“The Google Pixel 3 XL is the first from Pixel family to come with the infamous display notch”
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Google’s ability to keep major launches under wraps is questionable. Everything from the spec sheet of Google Pixel 3 duo to official renders and even footage of the actual handsets have been leaked in the last couple of months, leaving very little to the imagination. Recent leaks have also revealed the whole line-up of the Google products that were supposed to be launched today, including the Google Home Hub. Having said that, the Mountain View giant finally bit the bullet and hosted its annual ‘Made by Google’ event in New York tonight. The stars of the show were the Pixel 3 duo, particularly the Pixel 3 XL, which comes as the first Pixel flagship device with a display notch. Wondering what else it brings to the table? Here is the list of top features of the Pixel 3 XL.
Design and Display: Let’s notch it up
One of the greatest artists of all time – Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. Google seems to have followed suit with the new Pixels. After Apple showcased its innovative fullscreen design on iPhone X (review), notch displays have become ubiquitous on Android devices. The latest Pixel 3 XL comes with a 6.3-inch OLED display featuring 2,960 x 1,440 pixels screen resolution, 18.5:9 aspect ratio and a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The Pixel 3 XL also boasts of HDR support and happens to be a YouTube Signature device, guaranteeing high-quality visuals.
As for the design, the Pixel 3 XL is not very different from the Pixel 2 XL, except that the latter skips the tell-tale display notch. The dual finish on the rear panel gets rounded corners this time, giving the handset a more sophisticated appearance. The back is also crafted from soft touch Gorilla Glass 5, which lends it an interesting finish. The smartphone comes with IP68 certification, which means it’s protected against dust and water. Google has added a new hue to the line-up this year called Not Pink, apart from Just Black and Clearly White.
Apart from this, the Active Edge feature from last year is also present, which lets users activate the Google Assistant simply by squeezing the sides. This year, Google is also providing Pixel USB-C Earbuds with the smartphone, which are designed to work with Google Assistant and offer real-time translation, notifications updates and 24-bit digital audio.
Performance: a notch above
Google’s Pixel line-up has always been the epitome of flagship smartphones with its cutting-edge spec sheet, and the Pixel 3 XL is no exception to the rule. Ticking at the core is the latest and greatest – Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is mated to 4GB RAM. The flagship is being offered in either 64GB or 128GB storage, depending on the variant. Unfortunately, there is still no provision for expandable storage. However, Google continues to offer unlimited storage on Google Photos in original quality. As for security, the smartphone comes with a rear-mounted Pixel Imprint fingerprint sensor, which is known to be fast and accurate.
While the top bezel of the handset has been occupied by the notch, the new Pixel has retained the front firing loudspeaker on the chin in a dual setup for a great audio experience. Google claims that the dual front-firing speakers are 40 percent louder and clearer than last year’s offerings.
The Pixel 3 XL relies on a 3,430mAh battery for power requirements, which comes with 18W fast charging as well as wireless charging support.
Last year’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL (review) were considered the ultimate benchmark in the camera department and continue to be till date. Needless to say, the Pixel 3 XL had some big shoes to fill and from what Google showed at the event tonight, it seems to do so with aplomb. The Pixel 3 XL comes with a 12.2-megapixel dual-pixel camera on the rear panel with 1.4μm pixel size and f/1.8 aperture size. The rear camera module is also equipped with a trifecta of dual pixel phase detection autofocus, electronic stabilisation and optical stabilisation, resulting in extremely steady images and videos. For selfies and video calling, it gets a dual camera setup comprising an 8-megapixel f/1.8 camera backed by another 8-megapixel wide-angle f/2.2 sensor.
Google has now made it easier to access the camera app by double tapping the power button, and users can also toggle between both camera modules by double twisting their wrist. Apart from the usual bells and whistles, the Pixel 3 XL also comes with Photobooth and Super Res Zoom. The Photobooth mode needs to be started from the ‘More’ menu in the camera app, and it will then recognise smile or funny faces to capture memorable images. The Super Res Zoom is designed to retain clarity and details in the zoomed in shots.
There is another interesting mode in the camera called Playground. This mode lets users play around with their images by using superheroes, animated stickers and fun captions. This mode also lets users create Playmoji – *cough* Animoji *cough* – characters that can replicate your facial expressions to react.
Apart from these, you get the whole shebang of features like Top Shot, Portrait mode, Group Selfie, Motion Auto Focus and Fused Video Stabilisation.
Software: a notch in the belt
Speaking of software, we need not mention that the Pixel 3 XL comes with Android 9 Pie in its stock avatar because that’s a given. You get all the goodies of the Android Pie as they were meant to be, including the pill-shaped universal home/navigation button, App actions, adaptive battery and brightness, dark mode, slices and more. However, now it seems that Google wants its users to reduce dependency on their phones. To this measure, the company has introduced a brand new feature called ‘Digital Wellbeing’, which remains exclusive to Pixel and stock Android smartphones.
Digital Wellbeing brings an array of features including Dashboard, which lets users keep a tab on how much time is spent on the phone, number of notifications received, number of times unlocked and more. The new feature also lets users set timers on apps with a daily time limit, which will block the access to that particular app once the time limit is reached. There is a ‘Wind Down’ mode, which reminds users to stay off the phone at night, turn on the grayscale mode automatically to make it less appealing, and turn on Do Not Disturb mode. Speaking of DND, the feature has been revamped as well, as now it not only silences the notifications but also disables visual appearances. And if you are worried about missing your notifications, your really shouldn’t as they will reappear when you turn off the DND mode.
Most importantly, the Google Assistant receives a major overhaul and can now perform a number of new actions including turning on/off various modes, cameras, flashlight and also booking appointments on your behalf.
If you have a keen observation, you would have noticed the generous use of word ‘Notch’ in the subheadings and throughout the article. This is because love it or hate it, the display notch is here to stay, and Google has just cemented it with the launch of the Pixel 3 XL. Designing the framework of Android Pie to implement the notch as best as it could be, was yet another move in this direction. Stay tuned to 91mobiles for our in-depth review of the smartphone.