Google Pixel 3 XL Review: The Title For Best Phone Camera Has A New King

The Google Pixel 3 XL has arrived as the New King of Camera phones, we test it out to see if it truly deserves the top spot.
/ 01:20 AM January 02, 2019

The Pixel 2 XL was the mega large-screen camera phone, and we’re making the Pixel 3 XL the new ruler. In addition, it’s the greatest pure Android phone I’ve ever reviewed.

I have tried out the 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL, and this top device is a tough opponent against the Galaxy Note 9 and the iPhone XS, courtesy of its magnificent camera quality, incredible AI smarts and efficient performance. But the design isn’t awe-inducing and the display- though enhanced- could be brighter.

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Pixel 3 XL Cheat Sheet

The 6.3-inch OLED display is stunning but the display could be brighter and notch is quite deep.

The AI camera features such as Top Shot, SuperResZoom and Night Sight make snapping the perfect photo less stressful. Night Sight specifically is awesome, because it takes incredible pictures in the dark.

The dual front cameras come with a wide-angle lens so your selfies can have way more scene fitted into them.

The Google Pixel 3 is smart enough for call screening and it does so superbly well.

The Pixel Stand accessory provides wireless charging while transforming your phone into a mini Google Home.

Pricing and Availability

The Pixel 3 XL is currently in stock, and it starts at $899/£869/AU$1,349. That price is about $100/£100/AU$139 less than the Galaxy Note 9 and $200/£200/AU$280 less than the iPhone XS. Ensure that you look up our Pixel 3 deals page for discounts and promos.

Design

The Google Pixel 3 XL doesn’t look radically different than before, but you do get a bigger 6.3-inch display with QHD+ resolution (up from 6 inches on the Pixel 2 XL). The screen looks colorful and immersive, though I’m not a big fan of the swooping notch. It’s narrower but deeper than the one on the iPhone XS Max.

The Pixel 3 XL doesn’t have a drastic difference in appearance than before but you do get a larger 6.3-inch display with QHD+ resolution (higher than the Pixel 2L 6 inches).  The screen appears immersive and colorful though I’m not too keen on the swooping notch. It’s slimmer but deeper than that of the iPhone XS Max

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GOOGLE PIXEL 3 XL: PROS & CONS

THE GOOD

  • Best-in-class camera
  • Awesome Screen Call feature
  • Fast everyday performance
  • Android Pie makes life stress free
  • Enhanced OLED screen

THE BAD

  • Dimmer display than other flagships
  • Battery life could be improved

VERDICT

The Google Pixel 3 XL delivers the best camera on a phone. The Pixel 3 XL offers the finest phone camera, an immersive 6.3-inch OLED screen and the niftiest AI features available.

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Google delivers a glass back with matte finish, which is quiet an amazing feat. It does not just offer a firm hold, but it’s also fingerprint resistant. For this Pixel 3 Review, I tried out the Just Black Model, but the Clearly White and Not Pink (which looks more like blush) are also available to order. A number of people have had issues with the back scratching easily but I haven’t had that problem so far.

There is a fingerprint reader on the back of the Pixel 3 XL which means no facial recognition or in-screen fingerprint sensor feature and that is quite disappointing

Display: Colorful but brightness could be improved.

The Google Pixel 3 XL is among the finer looking OLED displays appearing on a phone this year and it seems as if Google has taken the critiques of the Pixel 2 XL seriously. This panel is accurate and color filled.

While watching an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, the 1971 Ferrari in Fly Yellow looked  so luscious, with such crisp picture quality- right to the fly on the hood—it felt like I was in the car with Jerry Seinfeld.

The Pixel 3 XL’s screen registered a considerable 170.2 percent of the sRGB color gamut during our lab tests. That’s in between the iPhone XS Max (123 percent) and Galaxy Note 9 (224 percent). The Pixel 3 XL’s panel also came up with a Delta-E score of 0.35 (0 is perfect), which translates that you should expect on point hues.

The brightness could do with improvement, as this panel gives off only 362 nits. The iPhone XS scored a whopping 606 nits and the Galaxy Note 9 604 nits during our testing.

