Google Pixel 3XL Review

By Anuj Sharma - November 13, 2018
google-pixel-3-xl
During the Pixel 3 launch event, Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh didn’t use the word ‘Android’, not even once, and simply called the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL Google phones. While the Pixel ....

During the Pixel 3 launch event, Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh didn’t use the word ‘Android’, not even once, and simply called the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL Google phones. While the Pixel 3 is only the third revision of Google’s smartphones, they are unbelievably refined and improved. They also use Google’s machine learning to make their every aspect better, even your ‘digital wellbeing’.

Overall, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL are great phones – they address almost every complaint that people had with the last year’s Pixels.

Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL: What’s the difference?

The major differences between the two phones lie in their prices, screen sizes and resolution. While the Pixel 3 has full-screen 5.5-inch FHD+ (2160 x 1080) flexible OLED display, the Pixel 3XL has full-screen 6.3-inch QHD+ (2960 x 1440) flexible OLED display.

Let’s take a closer look at Pixel 3XL.

Design

I really was expecting Google to come up with a device without a notch -- something that has dominated the Android smartphones over the past few years – and with a new design. But, to be frank, I was left disappointed. But that doesn’t mean that the new Pixel is not phone worth buying. After all, a Pixel device is not defined by its look but its performance, and Pixel 3XL is no exception.

The Pixel 3XL has the same two-tone design, but this time Google has gone for a glass front and a glass back, which allow the device a more premium feel. The glass on the rear is a single pane, with the bottom half finished in matte. However, the overall look of the phone remains unchanged. And yes, it still has the notch.

The all-glass design also enables for a better LTE connection and wireless charging – a first for a Pixel device – but it is also prone to damage. Google has also announced the Pixel Stand that can turn your phone into a smart speaker and smart display powered by the Google Assistant, a photo frame, a control panel for your smart home and much more. If you set an alarm, your screen will gently brighten over 15 minutes before your alarm goes off, mimicking the sunrise and helping you wake up naturally.

There are dual front-facing speakers on the Google Pixel 3XL along with Active Edge, which allows you to squeeze the sides of the phone to activate Google Assistant. I personally prefer the squeeze feature more than a dedicated AI button, like on LG and Samsung phones.

There's neither a headphone jack nor a micro-SD card slot, which means that you can’t expand the storage capacity and that you’ll have to live with either 64GB or 128GB storage capacity, depending on the configuration you choose to buy the phone with. However, you can save all your favourite images and videos in their original resolution with free, unlimited photo and video storage in Google Photos.

While the glass panels are Gorilla Glass 5, they are not scratch proof. A case is highly recommended. Here’s what Google has to say about the durability of the device:

‘We have designed Pixel 3 to look and feel great in your hand. We engineered the front and back with Gorilla Glass 5 for strength and protection. On the back, we added a special texture to make your Pixel 3 comfortable to hold, less slippery and much less prone to fingerprints than other glass-back phones. We added an extra strengthening step to the manufacturing process of the textured back glass for greater resistance to marks and scratches. We put every element of our phones through extensive reliability testing.’

Screen

The biggest upgrade of the 3XL is the quality of its screen. The screen is just great. The Pixel 3XL uses OLED display that allows for deep blacks, crisp colours and is energy efficient. Also, gone is the screen burning of the Pixel 2 that created a lot of fuss last year. The Pixel 3XL’s screen, no doubt, is vibrant and bright and looks lively. According to Google, the engineers spent a lot of time on the quality of the screen, bettering its every aspect, be it longevity, colour accuracy or contrast ratios.

By default, the colour mode is set to ‘adaptive,’ which boosts the vibrancy of most colours without making human faces look beautified, like a Vivo or Oppo phone. In my opinion, while the Pixel 3XL’s screen is better than its previous generation, Samsung still rules in terms of display with the brightness and colour gamut of Galaxy S9 Plus or Note 9. If, you don’t like ‘adaptive’ mode, you can choose between ‘natural’ and ‘boosted’ profiles.

Pixel 3 Review

The quick search bar is located at the bottom of your home screen, where it’s closer to your thumb and easier to reach. You can use it to search the web as well as contents on your phone.

