Lovers of small Android phones rejoice, Google has answered your prayers with the Pixel three. For the primary time in years, you now not need to make the selection between consolation and efficiency. The Pixel three ($799.99 for 64GB or $899.99 for 128GB) has the identical top-of-line specs and options as its bigger sibling, the Pixel 3 XL, together with glorious digicam efficiency and a few very cool new performance like name screening and automatic journey reserving (as soon as Google Duplex is launched). If you’d like a pure, AI-driven Google expertise in a one-handed type issue, the Pixel three is the cellphone to purchase and our Editors’ Alternative.
Design and Options
Google goes for a extra fashionable search for the Pixel three. All the again is glass, however most of it makes use of a proprietary matte end whereas the highest is left shiny. The entrance is protected by a pane of Gorilla Glass 5. Coloration choices embrace black, white, and a really mild pink that Google calls “Not Pink.” The bezels have been slimmed down from the Pixel 2 and the cellphone now has a present 18:9 side ratio, maximizing display screen actual property relative to its measurement. That stated, there’s nonetheless some notable bezel on the highest and backside to accommodate the front-firing stereo audio system.
The cellphone measures 5.7 by 2.7 by zero.three inches (HWD) and weighs 5.2 ounces, making it considerably lighter than the Apple iPhone XS (5.7 by 2.eight by zero.three inches, 6.2 ounces) and just a bit shorter than the Samsung Galaxy S9 (5.eight by 2.7 by zero.three inches, 5.eight ounces). The true promoting level over its bigger sibling (which measures 6.2 by three.zero by zero.three inches and weighs 6.5 ounces) is simply how manageable it feels in your hand. I discovered it straightforward to achieve throughout the display screen and to the highest to work together with notifications and different parts. It is probably the most snug telephones to make use of with one hand.
Regardless of being coated in glass and having a clean coating alongside its aluminum sides, the Pixel three does not really feel slippery because of its soft-touch end. The white mannequin we examined did not decide up fingerprints or scratches whereas we used it, however you’ll be able to all the time throw on a case in case you’re fearful. Google’s distinctive cloth instances (not included) are a very good possibility.
So far as buttons and ports go, there aren’t any surprises right here. There is a USB-C port on the underside for charging subsequent to a SIM card slot. There isn’t any expandable storage, which has all the time been the case for Google’s Pixel/Nexus line. The fingerprint sensor on the again is inside straightforward attain. And you will not discover a three.5mm headphone jack, however you do get a USB-C dongle together with a pair of wired USB-C Pixel Buds.
Left to proper: Pixel three XL, Pixel three
A considerably stiff energy button and quantity rocker are on the precise facet. The previous is brightly coloured (lime inexperienced within the case of the white Pixel three), making it stand out from the remainder of the cellphone. Double urgent it means that you can rapidly launch the digicam. The usual software program buttons are gone, changed with gesture navigation. Swiping up on the house display screen and persevering with to swipe brings up the app drawer; swiping up as soon as enters multitasking and swiping to the left or proper allows you to scroll open apps; swiping proper on the house button and rapidly releasing allows you to change to the earlier app. It takes somewhat little bit of getting used to, however I rapidly grew to take pleasure in it.
Like on the Pixel 2, right here you’ve gotten Google’s Lively Edge, which includes a squeeze sensor on the perimeters of the cellphone to rapidly launch Google Assistant. It is responsive and does not set off by chance when you calibrate the squeeze sensitivity, and there is satisfying haptic suggestions when it prompts. It is not reprogrammable to launch a unique app, however you can too squeeze to silence timers, alarms, notifications, and incoming calls.
Like different flagship telephones, the Pixel three is IP68 waterproof, permitting it to outlive in over 5 toes of water for 30 minutes. It stood as much as a radical dunking and rinsing-off within the kitchen sink with out concern.
Show and Pixel Stand
The Pixel three has a 5.5-inch 2,160-by-1,080 OLED show that is fortunately free from the scourge of a notch. The decision works out to a crisp 443 pixels per inch. Whereas we have been seeing higher-resolution screens these days (just like the 570ppi Galaxy S9), the Pixel three continues to be lots sharp for the scale. It is crisp sufficient to simply learn textual content, watch movies, and play video games, and you will not discover any actual distinction in readability between the 2 gadgets. The one factor to notice is that, whereas the display screen is licensed to assist HDR content material, it does not do any upscaling as we have seen on telephones just like the Sony Xperia XZ3 and the midrange Nokia 7.1
Seemingly taking heed of complaints from final 12 months, Google has given the Pixel three a number of display screen colour modes from the extra colour correct Pure to a richer, extra saturated Boosted. By default, it is on Adaptive, which I discover presents the most effective of each worlds. Viewing angles are nice and brightness is excessive sufficient to simply see the display screen outside and even beneath direct daylight, barring some reflectivity.
