images on that phone's screen (and not an independent, calibrated monitor), but it was substantial, and this is odd considering the internals are the same. Hoping during AC's comparisons of the two that you will have do some side by sides of both wide angle lenses (indoor and out) and see if you find the same.
  • This makes me pretty pumped to get my White 128gb next week. Man, I'm still loving the original Pixel XL though.. If you are in specific lighting scenario's it still impresses the hell out of me. Also, performance is showing it's age but it still performs OK all things considered. I'm thinking I'll be pretty happy with this purchase! Thanks Andrew, good work as always reporting.
  • Andrew, maybe you have the answer to this question: why does the Pixel XL have a 12.3MP shooter & 1.55-micron, and the 3XL has a 12.2MP & 1.4-Micron. Having just got into photography I'm not sure I understand, but technical specs tell me the OG Pixel has a technically speaking better camera sensor? Just a little confused, thought it was worth pointing out. I'm also sure Google has it's software figured out where those specs do not matter?
  • The difference you mentioned is Pixel size. They usually help with details but that's only one of the variables.
    Aperture is equally as important because it can provide a better dynamic range and overall brightness of the photo. In this case the 3/3XL have better aperture (F1.8) than the OG Pixels (F2.0). The 3/3XL also have OIS to prevent blurriness and overall better chances to get a low light photo right.
  • Pixel Visual Core - I answered my own questions.....
  • The photos still look dark and underexposed. Like something edited for print in NATIONAL geographic or something (heavily color graded).
  • The pics look good. Considering it has been cloudy for the past 2 weeks on the east coast the pics show a cloudy atmosphere that is real. I like that, and everything is clear.
  • Pics look flat !!!
  • These pics look better than my iPhone XS Max's and Note 9's pics. I'm glad I preordered the phone!
  • Most people do more than take pictures on their phone. Personally I take a ton more video than pictures (sports training, etc.) So I stopped caring about image quality about 3-4 years ago. Video is actually where we are seeing more Innovation, these days: higher framerates, higher resolutions, log footage, wider color gamut and dynamic range, HEVC CODEC, etc. There is a lot more headroom for innovation there in current form factors without becoming overly reliant on software magic (which can be buggy, beta, or very device exclusive). Recent device updates are displaying this with the photo tech, where even last years models aren't inheriting the new features, despite the hardware being almost not worth upgrading to from those devices.
  • Wasn't as impressed as I thought I would have been.
  • Look pretty similar to my Pixel 2. At least the white balance seems a bit better. Indoor pics from my P2 are unusable without editing.
  • Can't wait to see your full review , the XL version is really in my sight to become my daily driver for the next two years...Battery life will be the final judge if i buy it or not 😌
  • I'm using the app, all these pictures look low quality.
  • I remember having my first beer too
  • 64gb's of storage standard & 4gb's not 6gb's. Too expensive. Very good software but lacking in hardware. No headphone jack & no micro s/d support, no way Google. The 128gb model XL over a thousand, yikes! That's a hard pass!