Hands on Review: Google Pixel 3 XL

Intro

Google Pixel 3 XL will be the latest addition to the Pixel XL line of smartphones following the last year’s Pixel 2 XL. In this new model, the customers will be able to enjoy a number of improvements that make this device better than the one from 2017 and while there will certainly not be an overhaul of the device’s main characteristics and design choices, the changes that Pixel 3 XL brings should make this device an all-around quality smartphone with several interesting and cool features.

Google Pixel 3 XL Tech Specs

The technical specifications of the Google Pixel 3 XL are similar to the regular Pixel 3 smartphone with only several small but still important differences.

  • OS
    This device comes with the latest Google operating system, the Android 9 Pie which feels smoother and should allow for more efficient performance and maybe less battery consumption which should improve the overall battery life.
  • CPU
    The processor under the good of Pixel 3 XL is the new Snapdragon 845. It is the successor of the 835 version that was used in the Pixel 2 model and it is an overall faster processing unit with its eight cores with a frequency of 2.5 GHz each that can be overclocked to 2.8.
  • RAM
    The RAM for Pixel 3 XL is 4GB which is adequate but it’s not anything impressive. In comparison to that, most smartphones of the same class tend to have 6GB of RAM. However, with the latest OS from Google and also considering the fact that both the hardware and the software for Pixel 3 XL are owned by Google, the end result should be a satisfyingly smooth performance. Still, though, you can’t expect this device to be the fastest performer out there.
  • Storage
    There are two versions of the Pixel 3 XL model when it comes to storage. The first one comes with 64GB of free space while the second one has 128GB. Of course, the differences in the free space also translates into a difference in the pricing. The 128GB version price is a hundred dollars higher than the price for the 64GB version.
  • Battery
    The battery for Pixel 3 XL is actually a bit smaller with its 3430 mAh compared to the battery of its predecessor, the Pixel 2 XL, which had 3520 mAh. However, as said above, the improvements brought by the Android 9 Pie are supposed to have an effect on the efficiency and the power consumption of the device which should result in a less power-hungry device that uses battery juice in a more efficient way.
  • Camera
    On the back of the phone, there is a single 12.2 MP camera while at the from there are two cameras – one for regular selfie pictures and one for wider-angle shots. Both front cameras have 8MP. The specs for the cameras on this smartphone might not sound like anything amazing or incredible but with its machine-learning software, the cameras on Pixel 3 XL are one of the highlights on this device and we will focus on them in more detail in one of the following paragraphs.
  • Audio
    Two front stereo speakers that are 40% more powerful than the ones from Pixel 2 XL. No headphone jack.
  • Dimensions/Size
    The dimensions for Google Pixel 3 XL are 158 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm (6.22 x 3.02 x 0.31 in) which is pretty similar to the device from last year. The new thing, however, is the wider display space with its 6.3 inches.

Design

A major highlight of Pixel 3 XL is its improved design when compared to the Pixel 2 XL version. This year’s model has several design changes that significantly improve the overall feel of the device. As we already said, its screen is wider despite its size remaining pretty much the same. This is largely due to the decreased size of the bezel for the front cameras at the top and the speakers at the bottom. However, the bottom bezel is still noticeable so if you want a device that is only screen at the front aside from the space for its front cameras, then you might want to search for something else. However, we believe that a small bezel chin at the bottom is a fair tradeoff for the dual front stereo speakers which are said to be over 40% more powerful than the ones for the last year’s model.

The panel is made out of soft-glass which doesn’t really feel like glass but is actually somewhat rubbery to the touch which offers a solid, comfortable grip on the device. Of course, the glass panel with aluminum only for its frame would likely be more fragile than an all-aluminum panel but one of the reasons for this design choice is the support for wireless charging that the Pixel 3 XL offers.

There are, however, some downsides of the design. Firstly, we were annoyed by the lack of an microSD slot. The internal storage space (64GB or 128GB) is all that you are going to get with this device – no more, no less.

Another thing we didn’t like is the lack of a headphones jack which is certainly something that many users are not going to be overly fond of as well.

More about the camera…

As we already pointed out earlier in this review, one of the main strengths of the Pixel 3 XL is its camera. While 12.2 MP isn’t something revolutionary and while most smartphones of similar class and quality offer dual back cameras, the rear camera of Pixel 3 XL is still quite impressive. The Top Shot feature of the cam makes a burst of shots each time you take a picture allowing you to pick the best one of the bunch. You are also going to be able to change the field depth by adjusting the background blur in portrait photos. In addition, although the rear camera isn’t dual, the software controlling the camera digitally applies the background effect for a more in-depth feel of each photo and the results are quite satisfying. The front cameras are two allowing for both regular selfie shots and wider-angle photos for whenever you need to capture more people in a bigger picture. All in all, though on paper the specs of the cameras might not seem like anything extraordinary, their quality and the versatility are sure to leave the majority of customers satisfied with the results.

Pros Cons
Big display while still remaining comfortable in one hand Lacks a microSD slot
Powerful front speakers There’s no headphones jack
Powerful processor unit RAM’s lower compared to other devices of the same price range
Decent battery size
Great camera enhanced by a machine-learning software

Endnotes

The Google Pixel 3 XL is certainly a improvement to the older Pixel 2 XL model from last year and the improvements are noticeable. However, all of this comes at a price. This year’s 64GB model costs 899$ and the 128GB version is priced at 999$. Similarly to the smaller Pixel 3, the improvements compared to last year’s models mainly revolve around the design, the cameras and the performance and better efficiency of the device. Now, there are certainly downsides and we have pointed them out in this review, yet, despite them, it’s likely that most customers would be pleased with what Pixel 3 XL has to offer them.


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