Like final 12 months’s Pixels, the Pixel three has an OLED panel that provides it dense, inky blacks and makes it helpful for the always-on display screen to indicate the time, date, and notifications with out sucking up an excessive amount of energy. If you happen to place the cellphone on a Pixel Stand (a $79 10W wi-fi charger), the Pixel three transforms into a wise show, just like the Google Home Hub. With the set up of a separate app, it may be enabled to show information headlines, calendar appointments, and cycle by albums in your photograph gallery. It turns into notably helpful while you arrange morning or bedtime routines, wherein Google Assistant will launch right into a briefing and offer you updates on site visitors circumstances and climate. It could additionally work together with the Nest Hello to mechanically present you video footage when somebody rings your door.
Community Efficiency, Calls, and Audio
The Pixel three is on the market straight from Verizon, Project Fi, and unlocked. It helps LTE bands half of/three/four/5/7/eight/12/13/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/32/66/71, permitting it to work on all carriers together with AT&T, Dash, T-Cellular, and Verizon. It has Cat 16 LTE, 4×4 MIMO, and might assist eSIM for sure carriers and markets.
We examined it on Verizon, the winner of our Fastest Mobile Networks testing this 12 months. In midtown Manhattan, the cellphone delivered glorious community efficiency with prime speeds of 51.2Mbps down and 37.6mbps up.
Different connectivity protocols embrace dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC to be used with Google Pay, and Bluetooth 5.zero for wi-fi listening.
Voice calls are excellent, with clear transmissions through the earpiece and solid noise cancellation for outgoing calls. Voices came across naturally in testing, without the robotic edge we often hear when noise cancellation kicks in. The only background noise that bled through was from the sound of loud construction.
One of the most interesting new features on the Pixel 3 is call screening. When you receive calls from unknown numbers, Google gives you the option to have the call screened. On the caller’s end, this results in an explanation of what’s happening and a request for you to explain the purpose of your call. The receiver then gets the explanation as text on their hand. The voice transcription for this is quick and accurate, I can see this service being very useful to filter out robocalls and spam.
Once Google Duplex is rolled out, the phone will be able to do even more in the call department. Google Assistant can take over calling duties for you, sparing you from the tedium of tasks like scheduling hair appointments and making dinner reservations.
As far as additional audio goes, the front-firing stereo speakers may not be room-filling at maximum volume, but they were more than sufficient to attract the attention of my colleagues when blasting Iron Maiden. The Pixel 3 supports 24-bit audio with the included Pixel Buds. The Pixel Buds are comfortable to wear, come with an adjustable ear loop, and integrate with Google Assistant. I found audio quality to be robust, with a crisp and accurate range, though the LG G7 with its devoted quad DAC nonetheless supplies extra customization for audiophiles.
Processor and Battery
Efficiency is every part you’d anticipate from a flagship cellphone in late 2018. Like its bigger sibling, the Pixel three is powered by a top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, with 4GB of RAM. That is not as a lot as another new telephones that include 6GB or 8GB of RAM, nevertheless it’s nonetheless ample for multitasking and high-end gaming.
Within the PCMark Work 2.zero check, which measures basic efficiency in a wide range of duties like internet searching, and video and photograph modifying, the Pixel three scored 9,358, larger than every other cellphone we have examined. The Pixel three additionally had a few of the quickest responsiveness I’ve skilled in relation to launching apps and scrolling internet pages. Demanding video games like Asphalt eight and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds have been clean as butter, with scarcely any body drops.
Battery life is strong. The cellphone clocked 7 hours and 57 minutes in our check, wherein we set display screen brightness to most and stream full-screen video over Wi-Fi. That is on par with the Pixel three XL (eight hours and 10 minutes), although neither can match the Galaxy Note 9, which outlasted our 12-hour battery check with juice to spare. The included 18W adapter allows you to quick cost the cellphone and helps USB-PD 2.zero. You can too use wi-fi fast charging with the Pixel Stand, and the cellphone may also work with different Qi-certified wi-fi chargers.
