Google Pixel 3 review: Fewer features make for incredible phones

Pixel 3 XL
(Image: © Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

It's true: Google's new Pixel phones aren't all that different from its last Pixel phones. Specs, features, design and overall philosophy are effectively constant between generations, particularly when you take into account that last year's Pixels have been updated to Android 9 Pie and will thankfully be receiving many of the Pixel 3's new camera features.

But to dismiss the Pixel 3 for its similarity to the Pixel 2 would be to miss out on what is a great phone. Google has never been interested in adding or changing features just for the sake of doing something, and the Pixel 3 doesn't change the parts of the experience that already worked. But the Pixel 3 and 3 XL do fix much-discussed problems with the last generation, and add a few extras that enhance Google's vision for what an Android phone should be.

The result is a fantastic pair of phones.


  • Simple, intuitive software
  • Great photo quality
  • Excellent selfies
  • Sleek, solid hardware
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Wireless charging
  • Longterm software support


  • No headphone jack
  • Occasional camera app stutters
  • Pixel 3 has subpar battery life
  • 4GB RAM could limit future performance

Ed. note: Due to the extreme similarities between the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, this review should be viewed as applicable to both phones. Specific areas, such as size and camera comments, will note in particular whenever there is a difference between the two.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL


Google Pixel 3 Hardware

This is a case of evolution, not revolution. The new phones are effectively unchanged in size from their predecessors, but the finishes and materials have been tweaked and, ultimately, much improved.

The Pixel 3 is actually smaller than the Pixel 2, but now has a 5.5-inch 18:9 display for roughly 10% more screen space — that means smaller bezels, which make the phone look and feel more modern. It brings the screen size up to a point where it feels like less of a trade off than previous small Pixels; I don't feel restricted by the screen size, but it's still a compact enough phone to grasp in one hand and slip into a pocket without issue.

Same sized phone, but with a larger screen — while keeping stereo speakers.

The Pixel 3 XL jumps to a 6.3-inch 18.5:9 display, but the number is a bit of a misnomer as its large notch and taller aspect ratio don't give it dramatically more room than the 2 XL. Everyone is focused on the notch here, but it just doesn't bother me that much. Phones just have notches now, and the number of options without them are only decreasing. After a couple days, you forget it's there. Really.

But it's the improvement to the quality of the screens that's far more important than the sizes and shapes — and potentially the most important change to these phones over their predecessors in any respect. Google spent an inordinate amount of time making the displays as great as possible, and it shows. Speaking with Seang Chau (VP Engineering) and Raj Singh (Sr Director, Tech Engineering) from the Google hardware team ahead of the Pixel 3 launch, I immediately understood just how seriously Google took the displays this year, and how proud both were of the end result.

Google spent an inordinate amount of time making these displays as good as possible.

The OLED screens are clearly higher quality panels than before, which is a great starting point. Then Google went to work calibrating them: there was a huge focus on base-level accuracy at the panel level, and then further calibration in software to make them perform their best. DisplayMate's testing gave the Pixel 3 XL an A+ rating and ranked it among the best phone displays it's ever seen.

The phones ship in "Adaptive" display mode by default, which bumps up colors and saturation but has been tuned to limit the over-saturation of skin tones and reds in particular. Both screens look great, and look near-identical to one another — and importantly, they're dramatically better than any previous Pixel. Everything you see on the screen is crisp and pleasing. Colors stand out, but aren't obnoxious or overblown — and they don't shift dramatically when you tilt the phone. (And true display nerds can always drop it to "Natural" for a 100% RGB look.)

These displays blow away the Pixel 2 and 2 XL — it isn't even close.

I'm extremely impressed with every aspect of this display, except for one: brightness. Unlike Samsung's latest displays and the newest panel from LG in the V40, the Pixel 3 just doesn't reach a high enough peak brightness to be clearly visible at all times outdoors. It's dramatically better than the Pixel 2, and is good enough in sunlight, but I still found myself shading the phone with my other hand or turning away from the sun to see the screen more often than I should with a phone in this top-end category. Adaptive Brightness does a great job adjusting on its own throughout the day, but these phones could really benefit from an extra-high-brightness mode in sunlight like the competition offers.

Even with the stretched screens, Google's retained its front-facing stereo speakers, and put extra time into both hardware and software so that they're even louder and clearer than before. I typically walk around the house in the morning listening to a podcast on my phone and have to max out the speakers to hear it clearly — with the Pixel 3, I don't. It's not going to obviate the need for a Bluetooth speaker for group listening, but these phones get way louder than you'll likely need in a phone — even on the smaller Pixel 3, which is perhaps 10% quieter than the larger version.

This is a solid and simple design, refined and improved on ever so slightly.

Picking them up, both phones feel amazing; just the right balance of heft and usability. The frames are entirely glossy now, which counter-intuitively provide more grip than the previous painted metal (your fingers "stick" to the gloss). The backs look the same as the Pixel 2, but are made of Gorilla Glass 5 instead. Roughly two-thirds of the glass surface is etched with a fine texture that mimics the painted metal of before, which isn't particularly grippy but feels fantastic and dramatically cuts down on fingerprint accumulation.

The etching only covers the flat portion of the glass as well, letting the smooth part help transition more seamlessly into the metal on the sides. For me, this is the best of both worlds. You get the solid feel and texture that you'd normally associate with metal, but the wireless charging capability of glass. And yes, this means these phones will be more fragile than the Pixel or Pixel 2 — that just comes with the territory.

Some have panned the Pixel 3 design for being boring, but I enjoy the understated look. From phones to accessories and smart home gadgets, Google's current design aesthetic isn't flashy — the Pixel 3 fits right in with the rest of its product line in that respect. You can choose to step up the texture or color with one of its awesome knit cases, if you wish — or just stare at the contrast-colored power buttons on the white and Not Pink phones.

Google Pixel 3

Carrying the torch

Google Pixel 3 Cameras

Google's Pixel 2 is well-regarded as having one of the best cameras in the smartphone world. Google knows it's onto something good, and it's going even further with the Pixel 3. And it's doing so with the exact same formula: leaning on software processing, not hardware.

Google didn't add more rear cameras because it frankly didn't need to — it thinks software is king.

