During its annual developers conference this year, Google announced Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL – two budget phones that kick off the company’s new effort to make cheaper, more affordable phones. The devices basically rework versions of the Pixel 3 and the larger 3XL, which originally debuted in October 2018.
Seven months after its launch, the Pixel 3 was the best Android phone of 2018 and one of the top phones ever. It is truly awesome, and with the Night Site update, it includes the best camera you can currently get in a phone. There is only one rear camera, the Pixel 3 pulled the photo contest at that time, including OnePlus. The 6T, iPhone XS and Galaxy Note 9 required two cameras (or many more) to pull. With Night Knight, it can make even the darkest of scenes without flash so bright that I’m not completely convinced that it’s not witchcraft.
But the second part of Pixel is Google’s software and the entire ecosystem associated with it. Google wants you to use Assistant and wants you to integrate it with other Google services such as Gmail and Calendar. This is useful at times – especially the assistant’s new ability to answer calls on your behalf. (Yes, it is as much boner as you can get, but it helps to deal with the crisis of spam calls in my life.) Constant notifications and tips and hints get annoying, but luckily you can stop these tasks Are.
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So is an excellent camera (which takes better pictures than the iPhone XS), wireless charging, water resistance and Google’s user experience worth $ 799 (£ 739, AU $ 1,199) priced for the 64GB Pixel 3? If you don’t care about expandable storage, then I say yes. At face value, the phone costs as much as the Galaxy S9 and is cheaper than the iPhone XS’s $ 1,000 (£ 999, AU $ 1,629) baseline price. The 128GB iPhone XR price recognition is an attractive option, but its camera doesn’t just measure up to the Pixel 3.
If you want additional storage, things get more complicated. The S9 ends up being a better price because it can hold up to 400GB of extra data, and the 256GB iPhone is actually cheaper than any capacity from the Pixel 3 in terms of price per giggles. At any rate, if all these phones are out of your budget, but you love Pixel 3’s camera, then consider Pixel 3A instead.
But if you are willing to pay, then Pixel 3 is outstanding. It may not look as great as the iPhone XS or Galaxy S9, but it enjoys the added perks of being a Google phone, including unlimited cloud storage and timely software updates. And with its stunning, easy-to-use camera, the Pixel 3 is on top.
Also note that the Pixel 3 is available in a larger 6.3-inch model (compared with the 5.5-inch display of this model). The Pixel 3 XL starts at $ 899 (£ 869, AU $ 1,349) and offers a slightly longer battery life and concealable notch on its display. But the features, including the camera, are otherwise similar.
Originally published on October 15, 2018
Update, 15 November. The final camera adds testing and additional impressions. The overall rating has dropped from 8.7 to 8.8 and the phone has been awarded the choice of CNET editors; May 21, 2019: Adds Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL information.
Pixel’s extraordinary camera saves again
If the Pixel 2 ($ 460 at Walmart) camera was excellent, the Pixel 3 is exceptional. The Pixel 3 takes impressive low-light photos, records stills and captures solid images with only one rear lens compared to phones that use two cameras for the same effect. Its wide dynamic range handles different lighting conditions and is particularly well exposed, producing better-looking images than in real life.
The new camera software also aims to improve photo quality. Google improved the camera’s low-light capabilities with a feature called night vision. It works very well, illuminating even the darkest of scenes and keeping objects in focus. Top Shot, which works on taking “motion” pictures, looks for a smile and open eyes to recommend the best image in a series. To improve its digital zoom, Pixel combines multiple photos together and processes super detailed, zoom-in shots.
In general, the Pixel 3 takes great pictures, capturing detailed and clear images. The color is more intense than you would see on an iPhone iPhone, but there is a level that is not unrealistic or exaggerated. The Pixel also handled white-balance and at times its skin tones were more true to life than the Galaxy S9 and Note 9. It also retained more detail with a darker shade than the Galaxy phone.
There were times when the OnePlus 6T had a wider dynamic range than the Pixel 3 XL in its default mode, making colors more vivid and punchy. But when I switched to the HDR + enhanced mode of the 3XL, it overtook the OnePlus 6T. And while the 6T’s Nightscape retained this, if not slightly higher, detail than the Pixel 3 XL, the Pixel’s Night Site feature is better for exposing dim visuals.
The camera portrait of Pixel 3 is proficient in taking pictures. They take a few seconds to render, but the deterioration between the front and the background looks natural and not overly smooth. When I took a picture of a dog, I noticed a dirty looking stray hair or two, but the effect was minimal. And Pixel gives you the option to focus and focus these portraits after firing the shutter similar to the iPhone XS and other Android phones. The editing process is precise and easy to use. (For a deeper dive, check out CNET’s Pixel 3 vs. iPhone XS camera comparison.)