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Google Pixel Three XL evaluation

The Google Pixel is the panacea of Android telephones, designed to turn what you’ll be able to do with natural Android instrument, tuned to the Google-designed {hardware}. Its pièce de résistance is the digicam, the place Google’s goal is to show off what synthetic intelligence (AI) can in point of fact do. It is honest to mention, it is an method that is turning heads.

For Android enthusiasts, the XL is a telephone you can continuously imagine for its deserves, whilst surveying the extremely competitive choices from the broader ecosystem. In comparison to Apple, Google has created a rod for its personal again: it encourages and helps the advance of more and more refined applied sciences, towards which it then has to compete with its personal {hardware}.

So, can Google be most sensible canine within the Android pack?


Top rate design embraces the notch

Aluminium body with hybrid glass rear
IP68 water/mud resistance
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
158 x 76.7 x 7.9mm; 184g
Show notch

Having a look to conform the Pixel Three XL over the Pixel 2 XL, all the rear of the handset is now glass – permitting wi-fi charging – however sticking to the two-tone really feel of the telephones from the former era. Yep, the “dipped in chocolate” design is again, one thing that Google moved clear of for the Pixel four XL in 2019.

It’s Corning Gorilla Glass Five at the entrance and the again to steer clear of scratches. That rear coating is described as “cushy contact” and also you in point of fact would not assume you are preserving glass – simply as we stated in our evaluation of the smaller Pixel 3, it looks like preserving a clean pebble. That is one thing that flows into the entire telephone design, as Google has smoothed away edges and ridges for a end that makes this one of the most nicest telephones we have observed, or relatively, held.

Some may carry an eyebrow on the end, however after months of use, the Pixel Three XL hasn’t scratched to any extent further than we would be expecting – that end at the rear will harm if you are sporting this telephone with a pocket filled with keys and cash, however so will any telephone. The XL carries an IP67 water-proof ranking, too, making sure it is satisfied within the rain, snow and all over the place else.

Because of the adoption of a notch design – that black-out dip to the highest of the telephone the place the front-facing cameras and sensors are homes – there is extra show and not more bezel. On the other hand, different producers have completed extra to scale back bezel and fill extra of the entrance of the telephone with show. Some have known as out the notch as ridiculous lazy design; for us the dimensions does not topic such a lot, however as we moved thru 2019, it was strangely dated, strangely temporarily.


The notch is that measurement so that there is symmetry in most sensible and backside bezel when preserving the telephone in panorama – then the (crammed) notch space is similar width as the ground bezel. What does not stack up relating to symmetry is how content material is then treated: watch a Netflix video and the notch finish is flat, whilst the ground bezel finish adopts the curves, so it is a bit of a multitude. 

Sure, that backside bezel might be slimmer – as it sort of feels to be that measurement to deal with the speaker – and Samsung proved with the Galaxy S10+ that you’ll be able to have nice sound with out it taking on nice house. However the ones audio system do ship, including complete sound in your viewing enjoy and there is much less probability of protecting them, which is an actual downside on telephones with audio system at the backside body.

Let’s speak about that show

6.3-inch, 18.5:nine OLED show
2960 x 1440 pixels (523ppi)
HDR (prime dynamic vary)

The Google Pixel Three XL provides up a 6.3-inch show, making it the obviously better telephone of the Pixel Three pair. Within the XL it is in truth a Samsung show and in contrast to the Pixel 2 XL it sort of feels to be color tuned extra in keeping with expectancies.


It pulls off Samsung’s trick of creating issues glance nice, particularly pictures which glance wealthy and colourful. Punchy colors and nice viewing angles are par for the path; there is a evening mild strategy to reduce out blue mild within the evenings, however you’ll be able to’t assist however revel in how the show can drop to deep blacks.

Pick out a dismal wallpaper and the notch simply vanishes into it, one thing that inexpensive gadgets fail to succeed in (no doubt LCD ones). The XL’s always-on show joins the birthday party, too, which is exact, with nice distinction and may be very… Samsung-y.

Google is rivalling the highest telephones available in the market relating to answer, sticking to a pointy 2960 x 1440 pixel show. That is this kind of answer to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S10+ and sharper than Apple’s XS Max introduced round the similar time. Not like a large number of rival gadgets there is not any strategy to transfer it down in answer to save lots of battery existence – it is Quad HD all of the method.


Perfect of all, it really works in point of fact smartly with Android 10’s darkish choice. And because the Pixel Three is on Netflix’s checklist of HDR gadgets, you can to find HDR content material to view too.

Pixel digicam returns 

12.2-megapixel, 1.4µm, f/1.Eight rear digicam
8-megapixel twin entrance cameras
Night time Sight is leagues forward of pageant

The Pixel digicam has a name and it is a popularity that has been received with out splurging on twin or triple digicam lenses. It is only a unmarried digicam that works onerous, boosted by means of some very artful AI and persistently supplying you with nice pictures with out the wish to do an excessive amount of. That a lot stays true within the Pixel Three XL, which places in a stellar digicam efficiency with little or no fuss.