Google didn't add a second (or third) rear camera to the Pixel 3, nor did it substantially update the hardware itself. This is still a single 12.2MP sensor — albeit Google says it's a new version with better dynamic range — with the same f/1.8 aperture and OIS. What's different is the supporting cast of sensors, backed up by new processing.

Every photo benefits from improved HDR+ processing thanks to the Pixel Visual Core. This dedicated image chip, which is also in the Pixel 2, now handles all HDR+ photos — and you'll notice up to 40% faster processing because of it. There's also a new spectral sensor to interpret various spectra to aid in color accuracy, and a new flicker sensor to help reduce banding and visual issues when shooting in bad lighting.

The result? Photos that look a whole heck of a lot like they were taken on a Pixel 2. That's a good thing, and not too surprising given the hardware similarities — but I suppose I was expecting some sort of revolution in photo quality for some reason. In reality, when you're at the top of the heap already it's tough to make a dramatic improvement. Photos from the Pixel 3 perfectly walk the line between having eye-catching colors and being accurate. They're a great representation of what you want the scene to look like, but without going overboard with a typical "HDR" look.

Photos aren't notably better than the Pixel 2 — then again that still makes this the best camera available today.

Like the Pixel 2 you can notice some grain and texture when you zoom in and check out the details — but that's part of what makes the photos look so lifelike and realistic when viewed at full size. They don't look artificially smoothed, fake or synthetically enhanced; so although it may not create impressively tack-sharp details, I don't at all feel that takes away from the quality of the images when viewed at normal sizes.

The Pixel 3 is astonishingly good in a variety of lighting situations, somehow retaining detail and colors without much light to work with. It once again isn't as sharp and smooth in low light as the Galaxy Note 9, but it isn't particularly noisy either — there's just enough texture here so that flat surfaces and edges look real rather than artificially constructed. In other words, low-light shots on the Pixel 3 have the same characteristics, qualities and colors as daylight shots — which is an impressive bit of consistency. And this evaluation comes before Google's new "Night Sight" feature is available, which is coming a few weeks after launch and promises to be able to bring out tons of light in dark scenes without a quality drop.

I had to use tap-to-focus to increase the exposure on photos with a wide range of brightness across the scene, because the HDR+ processing just didn't always pull out the kind of brightness I wanted when I just point and shoot. Now and then you get a shot that's downright bland — but you don't ever get a bad photo that's blurry or grainy beyond use. The quality floor is just so high on this camera that even the subpar shots are of above-average quality for a smartphone.

Google's overcoming its lack of a secondary telephoto camera with a new digital zoom system called "Super Res Zoom." When you zoom, advanced processing collects and lays together several frames to make up for the lost resolution. In practice, it works really well at 2X and 4X zoom — 2X, in particular, looks nearly as good as the full frame; and 4X looks more like 2X used to. This isn't going to make you confident that you can go digitally zooming all the time, because you do lose quality, but it effectively matches what you get out of other companies' dedicated telephoto cameras — particularly in poor lighting where those cameras often just digitally zoom on the main sensor anyway.

Top Shot and Super Res Zoom aren't features you need to know by name in order to use and enjoy regularly.

Motion Photos make their return on the Pixel 3, and a new feature called "Top Shot" is a good reason to turn them back on. With Motion Photos enabled, the Pixel 3's camera will now look at the buffer of frames before and after the moment you hit the shutter button to find alternate photos that may actually look better. This is a feature that really shines when you're taking pictures of people or animals — the rest of the time, it just generates the annoyance of taking lots of unnecessary Motion Photos. Setting the camera to "Motion auto" is a good middle ground if you often take photos of moving subjects, because Top Shot really is useful in those situations.

The only thing I can find that's actually a detriment to the Pixel 3 camera experience is the inexplicable app slowdowns. I know Google's doing some pretty darn amazing processing and lots of heavy lifting, and that's a tough amount of work to handle. But the camera app still manages to bog down a phone with a Snapdragon 845 and a dedicated Pixel Visual Core image processor. To be clear, the camera isn't consistently slow — it's typically very fast — but from time to time it stutters or fails to save images, or takes multiple seconds to hop from the viewfinder to gallery. In my experience Samsung's camera app is far faster and more consistent — Google's been fighting this slow camera app problem since the old Nexus days. It has to figure out how to get rid of these bugs, because it's the final piece of this camera puzzle.

Front-facing cameras

Unlike the rear camera, Google changed quite a bit about the selfie experience — despite the fact that the Pixel 2 was already excellent. The main camera is a new 8MP sensor with auto focus and an f/1.8 lens, which in itself is already an upgrade. And it's supported by a second 8MP sensor behind an f/2.2 wide-angle lens — that gives you options for group selfies and also improved portrait mode shots. Google's also applying really good lens distortion fixes for the wide-angle shots so you don't look like you have a super-wide face.

Selfies with the Pixel 3 are, well, fantastic. Auto focus is a massive help to make sure your face is crisp, and there's just an immense amount of detail available rather than any sort of weird beautification smoothing. Portrait mode selfies are also great ... except when things go wonky with the algorithm, and those flaws really stick out to the point where you'll want to retake the shot. Still, this is comfortably the best selfie shooter I've used.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

Subtle tweaks

Google Pixel 3 Software, performance and battery life

Google preempted itself with the launch of Android 9 Pie weeks before its hardware was announced. Pie on the Pixel 3 hasn't changed much from what you can use today on the Pixel and Pixel 2, but that's just fine with me — Pie is a really great version of the operating system.

The biggest addition Google is likely to promote and advertise is a new "call screen" feature built into the dialer. When a call comes in, you now have the option to "screen" the call with a single touch. The caller receives an automated response from a digital voice asking them for more information about why they're calling. That response is automatically transcribed (locally, not online) to text and shown on your screen.

You can choose to pick up the call at any time, prompt the caller for even more information, or reject it and mark the call as spam. That's a neat feature, particularly as spam calls seem to be a problem everyone's dealing with and aren't going away any time soon. (Call screening is unfortunately U.S.-only for now, though.)

The whole suite of Digital Wellbeing features are also leaving beta with the launch of the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. This suite is highlighted by a new dashboard that gives you information on your phone and app usage throughout the day, and gives you simple tools to help limit it if you want. It also has neat little touches like "Wind Down" to grey out the screen to make it easier to get to sleep at night, "Flip to Shhh" to quickly put your phone in DND when it's face down, and of course simple(r) controls for notifications throughout the operating system. The whole idea of "Digital Wellbeing" is apparent across Android 9 Pie in just how simple it is, and how it easily scales to be useful for the most novice and most advanced users out there.