Digital camera efficiency is the place the Pixel three actually stands out. It “solely” has a single 12.2MP dual-pixel digicam with optical picture stabilization, foregoing the double or triple rear sensors we’re seeing on different main telephones. Regardless of this, it has one of many quickest, most responsive sensors we have examined, with glorious post-processing and low-light capabilities. We put it to the check in a shootout in opposition to the iPhone XS Max, the Galaxy Word 9, and the LG V40 ThinQ. Whereas the Pixel three did not essentially come out on prime in each setting, it took probably the most persistently good pictures, capturing probably the most element in a wide range of difficult eventualities.
Within the above pictures, the Pixel three centered quick and captured extremely detailed photographs with minimal noise and blur. On the subject of capturing objects like timber and buildings, the Pixel three is true-to-life, capturing particulars like shadows, textures, and crevices with out overly smoothing them just like the LG V40 or oversaturating colours just like the Word 9. That stated, we’re actually getting all the way down to minute particulars right here—all 4 telephones are improbable shooters.
Tremendous Res Zoom kicks in mechanically while you zoom in additional than 1.2x. Basically, it will increase the decision of a picture larger than what you’d usually have the ability to obtain with no telephoto lens, with out the graininess and artifacts from a pure digital zoom. To check this, we zoomed the Pixel three 2x on a clock tower, which made for strong outcomes you’ll be able to see under.
On the subject of low-light taking pictures, the Pixel three once more holds its personal. Within the dim setting of PC Labs, the cellphone persistently centered with dependable readability and minimal noise. In contrast to LG’s Tremendous Shiny Digital camera, the Pixel three does not use pixel binning to mix pixels, preserving particulars quite than brightening the shot as a complete. To me, it is a worthwhile trade-off, although pictures on the V40 might look clearer to some eyes.
The entrance set of cameras include a pair of 8MP commonplace and wide-angle sensors. The latter can snap with a 97-degree area of view, supplying you with a wider sense of your environment when taking a selfie. The sensors are sharp and correct in relation to colour copy and pores and skin tones. Most apparently, whereas it seems to have barrel distortion within the viewfinder, with post-processing the impact is eliminated, minimizing the distinctive fish-eye impact we usually see on wide-angle cameras.
Like nearly each different cellphone in the marketplace today, the Pixel three can take bokeh pictures, blurring out the background and placing a foreground object into focus. It is ready to do that for each the back and front digicam. With both set of sensors, the result’s a crisp shot, with a usually glorious software of the blur impact.
Additionally deserving of point out is Playmoji, Google’s branded AR stickers. Not solely do they seem life like, however additionally they have the flexibility to reply to the setting. For example, in case you add Iron Man right into a scene, he’ll know while you’re taking a selfie and level and wave as you snap the shot. As time goes on, the Pixel three will use machine studying to counsel issues you’ll be able to add to your AR scenes.
The Pixel three’s rear digicam is able to recording 4K video at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps. In each instances, video is clean and steady, buoyed by a mixture of optical and digital picture stabilization. We discovered video to be clean, with minimal jittering or body drops.
Software program and AI
The Pixel ships with Android 9.zero Pie, the very newest model of Google’s cell working system. The cellphone is free from bloatware, and comes with the assure of two years of updates on the very least. We have already coated lots of the adjustments Pie brings, together with the redesigned gesture navigation, integration with the Pixel Stand, improved Google Assistant, and options like name screening and the upcoming Google Duplex.
One factor we have not talked about is Digital Wellbeing. It is a new panel within the Settings menu that reveals your system utilization, what apps you have accessed, and provides you choices to limit your cellphone’s maintain over your life by letting you set a wind-down interval earlier than bedtime, limiting interruptions and graying out the display screen to discourage use. Over time the cellphone makes use of machine studying to grasp what apps you employ and prioritize them over others in relation to reminiscence and energy.
Since this can be a pure Android cellphone it solely comes loaded with Google apps. Our 64GB mannequin had 51.11GB accessible to be used. That is loads of area for apps and images, particularly because you get limitless Google Images cloud storage for all times.
The Google Pixel three has quick efficiency, glorious digicam capabilities, and helpful AI performance that goes past what we’re seeing in different Android flagships. It is $100 lower than the bigger Pixel three XL, does not have the distracting display screen notch, and shares almost all the identical and software program options. It is also probably the most snug Android telephones to carry in a single hand that we have seen in a while. All of this earns the Pixel three our Editors’ Alternative as not solely the most effective “small” Android cellphone you should buy, however merely among the best Android telephones, interval.