Google Pixel 3

T3 - - Horizon -

From £739, store.google.com

The Google Pixel 2 wowed us with its cam­era prow­ess last year (it’s ar­guably still the best on the mar­ket a year later), so we rel­ished the chance to get our hands on the Pixel 3 ahead of its launch. We wanted to see whether the rest of the phone matched it, and if Google had worked even more magic with the cam­era.

The Pixel 3 re­tains the two-tone, matte, softly curved de­sign that was ev­i­dent on last year’s range. With its alu­minium frame, it feels smooth and premium in the hand. The 5.5-inch model that we tried es­chews fash­ion by not in­clud­ing a notch in the screen, but the big­ger 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL does have a chunky sec­tion cut out of the dis­play. Both are OLED dis­plays, as you’d ex­pect for a flag­ship phone like this.

In the hand, the Pixel 3’s screen is crisp and bright, and comes with a larger screen-to-body ra­tio than the Pixel 2. De­spite only be­ing a tad big­ger than last year’s model, it feels far more spa­cious to the eye.

Hard­ware-wise, things are mod­estly flag­ship, with a Qual­comm Snap­dragon 845 CPU paired with 4GB of RAM. Stor­age space is 64GB or 128GB, while the Pixel 3’s bat­tery is 2,915mAh, which maybe seems a tad low, but it de­pends on how Google uses it.

The Pixel 3’s cam­era sys­tem con­sists of a 12.2MP dual-pixel ar­ray with aut­o­fo­cus and phase de­tec­tion. You also get op­ti­cal and elec­tronic im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion.

The rear cam­era fea­tures shut­ter-lag-free HDR+, which leads to in­cred­i­bly bright, well-lit pho­tos. Shoot­ing in low light is, there­fore, an even more pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence, and we were im­pressed with its shoot­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties from the get-go. This will be the sys­tem to beat.

The Top Shot feature is par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy. Thanks to the cam­era’s built-in AI, the Pixel 3 can recog­nise poor pho­tos and sug­gest al­ter­nate takes of each shot. This helps to heav­ily min­imise the num­ber of duff pho­tos taken. Tim­ing is every­thing with pho­tog­ra­phy, and Top Shot makes it eas­ier to get that right.

Loud and clear

In terms of au­dio, while the head­phone jack re­mains ab­sent, the Pixel 3’s speak­ers are 40 per cent louder than last year’s range.

The Pixel 3 comes run­ning An­droid 9.0 Pie out of the box, and is fully in­te­grated with Google As­sis­tant.

Af­ter try­ing the Pixel 3, we couldn’t help but come away with the feel­ing that this might be the ideal phone for users who don’t buy into the ‘big­ger screen is bet­ter’ move­ment that’s cur­rently dom­i­nant in the in­dus­try.

We’ve got no prob­lem with big smart­phones, but there’s no doubt that the Pixel 3’s screen seems per­fectly in sync with its over­all de­sign lan­guage and hard­ware, of­fer­ing an Ap­ple-like un­der­stand­ing that the whole ex­pe­ri­ence trumps spec peaks – es­pe­cially when the ex­pe­ri­ence is this premium.

Stand and de­liverGoogle has added Qi wire­less charg­ing ca­pa­bil­ity for the first time. It’s launched the Pixel Stand, which wire­lessly juices your phone, but also changes the in­ter­face so that it be­comes a Google As­sis­tant voice home hub when it’s docked more is moreThe screen is now 5.5 inches, up from five inches last year. It doesn’t feel dif­fer­ent in the hand, but that lit­tle smidge of ex­tra space does bal­ance well be­tween the nice vis­i­bil­ity of big­ger phones and the one­handed us­abil­ity of smaller ones

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