Google's take on Android continues to be my personal choice — it's a joy to use every day.

It may seem overly restrictive and basic for someone who has leveraged Samsung's software to its fullest for multiple years, I generally enjoy the simplicity of Google's approach to Android. The design is soft and inviting, with pops of color and great use of contrasting colors with various levels of opacity throughout the interface. It's also just downright simple to understand how to do all of the basics, and if you're set into the Google ecosystem of products the transition to a Pixel is a treat.

System performance has also been exceptional; no matter what I threw at the Pixel 3 it handled it without issue. We know Google puts an emphasis on keeping animations and interactions smooth with a high frame rate, and it shows here. I understand the worries about having "only" 4GB of RAM, and have experienced one oddity of Pocket Casts shutting down when I took several HDR+ photos and tried to review them, but I don't think this will be any sort of issue that will affect users. I sure would've preferred to have 6GB for the future, but Google's committed to supporting the Pixel 3 with software updates for three years regardless — that's Google's problem to sort out, not the phone buyer's.

Battery life

Now, to save the most important part for last: battery life. This is one of the areas where I need to break things down between the two sizes, because there's roughly a 17% larger battery (3430mAh) in the Pixel 3 XL even though the Pixel 3 added capacity (up to 2915mAh) compared to last year. But there's a common theme for both: battery life is good, not great.

You'll get a full day of use in most cases. But nothing more.

Whichever phone I'm using, my usage is about the same. I spend a good amount of time on Wi-Fi throughout the day, with at least a couple hours using Bluetooth headphones listening to both Pocket Casts and YouTube Music. Ambient Display is turned on, I let automatic brightness change on its own, and all of my various email and social accounts are syncing. I don't use Battery Saver mode until it turns on automatically at 15%. Typically, I have between 3 and 4 hours of "screen on" usage.

With the Pixel 3 XL, this type of use yielded between 16 and 17 hours of battery life to reach roughly the 5% mark, which aligns with what I can get out of phones like the Galaxy S9+ and LG V40. That means as I start to wind down in the evening, I'm getting a little worried about battery life if I expect to do much more with my phone than sit around and check out a few apps. It doesn't give me a whole lot of wiggle room if I end up having a late night out, so if I was leaving the house for a while after dinnertime I would absolutely give it a quick charge just to make sure.

The Pixel 3 unsurprisingly offers a bit less. With the same usage, I averaged around 14 to 15 hours of usage, which starts to get to the point where I wouldn't trust the phone to make it through a heavy work or travel day. Just like the 3 XL, if I use the 3 moderately and don't spend a ton of time taking photos or streaming, I'll head to bed with plenty left in the tank — these phones barely use any battery when they're not in use. The problem is when you start to get into them hard, the battery falls off quickly.

Battery life is neither a feature or a problem — it's just average.

As someone who spent a large portion of the last year using both the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, this doesn't surprise me in the least. They exhibited the exact same battery life characteristics. Both were capable of getting through a day, but would drain quickly under heavy use — and neither one was a leader for battery life in its segment.

One downside of doing a review with just 6 days spent with these phones is that Android 9 Pie's new "Adaptive Battery" management hasn't had quite enough time to set in and really optimize apps to maximize battery life. Presumably, battery life will improve over the next week or so as the phones settle in — but right now the battery life is good, but not impressive. The Pixel 3 in particular is just weak enough to feel like it's a trade-off for getting that desirable smaller form factor. The Pixel 3 XL isn't a battery champion like the Galaxy Note 9, but it offers enough longevity to not worry about battery life on most days — that's just fine for me.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

Camera, phone

Google Pixel 3 Review

It's absolutely true that the Pixel 3 and 3 XL aren't huge upgrades over the Pixel 2 series. But like so many other manufacturers, Google isn't really trying to court people who already own its phone from last year — that's extra applicable to Google, which has a relatively small base of users. There's far more market potential in getting people over from Samsung, and even Apple, phones — and for these people, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL look amazing.

This is a perfect example of a phone being greater than the sum of its parts.

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL aren't about giving you every feature under the sun or trying to win every spec battle — these phones are a perfect example of being greater than the sum of their parts. They have all of the specs they need, and exceptional software performance regardless. The software is simple to use with tons of nice-to-have features and nothing to get in your way or frustrate you. It also comes with the peace of mind of knowing Google will send out software updates for the next three years.

Google's hardware isn't flashy, but it's efficient and aims to provide an above-average experience while generally getting out of the way. It's solid, efficient and classy — and now, the phones have screens befitting the price. You also get great stereo speakers, wireless charging and average battery life. Then there are the cameras, which are best-in-class on the back and front. Taking photos with the Pixel 3 is effortless and the quality is exceptional.

I have no hesitation recommending the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL to anyone who asks what the best Android phone is.

$799 is a lot to ask for the relatively small Pixel 3, but it stands among very few phones that offer this quality of hardware and components in a manageable size — making it a fantastic phone for anyone who has resisted the call of larger phones. For those who haven't, the $899 Pixel 3 XL is a little tougher of a sell. The Galaxy Note 9, LG V40 and others are enticing options with big screens at similar prices — but still, Google's qualities shine, and this is a fantastic phone that can compete with anything else out there.

4.5 out of 5

I will have no hesitation in recommending the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL to anyone who asks me what the best Android phone is. I can recommend them without qualms or caveats, because they're just so good at doing the things everyone wants from a modern smartphone — whether they're a novice or an expert — without show-stopping issues, problems, or tricks to learn. That's the beauty of buying a Google Pixel.

