After the leaks, unboxing videos, and the generally unremarkable unveiling event it’s no surprise that the reception for the Google Pixel 3 was less than resounding. Aside from not presenting us with anything we didn’t already know about from the abundant leaks, the phone doesn’t appear to offer much in the way of competition with other smartphones on the market.
There’s no pen stylus, it doesn’t have three lenses on the back, and the Snapdragon 845 that powers both the Pixel 3 and the XL can’t consistently match up to Apple’s A11. There don’t seem to be any features on this phone really making it stand out or crush the competition. In many ways, it’s overly similar to the Pixel 2, which is why the leaks before its release were so disheartening.
So why would this phone possibly be worth your time?
Why you should choose Pixel 3
Right away you’ve got a good screen with OLED and HDR (despite the infamous notch up top) that makes for a crisp display and a high resolution. The Pixel 3’s battery life is quite good, too; after a day of using it heavily we found we still had around 30% battery life remaining.
Android 9.0 utilizes new gesture-based interactions that are reminiscent of the iPhone X, and the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor is now on the back of the phone. Both the Pixel 3 and the 3 XL have dual front-facing stereo speakers, which Google says are 40% louder than the Pixel 2.
Kind of like how Apple’s design stays true to its roots, Google’s Pixel 3 is also in keeping with the recognizable glass visor. This time, though, the back is glass instead of metal (which looks really cool against the frosted texture) and on the front, there’s an extended aspect ratio display.
A smartphone has to have a great camera, or at least a good one. With social media platforms like Snapchat or Instagram focusing so heavily on high-quality photos and vidoes, it’s a necessity. The Pixel 3 doesn’t incorporate the same cutting-edge camera hardware that Apple uses, and shockingly still opts for a less powerful single-lens camera system.
On the surface, this may seem like a detriment when compared to, say, the iPhone XS, but you need to look at the results. The Pixel 3 has an astonishingly detailed portrait mode that it can capture with its single-lens rear camera. Check the picture quality comparison between the two phones for yourself:
There’s also the new Top Shot feature which takes a dozen or so photos whenever you take a selfie. This allows you to pick your favorite shot from the set; useful if you accidentally blinked or the lighting changed. Not groundbreaking, but a nice addition!
As it stands, Google is able to do with a single lens what Apple had to add completely new hardware to accomplish. On top of that, Apple spiked the price and had to remove hardware to do it:
The inclusion of new hardware in Apple products has been a point of frustration as early as the iPhone 7. Removing features like the aux jack might not seem overly bad on the surface, but it feels like Apple is pushing things off the shelf to make room for others – and oftentimes these aren’t features we asked for or needed.
So does the Pixel 3 have an aux jack?
No. No i,t does not.
However, at least Google had the decency to include a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box, though. Buy a Pixel 3 and you’ll receive a fast-charger USB cable in the box as well as a portable charging brick:
You can do so wirelessly now, too, which is pretty neat.
Regardless of whether you need it, you can’t argue that you’re getting a lot more gadgetry for the money than if you buy that XS. You’ve got to pay Apple an extra $9 for the privilege of restoring a functionality that you enjoyed several models ago.
The Pixel 3 has 4 GB of RAM and the snapdragon 845 is the latest chip from Google. Is it a couple seconds slower than Apple? Sure, but we have to say that unless there was a side-by-side comparison we wouldn’t have noticed. Snapdragon 845 is incredibly responsive and smooth, and makes for a phone that’s intuitive and quick. It’s one of those things you won’t necessarily think to buy a phone for, but the fact that it’s response time isn’t a problem is something you’d immediately notice were it not the case.
Not buying it?
With Pixel it’s less about the hardware and more about the software, and that’s where the phone really excels. Some of the changes took a little getting used to – particularly the home button swipe and varying gestures – but once you surpass that learning curve (probably a day, maybe two) you’ll start operating the phone as if you’ve always owned one; it’s smart, the gestures are logical, navigation is intuitive and altogether faster than the Pixel 2.
We’ve reached the point where our smartphones can do so many things that adding new elements to the mix almost feels superfluous. It’s arguably better to not have a phone that’s chock full of unused features, like Samsung or LG are infamous for doing. With the Pixel 3, there’s no bloatware, it’s really smooth, and it doesn’t have an abrasive number of bells and whistles that a smartphone doesn’t need.
The Pixel 3 does everything you’d expect a smartphone to do, and it does those things really well; it’s like a perfect steak or a good sushi restaurant: You don’t need to add excessive, desultory items to something that’s already good; you just need to make slight improvements to the formula to improve the aspects people already expect.
The Pixel 3 starts at $799, while the larger Pixel 3 XL sells for $899. (The iPhone XS by comparison is $999 while the XS Max is $1099.)
For further comparisons between the phones, you can check right here. Let us know in the comments below whether you think this is the smartphone for you!