Google Pixel 3
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