Andrew Martonik

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

  • Not having to worry about battery life "on most days" is just not good enough for this kind of money. I own the Pixel 2 XL and it most certainly does not usually last me all day and the Pixel 3XL has an even smaller battery ( I just don't understand the choices they made when designing this phone. Notch, smaller battery, mandatory gesture navigation. What were they thinking???
  • The only thing extra I'd say here is that no modern phone, save for the Note 9, offers me full-day battery life every single day no matter the usage. Every other phone I reviewed in the last year (or three) has had issues staying alive a full day at least once (if not more consistently) when I hit it hard. The question is how confident it makes you that it'll make it through most days. For normal use, the Pixel 3 XL (and even the 3) make it through a full day with room to spare. But not consistently enough to say they do it unequivocally. The smaller battery isn't the issue -- the move to a Snapdragon 845 more than makes up for the tiny drop in battery. The bigger issue is Google clearly doesn't emphasize battery life for heavy users more, because if it did it'd bump up to 4000mAh and put special tweaks in the software to emphasize battery life above all else.
  • Maybe with next year's phone Google will put more emphasis on battery life. I do agree that battery life is enough for most users who get the 3 and 3 XL.
  • This really isn't that hard. These manufacturers are making clear choices, and battery life all too often seems to lose out. Moto "got it" in 2016 with the Z Play. OnePlus gets marks in my book for sticking with the 1080p screen, which significantly prolongs battery life. Huawei gets it. Even Samsung took the cue this year with the Note 9. So clearly, a solid day plus (with usage in the bell curve) *is* possible. Best approach as I see it is vote with your dollars. Google *knows* that Pixel battery size is iffy, but they're simply betting that the other Pixel features will woo you, me, and others into not caring and buying it anyway. I say bollocks to that. Confidence in a full days Battery life may not be everything to me, but it is the most IMPORTANT feature on my list. If the phone is dead at 6pm from moderate usage, and I'm not home or near a charger, then an amazing camera and fancy phone screening capabilities are literally meaningless to me. And yes, imho, paying nearly a grand for the privilege of sometimes having battery anxiety by dinner time? That is very definition of a bad joke.
  • I could describe Pixel battery life with a lot of words, but not a single one of those words is "iffy." That's literally taking "I can't take this phone and leave the screen on a high intensity game for 24 hours straight" and turning it into "battery life in this device is concerning." An editor attempting to put this thing through the paces for 6 days in advance of a review is NOT real world use and thus is irrelevant to real users. And with adaptive battery, which some users have had sizable gains to their device's longevity, COMPLETELY removed from the conversation due to short time since launch, it's an even more stupid point. I personally refuse to buy any phone that can't run 3D modeling software for 72 hours straight with screen on full brightness without dropping below 50% because I love when I have to lose out on things because 1% of the population would rather "have it and not need it..."
  • Exactly. For me signal strength and battery life are the most important.
    Samsung finally listened to it's customers and delivered. Just saw Phone Buff battery test (first of a kind) and it outlasted iPhone XS Plus by whooping 38%. That's little more than the difference in the capacity between the 2 (3100 mAh vs 4000). So, even the all new 7nm super fast and efficient Apple's chip can't w super clean and definitely less demanding iOS , can't compensate for insufficient battery storage. There have to be a few reasons why OEMs always push for smaller capacity if possible. As soon as they get more power efficient processor they feel like using that improvement to either make the phone slimmer or bigger screen, etc. #1 reason has to be the cost. Bigger batteries cost more money and they always try to get profit margin as high as possible.
    Bigger Battery will give consumers more usage time and over time device will go through less charging cycles, which will keep decent performance of the battery for longer - stretches the life of the device itself. A lot of people buy new phones when looking for becomes too often.
    And finally it's the dumb race for the "sexiest" design, where they advertise the thinness of the phone as the mastery of craftsmanship.
  • Very, very well said. I could have any phone I want, but I'm still using the Z Play because my priority is battery life, not the camera.
  • I will take a closer look at the Note ( (though I hate the Samsung experience, their hardware is amazing). Like I said, I don't understand Google's choices. I just don't believe this claim that modern CPUs use less power, so bigger batteries are no longer needed. In theory, perhaps, but in everyday practice and in view of our addiction to phones and the modern display sizes, a bigger battery would always be better. In this case they even reduced the battery size, not by much, but still, while they increased the display size.
  • Have you tried the Huwaei P20 Pro Andrew? I've just switched to it from an iPhone 8 and am getting real all day battery life and some left at night! I'd also be interested in photo comparisons with the P20 and the Pixel 3.
  • You should try the Blackberry KeyOne...
  • I did. It was ... not a good phone.
  • Agreed Andrew, less features makes for a better phone. Hence I use Pixel and iPhone. All the bloat from other OS versions is needless fluff.
  • The other thing to keep in mind is the move to fast charging several years ago minimized the need for huge batteries. With quick charge (or whatever it's called these days), all it takes is 15 minutes on a charger at any point during the day and you are good to go. The only time I can think of that this difficult would be difficult is when traveling. But even then, I can usually grab an outlet at some point in my day.
  • I don't understand why these OEM's aren't prioritizing battery life. I mean, it's basically the most important thing. I wish I cared about having the best camera, because that's what they care about. But I don't. I wish they'd put some of that focus on stellar battery life.
  • My Pixel 3XL battery life is not good, even with adaptive brightness. It will barely make it to 5pm, much less all day - and this isn't even with heavy use. The battery life is very disappointing. My iPhone XS Max and Note 9 blow it out of the water. Battery life is on par with the LG G7, which has a 3000mAh battery.
  • "Fewer features make incredible phones" Interesting since the s9 plus was declared the best phone available, yet it's chock full of features. Less features yet more expensive. :(
  • The S9/S9+ is a better phone and a better value for the money (and is actually less expensive). More features, same specs, better price (and pretty much no compromises).
  • Pass, battery life should match the P20 Pro at least for that price, why google put such pathetic batteries, and just 4gb of ram? Mate 20 X or Pro it is
  • Agreed. I'm seriously considering the Pixel 3XL but I'm a heavy user and my current Mate 10 Pro is the first phone that gives me all day battery life consistently. Going back to worrying about topping up charge throughout the day is not something I'm too excited about.
  • Mine mate 9 battery life is amazing, all working so great.
