Recap: Google's Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL were the stars of the show at today's Made by Google media event. There weren't a ton of surprises considering how extensively the phones have leaked in recent months but we did learn a lot about Google's software-focused camera ambitions.
At its Made by Google media event in New York City on Tuesday, Google shared its latest smartphone creations with the world. I’m of course referring to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, handsets that have been the subject of numerous leaks leading up to today.
Google spent the overwhelming majority of its Pixel 3 presentation talking about branded camera features but before we dive into those, let’s have a look at hardware specs.
The Pixel 3 features a 5.5-inch display (443 PPI) while the Pixel 3 XL packs a 6.3-inch notched screen (523 PPI) that extends to the top corners of the phone. Both are of the OLED variety and come coated with Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
Under the proverbial hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, Adreno 630 graphics, 4GB of RAM and your choice of 64GB or 128GB of storage as well as Google’s Pixel Visual Core chip and a Titan M security module.
The single rear-facing camera captures 12.2-megapixel images through an f/1.8 aperture lens with a 76-degree field of view. It boasts both optical and electronic image stabilization, auto-focus with dual pixel phase detection and has a spectral + flicker sensor.
Up front, you get a dual camera solution consisting of an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens with f/2.2 aperture and 97-degree FoV plus an 8-megapixel standard lens with 75-degree field of view and an f/1.8 aperture.
Both phones will ship running Google’s latest operating system, Android 9 Pie, and naturally come equipped with the Google Assistant. A 2,915mAh battery compatible with Qi wireless charging devices powers both handsets. There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack but you do get Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and on-device speakers that Google claims are 40 percent louder and richer than before.
Camera functions were a huge priority for Google and it starts with Top Shot, a handy feature that “recommends the moments when everyone looks their best.” The idea is to ensure those priceless moments aren’t ruined by closed eyes, blocked faces or other unexpected distractions by surfacing the best image from a burst of snaps.
Super Res Zoom, meanwhile, is Google’s answer to optical zoom. It uses AI to combine several images shot at slightly different angles to enhance detail when zooming in. I’ve never been a big fan of digital zoom techniques but this one certainly has me interested in learning more.
Another new mode, Night Sight, won’t be available until later this year. It essentially allows you to shoot photos in dimly lit environments without flash that don’t look like crap. Google’s side-by-side comparison of a photo shot on Pixel 3 versus the iPhone XS looks impressive, to say the least.
Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are available to pre-order from today starting at $799 and $899, respectively, in your choice of white, black or pink color schemes. They can be purchased unlocked through Google (they’re Project Fi compatible) or directly from Verizon and launch on October 18. Your purchase also includes a six-month complementary subscription to YouTube Music.
The Pixel Stand, a wireless charging accessory, can be had optionally for an additional $79 and also launches on October 18.