AI Cameras Steal the Show

According to our test results, the Pixel 3 XL is now the finest camera phone you can purchase and in addition, it is also the smartest.

It’s clear to see Google is wielding AI in manners that Samsung and Apple are not . A new Top Shot feature on the 12-MP rear camera snaps a number of pictures automatically in sequence and tries to select the best one. This functioned impressively when I photographed my colleague. All I had to do was swipe up and I could see the pictures Google had selected.

Super Res Zoom is also very remarkable. I snapped a shot of a text on a wall across the room and it was easy to make out the words even as the Pixel 3 XL does not technically possess an optical zoom. The camera is smart enough to fill in the details and reframe the picture.

To test performance during low light, we tried out the Google Pixel 3 XL’s Night Sight mode. The phone shoots frames in succession  to replicate a lengthy period of exposure, then with the help of AI, stitches the frames together to fill color in spaces it’s been lost. The outcomes are simply stunning

Night Sight is also phenomenal with the front cameras. Normal camera mode picked out several details in the selfie below but the quality of the overall image is dark. Switch on Night Sight and the outcome is a bright and clear picture.

Taking a picture in the middle of the downtown district, the Google Pixel 3 XL’s HDR+ camera does a fantastic job of showing the people in the foreground while still serving up the sky and all its details. You can also see the reflections in the glass building to the left.

When we put the Pixel 3 XL up against the iPhone XS Max and Galaxy Note 9, Google’s camera had the total best performance, but it fell short in some tests.

In a picture taken at a park, we saw more detail in the tree trunks and noticed better total contrast in the one by the Pixel 3 XL. The iPhone XS Max’s photo looks lovely but everything including the leaves stands out better in the Pixel 3 XL shot.

The Pixel 3 XL’s shot was too warm when it was pointed at a building while the iPhone XS Max delivered a better shot with the foreground light. So maybe, the HDR was functioning better in this situation. The iPhone picture was more composed.

We took a picture of a couple people sitting on a park bench … with their permission … and the Pixel 3 XL took back its leading place. The details are sharper and the shadows appear excellent here. Using the iPhone XS Max, the couple’s faces had a yellow cast. The Galaxy Note 9 produced a sharp shot but with a little green-blue tint that’s disturbing

Finally, we took a picture of flowers using the Pixel 3 XL’s portrait mode. The Google Pixel 3 XL’s photograph delivers a more correct purplish-pink while the iPhone XS Max’s shot gave a much warmer cast. I actually lean towards the Apple’s shot in this test, but the Pixel delivers a more accurate image.

Various Pixel 3 users have come across a bug that stops the saving of photos but Google promises to fix the issue in an upcoming update.

Wide-Angle Selfies

It has been done by other makers but I like the Pixel 3 XL’s double front cameras. Google says 184% more of the scenery is captured by the wide-angle lens than the iPhone XS, and the outcomes are remarkable.

The normal lens captured basically just my colleague and I, but changing to the wide-angle lens took in way more of the background. It would have been easy to push in a few more persons.

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Call Screen

As spammers get better and more sophisticated, it can be all too easy to fall for a telemarketer when answering your phone. Google is fighting back with a new call screening feature.

It can be way too easy to fall for a telemarketer when answering your phone as spammers get more advanced and enhanced. To fight this, Google has a new feature for screening calls.

Google Assistant will move in real time and transcribe the call, so you choose whether or not to answer. I tried out this feature by calling the Pixel 3 from my iPhone XS. At a tap of the button at top of the display, I chose Screen Call and Google Assistant, stepped in, introduced herself and proceeded to record everything I said.

This one of the top notch executions of AI that we’ve witnessed and I could predict other makers attempting to adapt this feature. Google says that before the year runs out, Google Pixels will have transcription support for screening calls.

