The third generation of Google-branded smartphones, the Google Pixel 3 and the Google Pixel 3 XL, will go on sale starting Oct. 18, adding more artificial intelligence features, optional wireless chargers and improved device security for potential buyers.
The new Pixel 3 XL gets a 6.3-inch QHD+ organic light emitting diode (OLED) touch-screen display (523ppi with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio), which is an increase from the 6-inch QHD pOLED display found in the previous Pixel 2 XL from 2017. The Pixel 3 gets a 5.5-inch FHD+ flexible OLED display (443ppi with an 18:9 aspect ratio), which is an increase from the 5-inch screen found in the previous Pixel 2 model.
Both Pixel 3 models use Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back for scratch resistance.
The Pixel 3 starts at $799, while the Pixel 3 XL starts at $899. The smartphones are available for pre-order through Verizon, Google's Project Fi cellular services or unlocked through the Google Store. The prices are higher than those for the previous Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones, which started previously at $649 and $849. The starting price of the older Pixel 2 XL has now been dropped to $699 with the arrival of the latest phones.
Octa-Core Processors, Up to 128 GB Storage
Both new Pixel 3 models include Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core 64-bit processors and Adreno 630 graphics chips, as well as 4GB of LPDDR4x memory. They can be purchased with 64GB or 128GB of built-in storage. The previous generation of Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL handsets included older Qualcomm Snapdragon 835octa-core processors and Adreno 540 graphics chips.
The Pixel 3 handsets also both include 12.2-megapixel rear main cameras with autofocus, dual pixel phase detection and optical and electronic image stabilization, as well as front-facing 8-megapixel cameras with wide-angle and normal field of view capabilities.
The Pixel 3 is powered by a 2,915mAh battery, while the Pixel 3 XL uses a 3,430mAh battery. Both handsets include Wi-Fi 2.4GHz + 5.0GHz 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, Near-field communications and Google Cast connectivity. They are world phones and can be used on a variety of cellular networks.
Also included in both models are a rear-mounted Pixel Imprint fingerprint sensor for user security, a USB Type-C 3.1 port, a single nano SIM slot and a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter.
The phones feature an aluminum frame with a special hybrid coating and meet military IP68 standards for dust and water protection. The handsets are also built for VR to work with the Google Daydream View headset.
Titan Security Has Disk Encryption
The Pixel 3 is 5.7 inches long, 2.7 inches wide, 0.3 inches thick and weighs 5.22 ounces. The Pixel 3 XL is 6.2 inches long, 3 inches wide, 0.3 inches thick and weighs 6.49 ounces. Both devices come in Clearly White, Just Black or Not Pink colors.
Also included is Google's new Titan Security, which protects a user's most sensitive on-device data by securing the device's lock screen and strengthening disk encryption.
Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told eWEEK that the latest Pixel devices show that Google is following a design path similar to Apple, Samsung and others with its all-glass appointments, wireless charging and lack of a built-in headphone jack.
"But at the same time, Google appears to be pressing ahead of its competitors in regard to software-based features and AI-enhanced functions," said King. "That's readily apparent in the Pixel 3's camera which remains a single lens device, in contrast to the latest Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy dual-lens cameras but delivers significant image and capture capabilities."
King said he also appreciated several other new Pixel 3 features, including call screening, text recognition and smart snapping for photos that provide new capabilities for users.
How Will It Play Commercially?
"How this will play commercially is hard to say," he added. "Pixel phones have never achieved wide popularity, but Google is showing how playing to its strengths can deliver real new value to its handset customers. That's a bold statement in a smartphone market that's increasingly defined by premium-priced phones that provide often modestly incremental improvements."
Another analyst, Avi Greengart of GlobalData, said that Google's new hardware is all about software-driven user experiences, rather than by adding new hardware features. "It prefers computational photography wizardry over adding more lenses, even though Google put a separate, wide-angle lens on the front of the phone for more expansive selfies," Greengart said.
At the same time, the physical design of the new phones is significantly improved, added Greengart.
Some of the most compelling features of the Pixel 3 models, such as a robocall answering mode, will likely be added as well to earlier Pixel models, he said, spreading it to more users.
But the company doesn't appear to be working to dramatically expand sales of its latest devices, according to Greengart. "Google is still limiting the Pixel 3's market impact with high pricing and by making the Pixel 3 a Verizon retail exclusive in the U.S.," Greengart said.
Google's Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones of the last two years haven't exactly set the world on fire in terms of sales and market share, but the company apparently isn't done with the idea of its handsets making a bigger impact against the likes of market leaders Samsung and Apple.