    Pixel is just riding on the camera and update bandwagon, still overpriced with average battery life.
  • I'm looking the mate 20 also, pixel doesn't look like anything worth swapping to
  • I was skeptical when the Pixel 3 XL had a smaller battery and a larger screen and a faster processor. My note 9 might not give me 2 full days but i always have juice to spare at the end of the day.
  • My Note 9 has a significant battery life advantage over the Pixel 3XL. I have been using both of them for the past week, and the 3XL is not impressive to me. When you wait until the end of the year to release something with the same hardware that all of the 2018 flagships already have, you need to bring your "A" game. I feel like the camera is amazing, and the software experience and Google enhancements are good, but this phone should have been better stocked and cheaper. For $899, I would recommend you either get the S9/9+, or pay the little bit extra and get the Note 9. The Note 9 battery life is amazing!
  • Yep. For some...and I'm one of really is that simpe lol.
  • That notch is hideous.
  • The only way to justify it was to have LG V10 style secondary screen there and keeping it off for most of the time. Maybe showing time and date or whatever.
  • Yes, it is. No excuse for it.
  • Yep, just cannot get over the notch, will not be upgrading to this version ever. The freaking notch is just that ugly.
  • I still can't get over that notch and that Jay Leno chin. Pixel 3 XL is for sure one of the most hideous phones of all time. I thought Google bought part of HTC's design team??
  • If you think this is the most hideous phone of all time you haven't been looking at Android phones for long. Google did buy HTC's design team. But this phone was well into development before they were integrated.
  • It's definitely the ugliest flagship smartphone from the last 4 years. Pixel 3XL is absolutely hideous.
  • Could not agree more!
  • Yes, it absolutely is.
  • He said one of the most!
  • Android phones haven't had ugly holes cut out the screen for long either.
  • I consistently get 6+ hours of SoT with my S8+. I can't think of one reason to "upgrade" to this phone, especially at this price.
  • Thats weird, i barely get 2.5 SOT
  • I also barely get about 3 - 3 1/2. It's near dead in the early afternoon, and that's with adaptive brightness.
  • Is it on airplane mode?
  • Or fibbing?
  • Ding ding.
  • Exactly. S8+ is a great phone, and 95% what the 9+ is (which is a better phone all around than the 3XL); and more aesthetically pleasing. No reason to upgrade to this phone from any phone with an 835 or higher.
  • Honestly, I'd love to own a Pixel. But there are just a few too many compromises on the hardware front to make the software experience worth it. Not to mention the poor availability. I'll probably get the V40.
  • No mention of the improved haptics or the titan security chip...
  • Only have so much room, so I'm not able to touch on everything. This review is 4200 words already. The haptics really are nice, some of the best out there today. Not a whole lot to be said about the Titan M security chip in a general review though. It's a thing, it keeps your phone secure. Nobody's going to make a buying decision based on it, though.
  • [sound of Jerry muttering in the distance]
  • Thank you for the review. Mostly what I expected and I have one on order to upgrade from my original Pixel. I'm sad to see the note on battery life but we'll see how it does with my usage and the adaptive battery. The main disappointment with my Pixel is the battery life and it sounds like that won't be going away. At least every other aspect sounds to be improved (minus the loss of the headphone jack). I'm glad to see the reduced bezels and they look just fine with me. I'm glad to be getting dual speakers that sound to be of good quality and I too listen to podcasts frequently on the speakers and in the shower the OG Pixel was a bit quite and Android Pie seems to allow it to go louder than on Oreo but with more distortion.
  • For me, this review has the opposite effect. I had the Pixel 2 for a bit and the battery life just wasn't cutting it for me so to hear it was the same is a bummer and it makes me less interested in wanting to try it. The positives are reassuring though.
  • If you want a truly small flagship phone and great performer you have 1 choice only - Sony XZ1 Compact
  • Or XZ2 Compact.
  • I'm in the same boat. The question I see posed around here is "Should I replace my Pixel 2 with a 3?", but many of us don't replace our phones each year. Surely many of us with an OG Pixel are shopping around; if we enjoyed the Pixel experience, we're considering the Pixel 3. For me, the battery life is a concern, mostly because the OG Pixel battery has really suffered for me in the past month or so and I don't want to repeat that in 2020. However, to sacrifice the size, which is perfect for me, the stock Android experience, and the reliability of the device in every way other than the battery doesn't sound appealing. Anyone have a recommendation to match size and reliability with superior battery life? I could let go of stock Android, maybe...
  • I'm a disappointed by the battery review but I'm doing it anyway. I want to see what it does for my real world usage.
  • It's a solid upgrade from the Pixel. The Pixel 2/2XL, I wouldn't recommend it, but the Pixel sure. The Pixel 3/3XL is a very good phone, especially if you're a fan of their devices.
  • My Sony z3 got all day and then more in battery life and that was how long ago when that came out
  • It's definitely one of the best phones of 2014
  • Taking time of release into account, I think the Z3 Compact is the best Android phone I've ever used. I gave it to my partner when I moved on to a new phone, and she was still using it (and still getting all day plus battery life) until late 2017 when she got an OG Pixel.
  • How many times did he say something like these phones haven't changed from the previous model much, but they're great phones? It's true: Google's new Pixel phones aren't all that different from its last Pixel phones. Specs, features, design and overall philosophy are effectively constant between generations, particularly when you take into account that last year's Pixels have been updated to Android 9 Pie and will thankfully be receiving many of the Pixel 3's new camera features. This is a case of evolution, not revolution. The new phones are effectively unchanged in size from their predecessors, but the finishes and materials have been tweaked and, ultimately, much improved.  It's true these phones aren't large upgrades from their predecessors, but that doesn't change the fact that these are exceptional phones with great software, excellent performance, good displays, and standout cameras on the back and front. Who is he trying to convince? Lol. I'm sure this is a great phone that a lot of people will love. I hope it works good for all that buy one, but for me that price is ridiculous. If I had a previous pixel model, id hold off. Especially with the camera upgrades coming to the other pixel models.
  • I've said many times in many places that Pixel 2 & 2 XL owners really don't need to make this upgrade. But as I detailed in my conclusion, Google isn't looking to upgrade Pixel 2 & 2 XL owners -- because frankly, there aren't that many out there. Realistically, the market of people who know about the Pixel 2 is so small it doesn't really matter whether these are huge upgrades from that generation -- what matters is that they're good phones. Which they absolutely are.
