Google Pixel 3 vs. Google Pixel: Should you upgrade?

Google Pixel 3
Google Pixel 3 (Image credit: Android Central)

Google Pixel 3

If you're still using the first-gen Pixel, the Pixel 3 is the ideal upgrade. The phone has a much more modern 18:9 display and the cameras are the best you'll find on an Android phone today. Factor in the stereo speakers, wireless charging, and the all-new OLED panel, and you have a phone that edges out the Pixel in almost every category.

Google Pixel 3

The perfect upgrade

Compact form factor
Fantastic cameras
Excellent OLED display
Stereo speakers
Wireless charging
No headphone jack

Google Pixel

The first-gen Pixel still has a lot going for it, but the design just doesn't hold up in 2018. While the phone is slated to pick up a few camera features from the latest Pixels, it isn't likely to receive new platform updates. With the Pixel 3 sporting a larger screen and a retooled camera, it's time to consider an upgrade.

Google Pixel

Comes up short

Great camera
3.5mm jack
Huge bezels
No waterproofing
No wireless charging
Inferior front camera

The Pixel became a fan-favorite for its compact size and unchanged hardware from its larger sibling. The Pixel 3 retains all of that while managing to offer a significantly larger screen and vastly upgraded cameras.

Reasons to upgrade to the Pixel 3

The smartphone industry has moved to taller 18:9 displays over the course of the last 18 months, and with phones in general getting bigger, there's a noticeable shortage of compact devices. That's where the Pixel 3 comes in. Although the phone comes with a larger 5.5-inch display, the overall dimensions aren't all that different from the first-gen Pixel.

That makes the Pixel 3 ideal for one-handed use, and the switch to the 18:9 form factor has allowed Google to trim the bezels while offering stereo speakers and dual front cameras. The Pixel 3 has all the trimmings of its larger sibling but in a much more compact form factor, making it the perfect upgrade from your Pixel or even the Pixel 2.

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CategoryGoogle Pixel 3Google Pixel
Operating systemAndroid 9 PieAndroid 9 Pie
Display5.5-inch OLED
2160x1080 (18:9)
Gorilla Glass 5
5.0-inch AMOLED
1920x1080 (16:9)
Gorilla Glass 4
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845
Pixel Visual Core
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Rear camera12.2MP, 1.4-micron, PDAF
f/1.8, OIS
12.3MP, 1.55-micron, PDAF
f/2.0, EIS
Front camera 18MP, auto focus
f/1.8, 75-degree lens
8MP, f/2.4, 1.4-micron
Front camera 28MP, fixed focus
f/2.2, 97-degree lens
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPSWi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS
AudioStereo speakers
Mono speaker
3.5mm jack
Charging18W USB-C PD
Qi wireless
Water resistanceIP68No
SecurityFingerprint sensorFingerprint sensor
Dimensions145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9mm
143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5mm
143 g
ColorsJust Black, Very White, Not PinkQuite Black, Very Silver, Really Blue

The design at the back has also been updated, and while it feels like metal to the touch, it is in fact Gorilla Glass 5 with a finish that's designed to mimic a metallic back. The glass back facilitates wireless charging, and Google's $79 Pixel Stand accessory unlocks new functionality. Elsewhere, the Pixel 3 comes with IP68 dust and water resistance. And while there isn't a headphone jack, Google is including a pair of USB-C earbuds in the box with every Pixel 3.

The Pixel 3 is a considerable upgrade from the Pixel in almost every category.

The camera always dominates the conversation when talking about new Pixels, and it's astounding what Google has managed to achieve with computational photography. The Pixel 3 has a single rear camera with an imaging sensor that's unchanged from last year, but Google's advances in image processing mean the phone is able to take better photos.

It's up front where we see most of the changes in this area. The Pixel 3 has dual 8MP + 8MP cameras at the front, with the secondary sensor enabling wide-angle selfies. The front shooter on the Pixel 2 was already the best in the business, and with the addition of the wide-angle lens the Pixel 3 solidifies its position at the summit.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.