Hands on with Google's Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, and Pixel Stand

Google officially unveiled its Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones yesterday, after months of leaks. As far as the aesthetics of the devices go, the leaks were completely accurate. The Pixel 3 doesn't have a notch, and the Pixel 3 XL does.

And the Pixel 3 XL notch is just as hideous in person as it looked in leaks. I actually don't mind notches in general. Why would I want my battery status and notification badges to take up my valuable screen real estate? I think that the original notched phones, the LG V10 and V20, got it right by putting it in the corner. Still, the notch on the Pixel 3 XL is just way too tall.

Both displays are OLED (last year, the Pixel 2 was AMOLED and the 2 XL was P-OLED, and Google didn't say which kind of OLED is used this year). The Pixel 3 uses a 1080x2160 5.5-inch screen, giving it an 18:9 aspect ratio, while the Pixel 3 XL is 6.3 inches at 1440p with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Their respective pixel densities are 443ppi and 523ppi, although you won't see the difference.

Overall though, both devices are quite nice. They're thin and they're light, and comfortable to hold and carry. Personally, I think the smaller Pixel 3 is the one that's a bit more comfortable. The good news is that both devices have feature parity, but the bad news is that a smaller device means a smaller battery.

The colors are Clearly White, Just Black, and Not Pink (seen above). Personally, I think a lighter color is the way to go, because these devices do seem to scratch pretty easy (on early impressions). The one that Google sent me is Just Black, and I'll have further testing on that.

Another thing that Google announced though is the Pixel Stand. This adds additional functionality than a standard wireless charger, and it charges at 15W (5W for regular phones). It can provide personalized experiences, such as a gradual alarm in the morning, or automatically setting your phone to do not disturb when you go to bed. When you wake up, you can say "good morning" and have it give you your schedule for the day, as it's integrated with Google Assistant.

In fact, it makes the Pixel 3 and 3 XL do a lot of what the new Home Hub does. You can even connect your phone to your Nest Doorbell, and when someone rings your house, you'll be able to see them on your screen.

There are also some AR camera features, that allow you to place animated characters in your photos.


The good news is that yes, this includes Marvel characters like Iron Man. The bad news is that it's only a feature of the Camera app. That means that you can't drop these guys in on a video call or anything like that, which would have been fun.

A big focus on the Pixel 3 devices is the camera, and sadly, I just can't test that stuff in a demo area. These are things like Top Shot - allowing you to select from a number of frames - Photobooth, and Night Sight, which is better for low light. Another thing I couldn't try out - which is unrelated to the camera - is the awesome new feature that blocks spam callers.

Luckily, Google did give me a Pixel 3 XL to review, so I'll definitely have more for you soon.

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