  • I really don't think I would have anything negative to say if the Pixel were in the $650-750 range. That would totally change the game for Pixel. However, this play where they try to be the IPhone of the Android world is preposterous. The tech reviewers try to convince you that the awesome camera and smooth "Android experience" justifies the rediculous price of this phone. A camera should not carry that much weight when reviewing a phone. If I want a great camera, guess what... I'll go buy a great camera! Why would I expect my smartphone to perform at the same level as my Canon 60D?? In the meantime, they totally gloss over important things such as battery life. Then to top it all off, they applaud it for having less features, yet charging the same amount as phones with more features and options... Bizarro World!
  • It's the overall experience and the software makes all the difference. Pixel is without a doubt the best android experience you can get and that alone is worth the premium price compared to the rest of the smartphone industry. Whether it matters to you or not the camera does carry a lot of weight because it's one area where high-end devices differentiate themselves. It will never be as good as a dedicated camera with vastly superior hardware...that's not the point. It's about having the best camera you can get that will always be with one is carrying a huge dslr on them all the time. It's not cheap but if you want the cream of the crop then you gotta pay up. Otherwise there are plenty of good to great options available for much less. That's the beauty of the phone that provides the best value for you for the price.
  • I love the Pixel 3 yes and I do get it, unlike the Samsung devices pure Android experience that fastest updates. Yes I am looking at you Samsung, lets see how long they take to add their bloat and push it to the few devices that will get "Pie". My issue is the price I got a One Plus 6 same processor, more memory, I got 256 Gig built in, and yes it has Android 9 and it cost me $900 Taxes included. The Pixel 3 starts ... START at $1000 + $150 for taxes and I have to live with 64 Gig. I could not justify the cost and this is the main reason I passed.
  • Having timely updates only cause problems in Android world. For Security patches I get it , but OS not really. The problem is that most OEMs won't support major updates long enough and that's where Android sucks compared to iPhones.
  • Unless you're talking about Pixel. 3 years guaranteed updates. No one else is offering anything close to that. If a Pixel lasts me 3 years then that actually saves me money vs. having to buy a mid-range device every year.
  • No, at these prices it wouldn't save you money. $200 a year will get you an excellent used mint condition mid range phone.
  • Not talking about used phones...
  • Resale or mint no signs of use are the exact same thing. That doesn't even matter though. Buy one on Swappa new in box for hundreds less. You just have to know where to look.
  • No warranty and no guarantee that it hasn't been used... It's not the same as buying a phone new. Sorry you can come up with whatever justification you want but it doesn't disprove my original statement.
  • It doesn't matter if it's been used or not. You're mad someone else TOUCHED the phone before you? Seriously? Spending $950 on a phone does not save you money VS. buying a midrange every year. Even new. That is an incorrect statement.
  • Not really. Mid range phones these days are very close in performance except camera. So, let's say. I paid 300 for a new Z Play. And I had 2 Major updates. Maybe even third one will come. If not, soon enough I can get a new z3 play for 350 - 400 and have it covered for another 2 years. So, for 650-700$ I get 4 years of support and while in use much better battery performance compared to a 3 year old rig.
    Now, if someone cares for camera more than anything and wants a true flagship, there are always great deals on any Android OEM months after their releases. If 1 can 6 months even greater. Sony, LG, OP, HTC, etc. had their flasgip phones at around half of the pixel prices.
  • If you can make a a midrange phone last 2 years you have much lower expectations than I do. In my experience anything less than a flagship and you can't count on it lasting more than a year. My statement was that it saves money vs. buying a midrange phone every year. And you get a way better phone.
  • My OG Z Play has lasted flawlessly. What's the problem?
  • Does it get monthly security updates? Is it running Pie? Didn't think so.
  • It gets quarterly updates yes. It's running Oreo. Basically the only phones are Pixels that get what you're describing. How does any of that make it a phone that hasn't lasted more than a year?
  • I'm upgrading from by original Pixel XL.. So i think overall it should be a significant upgrade in many regards.
  • I agree. So long as you can live with the loss of a headphone jack, you'll be very happy with that move.
  • I adore my Samsung galaxy S8. Before that I used the Lumia 950 XL phone. Both look better than the Pixel 3 phone. The design of the Pixel 3 is not bad but that notch is a bit misplaced so to say since it kind of takes up some of the screen place.
  • Great review and it has not changed my mind. I have ordered the 3xl in black. The thing has quick charge so even if I need to add some juice before going out I should get enough to keep me from worry. Anyway, I am not the one that will run a battery down to 15% or less anyway. The camera stutter is probably something that Google can address in an update so no worries with that. Nothing against the hardware on the Note 9 but the screen and settings on the thing make me dizzy when I see them, not to mention that Samsung is like so many other OEM's in that they are releasing system updates to last years system while the new version has been out for months. I am happy to be getting the Pixel 3xl.
    I usually don't use a case but for this phone, I am getting the Google knit case in indigo and also a clear case that looks thin. Thanks for the review.
  • Saw the title of the review. Came to see Samsung fans act like babies and tell us about how they're not interested in buying a phone that they were never planning on buying. Wasn't disappointed.
  • Good point..... I don't understand the hate. I have no interest in a Samsung device but I don't waste my time bashing it day in and day out.
  • Speaking as a Samsung fan, it's because we get sick of the bias coverage when it comes to Pixel devices or anything that runs "pure Android."
    The preferences of the writers outweigh the actual benefits and positives of other brands' features. Because it's not something that they deem useful or beneficial, it doesn't carry any weight. We always know that no matter what flaws they possess, Android Central will always crown the Pixel the best Android phone once it hits the street.
    Even though Samsung has been smashing both Apple and Google when it comes to phone innovation for years.
  • Does it really matter what someone else deems the best though. Do you really care that much that someone you dont know prefers a device over the device you choose. It shouldn't matter. If you enjoy Samsung LG Google or whatever. Enjoy what you will. No point in bashing something else because someone you don't even know has a different view.
  • You didn't read it properly. We want unbiased reviews and recommendations. Just because it's a Pixel, doesn't mean it's automatically the best phone out there.
  • First, everyone has biases, even if they are unconscious. Second, "best" when it comes to an overall phone experience is innately subjective. Reviewers/websites of course have biases and you clearly read AC enough to know what their's are. That doesn't mean they are being disingenuous...that's just their perspective. You can find plenty of websites that skew towards Samsung, Apple, whatever, if that's what you're looking for.