The Pixel digicam takes excellent photographs in all prerequisites, however it does so with consistency. The digicam additionally turns out to have handled one of the most issues it had with somewhat chilly HDR processing at the Pixel 2, however the white stability problems in lower-light prerequisites beneath synthetic lights nonetheless appear to be there every now and then – so in case your photograph appears yellow, attempting metering in different places.


Portrait mode – which blurs the background in the back of the topic the use of instrument – is to be had on any of the cameras. It really works lovely smartly, too, however like these types of issues, if it cannot inform what is within the foreground and what is within the background there will probably be some bleed between the 2. It is nonetheless now not like the use of a DSLR, it doesn’t matter what the selling subject material tells you. The merit that Google provides here’s it is the use of its best possible digicam for the whole lot (as a result of there is just one), while some competitors turn to the zoom digicam for portrait mode, and the pictures worsen.

What the Pixel does not be offering is additional cameras at the rear – so there is not any optical zoom, there is not any ultra-wide lens or any of that. You continue to have pinch zooming (and it is nonetheless usable), so if the rest, that is almost definitely the most important characteristic that Google does not be offering. Particularly Apple, Samsung and Huawei all do – and the ones tele lenses are helpful for keeping up high quality for farther away topics.


As for the XL’s entrance digicam gadget, there is a {hardware} exchange with the inclusion of a 2nd digicam with a wide-angle lens. This offers you a 107-degree view, so you’ll be able to have compatibility in much more other folks in selfie photographs. It is designed for a laugh team photographs and the trade-off is high quality. The broader selfie cam struggles a bit of extra with symbol noise and element, almost definitely as it has a smaller aperture so can seize much less mild. You’ll be able to observe portrait mode at the vast digicam – however then it struggles to create its AI bokeh blurring with any actual accuracy. The most productive method is to head easy along with your groufies (sure, we used that phrase).

Persist with the principle selfie digicam and issues are significantly better. You’ll be able to get some brutally detailed selfies from it and the portrait mode is superb at selecting you out from the background.

There is a good looks mode too, if you need it, including shopper enchantment – however to our eyes, at the time-weathered face of a 40-year-old, it does extra hurt than excellent. We might consider at the clean pores and skin of a 20-year-old it could cover a few of the ones indicators of deterioration that may inevitably strip you of your younger vigour. Father Time is coming for you, good looks mode or now not.


Following release, Google added Night time Sight to the Pixel telephones – now not simply the three, however the unique and Pixel 2 as smartly. This low mild mode once more hammers house how a lot AI issues, as it is rolling out a characteristic for each back and front cameras, and now not simply the ones with the most recent {hardware}.

Night time Sight makes use of AI to locate movement after which make a decision what form of publicity you want to your shot. It may well be an extended publicity or a variety of quick exposures mixed (if there is motion) and it is going to come up with low mild pictures which can be leagues forward of maximum competition. Huawei has a equivalent gadget and each simply higher the likes of Apple or Samsung.

Night time Sight is a smart characteristic: it mechanically detects low mild and suggests that you simply use it – and will come up with a pointy evening shot that is slightly unfastened from noise. It is a nice credit score to the telephone and no doubt a large number of a laugh.


The very best smartphone digicam then? We might no doubt say that during sensible phrases, the Google Pixel Three XL delivers so much or even as a 2018 instrument, it is going to delivers in comparison to a couple more recent competitors. Some will need the fuss of extra lenses and extra choices, however for lots of, unswerving high quality and not more fiddling makes this a juicy proposition. Level, shoot, percentage, smile at simply how excellent it’s.

It is 2018’s {hardware} 

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 4GB RAM
64GB or 128GB garage
3430mAh battery, rapid Qi wi-fi charging

At the {hardware} entrance the Pixel Three XL will get itself flagship internals within the type of the Snapdragon 845 with 4GB RAM and the choice of 64GB or 128GB of garage. There is not any microSD choice. The overdue release window within the 12 months sees the Pixel sitting at the identical {hardware} as telephones which can be 6 months older and now being changed, with the primary run of Snapdragon 855 gadgets beginning to seem.

Is that an issue? If truth be told no, however you are positive to listen to it as a drawback within the numbers sport. Taking into consideration this telephone in 2020 way you are a few generations in the back of, however it nonetheless has quite a few energy.


What is in point of fact spectacular in regards to the Pixel Three XL is how clean and rapid it feels in use. It feels sooner than different Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 handsets we have used – and a large number of that comes all the way down to instrument (which we will speak about in additional element later). It is rapid to begin, fast to open apps, despite the fact that it does lately have the dangerous addiction of remaining apps you may want within the background. 

This was once highlighted as a reminiscence trojan horse and one thing that instrument has attempted to switch, to make the enjoy extra palatable. In its early guises, you would to find (for instance) that in the event you have been enjoying Pokemon Cross and also you stopped to take a photograph, you would go back to the sport and to find it needed to reboot once more. That is been corrected thru instrument updates, however some persons are nonetheless reporting efficiency problems that come all the way down to control of the {hardware}. For us, the Pixel Three XL is clean, tough and unfastened from such frustrations.