Camera

Well, the cameras of Pixel phones are as good as advertised. For the 3XL, Google has retained the single camera system as seen in Pixel 2, but the addition of different modes, including Night Sight, will surely give Pixel 3XL an edge over others. There is a 12.2MP, dual-pixel, 1.4μm rear camera with auto-focus and dual pixel phase detection, optical + electronic image stabilisation, spectral + flicker sensor, ƒ/1.8 aperture and a wide field of view – 76 degrees.

Google Pixel 3 Review

Further, there are two 8MP wide-angle and normal cameras on the front. These cameras have following features: wide-angle: ƒ/2.2 aperture, field of view 97 degrees, fixed focus; normal: ƒ/1.8 aperture, field of view 75 degrees and autofocus with phase detection.

The Pixel 3XL camera comes with HDR+ on by default. The camera can capture up to 8 frames and merge them together for amazing photos irrespective of light conditions. It also has zero shutter lag. The camera mode that really impressed me is the Top Shot, which suggests the best image from an automatically captured burst.  When you take a group photo, it analyses the images just before and just after you press the shutter, looking for the best image, where everyone is smiling with their eyes open and are facing the camera. If there’s one, the camera will give you the option to save it.

Then, there is also Super Res Zoom But – a computational photography technique that produces sharp details even when zooming into the subject.

Portrait mode on Pixel 3XL has also been upgraded and comes with live bokeh adjustment, which works slightly better than Pixel 2. For portraits, Google relies on a single lens to produce artistic blur. The phone uses computational photography combined with depth mapping sensor to create depth-of-field effect.

Sample low-light images 

Google Pixel 3Xl Review

The wide-angle selfie camera is a nice addition. And Group Selfie gives you 184 per cent more room in your selfie shots, allowing you to capture images of a large group of friends or an expansive backdrop.

Google says that the camera will keep getting better over time. Also, coming soon, exclusive to Pixel 3XL, is the Night Sight mode that will let you take bright, detailed and colourful shots around the campfire in a moonlit forest. Google claims that the feature works far better than iPhone XS. 

There is also a photobooth mode that uses AI to recognise when you’re smiling or making a funny expression. It snaps the photo on its own, saving you from the hassle of pressing the shutter button.

Sample day-light shots

Google Pixel 3Xl

Everything else

The 6.3-inch OLED screen is big and expansive, and looks vibrant than the last year's Pixel 2. Bezels are thinner, thanks to 18:9 aspect ratio instead of the dated 16:9 look. The Pixel 3XL is armed with Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 845 processor and Adreno 630 GPU. But, specs are not that important, what matters more is the software.

During the time, I spent with the phone, the performance was smooth. Pixel 3XL is IP68 water and dust resistant and has a security chip custom-designed by Google called Titan M, making it the most secure phone from the brand. The Pixel 3XL comes with 3,430mAh battery and offers up to seven hours of life with just 15 minutes of charge. 

The 3XL comes with a unique feature calls Call Screening. Here is how it works. Let’s say you are in a meeting or out for a dinner and you don’t want to be disturbed. Now, if you get a call, you can tap a screen button and the person on the other will hear an AI voice. What other person says back is transcribed in real time on your screen. You can tap little text responses right on the call screen, and the AI will relay those responses to your caller.

There is also a digital wellbeing dashboard that shows the total time you've spent on your phone, the number of times you've unlocked your phone and the notifications you've received. You can also view trends over time. You can also set daily App Timers for each app to limit the time you want to spend on each app. When the timer is up, you will get a notification, and the app icon will turn grey, and you won't be able to open the app unless you go into settings and change the app timer. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack, but Google has included an USB-C headphone in the box.

Conclusion

For Rs 83,000, you get a phone that can answer for you, a camera that chooses the perfect image for you and a helpful Assistant, even while the phone is charging. The high price is for the expansive screen and machine-learning camera. If you want the clean Android experience and a best camera phone in the market that money can buy, simply go for the Pixel 3XL.

Pros 

Screen quality, excellent camera,

Cons

Expensive

REVIEW
OVERVIEW
8.67/ 10
OVERALL SCORE
  • Design 8
  • Performance 9
  • Camera 9
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