  • Not being funny but since when are we including 'takes excellent selfies' as a pro?😂 In a nutshell this phone has a great camera and will get quick updates outside of that, I see no other reason to go near it! can't believe the price they are charging for the XL, with 4GB Ram? no expandable memory? and 128gb being the max? Google really need to up their game! less said about the bathtub notch the better
  • Selfies, the bane of the universe.
  • I'm not the biggest selfie fan either. But you can't downplay just how important front-facing cameras are today ... and the Pixel 3 has a great setup.
  • It's not just for selfies... Video calling is important and you need good FFC for that.
  • Removal of the headphone jack would make more sense if there was some tangible benefit... like full day+ battery life. And what about the gesture navigation that can't be disabled?
  • The gestures are good though?
  • You guys did a 180 on the 2XL battery life. You raved about it last year.
  • Yup, and that's one that really didn't hold up. The 2 XL's battery life is fine, but it definitely hasn't proven to be reliable as it did from the start.
  • I'll stick with my XZ1 Compact for another year. The camera pales in comparison to the Pixels, but the battery life is excellent, it has a headphone jack, and it'll have Android Pie next month. I also paid less than $500 CDN for it.
  • I think the question on most of our minds is pixel 3 vs one plus 6t.
  • We'll know soon enough!
  • We already know. The Pixel is no match for the OP6 and it will not compete with the 6t. At OP price point, it merks the Pixel.
  • Lol, exactly.
  • Unless you want a superior camera and guaranteed updates. Haters tend to diminish these things but that is where the Pixel differentiates itself. Maybe those things don't provide enough value for you vs. OnePlus but for many they do. If you want the best of the best you will pay for it.
  • You say that, but my Pixel 3XL (unlocked version), is still running a September 5th security update, and we're about to hit November.
  • I'm not here to hate the Pixel 3XL... I just don't seriously believe Google is interested in selling a tonne of phones. My take is Pixel phones exist to ensure the latest version of Google's bread & butter, the latest Android software, exists in the market. I'm a Samsung guy in spite of the awful curved screen which adds nothing. Dare to dream my Note 8 had a flat screen like my former Note 5.... I'm open to what is on the market in another three years. Back to Pixel 3XL... Samsung is dominant... Low info buyers... All their friends have Samsung phones.. Factor in specs, the Pixel 3XL does not compete. 🇨🇦 Prices Pixel 3XL $1270 or $229 down, 2yr Note 9. $1380 or $269 down, 2yr S9+. $1180 or $129 down, 2yr P20 Pro. $1050 or zero down, 2yr Again, Pixel only exists to put the latest Android OS in the market.... But even Samsung is committed to faster updates now. Kind Regards Andrew
  • GTFO with the "it doesn't compete" BS. It most definitely "competes" and wins in a lot of areas. Also, you're somewhat right about why it exists. But does it really matter how well it sells to the people that own it and love it? If anything the fact that less people will have it makes it more appealing to me.
  • It's so nice to avoid all that Samsung bloatware so battery life is amazing. Oh, it isn't.
  • Bloatware is usually a complaint because of software performance
  • I agree with even the headline. I have a Note 9 and all those features don't make the phone great because the software is only okay. But after playing around with the Pixel 3 XL at Best Buy, I immediately loved it so much better than the Note 9. My card was charged tonight and I can't wait to get my Pixel 3 XL on Wednesday/Thursday!
  • You're going Pixel over Note 9?? Tragic! Please sell your Note 9 and give it a good home. You, obviously, are not worthy of it.
  • Sold my note 9 as well. No phone ever lasts me a full day anyway. Not even my note 9. So battery life isn't a concern as I almost always have a was to charge device. Everyone has different tastes and that's why there are so many options to choose from.
  • I bought the Pixel 3XL having a Note 9 already, and I think that the Note 9 is a much better device. Is the Pixel camera marginally better? Yes, in some situations, but that's it. I actually prefer Samsung's UI, and all of the enhancements (which is can handle all day long with it's battery and extra memory). If I had the option between the two phones, I would pick the Note 9/S9+ all day long.
  • You must be a fanboy on a new account... Or a fool who parts with money... The Note 9 will get Android Pie. LOL, and Android pie is not much more than a few sub menu changes in Android OS. I could not imagine buying two phones within months of each other.... Thus I don't believe you really did as you say... In fact, I doubt you own a Note 9....a Pixel 2XL most likely.
  • Hey if you have extra money to part with and love tech i see no issue. To each their own. I know some with 3 flagships
  • Correct me if I'm wrong Mr Segundas but this will be what your 3rd phone in what a 2 month period? you've had a iPhone XS, Note 9 and now your going for the new Pixel? You either have money to burn or your really indecisive when it comes to buying phones! or your one of these people that must have new tech when it's released? I could be wrong here but I think you'll do a 360 like the iPhone and go back to the Note after you've had time with the Pixel. Either way I will be interested in you thoughts because you'll have owned and used all three, I'd especially like to know how battery life compares.
  • Absolutely correct. The software experience blows Samsung out of the water. Some can put up with bloat and lag but many prefer the superior software experience. To each their own.
  • Honestly all phones occasionally lag even the "might iphone" but this notion that recent Samsung flagships are a laggy mess are just false.
  • I have pixel 2 but still want regular pixel 3 just for the 5.5" No notch. P-3 looks good to me
  • In making smaller incremental changes from year to year compared to other phone makers; Google itself, has made the buying upgrade cycle longer for the Pixel phones.
  • Great point and a great thing for consumers. There's no reason (other than capitalism) why expensive gadgets like these shouldn't last 3 years or more.
  • Terrible audio recording, bad video stabilisation. No 60fps. I've also heard you have to use full screen gestures & there is no notification light! Tell me I'm wrong! Kind regards Richard U.K
  • The Pixel? Funnily enough, I saw a camera review, and the audio from the Pixel 3xl was dire. I wonder why this never gets mentioned?
  • Thank you for the thorough review Andrew. Does the Pixel 3 (XL) support Audio Adapter Accessory Mode for using usb c to 3.5in headphone jacks or do we need to buy one of active dongles as suggested in
  • "Fewer features make incredible phones" I'm looking forward to the review that makes two Dixie cups and a string the best phone of the year.
  • Lord - I am sorry. But - that - is - funny - now - The older generation would have fell on the floor laughing at the title. It is what it is... A better option would have been to use - "Simple and Pure" - ... Usually a objection comes with a suggestion - done.
  • Less bloat and better software performance make incredible phones. FIFY
  • 👍
  • Andrew, how about this claim I've read elsewhere this morning about severe vibration during audio playback? Can you reproduce?