Performance and Benchmarks

With a Snapdragon 845 processor and 4GB of RAM, the Google Pixel 3 XL gives sleek efficient performance in day to day use and precise jobs as well. However, its benchmark scores lag behind some other Android phones

Transcoding a 4K video clip to 1080p in the Adobe Premiere Clip app took the Pixel 3 XL 2 minutes and 42 seconds. The Galaxy S9+ was slightly faster at 2:32, while the A12 Bionic-powered iPhone XS took just 39 seconds.

On Geekbench 4, which gauges total performance, the Pixel 3 XL got a shockingly low 7,684. The Galaxy Note 9 scored 8,876 and the OnePlus 6 9,088. The iPhone XS Max hit 11,515.

We also did a 3DMark Slingshot Extreme test as part of our Google Pixel review, to assess graphics performance. The Pixel 3 XL scored 4,396, which is similar to the iPhone XS Max (4,339) but not as high as the Note 9 (4,639).

Nevertheless, there have been complaints of the Pixel 3 XL (and the smaller model as well) stopping background process without warning from time to time. At the start, most thought that this was the outcome of the phones’ 4GB of RAM as against the 6GB and even 8GB in other flagships, but it seems that the issue may be stemming from a bug in the Pixels’ memory management code.

To fix that, Google stated that a software update will be rolled out “in the coming weeks”, which will hopefully resolve the problem. To add our take, our in-house units have intermittently closed background apps such as Spotify in the middle of music streaming- though that has only occurred two or three times after almost a month using the devices.

Battery Life

The Google Pixel 3 XL carries a 3,430 mAh battery, which is a bit smaller than the 3,520 mAh battery in last year’s Pixel 2 XL. On the Tom’s Guide Battery Test, which encompasses non-stop web browsing over T-Mobile’s LTE network at 150 nits of screen brightness, the Pixel 3 XL ran for a lackluster 9 hours and 30 minutes. It’s not a really bad score, but it falls short of the 9:48 smartphone average.

Oddly, this time is way less than the 12:09 the Pixel 2 XL scored last year on the same LTE network, and the slight difference in battery size doesn’t seem to explain the delta in endurance. More tests would be run to verify our outcomes and we would be attaching anecdotal battery life data after a couple more days of usage.

It must be noted that that the Google Pixel 3 lasted a comparably short 8 hours and 27 minutes, which was well under the Pixel 2’s runtime of 11 hours and 7 minutes. The iPhone XS Max (3,174 mAh) scored 10:38 on our battery test, and the Galaxy Note 9 with its 4,000 mAh battery ran for a significantly lengthier 11:16.

Software and Interface

If you haven’t experienced the Android 9 Pie yet- and a lot of us haven’t – prepare for a new world of phone interaction. The Pixel 3 comes with the new Google OS, and you make use of the Home button to go back home and swipe up to display recent apps. It’s quite instinctive, and when you tap the software-centered Home button, there’s haptic feedback.

For instance, you can start booking a Lyft right from the search results menu on the phone.

There is still the feature of swiping down from the top of the screen to get to settings. I like the Google search box put from and center by the Recent Apps menu. Other appreciated Android Pie features are App Slices, which let you do things without having to open the app itself. For example, from the search results menu on the phone, you can proceed booking a Lyft.

If you worry about being addicted to your phone, Digital Well-being features are offered including the feature of setting timers to gauge app usage. Look up all the Android Pie features.

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Pixel Stand

The Google Pixel 3 supports swift charging through an 18-watt charger out of the box but there is also the choice of going the wireless way with the optional Pixel Stand ($79).

This accessory lets you manage smart home devices, browse your photos and play music through the Pixel 3 XL’s dual front-firing speakers. It’s like having a mini Google Home dock.

Bottom Line

Among large-screen phones, the Pixel 3 XL is a formidable contender when it comes to AI and Camera delivery. The iPhone XS has a more pleasing appearance and higher pure performance because of its A12 Bionic chip. And in terms of productivity, the note 9 with its S Pen defeats the Google Pixel 3 XL. The new Huawei Mate 20 Pro with its triple rear cameras also shows very considerable potential.

But, for people serious about photography, the Google Pixel 3 XL is a brilliant investment.

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TAGS: affiliateus, camera phone, Google, Pixel 3 XL
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