Google Pixel 3 XL

€999

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY - Ciarao’Brien

We are spoiled for choice when it comes to An­droid smart­phones. Google has thrown an­other one into the mix with the Pixel 3 XL, the su­per­sized ver­sion of Google’s smart­phone. It also hap­pens to be the first of the Pixel phones of­fi­cially go­ing on sale in Ire­land.

But the Pixel 3 XL comes with a su­per­sized price tag, fol­low­ing the trend for re­cent elec­tronic de­vices to charge the equiv­a­lent of a hefty chunk of a mort­gage pay­ment for a de­vice that will be re­placed with a newer model in a year.

So is it worth it? Aes­thet­i­cally, the Pixel 3 looks very sim­i­lar from the front to most of the stan­dard smart­phones: flat rec­tan­gle. If you are a fan of big­ger phones, you are in luck: the Google Pixel 3 XL is sim­i­lar in size to the iPhone Xs Max. There’s a glass back with a two-tone ef­fect, and a choice of three colours – black, white and a blush pink. At this point, though, I’ve pretty much for­got­ten what it looks like be­cause, pre­dictably, it has been in a case since I got it. I’m not will­ing to test the strength of that glass back.

Speak­ing of the back, there’s a fin­ger­print reader there, placed where your fin­ger can ac­tu­ally nat­u­rally reach. But the one thing that’s miss­ing? The head­phone jack. The Pixel 3 XL has ditched the 3.5mm jack in favour of forc­ing us all to­wards us­ing blue­tooth head­phones or USB-C con­nec­tions.

Close-run thing

The QHD+ OLED dis­play is 6.3 inches, which makes it a fraction smaller than the iPhone Xs Max. It’s a close-run thing, though, and it’s un­likely you’ll miss that tiny bit of screen. What you will no­tice is the bezel on the bot­tom of the screen. Where the iPhone Xs Max screen goes al­most to the edge of the case, the Pixel XL 3 has a no­tice­able bezel on the bot­tom. It means less dis­play in es­sen­tially a sim­i­larly sized pack­age. That is to ac­com­mo­date one of the phone’s dual speak­ers, which is lo­cated in that bot­tom bezel.

At the top of the screen, you’ll see the notch has crept into Google’s de­sign. Like Ap­ple and Huawei, the Pixel 3 XL unashamedly sports its notch, mak­ing room for its dual front-fac­ing cam­era.

Speak­ing of the cam­era, the Pixel 3 XL’s is ex­cel­lent. While it can’t ri­val Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro in terms of low-light shots, the 12-megapixel rear cam­era stands up well in most shoot­ing con­di­tions. There are pre­set modes eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble – panorama and por­trait mode are on the main cam­era screen, along with the video op­tion – with ex­tras such as slow mo­tion video, a 360 pho­to­sphere fea­ture and an AR mode that al­lows you to drop ev­ery­thing from Iron Man and Star Wars char­ac­ters to pup­pies and walk­ing food into your frame so you can take photos. A pho­to­booth mode will take photos as soon as the cam­era de­tects a smile – or a gri­mace, as long as you are bar­ing your teeth.

The two front-fac­ing cam­eras – both 8 megapix­els in res­o­lu­tion – have you cov­ered for self­ies. The wide-an­gle lens comes with f2.2 aper­ture, and the tele­photo lens has an aper­ture of f1.8 – more light, bet­ter pho­to­graphs, bet­ter self­ies.

On the video side of things, you can crank it up to 4K at 30 frames per se­cond on the rear cam­era, but the 1080p footage is great qual­ity and the video sta­bil­i­sa­tion helps keep things steady. The front-fac­ing cam­era goes up to 1080p too.

There are some in­ter­est­ing fea­tures on the phone. There’s a new dig­i­tal well­be­ing beta fea­ture to help you man­age your screen time and the general im­pact your phone has on your life. Take Wind Down, for ex­am­ple. If you en­able it, it serves as a re­minder that it’s time to put down the de­vice and get ready for bed. Not only do you get the am­ber-tinted screen to coun­ter­act blue light, but the colour drains from the screen to give you the hint that it’s time for bed. Do Not Dis­turb is switched on to cut out any un­nec­es­sary no­ti­fi­ca­tions.

You can turn your phone to do not dis­turb by flip­ping it over and plac­ing it face down. It’s a small thing, but it’s a re­minder that phones don’t need to be a fea­ture of ev­ery wak­ing mo­ment. . .

The­good

The cam­era is ex­cel­lent, bat­tery life is de­cent, and if the notch doesn’t bother you, the screen is great.

The not-so-good

No ex­pand­able stor­age means you’ll have to make do with your choice of 64GB or 128GB. If you take a lot of 4K video or high-qual­ity photos and want to keep them on your phone, you will eat into it quickly enough.

The rest

On the in­side, the Pixel XL 3 has a Snap­dragon 845 chip, with 4GB of RAM. It also has wire­less charg­ing and squeeze ges­tures – you can sim­ply squeeze the phone to ac­ti­vate the as­sis­tant or si­lence alarms on your phone. Per­fect for early morn­ings, then.

The ver­dict ★★★★

The Google Pixel 3XL ticks the right boxes – if you don’t mind screen notches.

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