  • I keep hoping Google will have something to compete with Samsung, but they can just never get there. I'd love for someone to come out with an option that appeals to be more than the Note series (I have the 8), for less money. Unfortunately it never happens. I'll be ready to upgrade next year around this time, and we'll see what the Pixel 4 has to offer, but somehow I already know it will be disappointing.
  • The Note series is really in a separate category because barely anyone else is offering a pen experience and no one is offering a pen experience that competes with the Note. But that experience is not something that most phone buyers are looking for...if you are looking for that then there is only one device that gives it to you. It's much more apt to compare the Pixel to the Galaxy S line... and those phones are absolutely comparable. Each has give and take in certain areas and it comes down to what's important to you.
    Want the best camera? Get a Pixel.
    Want a headphone jack or micro SD card slot? Get a Galaxy S.
    Want front facing stereo speakers? Get a Pixel.
    Want the best software performance? Get a Pixel.
    Want a bunch of extra features and duplicate apps you probably won't use? Get a Galaxy S
  • Not gonna argue and say the note is slicker software wise or hasnt much bloat as I'd be lying, but id argue the point over people saying Samsung phones lag etc (maybe they did but not now in my experience) I've owned a S7, Note 8 and now Note 9 and I can assure you there's been no lag on any of my 3 handsets I've owned. The Note 9 maybe cause it's new is like lighting so slick and no slowdown. For me the Pixel for the spec, 64gb, 4gb Ram etc is too expensive compared to the competition.
  • I've had the Note 3 and the 7 Edge - all got laggy over the months. The 7 Edge took 170+ days to get Nougat after the release. Security updates were not that frequent. I jumped to the Pixel line... That said - my wife still has the 7 Edge, and said she is getting more frequent updates. Samsung has improved. A bunch. So Kudos for that. Samsung definitely has the best hardware - but Huawei is closing fast. Google has the best software experience... Plus a very good camera. Just depends on what you want. Dunno... Google just cannot compete with Samsung or others in the spec department for their phones price.
  • I don't think having 4gb ram instead of 6 means they aren't competitive on specs. That's a spec that has no real world impact. It's still the fastest and best performing phone around... The rest of the specs are top of the line. Every phone has strengths and weaknesses... You wouldn't say Samsung can't compete on specs just because they don't offer front facing stereo speakers. Or that Apple can't compete on specs because it doesn't have a headphone jack. These are all high end phones that have competitive specs.
  • The 4gb ram I can get past but offering 64gb storage in a 2018 flagship is pathetic.
  • For the price yes, it is. Minimum should be 256.
  • You can't discount unlimited full res photo and video backup. No one else is offering that. So by your logic I could say that for the price any phone over $800 should come with unlimited full res photo and video backup... Not every phone offers the exact same benefits you have to look at the full package.
  • You can get 128... That's plenty of space for 99% of users
  • I think the most important denominator to judge flagship phones today it worth $1000? Do you use all those bucket-load of hardware and software "mumbo-jumbos" that apple and google recently offered? Many of these, like Duplex/Call-screening may never reach your country like Apple watch's ECG feature on their smartwatch. In India the smaller pixel starts at over 1000$ , which is more expensive then the note-9, galaxy s9+ and LG-G7 ThinQ. G7 infact is priced deliciously at around $580. And lets not forget the upcoming oneplus 6T which would provide the same flawless experience at around G7's price. Using the oneplus 6 has taught me that i was very wrong in buying these super-expensive flagships from Samsung and Apple when you don't need most of the "bling" they offer to justify their phone prices.
  • You're right, there's a lot of good options to be had for less money. But the high end does differentiate itself in key areas. To some it's worth it to some it's not. If you want the best of the best you will pay for it.
  • This reads more like a Google Press release than an actual review. You haven't tested video recording at all. Sound quality , going off other reviews, is terrible.
  • Meh. Every device has it's weak spots. The video sound quality is's not the best out there but it's fine. That's one area that doesn't matter much to me. If that's important to you well no one is forcing you to buy it. I would say though that if you're serious about making high quality video you're not shooting on a phone...
  • If it were a hundred dollars cheaper and I would get it. I'm also not a fan of gesture navigation. It's harder to get to the app drawer and it's very awkward to switch apps. Double tap is an easier motion than reaching down to the bottom of the screen to swiping across.
  • The sad thing about this site is that EVERYONE knew the Pixel 3 would be called "The Best Phone You Can Buy" months before it came out. We already know the Pixel 4 will receive the same accolade a year from now- whether it deserves it or not.
  • I have a Moto X Pure (2015) I am looking to upgrade... Pixel 2 XL seems great, should I get Pixel 3 or S9 instead?
  • So they borrowed Samsung screens and went with a smaller battery. All the other features will be software related and pushed to other pixels? This phone screams skip this gen and wait for the next version.
  • What I can't believe in late 2018 the base model has only 4gb's & 64gb's of storage. The regular pixal is priced at 799.00, 150.00 dollars more than the pixal2. For myself that's a very big increase. Is there any value in these phones, I guess not. So if i purchase the 3XL 128gb model it's over 1,000 dollars. I guess there just not my cup of tea!
  • Fewer features for more money. Thanks Google.
  • All these people crying about battery life.. that's why they have wireless charging and chargers in general. And why companies sell battery packs. I go all day on my garbage s8 and have 30% left. Maybe don't have your screen at brightness so high. Or don't be on your phone all dam day when you should be working and or actually talk to people and enjoy the environment around you.
  • « Google didn't add more rear cameras because it frankly didn't need to — it thinks software is king«  I really think that philosophy is flawed. If they had a second lens they could do even more with their algorithms. Software can’t do everything
  • Why, oh why, not just make this phone another 2 or 3mm thicker and pack it with a > 4,000 mAh battery. I would gladly give up the thickness in exchange for "range anxiety". I hear this time and time again on various forums. Any product managers listening?
  • You are definitely not alone.
  • because of the weight? with fast chargint this days, huge battery is overrated. My phone charges while I take a shower and ive battery till the end of the day.
  • Oh really beacause it looks like the ugliest phone ever
  • The phone is OK, but the customer service is the worst! Ordered the phone couple days before they release the Black Friday sale. Call the customer service and was told to return the phone first and get a new one with the discount price. The representative promised to get me full refund and I followed his suggestion. At the end, I was charged the $35 restocking fee!!! Spent hours on the phone with different customer service representatives, but can't resolve the issue. DO NOT BUY THIS CRAP!!