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Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL: Everything you need to know

Pixel 3 and 3 XL are now out of support

Since their release in October 2018, the Google Pixel 3 and the Google Pixel 3 XL offered some significant upgrades over their predecessors, while still clearly belonging to the Pixel family. Read our full reviews of the Google Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 3 for all the details.

On top of the usual processor upgrade, both Pixels sport a dual-lens, front-facing camera designed to elevate your selfie game to the next level, some additional software smarts to get the best from the single-lens main camera, and support for Qi wireless charging. Google’s design has also been refined compared to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Here’s everything you need to know about the Pixel 3 and 3 XL and their most recent update now that they’ve reached the end of their life cycle.

Updates

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL have reached their end of life

As Google promised, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL received three years of software and security updates, taking them from Android 9 through Android 12. Google confirmed to Digital Trends that the Pixel 3 and 3 XL received their last security update in October 2021. As witg the Pixel and Pixel 2, there will be one more “wrap up” update in the first quarter of 2022.

Google Pixel 3

At first glance, the Google Pixel 3 looks a lot like the Pixel 2, but look closer and you’ll see that Google has cut the bezels down, enabling it to pack a 5.5-inch OLED screen into a body that’s actually a hair smaller than its predecessor’s. Not only has the screen size jumped by half an inch, but it’s also sharper, with a 2,160 x 1,080-pixel resolution that results in a respectable 443 pixels-per-inch (ppi). Thankfully, there’s still room for stereo front-facing speakers.

Key Specs for the Google Pixel 3

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB or 128GB
  • Screen size: 5.5-inches
  • Resolution: 2,160 x 1,080
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5, NFC
  • Battery: 2,915 mAh
  • Size: 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9 mm
  • Weight: 148g
  • Operating system: Android 9.0 Pie

Flip around to the back and we find the same two-tone design as previous Pixels, with a fingerprint sensor in the middle and the camera lens at the top left, but this time the back is all glass, which allows the Pixel 3 to support wireless charging. Alongside the usual understated black version, there’s also white with a mint green power button, and an all-new “Not Pink” option with an orange power button.

There are no real surprises inside, where we find Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor backed by 4GB of RAM. Storage options are 64GB or 128GBm and there’s no room for a MicroSD card to expand on that. There’s also no space for a 3.5mm audio jack, so you’ll have to make use of the USB-C port or Bluetooth 5, but you do get USB-C earbuds in the box.

The Pixel 3 runs theAndroid 9 Pie version and Google has added various enhancements. In addition to Qi wireless charging, there’s also fast-charging support for the 2,915 mAh battery. That’s slightly bigger than the battery in the Pixel 2, which, coupled with the newer, more efficient processor, should translate to longer battery life.

Google Pixel 3 XL

The Pixel 3 XL is more obviously different from its predecessor, with a large notch making a controversial appearance at the top of the 6.3-inch OLED screen. It also retains a sizable chin below. The display sports a resolution of 2,960 x 1,440 pixels, which translates to a sharp 523 ppi. The screen is flanked by stereo front-facing speakers.

Key Specs for the Google Pixel 3 XL

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB or 128GB
  • Screen size: 6.3-inches
  • Resolution: 2,960 x 1,440
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5, NFC
  • Battery: 3,430mAh
  • Size: 158 x 76.6 x 7.9 mm
  • Weight: 184g
  • Operating system: Android 9.0 Pie

Just like its smaller sibling, the Google Pixel 3 XL has a two-tone design on the glass back, with a fingerprint sensor in the middle and a single camera lens at the top left. It also comes in black, white with the mint green power button, and in the new pink color with an orange power button.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM, and there’s 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage, with no expansion option. You won’t find a 3.5mm audio jack here, but there are USB-C earbuds in the box and support for wireless headphones via Bluetooth 5.0.

The battery is rated at 3,430mAh, which is actually a touch smaller than last year’s Pixel 2 XL battery, but we expect power efficiency improvements to help keep it running for a day. There’s also support for Qi wireless charging and fast charging.

Pixel 3 and 3 XL Cameras

The most exciting upgrades in the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL were found in the camera department, and both phones have exactly the same camera setup.

Google has stuck steadfastly with a single-lens main camera rated at 12.2 megapixels, even in the face of dual- and triple-lens competition. The main camera has optical image stabilization, laser autofocus, dual pixel phase detection, and support for high dynamic range (HDR).

Google is able to squeeze such great performance out of its camera by employing some clever software trickery, instead of relying upon more hardware. The A.I.-powered camera in the Pixel 3 and 3 XL takes a burst of shots before and after you press the shutter button and then analyzes them to suggest the best options, looking for shots where subjects are looking at the camera with open eyes and smiles. It also offers an excellent portrait mode capable of blurring the background for the perfect bokeh, and it’s capable of automatically tracking subjects, so you don’t need to keep tapping to refocus. There’s a new zoom option that allows you to zoom in, even without a telephoto lens, with A.I. filling in the gaps and bringing you the detail level you want.

The front-facing camera features a bigger upgrade, combining an 8.1-megapixel telephoto lens with an f/1.8 aperture and a second 8.1-megapixel wide-angle lens that features an f/2.2 aperture. This combination will enable you to capture great group selfies or get more background in, and it should also perform well in low light, making it perfect for grabbing shots at night or indoors.

Just as it did with previous Pixel phones, Google is offering free, unlimited Google Photos storage for all the full-resolution photos and videos you take with the Pixel 3 or 3 XL.

Software

Both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL came running Android 9.0 Pie. They ditch the old home, back, and recents buttons in favor of the newer gesture navigation.

Google Assistant has the ability to screen spam calls, answer for you, and provide a transcription so you can decide whether to block them or call back. They can also make calls for you and perform tasks like making restaurant reservations.

If you use your Pixel 3 or 3 XL with the Pixel Stand, then you’ll also get special one-touch shortcuts or voice commands to enable you to check your schedule and more.

Price

The Google Pixel 3 started from $799 and the Pixel 3 XL started at $899.

Updated on October 29, 2021: The Pixel 3 and 3 XL have reached their end of life.

Simon Hill
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Simon Hill is an experienced technology journalist and editor who loves all things tech. He is currently the Associate Mobile…
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