Although Google had the benefit of watching Apple and all the other smartphone companies before releasing its original Pixel in October 2016, its new Pixel 3 feels every bit as mature as the latest iPhone XS.
The Pixel 3 doesn’t look all that different from the Pixel 2 (though it no longer has an annoying blue tint on the screen when viewed at off-angles like its predecessor).
The changes are inside, starting with a glass back that enables wireless charging. The back of the phone still has a two-tone look, but this time it’s because the glass is etched for a matte finish on the lower portion.
The Pixel also has a new adaptive battery system that extends battery life by limiting battery power for apps you don’t use that often. The battery has enough power for one day but not for two.
One downside over other brands: The Pixel 3 only has one main camera, while most others have two. That said, Google has done a good job with the Pixel’s single camera.
Google chose to concentrate on the processing that happens during and after the picture is taken to improve the finished images. The pictures go through HDR+ processing to help them look great.
The lack of a second camera is helped by a new digital zoom method called Super Res Zoom. There’s also a technology called Top Shot that uses bursts to suggest the best frame, selfie features and Night Site, which does a nice job of making good images in dark conditions.
Overall, the improved cameras are really the best upgrade in the Pixel 3.
The Pixel 3 is available directly from Google (unlocked for any carrier) or through Verizon. Prices are $799 for 64 GB and $899 for 128 GB. The 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL is $100 more for each configuration.
The Pixel 3 isn’t the flashiest Android phone, or the biggest or fastest, but it is the purest Android experience and comes with outstanding hardware. Google makes the operating system, and while the company licenses it to the other Android phone makers, this is the phone it designed and built itself.
The bottom line: It has solid hardware, a great display, no preloaded software and fantastic camera. While the Pixel could improve with more RAM and storage options, it should be your first choice for an Android phone.
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