There is a 3,430mAh battery sitting within the Pixel Three XL, which is center of the pack nowadays. Once more, firms like Huawei are stuffing massive batteries into telephones that closing so much longer, thus there is not any competing with a few of the ones fashions. Certainly, the Pixel Three XL will just about get you thru an afternoon of use, however it is not the most efficient performer available in the market in those stakes and tool customers may well be higher taking a look in different places.

The wi-fi charging may unravel that – with the Pixel Stand (bought one after the other) being a compelling choice – however there is rapid stressed charging too, which can see you in a position to head once more with a complete battery in about an hour.

One of the crucial great issues that the Pixel Stand provides is that it will probably flip your telephone in to a mini Nest Hub, providing get entry to to Google Assistant and converting the show to fit the prerequisites in the course of the night time. It makes for a perfect bedside stand, however it’s dear for a wi-fi charger at $79 or £69. Nonetheless, that is lately distinctive to the Pixel and Pixel Stand, so you will have to pay for the cost for this type of pleasure.

Android 10 instrument talents

Visible refinement
Newest Android and primary to replace
Has some bizarre UI components

The Pixel Three XL introduced at the Android nine Pie and up to date to Android 10 as one of the most first gadgets to get the most recent Google cell instrument. That continues to be one of the most giant elements in getting a Pixel – for the few years you personal that telephone, you can get the updates first and gloriously bloat unfastened.

Google is not on my own in providing this bloatware-free instrument, due to the adoption of Android One by means of firms like Nokia. What Google does be offering is tweaks so as to add shopper enchantment to the telephone, thru such things as the digicam enjoy and the house display atmosphere. Certainly one of our favorite additions is appointments on the most sensible of the house display as a well timed reminder – and far nicer than a notification.

Natural, protected and up-to-date is the chant of the Pixel (and Android One) and that’s the reason no doubt interesting as the ones with older Pixel gadgets will attest. The loss of pre-installed litter is interesting too and it is right here that the Pixel offers you a blank enjoy in comparison to Samsung (which is choices overload) and Huawei (which is bloatware central).


Arguably, the most recent Samsung telephone does extra out of the field, however it is onerous to think about the rest you can in truth pass over when it is not there. And in contrast to Samsung, Google’s sentient AI – Google Assistant – is in truth value the use of. Let’s move additional than that and say that Google Assistant is the neatest of the lot, uniquely positioned to ship throughout extra gadgets and platforms than any person else. It is a a lot smarter and correct than Siri and its place on telephones make it extra superb and dynamic than Amazon’s Alexa.

Whilst AI is the chant of businesses like Huawei and LG (particularly within the digicam), Google’s AI does what it is intended to do: it sits within the background till you name it ahead. Level the digicam at an indication or a trade card and it is going to be offering to e mail or name the quantity (or retrieve that touch) due to AI thru Google Lens. It does this with out settling on a method or tapping a atmosphere, it simply occurs. AI can even energy the Name Display choice (simplest to be had in the United States), which can solution your requires you and permit you to resolve whether or not you in truth wish to talk to the caller.

The largest exchange that got here with Android nine Pie when the Pixel Three XL introduced was once navigation – putting off navigation icons and shifting to a gesture founded gadget. That wasn’t nice, however it is been subtle in Android 10; such is the way in which, getting this telephone is now a greater enjoy than when it first introduced due to instrument enhancements.


Whilst the Pixel 2 XL introduced beneath a cloud of screen-based woe, the Pixel Three XL is a significantly better piece of {hardware}. Folks will moan in regards to the notch, however in the event you’ve used the telephone, it really isn’t a subject matter. With the exception of the notch, the show is likely one of the best possible available in the market: it is glorious to have a look at and sitting in a telephone that feels nice to make use of. It is now out of date by means of the Pixel four XL, however you’ll be able to get the Pixel Three a lot inexpensive than the 2019 style.

A stellar digicam enjoy meets nice efficiency on this telephone, with a perfectly blank and clutter-free Android person interface that is loaded with refinements, although there are a couple of oddities. Google’s digicam additionally helps to keep extra advanced programs at bay and its dependability over months of use stays true. It is nonetheless magnificence main in some ways. 

In some ways the enjoy of the Pixel Three XL is sufficient to stay its competitors at bay; within the flagship house there are a loss of uncluttered Android telephones which can be this straightforward to suggest. Step ahead, then, the Pixel Three XL: the imply, blank Android dream.

First printed October 2018; up to date January 2020.

Possible choices to imagine


Samsung Galaxy S10+


In case you are after the most recent and the best, then the Samsung Galaxy S10+ outclasses the Pixel Three XL in lots of spaces. The design is healthier, with the Infinity-O show higher than Google’s huge notch. It has next-generation energy, a microSD card slot in addition to 3.5mm headphone socket and a a laugh extremely wide-angle digicam to come up with nice pictures. The battery additionally lasts so much longer, whilst the instrument offers you many extra choices and purposes.


Google Pixel four XL


Up to date for 2019, the Pixel four XL eliminates the notch, however rolls in with a radar-based gesture gadget you’ll be able to in large part forget about. You continue to get a perfect digicam enjoy, now boosted with a 2nd telephoto lens, the most recent Android instrument and a ravishing show.

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