Earlier this month, Google unveiled its two new phones – the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL – in a highly anticipated media event in New York City. The new phones come in black, white, and pink and boast an upgraded camera and a myriad of artificial intelligence features.
Aesthetics and Hardware
The Pixel 3 has a traditional look, with bezels on the top and bottom. The Pixel 3 XL has an edge-to-edge screen, with the exception of a notch on the top. Both phones feature flexible OLED touch screens and a glass front and back. Consumers have the option of 64 GB or 128 GB of storage. The phones use QI-based wireless charging and have integrated Google Titan Security mobile chips (Titan M) to protect users’ information.
Pixel 3’s speakers are 40 percent louder than Pixel 2’s speakers – and they’ve been relocated to the front of the phone. Google will also be giving Pixel 3 users free YouTube music for six months so they can enjoy the speakers even more!
The Pixel 3’s most notable and impressive features lie in the phone’s use of AI (artificial intelligence).
The Pixel 3 comes with an AI assistant to field unwanted calls. Here’s how it works: A user gets an unfamiliar call. He taps the “screen call” button and the individual on the other end of the call hears a (surprisingly natural) AI voice communicating with him. The user will receive a pop-up telling him what the caller is saying. He can type a response on the call screen and the AI assistant will communicate the response to the caller.
The Flip to Shhh feature allows users to automatically silence their phones by flipping them over. Google Lens enables users to extract phone numbers and e-mail addresses from still images.
The most attractive feature on the Pixel 3, however, is its camera. The Pixel 3 has dual front-facing cameras. While the camera has always been the selling point for Pixel phones, this time around even professional photographers are using Google’s new camera for assignments. In fact, Annie Leibovitz – yes, the Annie Leibovitz – partnered with Google and is reportedly using the Pixel 3 to shoot an unnamed project.
Google also gave the Pixel 3 to Conde Naste, and its photographers used the camera to shoot covers for seven of its magazines, including GQ and W. The result? Well, it’s hard to believe the covers were shot with a camera phone. The Pixel 3’s rear camera is 12.2 MP. Its front camera is 8 MP.
Google also introduced a range of AI features to better enhance photos. Super Res Zoom takes a series of photos and uses an algorithm to combine them to create a single high resolution shot. Top Shot takes a series of photos before and after users press the shutter. It uses an algorithm to pick the best picture from the burst of photos. If users don’t like the photo, they can scroll through the other photos and pick the one they like best.
Night Sight visualizes a photo taken in low lighting and recolors it, creating vibrant photos without even using the flash. Playground allows users to add graphics and effects to the front and rear camera. Group Selfie Cam uses Pixel 3’s dual front-facing cameras to enable wide front-facing shots, letting users capture group selfies without necessitating a tripod.
The Pixel 3 may boast impressive software features, but its hardware is unremarkable. It has 4 GBs of RAM (6 GBs for the XL) and lacks micro-SD expandability. The battery is a mere 2915 mAh (Pixel 3) and 3430 mAh (XL). It almost seems as if Google is relying on software, rather than hardware, to gain a competitive edge on Apple and Samsung.
Google – which currently only enjoys 2.8 percent of the U.S. phone market – clearly wants to position itself as the “smartest” smartphone. It remains to be seen, though, if being “the smartest” is enough to make a dent in a market dominated by Apple and Samsung.